Culinary oxymorons: or the “EWWWWWW!” quotient

It all started with the Velveeta Fudge.

“Hey, Sue, how about this? Velveeta Fudge.”

King Arthur’s test kitchen director, Sue Gray, is a woman with an exquisitely refined palate. Not to say she doesn’t enjoy the odd slaw dog or Ring Ding along with the rest of the world, but she can also sniff out the extra 1/16 teaspoon of cloves in a batch of spice cookies, or the smidgen of baking soda that made those cookies fall on the wrong side of the line, texture-wise.

“Velveeta…. Fudge.” Sue’s lips pursed; her nose wrinkled daintily. Her face wore that “I think the cat missed the litterbox again” look. “Well… I suppose it MIGHT be interesting,” she allowed.

“Susan: Velveeta Fudge.”

Susan Reid is editor of King Arthur’s newsletter, “The Baking Sheet,” and a co-author of our three award-winning cookbooks. Her reaction mirrored mine exactly.

“EWWWWWWWWW!”

But then she put on what she calls her “mad scientist hat,” and backtracked a bit with “Well, it MIGHT be interesting if you…”

That’s life in the King Arthur Flour test kitchen. Most of the time we work on straightforward projects: developing new flavors for our line of mixes, as Sue is doing now. Working on “Guaranteed Classics,” a new section of our online recipe archive that Susan and I are both currently devoting long hours to. (Look for its launch in late July, if we can figure out the perfect versions of those 30 “guaranteed classic” recipes by then!)

But sometimes we wander down culinary paths untrod by the masses. Personally, I’m a fool for quirky little cooking newsletters. Maybe that’s because “The Baking Sheet,” which I used to put together years ago, was at one time itself a quirky little newsletter. Example: I once mailed our subscribers 9 issues one year, instead of 8, because I lost track of time. Oh well…

I get lots of QLNs in my mailbox. Trust me, there’s no online version of any of these. They’re more likely to arrive photocopied and hand-addressed. But they do contain some hidden gems, recipe-wise. Stuff like… Velveeta Fudge. And Ritz cracker squares, from the current issue of my very favorite QLN, Cook & Tell. If you can’t read the contact information in the picture below, visit cookandtell.com. And tell Karyl I sent you.

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So, after all that you thought you were going to see a recipe for Velveeta Fudge, right? Sorry. I haven’t tried it yet. I still have to make the crucial choice between Classic Velveeta, or Pepper Jack Velveeta, for fudge with that certain je ne sais quoi. But I had this other recipe I’d been meaning to try, something from a QLN put out by a couple of restaurant guys (Mike and Dave, maybe? Sorry, fellas, I don’t have a current copy…) I grabbed my recipe and headed out to the test kitchen to make…

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Oh sure, the concept—the name—got the usual “EWWWWWW” reaction around here. But once I put slices of this moist, spicy loaf cake out in the testing area, it disappeared quickly. “What was in that cake? It was DELICIOUS!” Hmmmm, was it the beans or the pork that made it so tasty…? Frankly, it was our favorite secret ingredient: King Arthur Flour. Which, Merlin-like, can turn even a can of pork and beans…

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…into something spectacular.

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First open the can of pork & beans. It’s really easy these days, due to the pop-top lid.

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Note: if you add the lid to the sugar and eggs and vegetable oil along with the beans, fish it out.

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Beat it all up. Note the floating beans; keep beating…

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…till the mixture looks more like this. The whole beans should mostly disappear.

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Add the flour, spices, and leaveners.

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Beat again, then add the raisins.

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Pour the mixture into two 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” greased loaf pans. Notice that I got fancy with the cake on the left, and sprinkled it with cinnamon sugar.

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WOW. 65 minutes later—two cakes! The cinnamon-sugar experiment was a partial success; it looked kind of messy (or “rustic,” which is our test-kitchen term for “messy”), but it was delicious.

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I mean, how can you resist? Tiny flecks of bean (the pork disappeared entirely) mingle with golden raisins in this cinnamon-scented, ultra-moist cake.

P.S. I also have to write about Soy Sauce Chocolate Syrup here. The author of this recipe notes, “The soy sauce with its salty brewed flavor depresses the extra sweetness typical of chocolate syrups and enhances the richness of cocoa powder. It also helps blend dairy notes and enhances the fruit top notes of the cocoa. The result: a deep, nutty, roasted chocolate flavor with a rich color.” How could I possibly resist that come-on?

I made it. I sampled it. I left it on Susan’s desk for her opinion. We agreed.

“EWWWWWW!”

“Bosco,” said Susan.

“With soy sauce,” I added.

Don’t go there.

Do you have a favorite EWWWWWWW recipe? Leave your story in “post a comment” (below).

March 20, 2008: So, since I posted this blog, there’s been a veritable flood of requests for the Velveeta Fudge recipe. Well, maybe more a trickle than a flood, but still… Kyle, I promised you I’d try this, so here it is:

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I have no clue where I found this recipe, but it’s been in my candy folder for years. I suspect I got it in Maine, “Belva” and “Hamlin” both being familiar Maine names. So, Belva—thank you for this.

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First, go to the store and buy Velveeta. I found it at the top of the dairy case, right there next to the Cheez Whiz.

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Peel back the foil. Since I bought a 1-pound block of Velveeta, I needed to cut it in half to get the required 8 ounces. This was easy; Velveeta cuts like a dream.

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I melted the Velveeta and butter in the microwave till everything was pretty soft. Then I stirred it all with a spatula till it was smooth.

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Well, pretty smooth. The Velveeta was kind of lumpy, but I could tell it was soft enough to blend right in once I added the rest of the ingredients.

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And here we go: 2 pounds of confectioners’ sugar, cocoa, nuts, vanilla…

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…and Bob’s your uncle: Velveeta Fudge!

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The recipe says to pour it into a 9” x 9” pan. Well, this baby wasn’t about to pour. It was more of a “dump and thunk.”

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I smoothed it out with my fingers…

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…then finished it off with a pastry roller. I love this little roller; so handy for getting into the corners of pans when you’re making… well, Velveeta Fudge.

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And there you have it, in all its cheesy glory. Our taste testers (i.e., the customer service folks) didn’t know it was made from Velveeta, and gave it good marks for its flavor. Several didn’t like its soft texture, preferring a more traditional “hard” fudge. But other than that—it’s a go!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Suzanne

    I tried Velveeta Fudge years ago, but the fudge went in the trash. It is a long standing family joke as the WORST recipe I have EVER made. I’m shocked to see any positive comments, but to each his own. It wouldn’t be any fun if we all had the same taste preferences.

    I don’t know if it really counts for this blog or if anyone will see it as many years have passed, but the strange side salad I can’t get out of my head contains watermelon, tomatoes, onions, and a vinaigrette. That basic combo just sounds so weird, but I have seen it in multiple places so people must make it.

    My mother and I tried one years ago and forced ourselves to taste it. Shock of shocks: it was good. Even so, neither one of us can even bring ourselves to make it again because our brains are winning over our taste buds. Despite liking it, it still just sounds icky.

    I happened upon this blog when looking for the origin of blueberry fool and why that name is used. It obviously wasn’t in this blog, but I love reading them so I will keep hunting.

    Thanks for all the great reading!

    Reply
  2. onthejtrain

    I made this cake today. Used maple baked beans that I had in the pantry. I love trying unusual recipes. This did not disappoint. The beans didn’t break up with my mixer as much as I would have liked, probably due to the type of beans. Next time I will mash them a bit beforehand. Even though there were whole beans in the mixture, I baked it the way it was. I was concerned that I would never get it past my son, but they completely disappeared and he approved. I plan to make again & replace the oil with applesauce to up the nutrition. Thanks for all your hard work. LOVE this blog!

    Reply
  3. Katherine

    You failed to say what the PB cake tasted like. The loaf looks nice and you said it’s moist but what about taste?

    Tastes like a nice spice cake, Katherine. It’s actually good – so long as you don’t tell people what’s in it… 🙂 PJH

    Reply

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