Morbid Meals – Tribute to The Stuff

MorbidMeals2

EXAMINATION

About the only thing we know about The Stuff is that “enough is never enough”. It was discovered oozing up from the ground at a petroleum chemical plant in the 80’s and it was very tasty, addictive, and mind-altering, all before it eventually caused consumers to explode. We sent in a crazy corporate spy to find out the formula, but he was unsuccessful. So, here’s my attempt using all natural ingredients.

thestuff

ANALYSIS

Yield: about 1 1/2 pints

Ingredients

12 oz cream cheese, softened
10 oz sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract or other clear flavoring (optional)

Apparatus

  • Mixing bowl
  • Stand mixer or hand mixer

Procedure

  1. In the mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Mix in the condensed milk, a little at a time, to keep the mixture smooth with no clumps.
  3. Mix in the lemon juice and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix until velvety smooth.
  4. Pour into serving containers and let it set in the refrigerator. Serve chilled.

DISSECTION

Feel free to add any flavor extract you like to amp up the flavor, just be sure it is clear so that The Stuff stays pristine white.

POST-MORTEM

The Stuff will stay fresh in the fridge for less than a week. After that, well, it might try to come find you.

Some of you may have noticed, this is really the filling for a basic no-bake cheesecake. Here’s some ideas for crusts. Prepare your crust, pour in The Stuff, and chill in your fridge for at least two hours. Top with cherries or whatever you fancy.

You can also make delightful parfaits with alternating layers of fruit, The Stuff, and some crumbled cookies (or graham crackers).

Also, this makes an amazing ice cream base and you don’t even have to churn it (though you can if you have an ice cream churn.) Just pour into a freezer-safe container and freeze overnight. So good!

Really, the options are endless. Remember, “enough is never enough”!

Morbid Meals – Homemade Twinkies in Tribute to Ghostbusters and Zombieland

MorbidMeals2

EXAMINATION

“Tell him about the Twinkie, Ray.”
In the original Ghostbusters movie, Dr. Egon Spengler portrayed by the late, great Harold Ramis compared the usual psychokinetic activity in New York to the size of a Twinkie. Of course, with all of the increased supernatural shenanigans, that relative Twinkie would be “thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds.” The new reboot didn’t mention Twinkies, but there is a new tie-in Key Lime Slime version that is very tasty.

“Where are you, you spongy, yellow, delicious bastards?”
In the movie Zombieland, Woody Harrelson’s character Tallahassee searched everywhere in vain to find a box of Twinkies during the zombie apocalypse. Bill Murray is in both of these movies, but in Zombieland, Bill didn’t have any Twinkies either. Sorry, Tallahassee.

Little did they know that Hostess would actually declare bankruptcy and Twinkies would become a rare treat. That is, of course, until they made a comeback. During that void of no Twinkies, I learned how to make snack cakes. If we end up with another shortage, Zombie-related or not, now we can all have Twinkies. This version also has less “junk” even though I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “healthy”.

twinkies

ANALYSIS

Yield: 12 cakes

Ingredients

Batter

1 cup pastry flour (or 1 cup AP flour minus 1 Tbsp, plus 1 Tbsp cornstarch)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs, separate whites & yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Filling

4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp milk

Apparatus

Procedure

For the cakes

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and lightly grease your pan.
  2. Sift together the flour (and cornstarch if using it), baking powder, and salt then set aside.
  3. Into two bowls, separate your egg whites from your yolks.
  4. In the mixing bowl of your stand mixer, first beat your egg whites until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Transfer these egg whites to another bowl and set aside. Wipe down your mixer’s bowl.
  5. In the mixer bowl, add your egg yolks, sugar, honey, water, oil, and vanilla. Beat together for about 1 minute.
  6. Reduce the speed and add the flour mixture. Beat until batter is smooth, about 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer.
  7. With a rubber spatula, fold the beaten egg whites into the batter, a small amount at a time, until fully incorporated.
  8. Pour the batter into the molds of your pan. Do not fill more than 2/3 of the way for each mold.
  9. Bake for about 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
  10. Cool the cakes in the pan for at least 15 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.

