Sunday, October 30, 2005

Tasty Dessert: Toxic Waste

Toxic Waste: It's not good for you, but it's edibleIt's been a big weekend for inventions here at Scribbles Labs. Since it's the day before Halloween, I'll start with the story of my new dessert - Toxic Waste. Notice how transparent the blue jelly is?While wandering the web, I came across this whimsical dessert idea and decided I had to make one for Halloween. Except bigger and scarier. If you're interested in doing something that comes out the way you planned and is a sensible quantity, I recommend you go to VenusZine, follow their recipe and don't waste any more time with this article. Bigger: I've had a small, unused aquariam for ten or more years. I figured that would be just the thing, and would save me buying a fish bowl. Scarier: Easy, instead of gummy fish, I'd find gummy creepy crawly things and candy eyeballs. I know this is pretty gratuitous, but I want you to feel what 19 packs of jelly are.On Tuesday night my regular class was cancelled, so I borrowed the other Dave's car and went to Loblaws. They had four boxes of blue jello. "That should make quite a bit," I thought and took all of them. Friday night, I thought I should make sure I had enough jello before I started. I measured the tank. [20 cm x 20cm x 40cm = 16,000 cubic-centimetres = 16 litres. Each pack of Jello makes 1/2 litre. 4 packages = 2 litres = 1/8 of the fish tank.] Lucky the Loeb is still open, I thought. I thought this was kind of prettyAt the Loeb, they had one package of blue Jello. I put that in my bin. The blue is pale, I thought, I'll get a lot of peach which is also pale and some strawberry and cherry, because a reddish tint will be appropriate for Halloween. I wound up with 5 blue Jellos, and 14 assorted Merit jelly packages. Ahh, when the mist is on the jelly...At home, I boiled up a big pot of water and started pouring it on the powder. I quickly realized the mistake I'd made. With blue, red and orange jelly colours, I had a good mix for making brown. I might have been better to go all orange. Maybe when I pour the cold water in, it'll dilute to something more translucent, I hoped. No such luck. I had a fruit and berry flavoured liquid that looked like flat cola. I have a cardinal rule with recipes: When something goes wrong with a dish, but it's still edible, re-name it and keep going. "Toxic Waste." I kept going. I'd bought a box of chocolate chip cookies and a couple cans of peach wedges to be the "stones" on the bottom of the tank and figured I'd go ahead with them. I liked that a couple of the peach wedges actually floated. I was also pleased that the chocolate bears floated. I'd hoped that they'd swell with the liquid and turn into horrific monster creatures. Instead they turned into little puddles of chocolate cake textured stuff. I couldn't find candy eyeballs, but lychee fruit aren't a bad replacement. They sink in liquid jelly. Get it? lips sink? He's a genius inventor and a master punster.I also discovered that gummy worms, gummy salamanders, licorice and lips sink. Figured I'd save them for later. I tried hanging some salamanders off the side of the tank with a licorice string tied around them. The flaw in this part of the plan was that the licorice quickly dissolved and the salamanders sank. I also tried floating some chunks of sponge toffee (To me they looked delightfully similar to pieces of brain.) Unfortunately, sponge toffee dissolves even faster than licorice string. I carefully put the tank in the fridge. (This gives you a good opportunity to see how close your fridge is to level. Mine is not close.) According to the directions on the jelly pack, it should set in about four hours. This does not appear to apply when you use 19 packages all at once. But it was set when I took it out of the fridge the next afternoon. (14 hours later, but it could have been set a couple hours earlier.) Inserting things into the jelly I really felt like a mad scientist. I hardly ever get to use my old medical forceps when I'm cooking. They were just the thing for wedging chocolate fingers, chocolate covered raisins and gummy worms into the jelly. I'd bought two boxes of butterscotch pudding mix and two of vanilla to make a sort of foamy layer on top of the "water". I decided that it would be more toxic looking to have two distinct colours, so first I made the butterscotch. After I mixed it, I got distracted with something. When I came back, intending to pour it into the tank, it had set into pudding. So I just scooped it into the tank. With the vanilla, I did the two minutes with the blender and then poured it right in. I liked the topographic effect with the butterscotch hills. I wedged more chocolate fingers in, arranged bits of the "brainy" sponge toffee, some licorice string and the rest of the gummy animals in the tank. I tried to make it look like the frogs, worms and salamanders were trying to escape. You can't tell because of the way the flashbulb worked, but I put a lightbulb behind the tank (covered with a box) and it gave an eery glow through the jelly. Here are some things I think I'll try next time:

  • Find plain uncoloured, unflavoured gelatin, add food colouring or concentrated fruit juice to get a transparent liquid effect.
  • After the main layer hardens, make holes and pour in bright red jello to look like disgusting spills of blood.
  • See if I can get cool effects by squirting whipped cream in.
  • Put grapes or blueberries in the holes of the lychee fruit to make them really look like eyeballs.

And How Was It?

Some people wouldn't touch it. It might have helped if I'd put up a sign with the ingredients, detailed how I'd disinfected the thing when I bought it a decade ago and again before using it to serve food, and put some sort of lid on it. Maybe the disgusting appearance still would have put them off.

But lot of people did eat it. I liked it so much I ate four bowls.

You don't have to take my word for it. Here's what Sally Robinson said "It's f-ing awesome! All these different flavours and textures and it's all delicious."


Anonymous said...

"Toxic waste" eh? What a disgusting mixture and to think people even ate it. You take the cake DJ. By the way peeled grapes make great eyeballs when doing revolting Halloween stuff.


David Scrimshaw said...

Hi Mom,
I bet peeled grapes do look like great eyeballs. It sounds like a lot of work, but I suppose I could do a bunch while watching CSI. They'd give me something to do when I'm averting my eyes from scenes of bullets going through skulls.

Do you think they'd freeze okay? I could pre-peel them during the summer.

Milan said...

Do you have a caloric estimate for the final creation?