My 2016 Election Party

This post sponsored by the foundation to give Beeb cookies. I’m Beeb, and I approved this message.

A historic election day has come and gone. This year has made me sorely miss Hunter Thompson; no one else can capture the insanity of this election year the way he could have. Unfortunately, that brilliant writer died in 2005, so you are stuck with this blogger talking about cookie cakes instead.

2016 election party

Last night, I hosted an informal election viewing party where I served these election cookie cakes. The cakes were the brainchild of GourmetGiftBaskets.com, whom I’ve done many product reviews for in the past. I have a rule that if a press release can get me to laugh, I’ll respond, so when they shot me an email asking if I’d like to try these cakes and cast a vote in the “Cookie electoral college”, I had to say yes. Being British, I am not able to vote in American elections, so a symbolic cookie vote is all I could cast. Before you call me lucky for not having to vote this year, may I remind you of Brexit? (If you’d like to make your own Brexit cookie cake, simply break off one cookie piece, throw the rest in a dumpster, and then complain that you’re still hungry.)

On Election night 2008, I was invited to an election viewing party that a friend was hosting. I made election cupcakes, and the host provided red and blue food and cocktails. It was a way to lighten an otherwise tense evening, and Jai and I were glad we went. So I told my BFF to join us last night for to watch the results with a menu of Pinot Grigio, election cookie cakes, Pinot Grigio, chips and dip, Pinot Grigio, pizza, and a little more Pinot Grigio. After all, during times of distress, everyone needs comfort food.

2016 election cookie cakes

I received cakes bearing the likenesses of three candidates, which had arrived in mid-October as an advance preview sample; I wanted to save them for election night, so I froze them, and it worked beautifully! I’m mentioning this because I specifically Googled “Can you freeze cookie cakes” and got no real results, so hopefully I will now be the #1 result for this highly competitive keyword. Freezing didn’t have any effect on the frosting, and they all tasted great, so if you’ve ever laid awake at night wondering the answer to that question, now you know. Anyway, back to the election (if we must):

The Cookie Cakes

President-elect Donald Trump:

Donald Trump Cookie Cake

Campaign slogan: “Make America a cake again & grab ‘em by the cookies”

Hillary Clinton’s cake appears to be the victim of a literal smear campaign – art imitates life, etc…

Hillary Clinton cookie cake

Campaign slogan: “I should have deleted the cookies off my private server”

We even had a third party option with Gary Johnson:

Gary Johnson cookie cake

Campaign slogan: “I don’t know what a cookie cake is”

Unlike this election year, these cookies didn’t leave a sour taste in my mouth. All three were a tasty bipartisan treat!

Presidential Cookie Cakes, For Your Election Catastrophe

This post sponsored by the foundation to give Beeb cookies. I’m Beeb, and I approved this message.

This election year has been full of doom and gloom. If you’re looking for something sweet to get the sour taste out of your mouth, then check out these hilarious cookie cakes as a salve for your electile dysfunction:

Election cakes

Yes, that’s right: You can now buy cookie cakes bearing the likeness of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or Gary Johnson – sorry, Jill Stein, looks like you’ve been forgotten again. These cookie cakes are the brainchild of GourmetGiftBaskets.com, who have also set up an online “Cookie Tuesday” poll…think of it as FiveThirtyEight, but for cookies. I’ll let their amusing press release explain further:

“Given the bitter nature of this year’s U.S. Presidential Election, GourmetGiftBaskets.com launched two polls as part of its Presidential Cookie Cake Campaign to sweeten the deal for the electorate a few weeks ago.

The popular online retailer has declared today “Cookie Tuesday” – the day when results from these polls can be revealed, showing what voters (and cookie lovers) are really thinking. The first poll, representing the Cookie Campaign’s popular vote, shows Donald Trump with 44% of the total, Hillary Clinton with 42%, and Gary Johnson with 14%. These results reflect the preferences of over 2,000 adults who have visited the voting site to date.

The second poll was meant to delve into the sentiments of voters in each state, as well as the District of Columbia. Nicknamed the GourmetGiftBaskets.com Electoral College, it surveyed over 1,200 adults at 51 companies, ranging from Mom & Pop establishments to Fortune 100 corporations. A company in each state was sent three, 10-inch cookie cakes, featuring caricatures of each candidate. The first cake to be eaten was declared the winner of that state.

Trump won 209 electoral votes, triumphing in 25 states, while Clinton had 184 votes, emerging victorious in 17 states. Clinton came out on top in some surprise states, including often-conservative Texas, while Trump won in Massachusetts, a liberal-leaning state.

But neither candidate acquired the necessary 270 votes to actually win the Electoral College, as Gary Johnson claimed a whopping 145 votes, and controlled several “swing states,” including Ohio, Florida and North Carolina.

Comments from the Electoral College voters showed three distinct camps: staunch Clinton supporters, pro-Trump evangelists, or working people who really disliked both of them. Some said that they didn’t even know who Johnson was, but were willing to go with the unknown over Clinton or Trump.

“With just a week before the official election, the GourmetGiftBaskets.com polls truly reflect how close this race is – as well as some disappointment over the choices we have for President,” said GourmetGiftBaskets.com’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing Jason Bergeron. “And these polls demonstrate that Gary Johnson has the potential to steal vital votes from either camp, something that Trump and Clinton supporters have feared, and for good reason.”

To learn more about GourmetGiftBaskets.com’s Presidential Cookie Cake Campaign (#CookieCakeElection), or to voice your choice in the ongoing popular vote, click here. If the Cookie Cake Campaign popular vote changes dramatically in the next week, the company will issue another update to the media.

If you’re interested in ordering your own Presidential Cookie Cake or sending one to a friend, loved one, or even someone who disagrees with your political views, please go here. Each cake is only $34.99 and ships for free.

Finally, if you’re planning an election night party and want to order all three cookie cakes to stage your own mini-elections, you can purchase them together for just $79.99 with free shipping (a savings of nearly $25).

Disclaimer: GourmetGiftBaskets.com, its partners, vendors and subsidiaries are not affiliated with, sanctioned by, or endorsing any candidate. This Presidential Cookie Campaign and the associated polling are strictly being done for fun.”

As a non-US-citizen, the only vote I’ll be able to cast this year is in the Presidential Cookie Campaign, so I’ve already submitted my (somewhat begrudging) cookie ballot. No matter which candidate you choose in this race, it’s a vote to “Let them eat cake”! I received all three of these cakes in the mail, which I’ll be enjoying on election night along with a stiff drink or two. Watch this space to see my review, assuming the apocalypse is not unleashed on November 8th and I still have an Internet connection.

This is What Happens When The Cooking Catastrophe Staff Get Together

I visited Catherine a few weeks back, and we had some grand culinary adventures, from egg tacos to fabulous pastries. But the most memorable began when we ran to the grocery store to pick up a few dinner supplies. While we were going through the checkout, Catherine noticed that the customers in front of us had some very unusual flavors of potato chips; with our curiosity piqued, we had to grab a few bags for ourselves:

Cooking Catastrophe appetizers

Why yes, those are cappuccino flavored potato chips. It sounded so disgusting that we simply had to try it; surprisingly, it wasn’t bad, tasting more like cinnamon and sugar toast than anything else. But Catherine had a brilliant idea:

Dessert nachos

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you: Dessert Nachos. The recipe is simple: Layer a bowl with cappuccino chips, cover with mudslide ice cream, and top with a piece of See’s Candy. I know this sounds horrific, but it was so, so good; eating the chips with the ice cream really brought out the coffee flavor. This dish is best enjoyed with Jack Daniels on the rocks and a viewing of Johnny Mnemonic, for those with truly refined palates like myself.

Housesitting Catastrophes: I Clogged a Bathtub With Ranch Dressing

My Facebook Status...

This was my Facebook status over the weekend. What could inspire such a cryptic update?

Ranch disaster

THAT! What you are looking at is an explosion of Ranch dressing. Let’s get a closeup so you can get a better view of how expansive this mess was:

Fridge Covered in Ranch

Jai and I were housesitting for Grandma while she was out of town, and I had brought along a new appetizer maker that I wanted to try out. I had received it as a review item for MomStart, and wanted to make some fun sandwiches to snack on and serve to my friend who was coming over to celebrate her belated birthday. Grandma had a Costco-sized tub of Ranch dressing in her fridge, and I had gotten the brilliant idea of putting a little on my hors d’oeuvres. I was reaching for a spoon when the tub slipped out of my hands and onto the floor. Not only was the lid off, so the dressing went flying out of the top, but the plastic tub also shattered around the sides, so it went in every direction, reaching as far as the dining room carpet.

I tried mopping it up with paper towels, but the volume of Ranch was far too much; I knew I would need a mop. I couldn’t find a bucket anywhere, so I rinsed the mop in the bathtub…which began to back up. And that, my friends, is how I clogged up a bathrub with Ranch dressing.

Ranch Closeup

It took a while, but we got the hair out of the bathtub that had been causing it to drain slowly and scrubbed every inch of the floors. Between mopping the floors and trying to stop Bob the dog from jumping on the counter and eating all the appetizers, it took me 3 hours to get these sandwiches made.

My Hard-Won Appetizer

At least my appetizers looked nice, right?

Gluten-Free Fail

Gluten-Free Fail

I totally thought I was on to a winner, you guys.

Back in 2010, I received a bag of coconut flour to test out, and I had wanted to make a loaf of bread with it. After doing a bit of Googling, I found that all the recipes were for loaves made by hand – none for a breadmaker, which is what I use primarily because it’s awesome and easy. Since I couldn’t find any bread machine recipes at all, I adapted one of my favorite breadmaker recipes to include coconut flour, and it was a resounding success; to this day, it’s one of my most-visited posts.

