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 was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. holly

    What are you guys drinking? I thought I’d heard it all. But then I’m one of the older broads around here.

    You’re really onto something about the Pillsbury Bake-Off. I have a collection of the “Best of the Bake-Off” cookbooks from the ’60’s, and some of those were pretty trashy, even for the ’60’s. When a recipe starts with a pre-packaged dough mix…they lose me instantly.

    Keep this blog going….I need something to lighten my life right now.

    And thanks!

    Reply
  2. PJ

    Tina, the cake can totally be done with vegetarian baked beans. Great idea – I mean, who needs that little wad of pork fat in there, anyway… Sorry – for those of you who think this whole idea is “yukky” (Trish!), this probably just made it sound worse. All I can do is echo that long-ago ad for (what?) – “Try it – you’ll like it!” The beans are mostly starch, so they keep the cake moist. The sauce the beans are in is mostly brown sugar, so that goes well. As for the pork… well, what can I say other than that people used lard in piecrusts for years, and I didn’t hear a lot of disgust concerning THAT practice. All you naysayers out there — have I helped convince you? : )

    Reply
  3. Bev in SC

    A recipe for one of these cakes was featured recently in our hometown newspaper. I usually get invited to preview all the recipes and it was Really, Really good. I asked which “baked beans” she made it with, and turns out it was Bush’s Maple Baked Beans. The Maple gave it a really good flavor with the spices.

    Reply
  4. Bakerina

    Well…as someone who has only just made the leap into putting maraschino cherries into applesauce cake after over 30 years of baking (and even then, I needed Roland Mesnier’s imprimateur to get me over the hurdle), I will admit to shivering at the idea of pork & beans cake. But as someone who trusts your judgment, I will give it the benefit of the doubt, especially since your deconstruction of the recipe makes it sound a little less out-there.

    I’m still drawing the line at Velveeta Fudge, though. ;)

    Reply
  5. Anna in NC

    ‘Round these parts people put grape jelly in their meatballs/sauce. EWWWWWWWW is what I say to that too. I’ve heard of the velveeta fudge. Same response.

    EWWWWWWWW is also appropriate for most of this years Pillsbury finalists.

    Reply
    1. JT

      The pork and beans bread looks so interesting. Would the same recipe fit in one 9 x 5 loaf? If so, how would you adjust the time and temperature?

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      One recipe will be too much for one 9×5 pan, I would suggest to stick with 8.5×4.5 for this recipe and bake as written. Jon@KAF

  6. Linda

    Even being a vegetarian and disgusted by pork in cake, the Pork&Beans Cake sounds better to me than Velveeta Fudge (though I’ve heard of the recipe before and that it is really great fudge). At least the beans are natural food–unlike Velveeta which is “plastic cheese” and totally processed “ick”. I’d go for the vegetarian beans and a good natural brand to test it but I probably will because it fascinates me to try it and hear people talk about the bread. Thanks for the fun!!

    Reply
  7. Kyle Minor

    I am very much into the sweet/savory combination these days, and since pork products (think brown sugar bacon or honey-glazed ham) are such a natural pair for something sweet, I bet this would be great. And hey… throw in a ‘side dish’ of sticky rice and mango and you’ve got a dessert that is a complete protien!

    Oh and PJ… don’t think you’re going to hold out on us with that Velveeta fudge recipe. We want it!

    Reply
  8. Lavender

    Good Morning:

    The weather outside is raining and I am sitting here with my first cup of coffee trying to get motivated and I opened up my email and am reading all of the comments and seeing the receipes and having a chuckle.

    I learned to bake from my grandmothers and my mom and I have tons of their old receipes but Velvetta Fudge takes the cake – LOL.

    I may just try the pork and beans cake as it does sound interesting plus my husband loves pork and beans so it would be a fun way to feed it to him.

    Stay dry and have a nice weekend.

    Reply
  9. Kim

    I made the Pork & Beans cake today with the following modifications:

    * 1 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup Splenda baking brown sugar for baking
    * 1/2 oil, 1/2 unsweetened applesauce
    * Bush vegetarian baked beans

    The cake came out GREAT. Very moist and spicy. I LOVE IT! My 16 year old stepson tried it and liked it. He even kept eating it after I told him what was in it, which really surprised me. He’s a very picky eater!

    I’ll definitely make this one again!

    Reply
  10. PJ Hamel , post author

    Thanks for the good input on substitutions, Kim. AND the fact that not only could you get your picky 16-year-old to eat it – he enjoyed it!

    Reply
  11. Ronald James

    Velveeta fudge….. I can NOT thank you enough! Seriously, I was trying to figure a one week away birthday gift for a dear friend who truly has everything in the material world. I was thinking of buying her multi-packs of Velveeta-her family loves it. Now, she will be presented with a double batch of Velveeta fudge on her birthday and I bet NO ONE else comes close to anything quite as “creative”. I’ve made them dozens of Cookie recipes from the King Arthur Cookie cookbook – ALL of them a hit but this will “take the cake”! You have made my day!! : ) For
    Easter I made a 4-layer meringue praline buttercream torte with almonds ….. this will be a tad : ) less ‘high brow’ but a LOT of fun for a birthday. Thank you again!

    Reply
  12. PJ Hamel

    Well, Ronald, glad I could be of service! You just never know when a Velveeta fudge recipe is going to come in handy, do you? And to think I’ve been carrying it around with me all these years, and had never actually tried it till now. Best of luck and I hope your friend enjoys the DOUBLE batch of this unusual – uh, weird? – fudge. Me, I think I’d prefer the four-layer meringue praline buttercream torte with almonds… sounds delightful! Enjoy- and thanks for connecting.

    Reply
  13. diane

    I am sitting here and laughing wwwaaayyy too much. I have an older dear friend in Missouri and she gave me the recipe for the velveeta fudge recipe about a year ago. I must say I could not bring myself to make it and I think she knew it. Well…She made me a batch of it and it is wonderful!!! So try not to be to timid with this recipe and give a try. Have to admit it would make a great surprise for those who dont know the ingredient when you serve it. At the very least a good laugh for everyone who will enjoy this recipe.
    ENJOY!!!!

    Reply
  14. Donna

    I’ve been making Velveeta Fudge, or at least a version of it, for years. Maybe back to the ’80s I really can’t remember when I first started to use this recipe. But it’s been the only fudge recipe I use because it is so easy. My recipe, which I cut out of a magazine, is called “Easy Cheesy Fudge”. The recipe is new enough to have nutritonal info at the end of the recipe and was under the title “Food”. The orginal recipe calls for “Packaged cheese spread” but the first time I wanted to make the fudge I didn’t have any, so I used cream cheese as a subsitite. It was so good I never bothered to try the Velveeta. And since it has the cream cheese in it, I store the fudge in the fridge, where it hardens up and has a creamy firm texture when served. Thanks for running the story, earlier today I happened to make a batch! (no kidding!!) What a surprise to then open my email and read about this novel Fudge.

    Reply
  15. PJ Hamel

    Diane, I think that’s the really fun thing about this recipe – the amount of laughing it engenders. (Along with the EWWWWW…) And Donna, I will totally try this with cream cheese. AND put it in the fridge to harden it up. Thanks for the tips. And thanks for connecting, everyone-

    Reply
  16. Tena

    Dear PJ,

    FYI, the ‘Try it, you’ll like it’ line comes from an ad for Alka Seltzer, dating back to the 70’s. The next line is a groaning, ‘Thought I was gonna die!’ Then plop, plop, fizz, fizz comes to the rescue.

    So ‘try it, you’ll like it’ is not necessarily a great recommendation. in that context.

