I took on three Instagram famous dishes in an epic kitchen showdown, and the quarantine boredom has me coming back for more!
Massive stacks of fluffy pancakes topped with everything from mounds of berries to pieces of cake are quite the rage on Instagram. A stack of pancakes at institutions such as Bubby’s, Brownstone Pancake Factory, and Clinton Street Baking Company will set you back $10-$17.
Surely, I can do just as well.
I set myself up for success from the start with a box of Trader Joe’s Protein Pancake mix. Disaster struck as my batter was too liquidy. I did the sensible thing in sprinkled in some buttermilk pancake mix… crisis averted.
I got the skillet piping hot, threw in some blueberries, and got to cooking. Meanwhile, Jeremy whipped up a berry coulee that featured frozen mixed berries with a bit of flour simmering on a low heat. Chef Hales created his portion to perfection. I, on the other hand, managed to smoke up the entire apartment, and I ran around furiously opening windows while waving towels through the air so that the smoke alarm wouldn’t go off.
However, I managed to make a beautiful stack of pancakes that paired perfectly with the coulee. To top it all off with a good dose of #instagramability, I added a scoop of ice cream on top.
Some say genius, I say I’m just a normal person like you.
Pancake mix: $1.99
Frozen Berries: $2.99
Scoop of Ice cream: $.50
Total: $5.97 -> Fed us both -> $2.99 a serving
Instagramability: 5/10 ( >456 likes)
And the Winner is……
Taste: 6/10 (too sweet!)
Banana Pudding from Magnolia’s Bakery is a quintessential Instagram New York Dessert. $5 gets you a small cup of the thickest, creamiest, dreamiest banana pudding you can imagine. Could I make a serving equally as delicious and photogenic?
I set myself up for failure from the start by using a box of low-cal banana pudding mix. I followed the instructions on the box and whisked it in with milk, let it thicken, then contemplated my display. The secret to the amazing photos of Magnolia’s is that the influencers get a small and a medium then they pile the small on top to make it look overflowing.
My pudding wasn’t nearly thick enough for such a visual, so I decided to recreate a pyrex measuring cup display I had at Eugene’s a few months prior.
I layered the pudding with banana and nilla wafers for a remarkably ugly presentation. However, it certainly tasted good!
Pudding mix: $1.29
Nilla Wafers: $1.00
=$4.53 -> 3 servings -> $1.51 a serving
And the winner is….
Taste: (magnolias) 9/10 (Eugenes) 6/10
I realize I set myself up for some confusion. Am I battling Eugene’s or Magnolias?!
If I’m battling Magnolias, Instagram wins.
If I’m battling Eugene’s, I win!
I often bake cookies purely for the cookie dough. And by bake I mean I crack open a tube of Nestles chocolate chip dough and have a bite for me, then a blob for the cookie sheet.
I shrug my shoulders at the possibility of getting Salmonella. I’ve eaten much stranger things than raw egg over the course of my life. Besides, it’s estimated that there are only 30 cookie dough related deaths a year, so I figure my odds of survival are pretty high. And if I do go, death by raw cookie dough seems like a pretty epic farewell.
Most people are more cautious (and smarter) than I am, and want to enjoy cookie dough without the risk.
In a capitalistic economy, ask and you shall receive.
Do Confections opened its New York shop in 2017 and took Instagram and social media by storm. Upon opening, the line would easily be two hours long on off peak times as anxious customers diligently waited along the Greenwich Village sidewalk.
I waited for about 45 minutes at 8pm on a Thursday night in January, and I do have to say it is pretty tasty. How can you not love sugary, sweet, chocolatey, and rich cookie dough? Even though it set me back around $7 and made me feel sick 30 minutes later, I enjoyed my #trendy treat. Since then, competitors have entered the market and the hype has died down along with the lines.
However, it is still quite instgrammable, and the perfect dessert for Katie vs. Instagram.
Looking through the recipes, I found a few with a chickpea base: sold! The process was beyond easy. I put a can of chickpeas, ¼ cup of peanut butter, 3 tbs of oats, honey, and a dash of vanilla into a food processor and let it rip. Then I folded in chocolate chips, grabbed a spoon, and dug in.
While it was tasty, it didn’t have the flavor and feel of cookie dough. Rather, it simply resembled a dessert hummus and would make a great dip for graham crackers or nilla wafers.
Peanut Butter: $.50
=$1.49 -> four servings -> $.38 a serving. Now THAT’S frugal.
And the winner is…..
My pancakes certainly took the gold, but I admittedly could have fought my banana pudding and cookie battles a bit harder. I can’t seem to resist the urge to lighten up indulgent, calorically dense treats. Why have one scoop of cookie dough when I can have an entire jar?
My biggest takeaway is how much cheaper it is to simply cook at home. While there is a time and place for eating out to socialize and to have a new experience, pick and choose your pricey ventures wisely.
Before dropping $8 on cookie dough or $18 for a stack of pancakes, ask yourself:
- Could I make this myself?
- What makes this particular dish special?
- How much value is the atmosphere and company adding?
- Will I remember this culinary experience one year from now?
Suggestions for more Katie vs. Instagram challenges? Comment below or shoot me a message via the contact page!