Yesterday, 250,000 people received a gift of “miracle berries” from Cards Against Humanity during their 10 Days or Whatever of Kwanzaa. Being a miracle berry fan for a good amount of years (yes, I’m pulling the Hipster card on miracle berries), I’m thrilled that others are being introduced to this fun activity.
First of all: What are miracle berries? Miracle berries (Synsepalum dulcificum) are a berry native to Africa. The berries coat your taste buds, blocking certain taste receptors (like sour and bitter), making anything you consume taste sweeter than it would without the berry. The effect lasts up to an hour. (I find it lasts around 30 minutes on average.) What you received in the mail is not the berry itself–it’s the berry plus cornstarch, made into a tablet.
While the people who manufacture/sell the berry tablets may tell you this can serve as a daily supplement and a way to live a healthier lifestyle (your vegetables taste sweet and you don’t want to eat as much candy!), I think these are best used for tasting parties. Invite your friends over and have everyone bring a sour or bitter item that they’d like to try on the berries. Then, pop the pill (this sounds way worse than it is), and get tasting! We’ve found that as soon as people try one thing, they start to ravage the spread, wanting to know what everything tastes like. Once the spread is gone, they’ll move onto your pantry and fridge. You’ve been warned.
Below are some of my favorite items to try with miracle berries. These have been tested and approved–they’re musts at your party! But a word of warning: A lot of these foods are acidic or harsh on the stomach, but they won’t taste that way. Although it will be tasty, you’ll still be consuming larger amounts of lemons, limes, vinegar, and other sour/bitter items than you’re used to. Use moderation and keep some Tums/Alka Seltzer nearby!
- Limes and Lemons (These are just amazing, Particularly limes. It’s my go-to favorite with miracle berries.)
- Balsamic Vinegar (It’s sweet and not harsh at all. But that doesn’t mean you should chug large amounts! Read the disclaimer in the paragraph above!)
- Guinness (Tastes like a chocolate shake. Any Porter/Stout will be ridiculously good.)
- Cream Cheese (Tastes like cheesecake.)
- Strawberries (It’s like you dipped them in sugar, but you DIDN’T! Magic.)
The following is a list of other suggested foods to try from various sources, including Cards Against Humanity, Amazon, and blogs/forum posts. I can’t vouch for the deliciousness of all of these, but it’s at least a starting off point for your tasting party!
- BBQ sauce
- Bitter chocolate
- Cottage Cheese
- Granny Smith apples
- Pickles (or anything pickled)
- Salt and Vinegar chips
- Sour Candies (warheads, sour patch kids)
- Sour Cream
- Stinky cheese (bleu cheese and goat cheese, specifically)
- Tabasco (or other hot sauces)
- Tonic water
What are your fave foods to have with miracle berries? Let me know in the comments! Didn’t receive the berries from Cards Against Humanity, but still want to try it? You can find them on Amazon!
I have a growing collection of cupcakes pans, and while I often will grab the first one I see, sometimes I want to be more specific with the pans I use. If I’m baking cupcakes for others (and especially if it’s for a special event), I want to make sure the cupcakes are all evenly baked and the best they can possibly be. I’ve wanted to test the differences in my pans for a while, and I was recently given the opportunity to test the KitchenAid Professional grade muffin pans. It was the perfect chance! I could finally tell what was best: dark non-stick pans, shiny pans, or a more designer brand, like the KitchenAid Pro.
Now, I tried to be as scientific as possible, but there are a LOT of variables when cooking cupcakes. I used a basic vanilla cupcake mix I’ve made before, I used white cupcake liners so I could see the results more easily, and I tried to fill all of the cups as evenly as I could. However, one of the cake pans got a bit warmer than the others based on where they were sitting on the stove, and their location in the oven could have also affected the results (although my oven heats pretty evenly). I would have to repeat this test a couple more times to make sure things were truly accurate. Now that that’s all out of the way: on to the results!
Straight out of the oven and onto the cooling rack. I placed a few cupcakes from each pan here. On the left, we have the KitchenAid Pro. In the middle, we have the light colored shiny pan. And on the right is the darker nonstick pan. (The KitchenAid Pro is also a dark nonstick model.) You can see that overall, they look very similar. The cupcakes all turned out the same color, and all rose relatively the same. But when you look closer, you can see some minor differences. The shiny pan cupcakes (in the middle) did not rise as evenly as the nonstick pans on either side of them. They also have more browning/discoloration around the sides and bottoms. The nonstick pan cupcakes (particularly the KitchenAid Pro ones on the left) are more even. The cupcakes are all around the same size and same color.
Again, we’ve got KitchenAid on the left, shiny in the middle, and nonstick on the right. You can see that the cupcakes from the shiny pan were a tiny bit lighter on the top/sides…
…Yet, the bottom was not the lightest. The KitchenAid cupcakes had the most even coloring, with only a bit of browning on the bottom. The other two pans were significantly darker.