For the filling

  1. In your stand mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar together.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and milk then beat together until smooth and creamy. Set aside in refrigerator until ready to use.
  3. When the cakes have cooled, use a piping bag to fill each cake with the filling.

DISSECTION

If you want to make gluten-free cakes, replace the flour with 140 grams by weight of gluten-free all-purpose baking mix of your choice.

If you want to celebrate the new Ghostbusters reboot with your own Key lime filling, try this recipe. (Skip the graham cracker crust though, naturally, and maybe add a drop or two of green food coloring.)

For Twinkie aficionados who want the real deal creamy filling, here’s a copycat filling recipe.

POST-MORTEM

These take very little time and preparation. You can fill them with any kind of filling, even coat them in chocolate ganache. Hell, dip ‘em in batter and fry them. (State Fairs rock!) The best thing about making your own Twinkies is in having all the filling you want and then some!

Morbid Meals – Conjurer’s Cookies

EXAMINATION

MM01The Magician will never divulge their secret, and with most of their illusions, truly if you knew how they were done, you’d be disappointed.

Such is not the case with cooking, in my mind. Knowing not only the ingredients, but the recipe, for your favorite dish, is crucial, but learning to master a technique and improve upon it can make a meal into something extraordinary.

For the Magician tarot card, I wanted to find something, dare I say, magically delicious. Kristy Lynn of the Sweet Insanity Bake Shop created the original Unicorn Poop™ cookies, a fun multi-colored sugar cookie full of glitter and sprinkles. These inspired me to make something even more magical. If these rainbow delights were gluten-free AND sugar-free, they would be unbelievable! So, gather round as I share the secrets of the Conjurer’s Cookies!

ANALYSIS

Makes 16 cookies

Ingredients

35 g coconut flour
70 g arrowroot (or tapioca starch)
105 g sweet potato flour (or potato starch)
140 g sweet rice flour
1 tsp xantham gum, guar gum, or psyllium husk
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar substitute, like Splenda for baking
2 whole eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract, or other flavorings
Food Coloring, Standard colors (Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue)

Decoration (optional)

1 egg white
1 Tbsp water
Shimmer Dust (Wilton)

Apparatus

  • Plastic cling wrap
  • Cookie sheet
  • Cheap Paint Brushes

Procedure

  1. Measure and sift together the flours, gum (or psyllium husk), and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. Using a stand mixer, or by hand, cream the softened butter and sugar together. Then add the eggs and vanilla and mix well to combine.
  3. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. It will make a very thick batter, but not quite a solid dough. Chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes to thicken up a bit so you can easily divide it.
  4. Divide the dough into six pieces and add your food coloring to each. You will need about 12 drops per color: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple. If you get the standard four-pack of colors (Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue) then you can make Orange (8 Yellow and 4 Red drops), and Purple (9 Red and 3 Blue drops). I find mashing in with a fork works well to blend the colors into the dough.
  5. Wrap each colored dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. You can also freeze these to use later.
  6. Take them out of the fridge or freezer and allow to thaw slightly.
  7. With one colored piece of dough at a time, roll into a long thin log. Start with Red and go down the rainbow, if you like, and place each log next to each other. It is OK if the logs are not consistently thick or long.
  8. Roll the rainbow into itself to form a multi-colored log and gently roll to lengthen the log a bit and let the colors merge a little. The goal is to have distinct colors, so don’t let the colors bleed together and mix.
  9. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Grease a cookie sheet, or add a sheet of parchment paper or a silicon sheet.
  10. Cut your dough log into about 16 pieces. (Quarter it, then quarter each piece.) With each piece, roll down again to make a thin enough piece to lay down in a flat spiral. Each spiraled disk should be reminiscent of tie-dye.
  11. To add just that extra-special effect, make an egg wash in a small bowl with the egg white and water. With a clean paintbrush, or a pastry brush, mix the egg wash and then brush onto each cookie. Sprinkle a pinch of Shimmer Dust onto each cookie. A great way is to use another dry paint brush dipped into the Shimmer Dust and flick onto the cookies. Do not be tempted to mix the Shimmer Dust into the egg wash — it will clump up.
  12. Put cookie sheet in fridge and chill to set form for at least 30 minutes.
  13. Bake on the center rack at 400°F for 10-12 minutes. These cookies will spread as there’s no gluten to bind them. Bake them until they are just slightly crispy.
  14. Remove to a cooling rack and let them cool and firm up.

