“Everything in this room is eatable, even I am eatable, but that is called cannibalism, my dear children, and is in fact frowned upon in most societies,” announces Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, dropping a transparent hint that points to another charmingly sinister character, brilliantly played by the same actor, the Demon Barber Sweeney Todd.
Yet Depp’s Willy Wonka is all charm and no malice in the beginning, all radiant smiles and warm welcome, as he takes the children on a tour of Chocolate Room.
Oh, the Chocolate Room is gloriously multicolored with splendid trees, luscious grass and flowers, and a burbling chocolate river. And it’s all edible, dear children, just like in this lovely poem by Eugene Field:
Have you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree? 'T is a marvel of great renown! It blooms on the shore of the Lollipop sea In the garden of Shut-Eye Town; The fruit that it bears is so wondrously sweet (As those who have tasted it say) That good little children have only to eat Of that fruit to be happy next day. When you 've got to the tree, you would have a hard time To capture the fruit which I sing; The tree is so tall that no person could climb To the boughs where the sugar-plums swing! But up in that tree sits a chocolate cat, And a gingerbread dog prowls below--- And this is the way you contrive to get at Those sugar-plums tempting you so: You say but the word to that gingerbread dog And he barks with such terrible zest That the chocolate cat is at once all agog, As her swelling proportions attest. And the chocolate cat goes cavorting around From this leafy limb unto that, And the sugar-plums tumble, of course, to the ground--- Hurrah for that chocolate cat! There are marshmallows, gumdrops, and peppermint canes, With stripings of scarlet or gold, And you carry away of the treasure that rains As much as your apron can hold! So come, little child, cuddle closer to me In your dainty white nightcap and gown, And I 'll rock you away to that Sugar-Plum Tree In the garden of Shut-Eye Town. There is even a chocolate cat "cavorting around" - how could I not love this poem, Beautiful People! Especially since it has reminded me of the famous Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker, who ruled over the Land of Sweets, in the absence of its Prince cum Nutcracker.
Things are not so idyllic at Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory, though. While full of delectable sweets (even wallpaper tastes of fruit depicted on it), it is a dark movie, boys and girls, where children disappear one by one, followed by their parents. Each one is punished for a reason, as the cute little Oompa-Loompas make clear in the older film, starring Gene Wilder.
Mr Wonka nonchalantly informs parents of their children’s dire fate, yet Wilder’s Willy is rather less malicious than Depp’s. While the former calmly answers Veruca Salt’s father (“She went down the chute to the furnace,” etc.), which Mr Salt first takes for a joke, until the truth dawns on him and he rushes to save his daughter, falling down the same trash chute, the latter, with his dazzling smile, actually provokes distressed father by suggesting that he might save Veruca by reaching in and pulling her out. But don’t worry, Beautiful People, at the end the scary Willy Wonka turns all warm and fuzzy, reunites with his own dad, and joins Charlie’s loving family. Ah, and the other children, of course, are alive and Charlie watches them leave the factory which is now his.
Is it too emotionally traumatic for children to watch and/or read? Is it darker than The Little Red Riding Hood or The Three Little Pigs? Is Mr Wonka more frightening than the Big Bad Wolf or the witch in Hansel and Gretel? It could be said that those are fantastical, unreal characters, yet the evil stepmother in Cinderella is Oh! so real! I choose to think that children should be prepared for life where roads to the Land of Sweets are wrought with dangers and chocolate rivers might end in deadly rapids. Life lessons imparted in these dark tales are crucial, but granted, they go down much better with dark chocolate.
These yummy Triple Chocolate cookies will certainly sweeten every life lesson for children and a chocolate cream liqueur will delight their parents. My husband is the mixologist in this house, but he wasn’t at home, so I took his Dairy-free Irish Cream recipe (see here) and added a hefty tablespoon of chocolate syrup – extra chocolate never hurts, right? The cookies are also non-dairy, they are loaded with dark chocolate, and take about twenty minutes to make.
To make them non-dairy, I use Smart Balance instead of butter and coconut or almond milk instead of real milk. No eggs! You need brown sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, lots of dark chocolate chips, some olive oil, a splash of vanilla extract, and a dash of baking powder. I use almond flour to make them gluten free and I also bake with rum, but if you don’t want to use alcohol, just add some more coconut or almond milk.
Make sure your Smart Balance is room temperature and stir it for a couple of minutes with brown sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract. You should get a creamy mass. Gradually add almond flour and keep mixing, then add the rest of the ingredients. Your dough should be moist but not too wet. Lightly dust a cookie sheet with oil and drop spoonfuls of dough on it, leaving about 1/2 inch (1 cm) distance between lumps of dough. I use an ice cream scoop to make them more or less rounded, but a regular tablespoon will suffice. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for about fifteen minutes. Cookies are ready when they pop off the baking sheet. They will be soft and chewy, rather than crispy. Let them cool off a little right on the sheet, and you can serve them warm, but I promised triple chocolate, so drizzle some chocolate syrup on these delicious bites, and let’s light a candle and have a romantic evening!
- 1/2 cup Smart Balance
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon coconut or almond milk
- 1 tablespoon rum (optional, could be replaced with coconut or almond milk)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- Chocolate syrup to drizzle
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Stir Smart Balance with sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract for 1 to 2 minutes, until creamy
- Gradually add almond flour and baking powder, mix thoroughly.
- Add the rest of ingredients, mix.
- Drop by spoonful onto lightly misted with oil baking sheet at 1/2 inch (1 cm) distance.
- Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until cookies pop off the sheet. Cool on sheet.
- Drizzle with chocolate syrup before serving.
About the guest author:
Dolly Aizenman is the brainchild behind Kool Kosher Kitchen (Which her blog and her book are named after).
This charismatic Russian blogger is fond of cooking and writing.
She has a BA in Art and Music Education, MA in English, MS in Education and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership.