State by State Desserts: Nebraska & Massachusetts

In my first State by State dessert post, I mentioned I had made a couple of other desserts. Well, unfortunately they were complete duds so I have been rather uninspired to write about them. Also, we’ve cut out sugar for the month of January, and really there is little I’d rather do than write about sweets during a time in which I am refraining from them–even if they are crappy sweets. Speaking of crappy, Ben pointed out that my ranking for these desserts was particularly stringent (read: delicious, crappy, crappiest). My response was, “uh, duh…they’re desserts!” The way I see it, if they’re not slap-ya-mama delicious then they’re not worthy of eating the entire batch–which is what I’d likely do to any dessert if left to my own devices. So despite the lack of inspiration and avoidance of sugar–even in written form–I give you Nebraska’s and Massachusetts’ lame excuses for desserts.

Sate by State Desserts: Nebraska – Popcorn Balls

Rank:
Not worth it: Life is short–invest your calories elsewhere.

Even my old roommate, author of Red Hair Red Wine and Nebraskan through-and-through, would probably agree that Nebraska got the short end of the stick with this dessert. I get the whole idea of featuring popcorn for the Cornhusker state, but why not do kettle corn? Or puppy chow, or heck, M&M’s and popcorn?? Any of the aforementioned would better quell Cornhuskers’ sweets cravings than these stick-to-your-teeth candied messes. At the potluck to which I contributed this dish, only the kids enjoyed them, which is to say they were awful because we all know kids will eat anything coated in sugar.

Warning: not meant to be eaten with dentures
Warning: not meant to be eaten with dentures

When researching recipes for corn balls, I found there were two basic versions: one made w/ marshmallows and one made with homemade candy. Since the former seemed like Rice Krispies treats sans rice, and the latter was marketed as “the way your grandmother made popcorn balls,” I decided to go with the latter. Well, you know what, maybe marshmallows were invented just to replace the old candied method of making these because they were terrible–mainly because you spent the next hour trying to melt the candy that had just glued your teeth together. I swear I had stickiness and popcorn pieces stuck to my teeth the next day. So if you’re interested in making popcorn balls, choose a recipe that calls for marshmallows–or better yet, just make Rice Krispies treats.

Sate by State Desserts: Massachusetts – Boston Cream Pie

Rank:
Not worth it: Life is short–invest your calories elsewhere.

Ok, I do need to provide a disclaimer before Baaastonians rake me over the coals: I did not actually make a Boston cream pie–I made a Boston cream trifle. For this I must blame the Marines.

Back in October, after I casually mentioned at a party that I owned not one, not two, but three half-sheet baking pans, I was immediately recruited to help make the cake for the annual Marine Corps Ball. A daunting task, given that the cake is the centerpiece of an elaborate ceremony at the ball, and until that time the most elaborate confectionery project I had undertaken was a three tier round cake for my brother’s birthday, which at birthday candle time was only a 2 1/2 tier cake because half of the top tier slid off while chilling in the fridge. So the other recruited bakers and I quickly decided we needed to make a practice cake, and the upcoming Halloween party provided the perfect reason to make one. The night before making our practice cake, we realized we needed more cake than we had planned, so I whipped together a recipe I found on Pinterest and doubled it because I wasn’t sure if one batch would be enough for a half-sheet pan. Two half-sheet pans later, I had an extra cake on my hands–which I used for the Boston cream trifle.

The practice cake
The practice cake
IMG_2302
Marine Corps Ball cake

In theory this trifle should be amazing–what’s not to love about chocolate, custard and cake? But when put together, the end result is sickeningly sweet. The complexities of each component are lost in a sea of sugar nothingness (or caloriness as the case may be). Granted, maybe in pie, rather than in trifle form, the components are deliciously balanced. I’ll give it a try the next time I’m in Baaaston–I’m sure the experts’ version is much better than my own. Until then, I’ll find another dessert in which to indulge.

Delicious only in theory
Delicious only in theory
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