Double Berry Sauce

I went to the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot last weekend.  Ocean Spray has a big presence at the event this year.  They’ve set up a cranberry bog toward the front of the park complete with jovial employees sloshing around in waders.  I think they’re trying to get the word out that you can buy cranberries all year round.  (Not getting The Cranberries to play during the festival’s concert series seems like a wasted opportunity.)

Ocean Spray is targeting people like me.  While I know cranberries are available all the time, I still only buy them the week before Thanksgiving and then the week before Christmas.  Which is dumb because I LOVE cranberries.  Cranberry sauce is the highlight of the eating holidays for me.  I’ve taken it upon myself in my adult years to be my family’s official cranberry maker due to an overabundance of the canned gelatinous cylinders during years past.

So this seemed like a good time to try the Double Berry Sauce recipe from the Stir-ins and Pour-Ons section of the book.  As with all of the other very simple recipes-that-are-barely-recipes in this section, Double Berry Sauce requires the depositing of some sugar-sweetened Kool-Aid into some other food product.  In this case, I dumped some Strawberry Kool-Aid into a can of whole cranberries.

The result is an affront to the pure beauty that is the taste of cranberry sauce.  The Strawberry Kool-Aid completely takes over the show.  It covers of the flavor and wonderful tartness of the cranberries and leaves nothing behind but a familiar texture.

And IT IS INCREDIBLY SWEET!  A normal, unmodified can of this cranberry sauce has well over 100 grams of sugar in it.  When you add FIVE TABLESPOONS of sugar sweetened Kool-Aid to the mix, the sweetness level becomes just absurd.  It’s shudder inducing.  Reducing the Kool-Aid by at least half would be a huge improvement, as would forgoing the sugar-sweetened stuff completely and opting for a few dashes from a regular unsweetened envelope.

The only reason you should be serving this Double Berry Sauce at any family holiday event is if you are a human who has been adopted into a family of hummingbirds.  And how many of us can claim that distinction?  Like 10%?  At most.

Happy holidays!  Eventually.

Flavored Fruit Candy

Some people play fast and loose with the term “candy.”  Certainly it is a very broad term that can encompass a lot of foodstuffs, but sometimes it’s about upholding the spirit of the law and not the letter.  And with Halloween just around the bend, this issue becomes more pressing than ever.

A beautifully engineered Snickers bar with its delicious caramel and chocolate and peanuts in just the right ratio is candy.  It brings joy.  It tastes good.

Candy Corn is technically candy.  But in name only.  We all know Candy Corn is just candle wax drippings from all of the churches across this great country of ours.

A Reese’s Peanut Butter cup is a beautiful thing.  A masterpiece of the peanut butter arts.  Candy.

But we’ve all felt the disappointing sting that comes with looking into your trick or treating bag and seeing one of those globs of peanut butter goo wrapped in nondescript orange or black wax paper.

I put gum drops in the “Ok It’s Candy, But Come On” category.  I bring this up because this week in the Kool-Aid-O-Rama Dome, we’ve essentially created a batch of non-gumdrop-shaped gum drops.  These came courtesy of the Flavored Fruit Candy recipe in the Special Surprises section of the book.  It’s our first foray into this section, if you’re keeping score at home.

The recipe was simple.  Sugar and pectin and Kool-Aid.

The hard part was keeping two pots boiling at the same time, making sure neither one got out of control and killed me.  I learned something about myself.  I am terrified of boiling sugar.  I know it’s just sugar, but in my head I know that if I splashed some on me, it would eat through my flesh and bone and then into the floor below and through it.  Possibly killing my downstairs neighbor.

Fear of sugar coating myself to death aside, these were fun to make.  When I was pouring the mixture into the pan, I actually felt like a candy maker.  It’s the kind of thing I always see on the Food Network or at candy shops in cutesy outdoor shopping places.  Pretty exciting, I have to admit.

I did jump out of the 1976 timeline because I used Watermelon Kool-Aid.  It’s only my second timestream violation, so don’t judge me too harshly.  I can only take so much Strawberry and Cherry.

These tasted pretty good.  Like Watermelon Jolly Ranchers.  But their texture is weird.  They’re too soft to be chewy, gummy candies.  And although they‘re jiggly like Jell-O, they’re firmer and denser.   My brain couldn’t handle it.  Especially after I rolled them in sugar.  I’m hardwired to not like gumdrops, and these fly really close to the gumdrop sun.  But since they’re homemade, they get a pass.

Also, everything about them feels so 70s. And that makes them cool.  You could easily find these on a candy dish at a party full of high-waisted jeans and harshly patterned knitted tops.

And a party with high-waisted jeans and harshly patterned knitted tops is a party I definitively…don’t want to go to.

At all.

Not even a little bit.

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.

Double Delight

Last time, we entered the Kool-Aid-o-Rama Dome (my new nickname for my kitchen), we froze up a batch of Fruit-Flavored Ice Cubes.  This time, we keep it freezy with some Double Delight from the Kids’ Creations section.

This is easily the most head scratching recipe name in the book.  These are Kool-Aid popsicles.  I don’t understand where the “double” is coming from.   At first I thought it was a reference to the higher concentration of Kool-Aid per volume of water.  Normal sugar-sweetened Kool-Aid is 1.5 tablespoons of Kool-Aid mix per cup of water.  These Double Delights work out to 4 tablespoons of Kool-Aid Mix per cup of water.  Much sweeter to be sure, but not doubly so.  It would be more accurate to call these Two and Two-Thirds Delights.  But I guess that’s not as catchy.

