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Behind the Scenes: Royal Baby, Forbidden Marriage

I love creating fictional kingdoms, and the Scandinavian island of Amarnes with its deep fjords and craggy mountains is one of my favorites! Naturally I had to find a hero to inhabit such an amazing place, and Prince Leopold Christensen fits the bill. Leo is the country’s heir, but only reluctantly, as his cousin Anders, the first heir, was forced to abdicate when he married an American nobody, the heroine, Phoebe Wells. Now, five years later, Anders is dead and Phoebe is living her own life in New York City, the wreck of her marriage far behind her—until Leo show up at the door! Leo isn’t interested in Phoebe—or so she thinks—but he does want her son Christian, the country’s new heir apparent…


What I imagine the coast of Amarnes to look like!


A beautiful brownstone in NYC, where Phoebe has made her new life

I love exploring the different internal conflicts people can have, and Leo is torn between duty and desire, which is probably one of my favorite themes. A reckless playboy, he transformed himself when he became his country’s heir, only to find it wasn’t enough for his uncle, King Nicholas. To his surprise, he begins to discover that Phoebe is the only person he doesn’t actually need to prove himself to… with her, he can be that most precious thing: himself!


Here is a Danish-inspired recipe you can try, for the delicious treat Kringle:

Kringle Recipe

Although this recipe does not require the tedious process of rolling out layers of butter and dough, as is done in the Racine Kringle bakeries, the result is similar and very, very good.

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110 degree F. to 115 degree F.)
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (110 deg. to 115 deg.)
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Nut Filling (recipe follows)
  • Glaze (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans or walnuts

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.

Using a pastry blender or two knives, in a large bowl, cut butter into flour and salt until particles are the size of small peas. Add yeast mixture, sugar, warm milk, and egg; beat until smooth (dough will be very soft). Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours but not more than 24 hours.

When ready to use, remove from refrigerator. Punch dough down and divide in half; return other half to refrigerator. On a well-floured board, working quickly before dough softens, roll into a 15 x 10-inch rectangle, approximately 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick (if dough gets too warm from handling, return to refrigerator).

Spread half of the prepared Nut Filling down the center of the rolled-out dough rectangle in a 2-inch strip. fold sides of dough over filling, overlapping 1 1/2 inches; pinch edges to seal.

Oval Shape: Form roll into a circle and pinch ends together. Place seam side down on a large greased baking sheet. Repeat same process with remaining dough and filling. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes or until double in size.

Pretzel Shape: Lift the filled roll from both ends firmly and center the middle of the roll onto the baking sheet as if you were forming a circle. Pull the ends of the roll so that they make a cross above the roll, then pull the ends down and tuck the ends under the top part of the roll so that the ends stick out from under the roll.

Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes or until double in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

Spread prepared Glaze over kringles. Sprinkle with chopped pecans or walnuts. Serve kringles warm or at room temperature.

To re-warm, preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Slide a whole, uncut kringle onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Cover loosely with a large piece of aluminum foil and heat for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and remove aluminum foil before slicing.

Makes 2 Kringles (each serves 10 to 12).

Nut Filling:
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature

In a large bowl, combine pecans or walnuts, brown sugar, and butter.

  • 1 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
  • 4 to 5 teaspoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, water, and vanilla.

January 2008