5 Famous Snacks That Are Surprisingly Hard To Make At Home
I love baking, and not just generic swill like cookies and cake -- I'll happily re-create the stuff you normally find slumming on store shelves. It's my own, delicious take on raging against the corporate machine. I recently made Nutella, and surely Ferrero's feeling the sting of me refusing to line their billion-dollar pockets with three extra bucks.
But the whole "DIY recipe" thing only works when it's a few ingredients and a few simple steps. Anything beyond that and you get a ridiculous time-and-money-sucker whose lack of "natural flavor" doesn't justify the endless obstacles between you and chewing. I know this because I recently tried a bunch of them, and let's just say I won't be quitting Cracked to join the Cake Boss anytime soon ...
At first, this recipe seemed super easy. It's just three ingredients, after all: vanilla ice cream, chocolate, and coconut oil. Despite the Internet's dogged insistence on passing off professional, high-budget craftwork as so gosh-dang easy even your broke, clumsy ass could do it, there was seemingly no way to screw up ice cream and chocolate.
I found a way.
For one, the recipe says to let the ice cream soften in the fridge for 30 minutes. I did, and it didn't even approach "soft." I could have kept it in there longer, probably, but that would mean more time between me and chewing. So instead I channeled my inner jilted lover and beat the hardness with a large spoon until it went completely soft.
It's the least popular fetish of all.
And even then, it barely worked. The above lumpy mess is my pathetic attempt to evenly spread stubborn ice cream in a pan lined with equally stubborn parchment paper. After finally giving up, it was time to freeze Mt. Cream for ... a whole fucking night. So, probably extra fridge-time wouldn't have mattered after all.
The next damn day, I took the ice cream out to cut it into squares, which I had to do quickly or else everything would melt. Well, I'm way too clumsy and distractible for a kitchen speedrun, as my squashed, crooked, and broken bars will attest.
I scream, you scream, we all scream in agony.
Then, it was time to freeze everything for another goddamn hour. This was fast becoming less what I would do for a Klondike bar and more what my grandkids would do. At least I could finally make my melted chocolate and coconut oil fudgy shell. The oil hardens the chocolate once it touches something cold, and unless you just dump the entire bottle in, you can't screw this part up.
You CAN, however, screw up the coating process, like I did. I needed to remove the bars from the pan and dip them in chocolate. Repeatedly, the ice cream stuck to the paper, which further busted already-busted squares. And when I COULD remove them, covering them completely in chocolate was a near impossibility. This is literally the best I could do:
The undersides were even more impressive:
Honestly, more chocolate ended up on me than on some of these bars:
Taken out of context, I am just so, so disgusting.
Thirty MORE minutes of freezing later, my Klondike Shrunken Melting Nazi Faces were finally ready to eat. Some had pompadours.
What would you do-oo-oo for a covenant?
They tasted fine -- tough to make ice cream and chocolate disgusting unless you add moldy broccoli -- but 10-plus hours of freezing and re-freezing, all for chocolate-covered Chernobyl, didn't even approach "worth it." Just buy Klondike bars or, better yet, spoon melted chocolate into your maw until your aorta explodes. Don't forget the coconut oil, though, because it's healthy.
Fruit By The Foot
Much like the Klondike bars, DIY Fruit By The Foot involves three ingredients (strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice) that apparently only Betty Crocker can put together like an adult.
It started out easily enough -- I mashed the berries, mixed in sugar and lemon, pureed it into juice, and then boiled it for a few minutes. Then came the pure bullshit: I had to pour it onto two baking sheets and spread it until it was one-eighth of an inch thick. I did what I could, considering measuring an eighth of an inch of free-flowing liquid is damn near impossible, and this is what I got:
Exactly how the fuck was I supposed to get two sheets out of that? The puree was already thinner than Prince William's hair in a bunch of areas, and attempts to further spread the center merely created more scary thinness. So, whatever; fuck the second sheet and everything it loves -- time to bake!
For five hours. I needed a lot of porn to pass the time. Once both of us finished, I found that one of us didn't finish:
This was supposed to be dried and leathery, like a goddamn Fruit By The Foot. Not squishy soft, uncooked puree I should've used as syrup for actual food. But the transparent outsides sure were dried, all right all right! It was like chewing thin ice, and rolling it up was a near-impossibility, but at least it was dry.
But before I could roll anything, I had to remove my fruit blanket from the paper. Except they had apparently eloped in the oven, because they really didn't want to be apart:
Finally, after countless rips and tears, I got all the paper off. Sadly, the result wasn't Fruit By The Foot, but rather Fruit By The Dead Skin Mask:
Even Buffalo Bill needs to snack healthy.
If that wasn't enough fun for one day, I then had to transfer the fruit to wax paper, cut it into strips, and roll it up into fun fruit snack form. And naturally, the cutting was uneven, the overdried corners snapped apart immediately, and rolling this shit was tougher than wrangling schoolchildren on bath salts.
But less fun.
It tasted almost all right, so if sticky strawberry hardtack is your thing, go for it, I guess. Just be prepared to deal with endless paper-tearing bullshit, as I learned two nights later when I gave up on life just long enough to snack on one.
A rare romance that lasts forever.
Homemade fortune cookies: because low-calorie, zero-fat food that restaurants happily provide for free just isn't cheap or healthy enough.
I needed six egg whites for the cookie batter. Not six eggs, six whites. I suck at separating eggs on a good day, and this was not a good day. So I life-hacked it by breaking all six never-chickens into a cup and scooping out the yolks.
This is the closest I'll ever come to bodybuilding.
Unlike most life hacks, this one worked, aside from the bits of shell I kept having to fish out. Next up was the almond butter, which is fucking expensive if you buy anything but the tiny $1 squeeze packs the store clerk did not want me to see. Good thing I found them, because nothing makes a recipe kick like ingredients that resemble actual diarrhea.
Back to the bathroom for another selfie.
Then, with everything added, it was time to mix. Or, rather, wrestle, since this was some of the heaviest batter I've ever seen.
I should've just made one giant fortune boulder and called it a night.
It was probably the stickiest too. My next step was to take a teaspoon of batter and swirl it into a three-inch circle. I didn't even come close, and after multiple re-spreads and failed attempts to even out the batter, I ended up with twisted funhouse-mirror versions of an actual circle:
I only needed to cook these things for five minutes, after which the real fun began: more super-speed! I had to slap the fortune down on the cookie, fold it in half, and then drape it over a cup to make it bendy. So to summarize: I had to touch a 400-degree pan to grab tiny, 400-degree gristles of batter -- with my bare hands, mind you -- and ow ow ow my way to the cup to make it bend right. All in under 30 seconds, because those gristles harden fast.
The results disgraced China more than actual fortune cookies do:
Broken, crumbling, bland cookies -- one of which refused to bend more than a couple millimeters -- meant nothing but an afternoon wasted on the most useless kitchen activity since dishwashing. About the only reason to make your own cookies is to write your own, actual fortunes instead of the vague prophecies and bullshit daily affirmations restaurants love to shove down our gullets.
Here's my fortune. I'll let you know if it comes true:
Just when you thought it was safe to eat all the honey ...
This recipe for Cheez-Its made out of love calls for annatto seeds. So my first step was to Google what annatto seeds are. Turns out they're inedible red clumps sold in sub-dollar bags, used mainly to color food -- here, they'd turn my cheese crackers a brighter shade of cheez.
Kind of. The recipe told me to finely crush and grind the annatto before mixing it with boiling water. I did, but instead of getting nice, orange water, I had to settle for barely damp seed residue:
I miss my 79 cents already.
It appears that ground annatto is not the same as ground anything else. I mixed the annatto dirt together with the other ingredients (plus extra water, since my bone-dry dough could've passed for the surface of Mars) and then rolled it out to a length that was almost certainly wrong. The recipe called for dough 1/16th of an inch thick, which is almost microscopic and would probably require a kitchen counter longer than a school bus. Sadly, mine is merely as long as a stretch limo('s windshield).