DISSECTION

This is a project that kids will absolutely want to help with, as it is like playing with clay. Have fun with this one. It is part of the magic.

POST-MORTEM

These are surprisingly good, especially warm. I made these originally with vanilla extract which gives a traditional sugar cookie flavor, but my brain kept telling me it expected fruit flavors. It might be fun to do each color as a different flavor, but I expect the resulting flavor would be very muddled like fruit punch. But hey, if you try it, let me know!

Morbid Meals – Skillet Hermit Cookies

EXAMINATION

MM09For the Hermit card, I originally pondered finding a recipe that would serve just one person. However, I love to cook for my family so I don’t think I even know how to cook for just one person. I haven’t done that since I was a bachelor.

So instead I pondered other types of hermits. Hermit crab sprang to mind, so I thought about a crab recipe, but then I remembered Hermit cookies. Tasty raisin-spice cookies that I hadn’t had in forever. So I dug up my recipe, one that was inspired by a 135-year old recipe.

Maria Parloa was a famous cook in the 1880’s. She opened Miss Parloa’s School of Cooking in Boston around 1877, and in 1880 published MISS PARLOA’S NEW COOK BOOK. I had a copy of this cookbook many ages ago, but have since turned to electronic versions of the book many times.

Her original recipe for Hermit cookies is as follows:

Two cupfuls of sugar, one of butter, one of raisins (stoned and chopped), three eggs, half a teaspoonful of soda, dissolved in three table-spoonfuls of milk; a nutmeg, one teaspoonful each of clove and cinnamon, and six cupfuls of flour. Roll about one-fourth of an inch thick, and cut with a round cake cutter. Bake in a rather quick oven. It will take about twelve minutes.

Times and tastes have changed since then, as have cooking directions. For instance a “quick oven” means hot enough to bake quickly, which would be roughly 400°F. Thompson seedless grapes were a novelty during this time, so some raisins might still have had seeds, called stones, which needed to be removed, hence the term “stoned”.

Recipes for Hermits are many and varied since this recipe from 1880, but they have been quite the staple in New England. As for my own recipe below, it evolved from many of these variations, but I still try to honor the simplicity of the original. One twist I added, however, is to bake it in a skillet. This makes a thick, chewy cookie that you can slice into bars, or cover in vanilla ice cream and eat while still warm.

ANALYSIS

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup dark, unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups All-Purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins

Apparatus

  • Cast-iron skillet
  • Electric stand mixer

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In electric mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar together.
  3. Add in molasses, mix until combined.
  4. Add egg, mix until combined.
  5. Dissolve baking soda into buttermilk, and add to batter, mix until combined.
  6. In another mixing bowl, sift flour and spices together, and add the raisins. Mix this into the wet ingredients.
  7. Spread the dough into your skillet.
  8. Bake in your preheated oven for about 30 minutes.
  9. Remove skillet from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.
  10. Slice into wedges and enjoy.

DISSECTION

You can substitute 1 cup of brown sugar for the sugar and molasses, but I prefer the extra deep flavor and extra chewiness that the molasses brings.

