Sometimes all it takes is a simple question – “you wanna bring one of your famous desserts?” – to get the brain parts firing (when it comes to food, it doesn’t take much).
I have been known, among those who know, to get experimental in the kitchen…often taking existing foods and re-presenting them in new forms (i.e. Spinach Pie as a Mac ‘n Cheese) or combining two foods that might not otherwise be combined (i.e. Bacon, Lettuce & Mango Sandwich). Some of these experiments are wonderful successes or surprises and others glorious failures (for the record, both of the above: successes). So recently, when asked to bring desserts to a cookout, I got creative.
A handful of ideas popped into my noggin and I settled on two, determining to save the rest for another day. So now I present “the making of” Brownie-Cookie Pie and Ring Ding Bread Pudding.
Brownie-Cookie Pie came first. The concept of baking a brownie in a pie crust isn’t the most novel idea, as a matter of fact, as much as the idea occurred to me one day, I’ve seen it out in the world, so I wasn’t the only one. As a result, I tried to think of a way to re-think it. I was considering a graham cracker or Oreo cookie crust (and with the graham cracker, maybe a marshmallow icing/frosting, essentially making a s’mores pie), but worried the baking time for the brownie filling could lead to a dry or even burnt crust. Talking it out with someone, they misunderstood, thinking I meant a pie crust made out of cookie dough…an actual cookie crust…an idea I’d (surprisingly) not even considered! And with that I was off to the races.
The prep was pretty simple, really. It started with the forming of the crust:
I set that in the freezer to firm up a bit (cookies bake faster than brownies, so I was trying to balance things a smidge) and then filled it with the brownie batter (in this case I erred on the side of fudgie rather than cakey):
Midway through baking I tented the crust with foil to keep it from over-browning. When the brownie set it was done:
Meanwhile, the second idea that came to me was a bread pudding. I’d seen and made doughnut bread pudding. And on a recent trip to Memphis I ate a delicious white chocolate bread pudding, so it was on my mind. While I’m not sure how it occurred to me, the thought came to make a bread pudding with not bread…and not donuts…but Ring Dings, the Drakes Cake snack cakes. Added bonus, I prepared them in muffin tins.
In each muffin tin I placed 1 busted-up Ring Ding, which was then topped/soaked in a simple bread pudding custard:
They baked up into a dark, chocolaty blob:
And in the end they looked like this:
So how did they taste? Well, the Ring Ding Bread Pudding was rich…and chocolaty, to be sure, which a definite creamy undertone (all the cream filling and chocolate shell sort of melded into one. The Brownie-Cookie Pie didn’t quite turn out how I’d expected…the bottom crust ended up being very thin…almost not there at all…and not as crisp as I’d have liked. But, just the same, with a glass of milk, I ate my share.
Certainly both could use a little tweaking. For the Ring Dings I might modify the custard recipe a touch to create a fuller overall flavor. For the pie I’d likely go with a cakier brownie and maybe use the bottom rack of the oven to get more direct heat on the bottom of the pie tin for a crustier cookie crust.
But in the end, even when it’s not perfect, it’s still dessert!