If I can cook it, you can cook it And I'll travel the world to bring it back home to you.

They may look like brownies to you… but they’re Dark Shadows to me.

         Since Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, here’s a perfect Valentine to give your amour.  It’s chocolate, of course, because chocolate is said to have aphrodisiac properties.  Going back to the Aztecs, there’s been a link drawn between the cocoa bean and desire. But even if you’re cynical about that connection, see if you don’t find this description irresistible: ” The following recipe is what happens when chocolate is used to its fullest capacity: dark, rich squares of buttery sweetness, wrapped in underpinnings of vanilla, are interrupted with miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips.” Take it from one who has eaten one of these superb treats: they’re almost as good as you-know-what.  Not quite. But almost.

       The description of this magnificent sweet is a direct quote from the creator of “Dark Shadows”, Lisa Yockelson, the author of Baking Style (Wiley 2011) where the recipe first appeared.  A few months ago, I shared the story of Andrew’s first encounter with Ms. Yockelson.  Called “Andrew’s Jillion Dollar Sharing Cookie”, it was the tale of how Andrew went to a book signing, mostly to see the renovations made to an apartment on Central Park West.  It was there that Lisa Yockelson’s book, “Baking by Flavor”(Wiley 2002), was having its debut.  Somehow this encounter led to a massive renovation of our entire house as Andrew took up baking with a vengeance.  

Christmas cookies at our house

            I am still reeling from his record-breaking Christmas bake-off of 2011 when he produced over 1000 cookies in 14 varieties.   But it hardly stopped there. He also made three different cakes on four different occasions.  You can see Ms. Yockelson’s influence is unbroken.  And the arrival this holiday season of her latest book “Baking Style” (Wiley 2011) set off another flurry of incredible treats including “Dark Shadows”.

Jonathan Frid, the first Barnabas Collins 
Johnny Depp 
         “Dark Shadows”, you may remember was a strange gothic daytime soap opera.  (Or you may not remember it at all since it ran from 1966 until 1971.) Werewolves, zombies, witches, warlocks were all regulars on the show.  Due to its daytime schedule, 1225 episodes were shot. That is far more any other science fiction/ fantasy series.  Far more than the entire Star Trek franchise put together!  It really took off when a vampire character was introduced.  Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) appeared a year into its run and, from then on, the series was must-see TV for millions of daytime viewers.  Johnny Depp was said to be so obsessed with Barnabas that, as a child, he wanted to be him. Apparently this obsession will finally have its day as Director Tim Burton is resurrecting Dark Shadows as a movie to be released in May of this year.  And guess who is playing Barnabas?  Johnny, of course.  But I made that awfully simple for you.    
         Strangely, there’s no reference to how “Dark Shadows”, the brownie, actually got its name from Yockelson.  In a chapter called “Intense Bold”, with a subsection called “Tipping the Scale on Chocolate”, there’s a full lick-the-page photograph so irresistible it’s no wonder it was the first thing in “Baking Style” Andrew had to bake.  As one who consumed these incredibly rich treats, I have to say that these super fudgy bars had the most intense chocolate flavor in recent memory.  As the baker, Andrew was taken with Ms. Yockelson’s description of this recipe as “a jewel of a formula and, will deliver raves greatly out of proportion to the kitchen work involved in its preparation”.   But what of Barnabas and the other Ghosts of “Dark Shadows”?  Well apparently their connection will remain a mystery. The recipe however will not.  Here it is:

11 thoughts on “They may look like brownies to you… but they’re Dark Shadows to me.”

  • Hi Monte–

    Your article on brownies/Dark Shadows reminded me of how back when the television show Dallas was in its heydey, my sister and I had a ritual of making brownies to be consumed while watching Dallas, back when it was everyone's favorite guilty T.V.- watching pleasure. Every Friday night, the same recipe–the one on the back of the baking chocolate package.

    Best, Cindy

    Note from Monte: Cindy also gave me a terrific idea for a post about this year's Tv phenom. Can you guess? We'll work on it next weekend when Andrew and I go out to the beach.

  • Hey Monte, this is so funny, I just watched the original movie of Dark Shadows that was the inspiration for the series. And yes thought I will will try these (twist my arm), I still am giving my number one to the Black Forest cookies. Never told you, but I used Cinnamon chips in lieu of the white chocolate and a really good Wolfgang Puck Dark Chocolate chip that came out sooooo good. I took some dough (the number of cookies this made was amazing!), then rolled dough balls in Macaroon coconut and made truffles. Maybe it sounds off, however, the were beautiful and I froze them right before putting them out and the recipe gave us double the joy! The Dark Shadows will only be the chocolate left on my lips when I eat these.. Thanks Monte!

  • I've found your blog via the Food Bloggers group on L-In, Monte.

    I hate to tell you, but most women actually prefer good chocolate to sex. (Check the net. About 9 million sites come up when you query that.) I'm writing a book about chocolate and travel, and believe me … I've done my research!

    I actually came to your site looking for the post on the most gastronomic cities (as I'm new to the LI group and just making my way thru all the entries) but am glad I ended up here in the chocolate where I belong!

  • Doreen! Please don't tell me! Hope you make the Dark Shadows. They may very well prove your point. We have tons of Chocolate recipes — you must visit Beatty's Chocolate Cake, Black Forest cookies, and if you are writing a book about chocolate and travel, you really should visit David Lebowitz whose Sweet Life in Paris is just a wonderful book. All best Monte

  • Hi there! Since these replies are all (with one exception) from extremely close friends/family, I know they are not brain dead! You'll find Chewing the Fat on Facebook. Thanks so much for commenting and I look forward to viewing your site. You do know I am Canadian by birth?

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