People pursue different things. Off the top of my head, I can think of the pursuit of happiness, the American dream, a higher salary, you know all those things. I pursue promotional tie-ins. Yesterday on a drive down the Garden State Parkway, I was reflecting on this and thinking how basically my entire existence has been defined by this chase. It’s something that’s always been in me. Baseball ignites passion in a lot of guys, while others love hunting and fishing, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s just not in me. Driving to Manhattan like a maniac at 10:00pm on a weeknight in a torrential rainstorm merely to nab a couple of cardboard Birds of Prey crowns at a select Burger King location that’s jazzed up to promote the film – now THAT is my shit. The level of motivation you have to have for that kind of thing is pretty intense. That fire lead me to do something I wouldn’t ordinarily do: BAKE! And that baking lead me to document it on my website, something that I rarely get motivated to do. So here it is, please marvel at my madness for minutia.
Looking back, Birds of Prey had a proper theatrical run before this current quarantine climate. While it wasn’t as lucrative as it should have been, it received a ton of positivity from fans and critics. I saw it twice in theaters and it was easily in my top 3 DC movies thus far. I’ve obviously got a huge soft spot for Harley Quinn, so there’s that, but it’s still a bombastic, colorful, and frenetically fun film and that can’t be denied. No complaints from me in that area, especially since it was released early to digital an VOD. I was ecstatic to be watching it at home way sooner that I thought I’d be. Although, there was one missing piece for me in the promotional machine for the movie.
A quite legendary bakery in New York City, Magnolia, renowned for their cupcakes, was quietly offering an officially endorsed Harley Quinn themed dessert. I found out about this news late as I watched Margot Robbie get presented with it on a late night talk show that I DVR’d and watched a few days too late. SON OF A B! By the time I called Magnolia to see if any of their locations were still offering this delight, I was outright denied. The promotion seemed to have lasted maybe 2 weeks or possibly even less than that.
Their specialty banana pudding recipe was altered ever so slightly and branded with the Birds of Prey logo. In honor of Joker’s ex-squeeze, they even renamed it PINK PUDDIN’! Once I heard the lady on the phone from Magnolia tell me “NO, we stopped serving that,” it was naturally my mission in life to right the wrong that has clearly occurred. How could I have missed out on this? ME…the guy with Harley Quinn on his website header! My mission in life since early February became even clearer and not even the world shutting down could stop me from accomplishing it.
To qualify me as a “baker” would be an absolute farce. Truthfully, I do know my way around a kitchen, although I rarely put those skills into practice. In this case, I called myself on the Batphone and I sprang into action. If you saw me during this blitz of baking, the control and chutzpah on display was pretty remarkable considering I used my stove maybe 5 times in 15 years. My plan was to recreate Magnolia’s specialty banana “Pink Pudding’.” Banana pudding + pink cake crumbles + other nonsense = heaven? I didn’t even bother researching a copycat recipe which is what I’ve done for certain meals in the past. I felt compelled to just guess and wing it and whip this up myself using only THE FORCE a.k.a my intuition. How hard could it be to make banana pudding?
WARNING: I try my best to eat as healthy as I can in any situation, but in this case I went with all the standard ingredients. Ordinarily, I would opt for the healthier options. It’s probably super easy to make a vegan version or just a version that health conscious people don’t mind eating. This right here is a sugar coma waiting to happen, so be warned!
WHAT YOU NEED: Milk, Eggs, Butter (or oil), bananas, cake mix, sprinkles, a couple of colors of icing, instant pudding, measuring cup, large mixing bowls, electric mixer, cake pan, paper dessert cups with lid.
I picked up banana cream instant pudding. It’s absurdly easy to make. To be honest, I haven’t made pudding since I was a kid with my mom in the kitchen. You throw the mix into a bowl with milk and whisk it for a few minutes and your pudding magically appears in the bowl. If all things in life were as easy as making pudding, we’d live in constant euphoria.
