Friday, November 25, 2011
Have you read The Hundred and One Dalmatians? Not seen the movies - which are, to be fair, relatively close to the story - but actually read the book by Dodie Smith? If you like dogs, or scary-evil villains, or kidnapping stories with skin-of-their-teeth escapes, or if you have always wondered how it is that pets see their humans, then you should read this book, because it has all of those things, and it's wonderful.
If you don't know the story, here's a brief overview:
Pongo and Missis Pongo (usually just called "Missis") are dalmatians, who live in London with their pet humans, Mr. and Mrs. Dearly. Pongo and Missis have the good fortune of having a litter of fifteen (!) beautiful puppies, which is a wonderful blessing, but... how can Missis take care of all of those puppies by herself? Mrs. Dearly solves this problem when she rescues a dog who she found in the middle of the road in the rain. This dog - a brown or "liver" dalmatian - is named Perdita, and we later find that she had also had a litter of puppies, but that they had been sold without her consent. (Her previous owner was, after all, a horrible man who didn't treat her well, and who didn't even let her stay with her husband, Prince. What a jerk!) Perdita was loved by the Dearly family, though, and was happy there, until one fateful day when the puppies disappeared.
In despair, and at their wits end, the Pongos send out word through the Twilight Bark - a network of dogs who pass messages over the entire country by barking information back and forth every night at twilight - about the missing puppies, and find out that they may be among the puppies who have suddenly appeared at Hell Hall, the ancestral home of one Cruella de Vil.
You have, of course, heard the name of Cruella de Vil. This evil, horrid woman was Mrs. Dearly's roommate in college, and saw the dogs when she came calling one day. She expressed an interest in buying the entire litter of puppies (whose coats, she said, would make a lovely coat for her) and was, of course, turned away. But this didn't stop her: not one bit.
I won't spoil the rest of the story for you, but suffice it to say that it includes a daring rescue, some awesome characters (I'm a big fan of the Colonel), disguises and narrow escapes, and lots and lots of puppies.
In honor of Ms. Dodie Smith's masterpiece, I have decided to make Dalmatian Brownies. These are inspired by the book and not mentioned in it, and I'd like to note that, despite the name of the recipe, these (and anything else with chocolate in it) are not okay for dogs to be eating.
- Your favorite brownie mix or recipe, with all components
- Vanilla frosting
- About 12 chocolate sandwich cookies - I used Oreos, because I love them
1. Mix up your brownie batter according to the recipe or the box directions. I usually prefer fudgy brownies, but this time I made cake-like brownies. It's all up to you.
2. Place your Oreos into a plastic bag and crush them up, trying to leave some larger chunks in with the small powdery dust, because variety is the spice of life, and it'll give you a good texture contrast.
3. Mix about 3/4 of the crushed cookies into your brownie batter, and then bake according to recipe or package directions. This time, I made the brownies in a smaller (9x9) pan, but I think I'd recommend making them in a larger pan, because they're rather rich to begin with, and don't need to be thick to be delicious.
4. Let the brownies cool completely, and then frost with the vanilla frosting and sprinkle with crushed cookies. Cut into as many squares as you like, though you will probably have to make more than one batch to make 101 Dalmatian Brownies.
Don't they look just like the spotty dogs?