Making a Cherpumple at Home Proves One Long, Hot Mess
|This IS why you're fat.|
Here's the first thing you need to know about making a cherpumple: It takes five hours.
For those who missed the Internet sensation, the cherpumple is the brainchild of writer Charles Phoenix, who calls his monstrosity the turducken of desserts. It's an assortment of three store-bought pies baked inside three box-mix cakes, all stacked on top of each other, cemented with loads of cream cheese frosting. It's an ode to the best and worst of America, a mix of ingenuity and conspicuous consumption.
Now, we're no fan of cake mixes or store-bought pies, but a good friend requested a cherpumple for his birthday recently. So with another friend ― like young soldiers heading cavalierly into battle ― we rented one crappy chick flick, optimistically thinking it would carry us through the process. An hour and a half later, John Tucker Must Die had ended, and we were still waiting for layer number two to solidify. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
|Hark, is that the sound of Alice Waters weeping?|
First we whipped up the chocolate cake mix, covered the bottom of an Ikea cake pan with batter, and flipped a cherry pie out of its tin to slip on top. We covered it with the remainder of the batter and threw the whole thing in a 350° oven. Half an hour later, the cake was still soggy in the middle. We turned up the heat, surmising that the baking instructions on the back of the cake mix box had been rendered useless by the presence of a cherry pie. An hour (and a lesson about Why You Should Respect Women courtesy of John Tucker) later, we declared the chocolate/cherry layer done. Miraculously, the de-panned thing held together. It looked like a regular cake, but with a glorious secret inside ― just like the mousy protagonist of JTMD, who had a hot girl hiding within. "I can't believe there's a pie in there" became the rallying cry of the night.
We repeated the step twice more, baking a pumpkin pie into gingerbread cake and an apple pie into yellow cake.
It was the apple pie that almost proved our undoing.
The pie's bottom crust had ruptured, causing gelatinous, off-white ooze to leak from cracks in the cake. Our cherpumple looked more like a cherpimple. When a cherpumple layer threatens to disintegrate, the freezer is your friend. Remember: You are not baking a $3 pie into a box cake for the flavor. Freezing will not compromise the taste. Freeze it!
Assembling cherpumple layers is no small feat, especially for two people without degrees in architecture. Here's a tip: Put the layer with the least structural integrity on top. Once we had the apple pie-cicle situated atop the other two, we proceeded to empty the contents of two tubs of cream cheese (-flavored) icing onto the stack. The result was a forbidding white tower, the Soviet Bloc apartment building of cakes. In an attempt to make the thing more festive, we upended a tube of Halloween sprinkles. Now we had a big white thing covered in orange spots. We stuck it in the fridge to firm up.
|Note the Bloody Mary in a pint glass for scale.|
A cherpumple weighs about 10 pounds, which is why we spirited ours to local watering hole Zeitgeist (site of our friend's celebration) in a cab. The arrival of our monument to overeating was greeted with fanfare and high-fiving, but the real test came when it was time to slice it open. Miraculously, a massive steak knife cleaved through three layers of cake and pie as if they were butter. The resulting slices were art: They looked like wedges of Earth's strata and tasted like roadside diner.
|A many layered confection.|
Strangers took pictures, offered money for slices. At least two marriage proposals were issued. It inspired a sincere if convoluted drunken birthday speech ("Ours is a friendship built on a solid foundation, like the cherpumple's foundation of chocolate and cherry... "). Will we ever make another cherpumple? Probably not, unless a worthy friend requests it. Because that's what friends do for each other: They bake stunt desserts.