I’m 99% sure there’s actual bananas in this dessert and it was important to me that I had at least some semblance of fruit in this otherwise it would be literally 100% garbage for you. I bought some of those monster bananas you see in the produce section that were clearly injected with BANE venom. I sliced these babies up real nice and threw them directly into the pudding. Mixed it up, covered the bowl in plastic wrap and threw it in the fridge while I worked on the other stuff.
Bake a cake! First, pre-heat your oven to the temp. that the box tells you to and then move onto the cake mix. I bought the pink cake because PINK is in the title and the colors are important. The Harley “caution tape” costume in Birds of Prey is the inspiration here in my view, so the more vibrant the better. In this case, I started to add my own spin. If the cake mix you buy calls for oil, that’s fine, but if it calls for butter, make sure the butter is softened and not hard as a rock. That is a key so your cake isn’t lumpy. Nobody wants lumpy cake. In a mixing bowl, throw in some water, your cake mix, eggs, and butter (or oil). This is where you blend it all together until it’s smooth with an electric mixer. Some of you have fancy Kitchen-Aid contraptions, but an electric hand mixer is all you need.
Once your cake mix is all nice and blended, ensure your pan is greased and floured and then pour the pink goo evenly into the pan (I used a 13×9 pan.) I tried to make sure that the pink sludge (SLIME – it’s a river of slime!) covered all the real estate on the bottom of the pan. Get this baby into the oven. Follow the suggested time range on the back of the box. My cake cooked a little over 30 minutes which was slightly longer than directed. When you remove the cake, stick a knife or toothpick into the cake and when you take it out, if there’s batter lingering on it, it needs more time. If it comes out clean, remove the cake and place it somewhere to completely cool off (away from the hot oven.)
When the cake is fully cooled off (I left it overnight) you can begin the icing process. To replicate the vibrant, multicolored Harley costume with pinks and blues and yellows etc, I suggest picking up at least 3 colors of icing and fun sprinkles. Pink and yellow were my main colors, but I also used cream cheese icing since I read somewhere that Magnolia uses that in their banana pudding. Next, I separated the cake into 3 sections and iced them accordingly. If the cake crumbles at any point, it’s fine, you’re going to need it to do that anyway. When you are all good and iced, pretend you’re Tinkerbell and sprinkle the Pixie Dust all over the cake.
Take one of your paper dessert cups and begin to form your PINK PUDDIN’. This is not a science by any means, especially since I have absolutely no clue how this is actually made. To me, that’s what makes this great, each dessert cup is a work of art, it’s like Joker fixing the paintings in the Flugelheim Art Museum. Throw a little puddin’ in to start at the bottom, and then throw in a small piece of cake over in this corner, and on that corner make sure there’s some more pudding but ensure there’s an actual banana included, then take a small chunk from another section of the cake to get that multicolored appearance. While you are forming this, use a spoon to mash it together a little bit, all while attempting to keep the colors separated. Once you are reaching the top of the cup, use a spatula or any similar utensil to flatten off the excess and then close it up with the lid and into the fridge it goes until you are ready to enjoy it.
I went to the next level to try to make this as accurate as possible, even going to the extent of printing out the actual labels Magnolia used. I used a graphics program to isolate the sticker from a picture I found on Instagram. Then I had to order printer ink because I never use my printer. It was covered in dust! Printed those babies out and taped them right onto the top of the container. I have to say, this dessert was ridiculously delicious. I know a lot of people hate bananas and anything remotely banana-flavored, but this is a must try. The standout for me was the cake, once the cake sits in the container in the fridge it starts to absorb the flavors of the icing and the pudding and it’s just all so wonderful. It’s a very sweet and rich dessert and I have a feeling it was a pretty close stand-in for the real thing, even though I have no backing to say that. Even if it wasn’t close, getting shut out of a Birds of Prey promotional food tie-in motivated me enough to “do a thing.” I will always have this experience to carry with me now and I was able to share it with you. It’s amazing how getting told NO can make you do some absolutely WILD shit…like turning on your oven!