Wild-rice brownies with nougat?

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 5, 2011 - 8:21 PM

The Wisconsin Legislature will soon take up a pressing issue of our times -- anointing the cream puff as the official State Dessert. Do we have one? No. It is stunning to think that a bicameral legislature that meets annually has not gotten around to consecrating a bolus of sugar as the state fave, but imagine a list of 400 things to do, with state dessert at the bottom of the list, and #399 being "Vikings Stadium Proposal That Makes Everyone Happy." In case we do get a stadium proposal, and everyone's so pumped they want to polish off the list, some suggestions:

1. Key Lime Pie, just to irritate Florida.

2. The "Non-Poisonous Cream Puff," just to make people wonder what's wrong with the Wisconsin ones.

3. Minced Loon in Jell-O.

4. Candied Lutefisk with Pepto-Bismol sauce.

5. Half a roll of Pillsbury cookie-dough eaten raw, in shame, at night in the kitchen, because it's been a long, hard day, OK?

6. A heaping bowl of General Mills sugar-centric cereal. This would require some redefinition of cereal's place on the table, since we all believe cereal is an important part of a balanced breakfast. But as the Minneapolis school district has reminded us, a bowl of carbs 'n' sugar tends to hasten your membership in the Husky Club. They've banned sugary cereals in favor of healthy alternatives, like gravel, or fiber-rich bowel-scouring bran wads. Perhaps this is the future; cereals will be honest, and start admitting yeah, we're dessert. If no one knew what breakfast cereal was, and you served them Lucky Charms for dessert, people would be delighted. Such light crispy pastel nodules! The honest taste of the simple grains! And the way the milk provides a sweet broth for a finish -- well, my dear, where did you get the recipe? Oh, it's an old Irish dish, Leprechaun Stew. We had it in a Belfast B&B, and I simply had to ask for the box. Er, the recipe.

No, that won't do. May I suggest two choices:

The Walnetto. Wildly popular in Coolidge times. Introduced in 1919 by a Minneapolis confection company. Caramels with flecks of walnuts, designed to stay in your molars for up to six weeks. Walnettos lost popularity by the '60s, but they're still available. In fact, in 2005, they were chosen as the top treat included in military meal packs for our soldiers. It is entirely possible that the SEAL who dispatched Bin Laden had Walnettos in his pocket. Not that we'll ever know; I can't imagine the White House press secretary saying "obviously, the identity of the soldier remains classified, but I can tell you he enjoyed a fresh caramel made with rich, New England cream and choice chopped California walnuts after the mission, and shared them with the rest of his special-forces team, which by the way does not exist." Added bonus to making Walnettos our State Dessert: Whoever currently lives in the first house this candymaker built would probably make a nice sum from the official designation, holding tours, selling special bags of Walnettos. Full disclosure: That would be me. Is that a problem?

It is? Sigh. ETHICS. It's always the ETHICS in this newspaper racket. OK, then here's a better suggestion.

The Salted Nut Roll. A true Minnesota log o' heaven. When I lived in D.C. and came back to Minneapolis, I'd buy one at the airport newsstand before I got my bags. Garblgarblgarbl ahhh, I'm home. Never finished one -- too rich -- but that only meant the calories didn't count. Some will insist the Nut Goodie, also a Pearson's product, is better. Fine, use modern gene-splicing technology to create the Salted Nut Goodie Nut Roll, and everyone's happy. Surely there will be objections to beatifying a private company's product instead of some humble folk dessert like Taconite Toffee or Baked Itasca, but consider that the fluffy nougat the world recognizes as the confectionery soul of the Milky Way and 3 Musketeers was invented in Minneapolis, by Frank Mars, the candy patriarch for whom the Mars bar is named. Time we claim our place in candy history.

So if the Legislature gets around to an official dessert, I hope they'll consider these suggestions -- and sell them at the new Vikings stadium, which was #399 on the List of Things to Do, you remember. Then they can move on to #401, choosing an Official State Molecule. H20 or O2? A bruising partisan battle awaits.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858 More daily at www.startribune.com/popcrush.

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