Seven-Layer Rainbow Loaf

Ahoy, Kool-Aid enthusiasts!  This week at the Cooking with Kool-Aid Project we dive into Kool-Aid Comes of Age to try a recipe from the Easy and Elegant Desserts section that is neither easy nor elegant.  It’s Seven-Layer Rainbow Loaf, a layered treat involving Kool-Aid, applesauce, graham crackers, and Dream Whip.  It’s my first loaf, guys!

First off, the words elegant and loaf have never been used so close to one another before.  As a rule, a loaf of any kind is not elegant.  This dessert certainly proves that rule.

Secondly, the authors of this book love to throw the word rainbow around even if it means you are only using one or two flavors of Kool-Aid.  Layered does not equal rainbow.

Thirdly, I do not know what this is.  Everything I’ve made since beginning this project has been based in food reality.  I’ve made drinks, pudding, and a pie.  I’ve used Kool-Aid as an agent to bring color and flavor to another food like cranberry sauce.  But I have never heard of the applesauce and graham cracker thing.  Do apples and graham crackers go together?  Is this a normal combination?  Have I missed out on a childhood classic? A few internet sites tell me it is a thing, so I guess I must capitulate.  Still doesn’t seem all that enticing flavorwise.

It also doesn’t work on a structural level.  Applesauce is wet.  Graham crackers are porous.  After a few minutes, I was left with a mound of multicolored mush covered in whipped cream substitute.  I picture my loaves having a little more backbone, but what do I know?  This is my first loaf after all.

One thing I do love about this dessert is the fact that’s it’s covered in Dream Whip.  Covering anything in whipped cream seems delightfully retro to me.  No one makes desserts like this anymore.  Every time I see a dessert slathered with whipped cream in a vintage cookbook, I always think it looks awesome, and hilarious.  Sadly, there is not photo of this dessert in Kool-Aid Comes of Age.  As with the Rainbow Ribbon Parfait, this makes me suspect that no one actually made this thing before putting it down on paper.

But enough of my pontificating.  How does it taste?  Not terrible.  The orange Kool-Aid dominates the strawberry completely, and then joins forces with the Dream Whip.  In the end it tastes a bit like an orange creamsicle.  With graham crackers.  All mashed into it.  Like you do.

Also, as the weeks progress, I am constantly surprised at how much sugar the authors of this book were able to cram into each recipe.  Case in point.  Not only does this recipe call for one entire cup of sugar-sweetened Kool-Aid, it also makes use of graham crackers, and applesauce, and Dream Whip. All products with pretty decent sugar contents, but then they ask that you toss in three tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar into the Dream Whip!  Why?!  What is happening?!  Three tablespoons of sugar?!  Just because?!  That’s lunacy.

All totaled, and if my calculations are correct, one Seven-Layer Rainbow Loaf contains 277 grams of sugar!  That’s 106 Hershey Kisses.  Or ten Snickers bars.  And I even used applesauce that had no additional sugar added!  It is overwhelmingly sweet.

What was happening in the 70s, you guys?  I know there was white powder everywhere, but I always assumed that was cocaine.  Perhaps I was incorrect.  Maybe it was just sugar.  Lots and lots of sugar.  Just like this loaf.  This elegant, elegant loaf.


Cherry Bavarian Pie

Alright Kool-Aidists, I figured it was about time to step things up a bit.  Thus far we’ve just been making warm Kool-Aid plus this spice or warm Kool-Aid plus that spice, or we’ve dropping some Kool-Aid powder into some other already existing food product.  But today we get our hands dirty (or dyed red as it were).

This is the Cherry Bavarian Pie from the Easy and Elegant Desserts section of the book.  It’s a distant, distant, seven or eight times removed Deliverance cousin of the classic dessert, Bavarian cream, that oh so delicious cream and egg-based delight from the exotic shores of Germany.  Here it has been emulated in the artificialest of means.

For the pie, we used a pre-made graham cracker crust.  The recipe called for a regular pie crust, but truth be told, I was already past that section of the grocery store when I remembered I needed it, so graham it is.  In the end, it seemed like a better choice anyway.

We then made a mixture of gelatin, Cherry Kool-Aid, and the juice from the canned cherries.  This served as a base that tied everything together thematically.  Some of that mix stands alone on the top of the pie, giving everything a bright, lacquered, congealed finish, and some gets folded into some Dream Whip.

If you are unfamiliar with Dream Whip, as I was, it is a product seemingly aimed at people who love the flavor and texture of Cool Whip but simply resent its convenience.  It’s DIY Cool Whip that comes powdered.  You add vanilla and milk, and beat.  I don’t know why the world still needs DIY Cool Whip, seeing as Cool Whip was invented after Dream Whip and both are owned by the same company.  I asked a friend who dabbles in the culinary arts and she said Dream Whip is for when something something something.

I was shocked at how decent this pie was!  For a Kool-Aid-based recipe, it’s not all up in your face with the Cherry.  And it’s not overly sweet either.  Both pleasant surprises.  The canned cherries add a nice sour tang to the whole affair without subjugating everything else to pure face pucker.

Also, the dual textures reminded me of the wonderful layering treat from yesteryear, Jell-O 1-2-3.  No complaints here, as it is one of the greatest and most technologically advanced of all processed food products.

You could totally get away with bringing this pie to an affair.  And I dare say, you may even get compliments on it. (Like a potluck affair, not like the seedy motel kind.  Although…)

For our first major, multiple bowl, electric kitchen tool, setting-time-required recipe from Kool-Aid Comes of Age, this was an unqualified success.

Rainbow Ribbon Parfait

This week we take a step away from the Beverage section of the book and into the Easy and Elegant Desserts section.  Actually it’s the last recipe in that section, and it kind of stands out because it’s the only recipe in the whole book that doesn’t list any ingredients before the preparation instructions.  There are ingredients obviously.  Three of them.  Milk, Jell-O Vanilla Pudding Mix and Kool-Aid.  So why don’t they get listed and bolded?  It’s a mystery.

Since I was using vanilla pudding, I went with Cherry Kool-Aid since it seemed like a good match.   Strawberry could’ve worked just as well.  Really if I were to offer a suggestion for stepping up the creativity and elegance, they should’ve gone with Raspberry Kool-Aid and chocolate pudding.  Though the separate layers might not have stood out as well.

Which is another oddity of this recipe.  It’s called a Rainbow Ribbon Parfait, but the recipe just calls for one kind of Kool-Aid.  Not very rainbowish.  Maybe call it Layered Ribbon Parfait?  With all of the Kool-Aid flavors out today, you could really put together a nice looking Rainbow Ribbon Parfait that actually has all of the colors of the rainbow.  How that would taste is another matter.

This was kind of a pain in the ass to make.  I have a suspicion it was a pain for the General Foods people, too, because it is one of the only recipes in this section that didn’t get photographed.  My first try with a wine glass was a complete failure, so I started again.  I layered in the pudding but couldn’t get it to flatten out the way I wanted it to.  I swirled it and smoothed it with a spoon, but then some would run up the sides of the glass!  Then I’d have to try to scrape it off and remove any residue so it wouldn’t interfere with the next layer.  Then I put a Kool-Aid layer on but the Kool-Aid stuck to the parts where the invisible residue still was!  Someone more skilled and steady-handed could do a much more aesthetically pleasing job with this.  Though in the end I still think it looks interesting. Maybe.

This is not good.  It’s not terrible, but it’s not good.  I’m not really a huge pudding fan.  (I only ever eat it when I go to Chinese buffets, which is not often.)  It’s just two very distinct powdered food products mixed together, battling for supremacy with cherry ultimately dominating.  It tastes like you think it would.  No one would eat more than two spoonfuls of this.  Maybe you could serve a small amount in some shot glasses.  Maybe.

Also, there was some leftover grit from some of the Kool-Aid that wasn’t completely dissolved.  Grit is not a friend of pudding.  Maybe you could mix up some Kool-Aid and pudding to dissolve the Kool-Aid, then layer it. Maybe.

So, Rainbow Ribbon Parfait.  Not the tastiest nor easiest nor the most elegant nor even the most aptly named.  But it’s pretty-ish.  So there’s that.