These suckers won me my first cooking competition, The Skint’s Vegan Bake-Off, at The Bell House in Brooklyn on February 10th. I took home both people’s choice and the grand prize, and let me tell you, both were totally unexpected.
Have you ever made dessert for 250 people before? If you have, you know what a huge undertaking it is. If you haven’t, I wouldn’t suggest it. I made the smart decision of starting these the day before the competition because I wanted them to be fresh (I was paranoid about the pretzels getting soggy, which didn’t end up being a problem). This resulted in me breaking down at midnight the night before, trying not to cry, and insisting to my partner that this was the worst idea ever and I wasn’t going to win anything, anyway.
I was wrong.
But the truth is, I don’t even like dessert. I did this for the challenge .. and maybe because I got to wear a cute apron in public. Much like this blog’s namesake, I’d rather have a strong, savory cocktail after a meal than a slice of cake (but ultimately, I’ll eat anything). So if I was going to make a dessert, it had to have two things I love: pretzels and peanut butter, and something everyone else loves: chocolate. And it sure as hell couldn’t involve an oven.
So, peanut butter chocolate pretzel balls with a peanut butter drizzle were born. Except, they needed a more concise name. My friends suggested “something with orgasms in it,” which turned into “nocturnal emissions,” which turned into “chocturnal emissions,” because puns are awesome and if you’re going to be competing against 20 other bakers, you need a memorable name that will stick. Even if it’s a play on … well, you know.
The name actually got me in a bit of trouble when I made these for a Sea Shepherd bake sale a week after the competition. A woman told me the description sounded good, but the name was gross and made her not want to buy them. Yes, it’s a little vulgar, but it’s also funny (to me, anyway). I assured her they were delicious (and award-winning!), and she ended up buying several. I learned a valuable lesson about cooking for strangers: what works at a bake-off might not always translate over to a bake sale. So, feel free to go with the long name if you’re going to be making these for, say, a group of mommy bloggers or your child’s 5th birthday party. Or a bake sale.
From L to R: Chef Adam Sobel of Cinnamon Snail fame (judge), me grinning like a fool, Sarah Gross of Rescue Chocolate (judge), second runner-up (I didn’t get her name! My apologies.), first runner-up Amanda Bruchok, and comedian Myq Kaplan (judge)
Overall, the competition was a ton of work, and the amount of effort that went into all of the desserts made was incredible. My favorite was the trio of fruit sorbets made by a couple whose names I don’t remember. If it was you, let me know! I ate like five cups of that stuff.
Here’s my (award-winning!!!) recipe: