We've all heard the expression "you eat with your eyes" but how far does this really take you? I wanted to put this to the test by presenting gas station desserts as if they were prepared at a restaurant. I only spent $15 on ingredients and prepared three different plates. I mean, what's the real harm in tricking your brain if it saves you a few bucks?

This all came about after I was perusing around the aisles of Whole Foods begging myself not to give in to the $10 cupcakes, so I figured why spend a ton of money on “fresh” and “quality” ingredients when 7/11 is just a short uber away?

Rules and Regulations

Reed Erickson

To mirror what a pâtissier would do given the same opportunity, I followed the four basic elements of platted desserts: main element, sauce, crunch, garnish. Of course there is so much more to dessert plating, but to simplify things for myself, I cut it down to just those four. Full disclosure, I have never had any form of professional training in this field so basically I just winged it.

I think it's safe to say that when we think "high-quality desserts" the last place our mind goes to is a gas station—perfect for my challenge! I put exactly zero effort into researching what gas station desserts are actually the most popular, so my haul is completely based off of what I think are the most iconic. Now let's get this party started.

Round 1: Twinkies & Warheads

Reed Erickson

Oh what a sight—yellow sponge cake with mysteriously thick frosting poking through the bottom, how ever could I disturb such natural beauty?  

Reed Erickson

Here we have a Twinkie dredged in chopped peanuts and Warhead sugar adorned with pulled sugar all over a raspberry Mamba gastrique, garnished with dusted Warhead sugar. (or, for the laymen, I rolled a Twinkie in some peanuts and basically fun dip then melted the Mamba candy and put it on a plate.) 

Round 2: Hoho & Reese's

Reed Erickson

Next, I took on the Hohos and Reese's. Although I don't need too much convincing to know that these taste good, I still tried to make them look restaurant-quality-good. 

Reed Erickson

I started by deconstructing the Hoho into layers of cake, chocolate and cream. I then reassembled it switching off between cake chocolate and thinly-sliced Reese's to make a petit four. Then I threw the Reese's in the microwave and used that as the sauce element. A chocolate candy was placed on top of the cake doing double duty as a crunch factor as well as for garnish. 

Round 3: Lemon Fruit Pie & Sno Ball

Reed Erickson

This last dish was by far the hardest because I needed to use, arguably, the most famous of all the gas station sweets: the lemon fruit pie. Not only was finding a piece of this overly-sweet artificial pocket of yellow dyes number 5 and 6 a struggle, but I was also left with the white mound of coconut flavored glucose that is the Hostess Sno Ball.   

I piped a combination of Sno Ball filling, Lemon Pie filling, and grape Warhead sugar mixed with water on the plate and topped the lemon drops with raisins. Then I cut the marshmallow into a small triangle and hid it under more spun sugar made from melting the lemon Mamba candy. 

Reed Erickson

Final Thoughts

Reed Erickson

Presentation-wise, I give myself 7/10—first of all, because this was my first time plating anything. Second of all, poor me, my first time was with trash I picked up at a gas station, so I cut myself some slack.

Of course, that is all subjective, but I can tell you that these dishes tasted like sh*t. Just terrible. I really did try all of them. If anything, I made them taste worse by combining them. Safe to say, I lose. 

If you ever feel like hitting up your local gas station before a dinner party rather than splurging on nice desserts, please reconsider... unless you hate your friends, then you should defiantly try this!