However, my recipe only uses partial coconut flour in conjunction with all-purpose flour. Flash forward to this June, when I attended a panel hosted by reality star Tenley Molzahn. Tenley has health issues that have led her to maintaining a gluten-free diet, and after the panel was over she stuck around to chat with attendees and answer questions about gluten-free living. Someone brought up coconut flour, and I had a chance to ask her about how I might create a gluten-free version of my coconut flour breadmaker loaf. Tenley had some great suggestions and recommended almond flour in place of the all-purpose flour, so when I got home from the conference, I ordered a few bags off Amazon.

This seemed like a brilliant idea: My original coconut flour recipe is years old at this point, from before I had a decent camera – heck, I’m pretty sure that post even pre-dates Pinterest. It was about time to update my recipe anyway, and I had grand visions of my beautiful bread, photographed with an angelic glow under summer sunlight. Plus, since this version would be gluten-free, my friends with dietary restrictions would be able to enjoy it, too! This was gonna be great!

So tonight, I made my recipe as normal, except this time I used 2 1/2 cups of almond flour in place of all-purpose flour. I put it in the breadmaker on “Bake Rapid”, and while it smelled great, it completely fell apart when the timer was up and I put it on the cooling rack. I thought, “Maybe it tastes better than it looks,” but no – it tastes awful, too! This happened to me the last time I tried to make coconut flour without gluten, although that time I used 100% coconut flour which was just asking for trouble.

I’m trying to figure out where I went wrong this time. Obviously, Tenley didn’t know what exactly was in my recipe – for all I know, I may have used way more almond flour than you’re supposed to. Or maybe it didn’t cook long enough, and I should avoid rapid bake mode? Or I’m missing something else?!

Gluten-free friends: Do you have any advice as to how I could make this recipe work without all-purpose flour? I have enough almond flour to try again, but since it’s expensive I’d hate to waste the rest of it on another flop!

Classic Catastrophe: The Epic Sugar-Free Cake Disaster of 2004

The Epic Sugar-Free Cake Disaster of 2004

August brings a lot of birthdays in my circle of family and friends, and since I love to bake, I’m often known to whip up a cake or two for the occasion. Jai’s Grandpa was one of these August birthdays, and before he passed away in 2009 I would sometimes bake sugar-free items for him due to his diabetes. The first time I attempted this was for a family gathering in 2004, where he and Grandma (Also an August baby) were having a joint birthday party. My grand plan was to bake a regular cake for her and a sugar-free cake for him. What could go wrong?

I started baking my cakes the night before the party. A good friend of mine was staying with me in preparation for a flight the next morning, where she would be catching an early-morning plane to France to attend school for a year. Since we were heading out in the wee hours of the morning to get to the airport, we decided not to bother going to bed since we’d only catch about an hour of sleep anyway. Since we were up, I decided to start whipping up my cakes.

Utilizing a box of Splenda made for baking, I set about creating my diabetic-friendly cake. At some point while mixing up the batter, I made a few substitutions – I don’t recall exactly what, but I have the tendency to adapt recipes as I go. To make it extra pretty, I added some food coloring – just like those adorable cakes you see on Pinterest! Except something went horribly wrong while it was in the oven. Whatever clever tweaks I had made to the recipe hadn’t agreed well with the Splenda, and I ended up with two cake layers that were flat as a pancake in addition to being tinted a lovely shade of moldy green. Mmmmm!

What was my thought after seeing this abomination? Maybe it will look better when I frost it. That’s 2 AM logic for you! So in a last-ditch attempt to save this sorry cake disaster, I tried making sugar-free frosting. I soon realized how ill-prepared I was for this, seeing as most frosting recipes which I had used prior to that point were 90% powdered sugar. I believe I tried combining the Splenda with margarine to make the frosting, adding in some blue food coloring to compliment the swamp green shade of the cake. I’m guessing the mixture of oil caused the food coloring to form droplets on top of the frosting. At this point, I could see that it was pretty hopeless, but since I’d already come this far I figured, “I may as well frost the thing and see how it looks.” At this point, my friend was cracking up and told me: “I love that you just keep going with this.”

As you can see from the photo, we were actually brave enough to try a tiny bite just to see how bad it was…and yes, it was terrible. It wasn’t fit for human consumption, but the birds enjoyed the crumbs when I threw them outside. I had to take a picture before tossing it because it made me laugh so much! The second creation I made was a regular, full-sugar cake for Grandma – a chocolate and white marble cake that actually looked really nice, but I didn’t think to take a photo of that one because it wasn’t funny. I’ve gotten a pretty good system down for sugar-free baking since that time, but this first attempt was definitely one of those “It’s the thought that counts” moments!

What’s your most memorable cake disaster? Have you ever had an epic flop with sugar-free baking?