Cooking Cockup


I’ve made this point before, but allow me to reiterate, I am a good cook.  I am proud of that fact; I had to teach myself since I left home totally unprepared for the world, including cooking.

So when something I make refuses to go along with the show, I am annoyed both with the dish and myself.  How could I not have seen this particular disaster (whatever it is) coming?

Tonight’s disaster?  A 7 Layer Bar, which many of you will be familiar with from bake sales gone by.  It is the kind of incredibly uncomplicated recipe simple minded Girl Scouts use to get their cooking badge.  I was making red beans tonight and while they were simmering, I decided to make a version of it.  It’s a  cookie I had long loved at my favorite cafe, but which they no longer make.  Nostalgia is a trap.

Graham cracker crust, then just dump in sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coconut and nuts and then bake.  Since I never liked either the coconut or the nuts in it, I decided to substitute oats, which actually worked out fine.  The problem was all the other ingredients.

Canned sweetened condensed milk is a beloved ingredient for lots of things like dulce de leche, but I should have realized a concoction which is nothing but chocolate chips floating in it is going to be a sugar overdose waiting to happen.

Once I peeled off the wax paper that had lined the pan (and which glued itself to the bottom of the cookies) I got a taste of the oh-so-innocent looking deadly bars.

Even I, with my almost unparalleled fondness for desserts of any sort, kind of choked on the first bite.  There was no second bite.  While there were elements of other flavors slightly floating around, mostly it was identical to chewing a sugar cube.  I just couldn’t take it, and I am the man scarfing down the leftover chocolate ganache with a spoon and telling myself it’s just like eating truffles.

So here’s where my annoyance with myself comes in.  How could I have read the recipe and not realized where it was headed?  I blame Pandora, the music jukebox site.  I was listening to it while cooking and once again it insisted on playing Flock of Seagulls, despite my best efforts at removing them from my stations.  How am I supposed to concentrate on culinary arts with “I Ran” racketing around the kitchen?


This, this is what I want in my kitchen, not some disgusting cookie so sweet it makes your sinuses ache.


About mrpeenee

A former bon vivant and terror of a number of New Orleans bars in the mad, gay 1980s, I'm now quietly retired and widowed in San Francisco. I have a crooked nose due to an unfortunate Frisbee accident.

15 responses »

  1. That song should have been a message to you — RUN! (Also, as if I need to ask: you want the red blender in your kitchen, right?)


  2. Since you wrote this on my birthday, I am compelled to reply. I absolutely loved these “7-Layer Bars” as a kid and I even remember making them in my mom’s kitchen with the help of my most butch friend – I was amazed this 12-year old peer put down the football and helped add stuff to the mixer, and oversaw the layering to ensure it was “Just right”. Suffice it to say, that’s how much we loved eating them. Fast-forward 34 years when a different friend brought his “serious (and much younger) girlfriend” to meet and stay with us a few days in Phoenix. She must have overheard one of the nostalgic 7-Layer Bar stories and decided she’d win us over by whipping up a batch. I have to admit that upon seeing them, I was transported back to my days of yore. Oh, and the aroma. So far, so good. Then the bite. I think I uttered “Ow! Its so sweet it hurts!” I could feel my teeth disintegrating. My soft palate turned even softer. And to add insult to injury, those nasty little wood chips called “shredded coconut” were scattered within and without, preventing me from hurriedly choking down the torturous concoction.” As I finally suceeded in doing so while wondering “How in holy hell did I ever find these irresistible?”, my freind’s kid-friendly confectionery baker inquired “How are they? Do ya like ’em?” In undeniable defeat, I muttered, “Not any more.”


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