After multiple botched attempts to stretch the dough without having it make love to the cat-hair-ridden floor, I threw up my hands and decided to move on. Next step: remove the dough from the cutting board and onto the parchment paper. Pretty simple, right?
Nope! That taintsucker tore immediately, and then it tore again. And again. And again. Once I finally got it all on the paper, I didn't have a nice, organized rectangle of cheesy dough. Instead, I had a rejected world map from Final Fantasy.
The chocobos add extra crunch.
After cutting my map into several hundred tiny, terrible squares, I went to stab a hole in the center of each one, because hole-less Cheez-Its simply aren't whole. The crackers must've enjoyed their poking, because a good many of them got clingy:
Finally, it was time to bake. Thus far, these crackers weren't turning out how the pretty website said they would. But surely a round in the oven would change all that.
Needs more chocobo.
I was surely wrong. See how I'm bending the cracker? That's post-oven -- they went in soft and squishy and came out soft and squishy. Even better: Despite my clearly cutting all the way through to the paper, I apparently did not cut all the way through to the paper:
On the other hand, I just discovered how to make flavorless waffles.
Once I broke the squares up by hand, I sampled a couple. And then chucked the rest. So much for that part of my life. The crackers tasted vaguely of cheese, though considering I grated a whole goddamn block of cheddar into the mix, I expected much more than "vague." And the seed-dirt certainly gave them color, though it was much more of a dull rust than a bright orange. Basically, if real Cheez-Its are Superman, then this recipe is Man Of Steel.
One last half-baked attempt at baking before I go, and it was absolutely my worst effort. I tried to make Peeps, which I now believe is like trying to re-create the magic of intergalactic wizards.
My original plan was to make those adorable bunnies you see above, but it turns out bunny-shaped silicone baking molds disappear around Easter. Same goes for ducks and chicks -- the only mold shape left was a heart. Well, that and a penis mold, but waiting for that to ship would've been too long and hard to bear.
So I settled for just the head.
And then came the mixing of ingredients like sugar, gelatin, and corn syrup, which would theoretically transform into the marshmallow-in-name-only goodness that made Just Born's CEO the cult leader he is today. The recipe called for a ton of white sugar, except I no longer had any. I blew it all on fortune cookies and Fruit By The Foot, and payday was sadly not that day. So, I substituted the next best thing: brown sugar.
And now I can make my own motor oil.
Despite brown sugar's knack for making food wetter than the white stuff does, my Peeps solidified after a mere three hours of sitting around waiting, just like the recipe said I would. Here they are out of their molds, and three cheers to me for not crushing them to an unrecognizable pulp like those poor Klondike bars:
It's the only correct thing I did this entire article.
The final step involved colored sugar, something a lack of funds also meant I didn't have. Luckily, I had another Next Best Thing: a shitload of sprinkles (which are basically colored sugar specks anyway) that I crushed up and poured over my Peeps. Behold, my ultimate DIY creation!
OK, so they didn't look like Peeps on the outside, but it's the inside that counts, right?
OK, so they were ugly there too. But what of the taste? If one bite made me reach for a towel to clean up the mess I made down there, then who cares how dumb it looked? Well, bad news there too: DIY Peeps taste like ... nothing. The sugar might as well have been air. The sprinkles were useless, and I have the sinking feeling actual colored sugar would've been no better. I couldn't even taste the vanilla extract I poured in there. It was jellified "eh."
Maybe in the future, when I'm world-famous with more money than Floyd Mayweather, all the time in the world, all the room in the world, and every kitchen tool ever made at my disposal, I'll try some of these asinine recipes again. Until then, I'll just stick to cakes, cookies, brownies, candies, and anything else I can both create and enjoy.
Besides, we'll always have Nutella.
For more from Jason, check out 5 Real Art Projects That Quickly Turned Into Crimes and 5 Game Shows That Butchered Family Games in Hilarious Ways.
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