Overall, there wasn’t a huge difference. Once these are frosted and put into a box, no one’s going to be able to tell which ones were from which pans. They all tasted the same. (I tasted all three for you, dear readers. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.) The real difference is in the subtleties. If you’re a professional baker or making cupcakes for someone with a refined cupcake palette, you may want to get the KitchenAid Pro pans. (Plus, overall, they feel and perform very well. They’re easy to clean, and they look and feel very nice. And I feel fancy using something from their professional-grade line!) If you don’t bake cupcakes often and would rather get something a bit cheaper, I’d still make sure you get a dark, nonstick pan. The cupcakes looked a bit better than the shiny pans, and the pans overall hold up better and look nicer than the shiny ones.
Do you have a cupcake pan preference? Have you tried the KitchenAid professional-grade pans? Any great cupcake baking tips? Let me know in the comments!
Truffles are one of my go-to treats for the holidays. They’re a delicious treat that would be considered a bit of a luxury when bought from a chocolate shop. Once you get the hang of the recipe, it’s a lot of fun to create custom flavor and presentation combos to suit the recipient. These fireball truffles were created for a Dungeons and Dragons lover. The truffle, named after a popular spell from D&D, has a hint of spice and a bit of a kick from the Pop Rocks. Use them to butter up a new DM or make them for everyone in your adventuring party!
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream,
- 2 12 oz. bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- red Pop Rocks
In a medium-sized saucepan, mix the cream, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon together over medium-low heat. Heat until it starts simmering.
Turn off the stove and start adding 12 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate chips into the mixture. Stir until the chocolate has melted and everything is smooth and mixed together.
Pour the mixture onto a wax paper lined pie plate or shallow casserole dish. Place in the fridge to chill for 1+ hours or until firm but scoopable.
Remove the plate from the fridge and roll the truffle filling into small balls using a spoon and your hands. Sizing of the balls is up to you, I’d recommend sizing them somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon. Place the balls on a plate covered in wax paper and place back in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Place the other 12 ounces of chocolate in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, then microwave in 10 second intervals while mixing in between until the chocolate is smooth. Microwaving for longer can result in burnt chocolate. Trust me–you don’t want that. (If your chocolate stops melting/mixing and starts looking clumpy/gritty while smelling bad, you’ve burnt it.)
Pull the truffle balls out of the fridge and dip into the melted chocolate. (Use a fork to fish the truffles out of the chocolate so any excess can go through the tines.) Place the dipped chocolates on a wax paper lined plate or cookie sheet.
While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle red Pop Rocks on the top.
Place back into the fridge until you’re ready to serve!
Cakes Cove makes cakes, chocolates, and other goodies to fit any fandom/party. I’m in love with their life-size R2-D2 cake, their gorgeous chocolate dragon eggs, and their zombie virus rock candy. Ok, that’s a lie. I love everything they make.
I got to try some of the espresso chocolate they make while at Desert Bus, and it’s delicious and caffeinated. If you’re looking for a sweet treat for your party or a gift, you want to reach out to Cakes Cove. (They do custom orders as well!) Visit them at CakesCove.com!
One advantage of being at Desert Bus For Hope is that I get to see the awesome auction items in person. And after I saw the treats from Rocky Mountain Cookies, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. I’ve entered all the drawings and bid on the auctions. I need more of the cookies in my life.
You see, these cookies are gorgeous. And not only do they look great, but they taste amazing (and I’m not even a big sugar cookie person). The star cookie above is cinnamon roll flavored with cream cheese icing, and the cookie with the Child’s Play logo is a sugar cookie with orange blossom-flavored icing. I ate them both back to back.
Rocky Mountain Cookies will create custom cookies for you, which means no matter what your party theme, gift idea, or favorite geekdom is, they can make it happen. And they’re going to be SO GOOD. So good, you guys.
Check them out at rocky-mountain-cookies.com and say “Thanks” to them for helping support Child’s Play through Desert Bus For Hope!
Have you only been eating one breakfast, like a boring human? Chris-Rachael Oseland‘s new book, An Unexpected Cookbook, will get you enjoying breakfast, second breakfast, AND elevensees before you know it.
The book is full of well-researched recipes that fit into the time period and world that Tolkien created. This results in a collection of comforting recipes with whole food ingredients, and pictures and recipes of breads and pies that make me drool.
Inside An Unexpected Cookbook, you’ll find:
- Recipes structured around the Hobbit meals of Breakfast, Second Breakfast, Elevenses, Luncheon, Afternoon Tea, Dinner, and Supper
- All recipes researched by an actual historian and based on the time and region of England that inspired the Shire
- All historical recipes then edited around the limitations Tolkien placed on the Shire to make them fully Hobbit-accurate. (So no new world foods other than coffee, tobacco, and potatoes)
- 50 full page photos of food porn
- Footnotes to help people with dietary restrictions and an appendix to make finding those recipes easier
- 11 Paleo/Primal friendly recipes
- 19 Gluten Free friendly recipes
- 20 Vegan friendly recipes (which happen to be kosher and halal)
- 40 Vegetarian friendly recipes (including the vegan ones)
This book, which will come out just in time for your holiday feast or gift-giving occasion, can be pre-ordered for $19.95 on Etsy. Your pre-order will be signed AND come with a bonus poster!
