The worst pain of my life was when I was afflicted with kidney stones. If I ever have another one, and bend over in unbearable agony, at least I’ll know it could be worse.
I could watch TikTok.
I had gone my whole life without going on TikTok once. I had never even been tempted. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was living in a state of grace.
Then my editor decided it could make a good story if I cooked some of the most popular TikTok recipes.
TikTok, if you’re completely unaware of it, is an app where people all over the world post incredibly stupid videos. There’s some sort of time limit and they’re meant to be short, but a lot of them feel positively endless.
To familiarize myself with the concept, I watched as many as I could, back to back. Several featured the same boy with light blue eyes doing weird things to his hair. Others showed people lip-syncing to songs or rhythmically contorting themselves in what’s supposed to be a dance. Most of the others appear to be videos of cats and dogs, often with humans speaking for them in squeaky voices.
But it’s not just a site for narcissists to draw attention to themselves and their pets. It’s also a place where narcissists can show off the recipes they’ve cooked.
One of the biggest TikTok recipes is called Mermaid Toast. Invented in 2017 (but everything on TikTok is new to me), Mermaid Toast is a toast with cream cheese that’s been tinted with swirls of color made with ingredients like liquid chlorophyll and seaweed powder, and decorated with edible gold leaf and edible glitter.
When all is said and done, it’s still just toast with cream cheese.
I didn’t make Mermaid Toast, but decided to make perhaps the most popular TikTok recipe of all time, Baked Feta Pasta, which is more properly known as TikTok Pasta.
TikTok recipes tend to be easy to make, and this one is too. It’s just pasta cooked with feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, basil and olive oil.
Or, if we’re being honest, it’s pasta cooked with too much feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, basil, and too much olive oil.
The dish was popularized on TikTok, but not invented, by Yumna Jawad. She uses eight ounces of feta cheese and four ounces of olive oil to accompany eight ounces of uncooked pasta. In a video she shot of the dish, she says it makes eight servings.
But this is not the case. A serving of pasta is officially two ounces, not one, and most Americans eat more than that. So you’re actually getting two ounces of cheese and two tablespoons of oil per serving (Jawad, by the way, says it’s 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil per serving. You don’t have need to be good at math to be on TikTok).
How does it taste? Frankly, it tastes like too much feta cheese. But otherwise, it’s a decent dish. If you plan to do this, I highly recommend using four ounces of feta and 1/4 cup of oil.
I then tried to make Cloud Bread, which is thematically similar to Mermaid Toast. In other words, its appearance is more important than its taste.
Cloud Bread is made from egg whites whipped stiff with sugar and cornstarch, then cooked at low temperature.
Wait a minute. You can’t fool me. It’s not bread, it’s a soft meringue.
But here’s the thing. Soft meringue is usually served with something. Served with a crème anglaise (a vanilla pastry cream), it’s a floating island. Served with a raspberry coulis, it’s a soft meringue on a raspberry coulis.
The Cloud Bread is served on its own, so it’s just a meringue without enough sugar to be interesting. It tastes like beaten egg whites and it smells worse. You can definitely add vanilla to it and then it tastes like vanilla beaten egg whites. It’s an improvement, but only marginal.
And then I made a TikTok KitKat cheesecake, that’s what it looks like. It’s an extra-rich cheesecake surrounded by KitKat treats, with chocolate ganache on top and more crushed KitKat treats on top.
In other words, it’s a cheesecake with nearly a pound of candy on it, plus chocolate. And heavy cream.
By my calculations it’s over 900 calories per serving and the portions aren’t large.
TikTok KitKat Cheesecake was invented by an Englishwoman, Eloise Head. Based on the nutritional content of her creation, I’m guessing she’s still upset about the Revolutionary War and expressing her anger at Americans who cook TikTok recipes.
For the record, I agree that the cheesecake portion of the recipe is light and fluffy and quite good — and even without the crust or the chocolate ganache or any of the candy bars, there are still 288 calories per serving.
The last Tik I Tokked was the best, TikTok Salmon Rice Bowl. Created by Emily Mariko, it mixes cooked salmon with rice, soy sauce, sriracha sauce and Kewpie mayonnaise.
Yeah, good luck with that. Kewpie mayonnaise is America’s hottest condiment right now, and it sells out instantly wherever you look for it. Made in Japan, Kewpie is considered a tasty mayonnaise rich in egg yolk. If you find it, let me know how it is.
I used Hellmann’s. And according to Mariko’s video, I served it with avocado, kimchi and nori seaweed.
