Recipes are casually, with little logic, fêted as “the best”—by algorithms, by bloggers, by us—in our digital landscape. It’s not every day that a recipe is trumpeted as the worst.
Meet the recipe that may have earned this title: Allison McAtee’s Tiramisu, featured on the Hallmark Channel and uncovered by five-time James Beard Award–winning writer Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl of Minneapolis St. Paul magazine.
There. I found the worst recipe on the Internet. It's tiramisu made with bagels and nondairy creamer. Enjoy! https://t.co/E5ojyGvctL
Forgive a few of the standard-issue typos (“Set bagel on it’s [sic] side”) and make your way to the recipe’s substance. It’s composed of ingredients that may make some of us bristle when we find them in a tiramisu recipe: bagels with shavings of chocolate grated on top; powdered, non-dairy creamer; cream cheese. All sound fine on their own. Together, in a dish that’s usually made with spongy ladyfingers and dotted with bittersweet cocoa powder, it certainly constitutes quite a riff!
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For one of us on the editorial team, seeing this recipe reignited the traumas of Paula Deen’s much-maligned English Peas, paddling along in a pool of butter. One Twitter user pointed to a mole recipe composed of hot sauce and Cocoa Puffs. I don’t consider myself too churlish or rigid when it comes to the way people cook—I encourage fanciful experimentation, as I'd like to think we all do at Food52 (and I'd expect the same of you, our readers). That’s part of the fun of convening around a shared love of cooking, a value that's baked into the DNA of this site.
Yet experimentation inevitably begets failure, and it’s crucial to acknowledge when our culinary imaginations risk taking us in unwanted directions. The internet's an endless repository of recipes, and I've no doubt that we've all got some unpleasant memories of making recipes that've ended in disaster. “The worst”? That’s a terrible label for any recipe to be affixed with! If you’ve made this tiramisu, please set the record straight. Perhaps it’s better than anyone can imagine. Someone’s worst may be another person’s best.
What's the worst recipe you've ever made from the internet? Don't be shy—let us know in the comments.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.