    Reply
  17. PJ Hamel

    Well, Tena – thanks for the info. – I think! “Plop plop fizz fizz oh what a relief it is” springs readily to mind, I just didn’t remember the “Try it, you’ll like it” coming beforehand. Luckily, so far no one has complained about needing Alka-Seltzer after eating this cake… Cheers-

    Reply
  18. Tina

    So I made the bread with vegetarian baked beans (just Heinz) and modified it a bit with the oil and sugar – came out BRILLIANTLY. Is a great mixed in with coffee frozen yogurt/ice cream. Very spicy and has a great mouthfeel. Thanks PJ!!

    Reply
  19. Dorothy

    Interesting, reminds me of the tomato soup cake I made. Everyone thought it was spice cake. It is delicious! They were amazed after I told them what was really in it.

    Reply
  20. Joanna

    My mother served us some Velveeta fudge years ago and was very proud of her “secret ingredient”. Unfortunately it was the second time my husband had eaten Velveeta cheese (I had never cooked with it before) and it confirmed that he was highly allergic to something in it – probably the chemicals they use to make it – because even the small amount of fudge he ate made him sick. Needless to say I’ve never made that fudge recipe!

    Reply
  21. jane

    My sister (who is a good and adventurous cook and baker) served me (who also likes baking and cooking) some very interesting muffins. We rarely use mixes, so this was somewhat of a departure.
    1 can cannelilini beans
    1 box of Krusteaz muffin mix (pick one)
    Mix up the beans with liquid in blender or processor. Add mix. Bake. Surprisingly, this does not taste beanie.
    This was inspired by the original:
    one can of black beans
    one brownie mix
    Same process. Less interesting!
    Who knows why it works! And how in heavens name did someone get the idea of black bean brownies. Where can we go from here? Refried bean cornbread? Garbonzo bundt?

    Reply
  22. Aneesah

    Ok, I have to say it–please try NOT to be offended. . .
    What is it with people and Velveeta?? I just don’t get it. I have to say I honestly thought– when the first part of this blog mentioned Velveeta fudge–it was a joke. Imagine my horror when I scrolled down to find not only an honest-to-goodness recipe but also PHOTOS!! *Sigh* well, that just goes to prove how resourceful folks can be. You think the author of this recipe ran out of the usual fudge ingredients and decided to improvise?
    But you know what? The Pork & Bean bread doesn’t look too bad. I might have to try that one sometime.

    Reply
  23. Iselchyresse Israel-Megahan

    We whipped up several batches of pork and beans for a harvest festival last weekend, and with two huge trays of it left, I started cruising for some recipes (everyone is maxed out from eating the dish as prepared originally).

    Now I’m ready to whip up a couple of dozens variations of the pork and beans cake, including one with cardamom, and one with cocoa powder. Not all at once, less we tire of the cake. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Great – glad that ol’ can of pork & beans could be an inspiration to you! PJH

    Reply
  24. Renee Petty

    I love the pork and bean cake. My Aunt makes it all the time and it is so moist and yummy! Just make sure co-workers know it has pork in it!

    Reply
  25. Beth

    I made the pork and beans cake as one of our Thanksgiving treats. Every once in awhile I pull a “guess the ingredients” baking trial on my brother. He was confounded, but did like the cake a lot. I added about 1 cup total of raisins and walnuts. Very good with a nice dollop of fresh whipped cream.

    I smashed the beans to a creamy mixture first with high speed on the hand mixture, then added the eggs in. I didn’t use Campbell’s beans, but an off brand at the Save A Lot called Cowboy Billy’s Homestyle (I actually like it better than Campbells – sauce is darker)

    This is so easy to make it is now definitely on our “quick cakes” list. Thanks for posting this. It’s nice to have some fun once in awhile.

    Reply
  26. Renee Petty

    I made the cake with “vegatarian baked beans” and it was great. I also added a can of figs (drained). I also like the cake with a can of plums. But they are hard to find in my area.

    Reply
  27. Josie-Lynn

    Well, if I can make a chocolate cake that has vinegar in it, I don’t see any reason why not to put baked beans in cake!
    If it is cake, I’ll eat it and I have nothing against beans! Elisabeth

    Reply
  28. 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
  29. 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

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