Basically, the dish is a very simple salmon donburi – a Japanese dish of rice with, in this case, salmon on top. By definition, donburi is served in a bowl; I used a plate, but if you want to be traditional you can put it in a deep bowl.
Smooth, fatty salmon is cut by salty soy sauce, with the tangy fire of sriracha tamed by mayonnaise. Enjoyed on a piece of seaweed (optional, of course), accompanied by kimchi (also optional), it is a wonderful combination.
But I’m not going back to TikTok to look for another one.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, see note
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces feta cheese, see note
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, packed, plus more for serving
8 ounces dried pasta (small is better)
Note: To make the original recipe, use 8 ounces of feta cheese and 1/2 cup of olive oil.
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the cherry tomatoes in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Pour the olive oil over it, season with salt and pepper. Stir until well blended.
2. Place the feta in the middle of the baking dish surrounded by the cherry tomatoes, and toss or turn to coat with olive oil and seasoning; keep the feta in the middle of the pan.
3. Bake for 35 minutes, until the cherry tomatoes burst and the feta cheese melts.
4. While the tomatoes and feta cook, cook the pasta in a pot of salted water according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
5. Immediately add the garlic and basil leaves to the cooked tomatoes and feta and mix everything together.
6. Transfer the cooked pasta to the baking dish and toss to combine. Add the reserved cooking liquid if the sauce is too dry. Garnish with fresh basil and serve hot.
Per serving: 435 calories; 21 g of fat; 6g of saturated fat; 25mg of cholesterol; 13g of protein; 50g carbohydrates; 7 g of sugar; 4g fiber; 416mg sodium; 173mg Calcium
— Adapted from a TikTok recipe by Yumna Jawad
2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Using an electric mixer over medium-high heat, whisk egg whites until frothy. Add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and whisk over high heat until small bubbles form. Add cornstarch and optional vanilla and food coloring. Whisk until the egg white peaks stand up when you lift the whisk.
3. Place meringue on a prepared baking sheet and mold into a mound or cloud shape. Bake until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes.
4. Serve immediately. The cloud deflates over time.
Per serving: 102 calories; not greasy; no saturated fat; no cholesterol; 5g protein; 20g carbohydrates; 16 g of sugar; 2g fiber; 83mg sodium; 4mg Calcium
38 KitKat fingers, divided
3 1/2 cups crushed digestive biscuits (cookies) or graham crackers, see note
11 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar, packed
2 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate
Note: Digestive biscuits are a traditional English biscuit. They can be found in the international food aisles of many grocery stores and in international markets.
1. Place 32 KitKat fingers around the inside of an 8 inch cake pan, preferably a springform pan. In a bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and butter and pour into the cake pan. Press the mixture until it is firm and homogeneous.
2. Using an electric mixer, whip cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth. Add 2 cups heavy cream and blend until smooth and thick. Pour this mixture over the base and use a spoon to make smooth. Refrigerate at least 5 hours.
3. Break the remaining 6 KitKat fingers into small pieces.
4. Chop or break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the remaining 1/2 cup cream to a boil and pour over the chopped chocolate (if using anything other than heavy cream, bring to just below a boil before pouring). Wait 1 minute and stir until smooth and well blended.
5. Pour this chocolate mixture on top of the cheesecake. Garnish with the chopped KitKat pieces. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Per serving: 852 calories; 58 g of fat; 33g of saturated fat; 118 mg of cholesterol; 8g protein; 57g of carbohydrates; 42g of sugar; 2g fiber; 251mg sodium; 118mg Calcium
— Adapted from a recipe by Eloise Head, via TikTok
1 salmon fillet (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise, preferably Kewpie brand
1. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and cook in the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until browned on both sides and cooked through, about 4 minutes on one side and 3 minutes from each other, depending on size. some salmon.
2. Finely mash the salmon with a fork in a large bowl and add the rice. If using leftover rice, place 1 ice cube on top, cover with parchment paper and microwave for 1 minute. Discard the parchment and the ice cube. (If the rice is freshly cooked, skip this part.)
3. Add soy sauce and stir until combined. Top with sriracha, mayonnaise and avocado. If desired, serve over snack-sized pieces of nori seaweed, with kimchi on the side.
Per serving: 500 calories; 24 g of fat; 3 g of saturated fat; 46mg of cholesterol; 26g of protein; 50g carbohydrates; 2g of sugar; 6g fiber; 1136mg of sodium; 51mg Calcium