Back in June I took a weekend trip to Lake Lanier with my Mom and Dad for Father’s Day to do some kayaking. As usual I was in charge of dessert so thought I’d do something a little creative given our outdoor activities; in fact, it gave me the opportunity to try my hand at a recipe I’d been eyeballing for probably over a year now: backpacking tiramisu!
We were drive-in camping so in reality I could’ve crafted a supremely fancy, gussied-up tiramisu recipe, but I find that any time I’m sleeping on the ground and have dirt between my toes, fanciness will not do! Unless it’s backpacking fanciness of course, as this recipe is.
“Backpacking fanciness”, for those of you who do not backpack or venture out into the woods, is a term I coined very recently (in the previous paragraph, in fact) to signify a level of fanciness one typically does not attain while out in the woods. Traditional backpacking sustenance for me tends to comprise mainly of rice, pre-cooked packages of chicken, crackers, and spray-cheese. You may be thinking”ew, disgusting!” but trust me when I say that everything tastes good after you’ve been carrying your gear up and down mountains for 10 miles. Bugs in your water? WHO CARES! Dirt in your dinner? DELICIOUS!
Not that any of those issues arose during our Father’s Day weekend. Even so, I wanted to try this backpacking recipe out, and being outside seemed like excuse enough to give it a try.
It seems to me that, with these fairly straight forward and easy-to-carry (as well as easy-to-access) ingredients, this would work out pretty well on a backpacking trip. You run the risk of smooshing the lady fingers or the chocolate melting if it’s hot out, but those are pretty small issues overall. The biggest concern I’d have would be the amount of water you need. The instant pudding takes 2 cups of milk, which would mean 2 cups of water for powdered milk. If you’re doing a trail where water access is a problem, you may want to try this dessert another time (because really, trail dessert is awesome, but is it worth packing in extra water for it?).
But water issues aside, I think I’d vouch for this as a tasty way to finish your day of hiking! Like I mentioned before, the ingredients are light and easy to carry, and as you can see above, the assembly is super straight-forward. After heating up water to dissolve the instant coffee, mix in the liquor (if you chose to add it). Layer 1 of the tiramisu is lady fingers + a drizzle of the coffee mixture. Layer 2 is pudding. Repeat!
Overall the most difficult part was probably mixing the pudding together. And by “difficult” I mean “having to stir until your arm gets sort of tired but not really.” That reminds me, does anyone else remember instant pudding being this easy to make? I suppose I didn’t eat that much pudding growing up (a travesty, I know), but I don’t remember Jello boxes being as magical as simply mixing with milk to make something delicious. Hooray, chemicals!
Typically my parents wouldn’t indulge in something as diabetes-inducing and chemical-laced as this faux-tiramisu, but because they love me (and also, delicious sweet things) they allowed themselves a few nibbles.
Definitely give this recipe a try if you’re either (a) going on a camping or backpacking trip and what to prove how fancy you are, or (b) want an easy-peasy tiramisu-y treat. The recipe is definitely enough for 4-6 people, so bring your friends! The instant pudding makes it a little soupy, but it’s sweet, creamy, and otherwise very good. A sprinkle of dark chocolate on top makes it perfect. Enjoy!
Last weekend I hung out some friends I hadn’t seen in awhile, and we took a little trip to satisfy our collective sweet tooth at Southern Sweets Bakery.
This was actually something like our second or third choice of dessert destinations, but it was open on Sunday and it didn’t require us to venture into the traffic-ridden city, so away we went…and I’m super glad that we got diverted there.
Southern Sweets is a small bakery tucked tidily into an industrial area in Decatur. I know an industrial background it seems like odd placement, but don’t forget about Atlanta’s other treasures found in industrial-type locations. Its inside is low-key and a bit randomly cobbled together with purchasable art adorning the walls, but when you make your way through the sitting area and up to the counter, you are suddenly surrounded by a multitude of sweet choices.