If you don’t have buttermilk, you can substitute with regular milk, but then use baking powder instead of baking soda. This provides the acid needed that would otherwise have been in the buttermilk.

POST-MORTEM

These are a delightful cross between raisin spice cake and cookies, and the skillet only adds to the old-fashioned nature of the recipe.

Morbid Meals – Queen of Hearts’ Tarts

EXAMINATION

The Empress Tarot card inspired me to recall one of my favorite nursery rhymes. Originally published in 1782, it is more famously presented as evidence against the Knave of Hearts in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.
MM03

“The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts, all on a summer day: The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts, and took them quite away!”

While this theft isn’t worthy of the Queen’s favorite punishment of decapitation, after you eat these tarts, you might agree that the Knave had the right idea.

ANALYSIS

Yield

About 10-12 Tarts

Ingredients

4 oz butter (1 stick)
4 oz cream cheese
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup All-Purpose flour
red fruit jam of your choice

Apparatus

  • Electric stand mixer or food processor
  • Plastic cling wrap
  • Rolling pin
  • Two heart-shaped cookie cutters (One should fit inside the other.)
  • Cookie sheet pan

Procedure

  1. Into the bowl of your mixer or food processor, mix together the butter and cream cheese. Then add the sugar and salt and mix to combine well.
  2. On low speed, add the flour and mix to combine until a smooth dough forms.
  3. Lay down a sheet of plastic cling wrap. Roll out your ball of dough into a circle about 1-inch thick. Now wrap the dough up in the plastic wrap and chill it in your refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm up. If you don’t intend to work with it immediately, it can stay in the fridge for about 3 days, but then when you take it out to work with it, it will need to rest at room temperature for about 15 to 20 minutes to be pliable enough to roll out.
  4. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, if you have some, or a silicon non-stick baking mat is better. If not, spray down your cookie sheet with a non-stick spray.
  5. Dust your work surface with flour and then roll your dough out carefully to about 1/8-inch thick. If the dough breaks up, it is too cold, so let it rest. If it is too sticky, dust the dough and your rolling pin with flour.
  6. Use the larger cookie cutter to cut the dough into hearts. One heart will be used for a bottom crust. With another heart, cut out the middle with the smaller cutter and carefully remove the inside. This outline of a heart then goes on top of a bottom crust. Save all of the inside pieces to roll out again.
  7. With the remaining dough from the inside pieces, roll out again and repeat cutting them out. You might find it easier to make the double cut outline pieces first, reserve the insides, and roll them out to make new bottoms.
  8. Depending on the sizes of your cookie cutters, you should be able to get about 10-12 tart crusts onto a cookie sheet. Depending on the firmness of your dough, you may find it easiest to lay down all of the bottoms first then carefully lay down the outline edge crust dough on top. Gently press together so that the dough will bake together as one.
  9. In the outlined well of each crust dough, fill with a little less than a teaspoon of your favorite jam. Try to smooth it out inside if you can, but don’t worry too much; as these bake, they will spread out inside. If you fill them with too much jam, they will bubble over.
  10. Bake in your pre-heated oven on the middle rack for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the crusts are golden brown.
  11. Let the tarts cool on a rack if you have one. When the jam centers are firm, they are ready to eat.

DISSECTION

This recipe scales easily, since the butter and cream cheese are equal values and match well with a full cup of flour. I originally used 4 oz by weight of flour (a scant cup), but the dough was way too sticky. I added enough flour to make a full cup and the dough was still moist without being too tacky.

POST-MORTEM

I can absolutely see why the Knave of Hearts would steal these tarts, and why the Queen might overreact when they are gone. They are so flaky and tender and delicious. If you make them with different jams, you can have a wonderful variety to enjoy.

Morbid Meals – Sanguinaccio Dolce Gelato

Oh the weather outside is frightful, enough to make us melt. What we need is some ice scream. I have just the bloody good treat for us all. That is, as long as you are not squeamish. Why? Because the time has come for a recipe featuring pig’s blood. That’s right, we’re making a “Sundae, bloody sundae”.
 

EXAMINATION

Sanguinaccio dolce is an Italian pudding that was traditionally made with pig’s blood. It was a common treat during festivals held before Lent, like Carnivale, as the goal was to use up everything rich and sweet before fasting for Lent. Pancake Tuesday is another such celebration, and then there’s Mardi Gras, of course.
 
Sanguinaccio dolce is a sweet chocolate sauce that when cooked long enough can be as thick and rich as your favorite package pudding. Blood is a perfect thickening agent and brings a natural earthy flavor that perfectly complements the cocoa without overpowering it. The truth is, with all of the sugar and honey in this recipe, you can’t taste the blood or the salt used to cure it.
 
There are many recipes out there and for 99% of them they exclude the blood (because of various kosher and safety laws as well as modern folks’ general avoidance of consuming blood). That’s understandable, but then it isn’t sanguinaccio — that would just be “Italian” chocolate pudding. The other recipes cheat by using a lot of dairy to dilute the blood and don’t have the right sweetness, so they often add solid chocolate. Those recipes tend to have a smoother taste and feel to them, but still seem like an apology for using blood. This recipe instead is blood and sugar and cocoa and there’s no denying the key nature of blood to the recipe. I find it to be more traditional as well as a tastier pudding.
 
So the big question is probably where to buy the blood. Blood banks typically frown on withdrawals. Thanks to the prevalence of frozen blood that has already been salted, it is readily available and safe to eat. Some gourmet stores sell it, but I always find it at my local “asian” market freezers. In fact, you can find pork as well as beef blood in many stores. I find that the flavor is stronger in beef blood, so I prefer pork blood especially in a sweet recipe like this.
 
If you do know a local butcher who can save some blood for you, you can get it cheaper that way, and you’ll know it is fresher as well. Make sure they salt it (and they’ll probably add vinegar, too) so it will be safe to cook with. Notice I said safe “to COOK with”. Whether it is fresh or frozen, I do not recommend drinking blood. There are just too many unknowns and frankly from what I’ve been told, it just isn’t very tasty. So do me a solid and cook it, don’t drink it. Thanks.
 
This recipe presented here is actually for two things: sanguinaccio dolce pudding and sanguinaccio dolce gelato. You’ll need to make the pudding first because it is the base for the gelato, but it also makes the perfect chocolate syrup for a sundae. If you want to just enjoy a traditional sanguinaccio dolce pudding, throw in the flavorings and top with the garnish and enjoy. I however think a “sundae, bloody sundae” is the best application here, especially for a hot summer day.
 
ANALYSIS

Makes: 1.5 quarts of Sanguinaccio Dolce, or 2 quarts of Gelato plus sauce

 
Sanguinaccio Dolce
24 fl.oz (3 cup) pork blood
24 fl.oz (3 cup) golden syrup or honey
16 oz (1 lb) sugar
4 oz cocoa or carob powder
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
 
Optional Flavorings
1 long stick cinnamon
5 cloves
1/4 cup raisins
grated rind from 2 oranges
1 shot of Crème de cacao liqueur or Kahlúa — skip if making gelato or it won’t set
 
Optional Garnish
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or whole roasted pinon nuts
1 strip lemon peel, thinly sliced
 
For Gelato
3 cups whole milk
1 cup half and half
 
Apparatus
Double boiler – or a large pot with a large bowl that sits snug on top
Ice cream or gelato machine
 