Perhaps if you could get some twin pop molds so you could break them in half after freezing, then you could stick with the Double Delight.  Or if you just recommended eating two at a time.  Or if you mixed flavors.

I still don’t get it.

I went with Strawberry for this recipe, because why wouldn’t I?  It’s a popsicle after all.  And strawberry popsicles are great.

I don’t care who you are, these Kool-Aid Double Delights are darned refreshing.  Not sure if they need to be as sweet as they are, but they are good.  Dare I say delightful?!  I dare.

Pick your favorite flavor and go nuts.  Or double nuts.  You’re an adult, you can do what you want.

Next week we step it up a notch.

Fruit-Flavored Ice Cubes

Today we make our first foray into the Kids’ Creations section of the book, but we keep things simple with the aptly named Fruit-Flavored Ice Cubes.  The current sugar-sweetened Kool-Aid canisters have directions for a more concentrated preparation of this recipe called Super Fruity Kool Kubes.  Much better name.  Replacing c’s with k’s is always an improvement.  But for now, we stick to the book.

I opted for the unsweetened envelope variation, using one teaspoon from a Kool-Aid envelope which is weird as an envelope contains just a tad more than a teaspoon.  Seems unnecessarily wasteful.

I went with classic Lemonade Kool-Aid, but then went anachronistically off book and also used Pink Lemonade, which as we all know, was not available in 1976.  Technically, this is the Confetti Ice Cubes recipe because I made cubes in more than one flavor.  I didn’t count the Confetti Ice Cubes in my total recipe count for obvious reasons.

I added my delightfully pink and yellow ice cubes to some Sprite.  The recipe recommends soda, juice, or milk (intriguing but gross), but I think you want to stick to clear beverages with these ice cubes.  You don’t want to obscure their candy colors.  What would be the point in that?

These were pretty ok in my Sprite.  The lemonade flavors blended decently, if subtly, with the soda.  I think the concentration of the Super Fruity Kool Kubes preparation might work better.

The color of my beverage ultimately ended up being a weird, pale pink.  I think I chose the wrong Kool-Aid.  I should’ve gone for something darker.

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s versatile.  You could freeze up some vibrant cubes for just about any color palette in whatever theme party you might be throwing.  Kool-Aid Comes of Age is nothing if not a guide geared towards entertaining after all.

Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade Cubes would pretty great at your next Smurf-themed party.  Don’t act like you’re not going to throw one, there are like eight more Smurf sequels coming.

Rosy Applesauce

Today’s recipe for rosy Applesauce comes to us from the Stir-Ins and Pour-Ons section of Kool-Aid Comes of Age.  And we did indeed stir something in.

Not a very complex recipe, Rosy Applesauce calls for adding some sugar-sweetened Kool-Aid to applesauce.  I went with Strawberry as it was within the bounds of the “any red flavor” directive.

This recipe was unnecessary.  Applesauce is great.  And preparing this made me realize it’s been a zillion years since I’ve had any.  The two tablespoons of Kool-Aid didn’t really add a whole lot to the overall flavor experience.  The applesauce still came out on top.  What it did do was ramp up the already sweet applesauce to unenjoyable levels.

That could’ve been my fault though.  I guess I should have scouted for some applesauce that was not so sugar heavy.  I didn’t know!  I just grabbed the Mott’s.  It’s a time honored product!  Maybe an unsweetened envelope would’ve worked better.

The presentation left a little to be desired as well.  If they were smart they would’ve said to split the applesauce in half and Kool-Aid up only one of the halves, then mix them together for a cool swirly swirl.  I know!  I’m so good at this!  I should host more dinner parties.

Also, I don’t think this needs to be restricted to any red flavor.  I’m sure other flavors would be just fine.  Those poor suckers didn’t have the bevy of flavors and hues we have now.

Break outta the seventies man!  We’re goin’ to Mars!

Hot Spiced Punch

Hot Spiced Punch, from the Some Like It Hot section, is a slight variation on the can-this-really-be-called-a-recipe recipe for Hits-the-Spot Punch I made for the last post.

I opted for Orange Kool-Aid again because I thought it would work the best with cinnamon and cloves.

I find something very post-modern, or maybe existential, about seeing the beauty of natural ingredients like a cinnamon stick, cloves, and lemon slices floating in an artificial and violently orange batch of Kool-Aid.  It speaks to me somehow.  A comment on modern living, or societal evolution, or food trends throughout history, or God versus man.  I dunno.  It’s no upside-down urinal but there’s something to it.

This reminded me of the Honey Lemonade (which has been the best preparation so far).  Same use of cinnamon and cloves, but not as much of them.  The flavor is subtler, but the spices do work pretty well with the Orange.  I can’t see them meshing with Strawberry or Tropical Punch.  Maybe if Apple Kool-Aid had been around in 1976, then we’d have something grand.

Also, searching for the long out of print Apple Kool-Aid flavor leads to a zillion iPhone and Mac-bashing Google results for posts made by people who I’m sure think they are being very original with their condescension.  Jonestown was in 1978, let’s update those insults a bit, shall we?

Also, they’re just phones and computers, guys.  Calm the eff down.