The choices were actually a little overwhelming at first; there were two or three cases stocked with cakes, plus some smaller ones containing cookies, bread puddings and shortbreads. Luckily one of the ladies at the front counter (who I feel terrible about for not asking her name) graciously gave us a little direction, indicating the difference between the cases containing vegan and non-vegan cakes, pointing out the bread puddings, and giving us a few recommendations.
I should point out that they also offer a large array of lunch-type items including soups, salads and sandwiches, though we did not partake in any of them. This time.
Between the two of us who did the purchasing of the goodies (three of conquered the final consumption), we chose the following five items:
The Old Fashion Chocolate Cake was the first recommendation we received; apparently this cake is their number one seller in addition to actually being vegan as well. Was it delicious? Dear god, be still my heart! I can completely understand how this cake is there Southern Sweets’ top selling cake; it was absolutely delicious. The cake was moist, but not crumbly and the icing was a perfect chocolaty compliment, with very subtle hints of coffee (to my untrained tongue, at least). There also appeared to be small chocolate chunks between the layers of cake as well. Wow, so good. Plus it’s vegan, so it’s good for you, right?
The Tiramisu Cake was my second selection right after the Classic Chocolate. As I’ve mentioned before I love coffee, so tiramisu is naturally one of my favorite desserts. I really like the way Southern Sweets converted this common Italian cake into a traditional-looking round cake slice; it definitely tastes just as you’d expect it: exactly like a piece of tiramisu. In the picture above you can see the cake is layered in cake and chocolate/coffee flavored layers with the icing standing in for the rich creamy layers. The only thing I didn’t like about it was that the cream to cake ratio is pretty one-sided; the cake and coffee layers were delicious, don’t get me wrong, but I felt like another layer of cream, as you’d have in a typical tiramisu, would’ve brought this cake from really good to fabulous.
I’ll be the first to admit that the Bourbon Bread Pudding is not very pretty to look at. My knee-jerk reaction to this portion of our desserts was to revert back to my older bread pudding-prejudiced ways, but since everything else we’d tried so far had been so good (and since this had bourbon in it, which certainly couldn’t be a bad thing) I maned up and gave it a try. Surprise surprise – it too was quite tasty! We warmed the dessert up before tasting it, again per recommendation, which definitely made it more appealing. The pudding had a deliciously creamy overall flavor with significant twang of alcohol, though there wasn’t so much bourbony flavor as to make it unappetizing. If bread pudding is your thing, this must be on your to-try list.
Finally the last item we chose was the Raspberry Shortbread, which was a nice mellow option to finish off our selections. A small triangle of this shortbread was simple, sweet, and tasty. I liked how it wasn’t particularly crumbly; it held together well under a multiple-fork attack and would have been easy to pick up with my fingers and take bites out of without getting messy. While the ribbon of raspberry between the shortbread base and crumbles on top was very tasty I think the three of us might have preferred a little more raspberry zest to it. Even so, it was worth trying it.
It might be a little tough to tell the size of the pieces of cake and desserts we were given from the above pictures, but suffice it to say that they were substantial; the size of the cake and bread pudding portions were definitely worth the $5.50 price tag. Even between the three of us we still had about 1/3-1/4 of each slice of cake and bread pudding left! Each piece of cake is at least a 2-person dessert in my opinion, and even if you eat it all by your lonesome, my other friend pointed out it’s certainly not any more expensive than a dessert you’d get at a restaurant. Worth it? I think so.
In the final analysis I’d say that Southern Sweets Bakery is definitely a place to check out if you’re in the area and looking for some desserts. It is admittedly a bit hidden, but the wonderful selection of high quality cakes and other desserts is worth the drive. It has a great variety of choices, all delicious, as well as having vegan options if that’s how you roll. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be back there the next time a special occasion rolls around to pick up a delicious dessert for my friends or family.
A special thanks to Emily Hauck for helping me out with the dessert pictures!