Procedure

To Make Pudding

  1. In the top vessel of your double boiler, add the cocoa powder and gradually mix in the blood. Make sure you have no lumps.
  2. In the bottom vessel, add water to whatever marked point it may have, or just about an inch below the bottom of the top vessel.
  3. Stack the vessels and turn the heat on to medium.
  4. Into the cocoa mixture, add the golden syrup/honey and mix thoroughly, then mix in the sugar and melted butter.
  5. If you are using any of the flavorings, add them in now.
  6. Cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens beyond syrup and hot fudge to a pudding thickness, at least 30 minutes. Depending on the size of your double boiler and heat of the water, there is a magic point when all puddings go from watery mess to luscious, viscous goodness. Resist the urge to crank up the heat to a boil, as the pudding will curdle and separate. Have patience, you will be rewarded.
  7. If you are only making this for pudding, pour it into serving dishes and garnish as you like, but allow it to cool completely. Chill in your refrigerator if you like.

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To Make Gelato
  1. Once you have a thick pudding like sauce, remove from heat and transfer one quart of it (4 cups) to a container to chill. If you have the room for it in your fridge, feel free to use the ice cream machine’s bowl to save yourself some trouble. Your ingredients need to start off very cold. The remaining sauce can be reserved as a topping or a pudding to enjoy separately.
  2. When the sanguinaccio is chilled as cold as your milk and cream, then into the bowl add the milk and half&half, and mix thoroughly. Resist the urge to drink this ambrosia as it will be the BEST CHOCOLATE MILK YOU’VE EVER HAD. Seriously, if you drink this, you will have no gelato, and that will make you sad.
  3. Setup your ice cream maker per instructions and start churning. I hope you have an electric one. As quaint as those hand-crank models are, I’m not THAT into period reproduction.
  4. After about 40 minutes, the gelato should be done. You would normally let an ice cream go until the motor stops, but this is too firm for gelato.
  5. Scoop out your gelato into cones or serving dishes.
  6. Top with some of the reserved sauce, some homemade whipped cream, and bright red cherry, and you have a “sundae, bloody sundae”.

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DISSECTION
There is a difference between ice cream and gelato. From what I have read, it is primarily in the milk/cream ratio. You want 8% or less fat for gelato. Ice creams are on the heavier side. There are also differences in the freezing and traditions between “American” ice cream and “Italian” gelato. When it all goes into a churning machine though, unless you are buying specific equipment, then the machine will make either recipe the same way. Typically if using an “ice cream machine” to make gelato, when you hear those first tell tale signs that the churning has resistance, stop it there. Gelato has a smoother feel because there aren’t as many ice crystals as formed by letting the machine go until it seizes up and stops, as you would for ice cream.
 
It is possible to make this without an ice cream machine. Instead, you will need a 2 quart freezer-safe container with a lid. Just pour your mixture into that and cover tightly with the lid. Place the container into your freezer and let it freeze until firm, at least 4 hours. You might want to stir it every hour. Not aggressively but enough to make sure it freezes evenly.
 
When you buy the frozen blood, once you thaw it, you have roughly 24 hours to use it, and that is with refrigeration. If you have fresh blood, you will have even less time to use it, and you have to be even more careful about preparing it with the right amount of salt and vinegar, and how long you cook it, etc. Trust me. Frozen blood. A modern vampire’s best friend.
 
On another ingredient point, do NOT use corn syrup. Not only is that just outright bad for you, the pudding will not set. Golden syrup aka treacle is the best choice, if you can find it. Here in the states I can find it in most import shops. (My local chippie — yes in Phoenix, AZ, thank you very much — actually sells it and lots of stuff for the expats.) Honey will do in a pinch. I’ve thought about trying this with molasses or with fruit preserves, but haven’t yet.
 
 
POST-MORTEM
How fun is this recipe? Seriously! I’m not even a huge fan of chocolate, but this has been my favorite thing EVER since I started making it. We don’t make it often because most people cringe when I tell them what it is. Trust me though when I say this stuff is an excellent chocolate gelato and you will never look at ice cream the same again. No other chocolate ice cream will compare. Sure others are a heck of a lot easier to make (or just buy, psh) but as I’m hoping you’ll agree, these Morbid Meals are worth the extra effort.