Katie vs. Instagram: A Cooking Showdown

Instagram is changing the world of food one trend at time. Outrageous concoctions of oozing, artery clogging goodness have taken over as foodies, influences, and everyone in between seek out extreme, beautiful food in the “do it for the likes” mantra. Products like milkshakes topped with whole pieces of cake (thanks BlackTap), pizza topped with little pizza slices (oh hey Vinnies), and edible cookie dough (I too waited in a 45 minute line for this) blow up the internet. Hype forms, leading to massive lines, high prices, happy posters and drooling followers. 

It’s silly when you look at it objectively. Braving the elements to stand in line to hand over hard earned money for something that usually tastes average at best for the purpose of a good photo.  

 Welcome to the age of social media.  

While wasting away in coronaville, and idea sprung out of the delirium: I should recreate Instagram famous dishes!  

Here are my ventures. Who will win? Instagram or me?

1.Pizza Cupcake

We tried out these babies at the ever popular Smorgasburg.  Pizza is great. Cupcakes are great. How can something so simple go wrong?

Alas, it wasn’t a rewarding culinary journey.  

Pizza Cupcake

The outer “crust” lacked crispness and was too bready for our liking, there wasn’t quite enough marinara, and the worst part about it was that two knocked us pack a whopping $7 (or $5 for one).  

Surely I could do better. 

My process was spontaneous, uncalculated, and full of shrugged “I think this is okay….” statements.  Bear with my attempt at conveying a recipe: 

  • Preheat the oven to 425 F and let the dough sit out to soften.
  • Roll out pods of dough into discs with a 3inch diameter (give or take) and line them into a floured muffin tin. ( I’ll be bold to guess that a thick base won’t cook as quickly as the cheese bubbles, so keep it thin.  I was worried my was too thin, but no sauce ended up leaking through)
  • Put in a spoonful of sauce
  • Add shredded cheese
  • Top them off with pepperonis
  • Bake  for 10ish minutes until the cheese is bubbly and use your pizza-ESP to sense whether or not the dough is cooked.  

Normally my kitchen creations don’t work out, but I must say these were exceptional.  The crust had a nice crispiness and the sauce to cheese ratio was spot on because I adjusted it to fit my preferences.  Bread, sauce, and cheese are the ultimate trilogy and rarely taste bad.  

I haphazardly flung the ingredients together to make 3 pizza cupcakes, which makes calculating the price a bit difficult, but here’s my best guess:

  • Pizza Dough: $.50ish
  • Sauce: $.50ish
  • Cheese: $2.50ish
  • Peperoni: $1.00ish

Total = $1.34 (ish) per pizza cupcake.  

And the winner is…….


2.Cookie Shot

Dominique Ansel is a famed baker known for his creation of the first ever viral pastry: the cronut.  This 2013 masterpiece took the foodie world by storm, and was just the beginning of many dessert concoctions that have made Dominique Ansel Bakery one of the top culinary destinations in the city.      

Cookie Shot

Five years ago, I was wandering Soho with a friend from out of town, and we saw a hefty line pouring out of the small shop.  We didn’t know what the hype was about but we figured it had to be good; plus, it was a nice day and we had time to kill, so we decided to wait.  It turned out we were waiting for a cookie shot.  Cool.  

Then the real excitement came. 

A woman approached us and offered to pay for six, two for us, four for her.  Nothing makes me happier than free, so we gratefully obliged. Ten minutes later we were digging into our treat which consisted of a chocolate chip cookie baked in the shape of a shot glass filled up with milk.  Did I enjoy it?  Sure!  Was it the best thing I ever ate and worthy of a 20 minute wait in line?  Definitely not.  

The cookie shot seemed like the perfect 2nd edition of “Katie vs. Instagram.”

I started out with a Trader Joes cookie mix, and simply followed the instructions on the back of the tin.  My initial idea was to somehow mold the cookie in the muffin tin, but without pie weights, I realized that I’d get a muffin instead of a cookie.  Then a lightbulb when off; what if I flipped the muffin tin upside down?!

I piled the batter on, sat back, and waited.  

The result was a complete disaster.  

The rational thing to do was to try the exact same thing a second time. Shockingly enough, the result was the same. 

I ended up scooping the remaining batter into the muffin tin, and once cooked, I dug out the center to make a cup-ish shape.  I poured in almond milk that trickled through the bottom and shoved it in my mouth.  It tasted delicious, but it certainly was not the vision. 

And the winner is….


3.Freak Shake

Freak Shake

Freakshakes are massive milkshakes adorned with outrageous, excessive, and oh so instagrammable toppings such as full slices of cake and entire ice cream sandwiches.  Blacktap is the mother of all freakshakes in NYC, and while you may get an awesome photo, it will set you back $15 and upwards of 1600 calories.


Black Tap Milkshake

I tried one of these monsters at Blacktap a few years ago, and while I enjoyed it in the moment, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel sick afterward.  It was before my wannabe influencer days, so I didn’t even get a good photo. What a waste!

Quarantine has me doing all sorts of crazy things, such as going for runs. I hate running! After one particularly long run, I decided I’d create a protein freakshake. 

Homemade Freak Shake

The ingredients of the shake: 

  • Two scoops of vanilla protein
  • Greek yogurt
  • Almond milk
  • Splash of honey

I mixed the ingredient up then let it firm up in the fridge.

Five minutes later (I am not a woman with the gift of patience) I topped it with a slice of banana bread Jeremy made and one of the failed cookie shots from the day before.  While it certainly didn’t look nearly as pretty as a blacktap creation, it tasted great, didn’t make me feel sick, and was easily less than $4.  

And the winner is…..


What!?! Katie! Inconclusive?!!

Hear me out.

For taste and instagramability, the pros clearly win. But for health, cost, and not feeling nauseous, I take the gold.

Perhaps if I actually followed a recipe and didn’t try to make everything healthy, a direct comparison would be more achievable. But alas, you can’t teach a dog old tricks.

Final Thoughts…..

In this food showdown extravaganza, I discovered that you should NEVER pay $5 for a pizza cupcake, crafting a cookie shot requires skill and proper equipment, and that I can’t seem to ever follow a recipe…..

This project wasted a few hours in coronaville.  Who knows what kitchen adventure will come next!

For more thoughts on Instagram check out Is Instagram Ruining Food?

For more cheap recipes click HERE!

5 Comments Add yours

  1. I’m not sure ‘instagramability’ is a word or ever should be one. Meh who am I kidding??? But you kicked goals with the pizza things!


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