Photo by @CogntiveDish
What if I told you to forget everything you know about Dracula? Seriously, Reader, look into my eyes and… Forget. Everything. You. Know. About. Dracula. Okay, maybe I can’t compel you with mind control, but I can try to convince you that Bram Stoker’s blood-lusty vampire classic is one of the best pieces of gothic horror literature of all time. But not for reasons you think.
Let me explain.
Contrary to popular belief (ahem, Hollywood screenwriters) Dracula was not a love story. There was no Bella-Jacob-Cedric Diggory-glistening-in-the-sun love triangle. Count Dracula was tormented but not because of a woman. As with all horror fiction prior to Shirley Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House, women were carefully placed objects used to propel male characters and their story arcs forward and this book is no exception. *Eyeroll. But I’ll save that for another post.
What’s truly unbelievable and makes the novel even more intriguing is that Bram Stoker didn’t write the story as fiction. It was a warning – a cautionary tale – about the existence of true evil set against the backdrop of Victorian London, a city still skittish from a series of horrible murders and a killer on the loose. Yikes. In fact, many of the characters are based on real people. Stoker’s publisher didn’t want to cause more widespread panic, so they cut the first 101 pages of the manuscript and turned it into fiction. The novel is told as an epistolary narrative from multiple points of view to make it more appear more realistic and credible. Side note – the original complete manuscript turned up in rural Pennsylvania in the 1980s. No one know how or when it crossed the pond. Another mystery surrounding the novel.
So, back to Drac. The story centers around the titular character – Count Dracula – who purchases real estate in England with the assistance of English solicitor, Jonathan Harker. Harker visits the Count at his castle in Transylvania. As if that wasn’t creepy enough, the Count warns Harker not to wander the castle and fall asleep in any other room but his own. Hey, at least he warned him. Harker, of course, wanders the castle and falls asleep in a guest room because why not? He’s accosted by three seductive vampire ladies who naturally, try to kill him. Harker escapes but barely. Dracula sets sail for England with a bunch of coffins in search of new blood. En route, he kills the ship’s crew, except for the captain who runs it aground in Whitby, England. The Count turns into a dog, runs off the ship, and into the cemetery of a nearby church.
Enter Lucy Westenra, best friend of Harker’s fiancé, Mina. Dracula stalks Lucy, feeds on her blood, and turns her into the undead. Rude. Lucy eventually dies – she gets staked through the heart and decapitated by vampire-slayer Professor Van Helsing and her fiancé Arthur Holmwood. Harker and Mina join the fight against the Count, but he finds out about the plot to kill him and attacks Mina, creating a psychic bond between them. Dracula escapes to Transylvania with only one of his coffins intact. With Mina’s help, Professor Van Helsing, Harker et al follow him to Dracula’s castle. Van Helsing kills the three vampire women. Harker and Quincey Morris find the Count in his coffin floating down the river and kill him. Dracula turns to dust and Mina is freed. Not exactly a Hollywood ending.
So, what is the best way to a vampire’s heart? Not a stake but cake. The next time you entertain guests at your castle, serve up this sweet treat and it’ll be love at first bite.
This recipe has been brought to you by the letters C and D and the number 1. Ah-Ah-Ah!
And now here’s something I think you’ll really like →
DRAKAHLUA: Kahlua Cake with Chocolate and Blood Orange Ganache
1 box chocolate cake mix – I like Betty Crocker Super Moist Chocolate Fudge
½ pint sour cream
1 small box of instant chocolate pudding mix – Jell-O or other brand
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup Kahlua – or more, live a little
½ bag white chocolate chips – Ghirardelli is my favorite
½ bag semisweet chocolate chips – again, Ghirardelli
3 large blood oranges – squeezed and zested
1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz dark chocolate chips or chocolate wafers (for the ganache)
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well.
- Add 1 tsp of orange zest.
- Place batter into a greased bundt cake pan.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool completely.
While cake is baking, make the ganache
For the ganache:
- In a small saucepan, simmer the heavy cream over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of the orange juice and 1 tsp of the orange zest to the cream. Mix well.
- Place the chocolate chips or wafers into a heat-proof bowl.
- Once cream is hot, pour over the chocolate and whisk until mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Let the ganache cool slightly, then pour over the cake.