Will you be picking up the book? And how many breakfasts do you have on a normal day?
Looking for a fun, healthy, last minute Halloween snack? Make this “Bloody Brain” dip! The garlic walnut dip is placed in a cauliflower “brain” and is perfect at a Halloween or zombie-themed party with some bread, crackers, or veggies. See below for the recipe featured in the video. (And special thanks to Sante Nuts for sharing the recipe!)
Nutty “Bloody Brain” Dip
by George Duran
7-oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained
1 C. Panko bread crumbs
1 5-oz. package of Santé Candied Walnuts
3 garlic cloves, pressed or crushed
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. dried hot red pepper flakes
1 tsp. kosher salt
¾ C. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large cauliflower for “brain”
In a food processor, place all of the ingredients except olive oil and pulse until coarse. Slowly add olive oil and process until smooth. Set aside.
Make cauliflower “brain” by trimming leaves and bottom stem. Make hole in the top center of cauliflower by gently cutting a ring that will fit a small bowl. Keep digging through the top half of cauliflower until the bowl fits snuggly. Place dip inside bowl, making sure it overflows around cauliflower “brain.”
Serve with pita chips.
No matter what your plans are or what type of treat you make, I wish you a happy, safe, and spooky Halloween!
While at NYCC, I passed by a booth with cookie samples. Clearly, I had to stop. The cookie flavors all sounded amazing, and the one I tried (Cadiz: birthday cake, crisped rice, and rainbow sprinkles) was even better than I could imagine. It had a bit of a buttery, salty taste to balance the sweetness of the flavor, and it was perfect. Even better? I found out all of the cookies come with a small comic book, showcasing the adventures of the male unicorns the cookies are named after.
The brand is Einhorn’s Epic Cookies, and you don’t need to be at NYCC to get your hands on them–you can buy them online! The cookie flavors are:
Houston: Chocolate chip and potato chip
Cadiz: Birthday cake, crisped rice, and rainbow sprinkles
Romsey: Peanut butter, bacon, and chocolate chip
Broxburn: Oatmeal, chocolate chip, and maple
I’m kicking myself that I didn’t pick up at least one of every flavor when I was there.
If you like cookies, comics, and unicorns, you’ve gotta get your hands on these cookies. Find out more info at einhorns-epic-cookies.com.
What flavor are you loving most?
Dominique Ansel, the creator of the Cronut, released a home version of the recipe for his famous pastry. And people are freaking out.
The recipe takes 3 days to make, but if you follow the directions (and have all of the tools), it’s really not that tough. Most of the time is allowing dough to rest and ganaches to marinade with their flavors. By breaking it into 3 days, you can do a bit each evening after work and have an amazing pastry ready for brunch or a party over the weekend!
Have you tried one of his cronuts? Will you be making the recipe?
I wanted to make a burger-themed cupcake in honor of the new Bob’s Burgers season premiere, and I’ve always wanted to try this version I’ve seen around. I thought it would be difficult to make it look convincing, but it was surprisingly easy. I had multiple people asking if they were sliders.
Bonus? These cupcakes are fantastic if you plan on dressing up as Gene at a con or for Halloween. The cupcakes are the perfect size for his sample tray, and they’ll last a lot longer than real burgers!
The recipe is adapted from Duncan Hines. Check it out below!
- 1 Box Yellow Cake Mix, plus ingredients listed in the instructions on the back
- 1 Box Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix, plus ingredients listed in the instructions on the back
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 cup (or more, to taste) shredded coconut
- Red, Yellow, and Green gel food coloring
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- Bake yellow cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes in greased cupcake pans WITHOUT cupcake wrappers. Follow the instructions on the back of the cake mix boxes.
- Let cupcakes cool in the pan for around 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a rack to completely cool.
- Make buttercream frosting by putting the unsalted butter into a mixer and mixing on medium-high until butter is completely smooth and against the bowl.
- Slowly add in the powdered sugar to the butter until it is fully mixed.
- Add in the vanilla extract and salt and mix until you have a whipped buttercream frosting texture.
- Split the buttercream frosting into 3 separate bowls. Add red coloring to one until it looks like ketchup, add yellow coloring to one until it looks like mustard, and keep one white.
- Mix the shredded coconut and a small amount of the green food coloring in a bowl until it looks like shredded lettuce.
- Slice the yellow cupcakes in half horizontally.
- Slice the chocolate cupcakes in thirds horizontally. (You should be able to cut the bottom in half, and then slice a small portion of the rounded bit off the top to create three “meat patties”.)
- Spread a small amount of the white frosting in the center of the bottom half of the yellow cupcake. Place a brown cupcake “patty” on top.
- Using a pastry bag and a small round tip, pipe the frosting around the edges of the brown cupcake “patty”. Allowing the frosting to fall over onto the sides will help it show up even more once it’s all pieced together!
- Sprinkle the coconut “lettuce” on top of the frosting.
- Place the top of the yellow cupcake on top of your mini cupcake burger.
- Lightly brush the top of the cupcake with water and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
- Marvel at the adorable hamburger cupcake you’ve just created! Repeat until all cupcakes have been made.