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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The day I met the Luther Burger

Oh yes. They really are donuts.

A meet-up with food bloggers is guaranteed to bring a few interesting dishes. We gathered at Richard's for a post-Christmas catch-up, but perhaps the star of the show was Suze's Luther Burgers.

The Luther Burger, a bacon cheeseburger
sandwiched with a Krispy Kreme donut by Suze

The Luther Burger is named after Luther Vandross - some say it was his favourite snack, others say he invented it, using Krispy Kreme donuts to fulfil a hamburger craving when he ran out of hamburger buns. The burger was a regular menu item at Mulligan's, a restaurant near Atlanta in the USA.

In 2006, the burger received extensive news coverage when it was discovered that the burger had not only been included on the snack menu at the homeground of Illinois baseball team, the Gateway Grizzlies, but it was actually drawing in crowds because of it. The Grizzlies version includes a deep-fried Krispy Kreme donut that packs a whopping 1,000 calories.

Inside the Luther Burger

Coming face-to-face with a Luther Burger is a little daunting to say the least. There's a mix of shock, horror and a touch of devilish intrigue. As each guest arrives, it's hilarious to watch each person's face change from puzzlement to disbelief as they spot the burgers and then ask "wait, is that a donut?"

It feels so wrong to bite into a burger sandwiched with a donut. The glaze leaves a sticky residue all over your fingers, which makes it understandable to see why most places grill the cut side of the donut and then sandwich it cut-side up.

There's a moment of hesitation before I take my first bite. There's no resistance as I sink my teeth into the soft fluffy donut before it meets cheese, crispy bacon and the beef patty. Suze has added a fried egg which oozes a runny yolk, and a pineapple ring which provides a welcome acidity. The donut adds a strange sweetness to the burger which isn't altogether unpleasant, although the entire experience is tainted with dietary guilt - perhaps that's half the appeal.

Most of the females only attempt half a burger and I'm not sure I could eat a whole one - or whether I'd do it again!

Homemade tomato, ham and cheese bread by Shez

We feast on a communal contribution of dishes, the jar of American baconnaise piquing everyone's interest and added to everything in the pursuit of "research". The condiment has a huge list of ingredients but surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly, bacon is not one of them. It smells and tastes like those "bacon bits" that come in a jar in the spice section at the supermarket, a thick creamy slurry that is sweet, salty and smoky.

Sausages by The Ninja alongside Richard's baconnaise

The baconnaise was sandwiched with sausages, but also worked well as a spread on bread on its own. There was homemade bread by Shez, Indian fried snacks bought by Leona and a creamy potato salad by Jacq.

Aloo bonda and samosas from Leona

Potato salad by Jacq

Chicken surprise by Simon

Simon's chicken surprise is so-named because some of the deep-fried chicken parcels contain vegetables, with one contained a generous patty of wasabi. The Ninja finally uncovers the wasabi surprise although he pronounces it tame, perhaps as a result of being deep-fried.

Pork belly by Richard

Richard's marinated pork belly is aromatic and sweet, unctious with the generous ribbons of fat. Billy's roast pork is still warm from the oven, the tender flesh dipped into hoisin sauce whilst the top layer of crunchy crackling is savoured last.

Roast pork by Billy

Desserts? Where does one begin? It was a herculean effort sampling each and every one of them - diligent research a pre-requisite for any committed food blogger of course!

Green tea-ramisu by Lisa

Tiramisu made with green tea matcha powder was an Eastern twist on a traditional Italian favourite.

Lemon cake with cream by Shez

Shez's lemon cake had a refreshing zestiness, the soft layers of cake sandwiched with fresh whipped cream. On a baking frenzy, she also contributed a chocolate fruit pudding which was boozed up with wine and served with cream.

Jacq's pannacotta was smooth and silky, topped with a layer of jelly and fruit.

Pannacotta by Jacq

Momofuku cookies from NYC courtesy of Teresa

When Teresa had said she would bring along Momofuku cookies, most of us expected a batch baked from the Momofuku cookbook. In fact these were straight from Momofuku in New York city, couriered personally to Sydney by a friend with very good taste.

The cookies were dense and sweet, soft chewy cookies that were mixed through with chunks of extra ingredients. We found blueberries in one, and a tasty mix of peanuts, choc chips and pretzels in another. Dark chocolate cookies had an intense cocoa flavour.

Steph blowtorching her marshmallow-topped chocolate cheesecake

Steph's marshmallow cheesecake came with a fiery finale, the surface scorched all over with a blowtorch, toasting the marshmallows to all shades of caramel brown.

Toasted marshmallow chocolate cheesecake by Steph

The chocolate cheesecake was deliciously bitter against the top layer of melting marshmallow. It was a rich dessert made all the more impressive by the blowtorch spectacle. This would be a great finish to any dinner party.

Strawberry and balsamic cupcakes by me

And my contribution? Cupcakes - of course. These vanilla cupcakes had a filling of strawberry jam, then topped with a swirl of balsamic icing and sprinkled with strawberry popping candy. The balsamic vinegar adds a piquancy to the icing - I would have preferred to have served with fresh strawberries and made a dusting of icing sugar, but made do with strawberry popping candy in this instance.

Later than evening Lex arrived with anchovy butter prawns, and still later, Yas with two huge platters of sushi. Thanks again go to Richard for being such a generous host and for the food blogging company who, it turns out, are not only great at Rock Band, but talented at Pictionary as well. Good times!

Strawberry and balsamic cupcakes

125g salted butter softened
125g sugar
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup strawberry jam
strawberry popping candy (optional)

Balsamic frosting
125g unsalted butter, softened
250g-300g pure icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 170C or 150C if using fan-forced.

Combine the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, vanilla essence and eggs in a food processor and blitz until well combined. If you do not have a food processor, cream the butter and sugar first and then add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, vanilla essence and eggs and beat until well combined.

Add one tablespoon of milk and blitz/beat. Add the second tablespoon if the mixture still looks a little thick.

Distribute the batter evenly across twelve patty pans in a muffin tin. I usually dollop out a tablespoon in each. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into one of the cupcakes comes out clean.

When the cupcakes are cool, use a piping bag with a plain tip to squeeze a small dollop of strawberry into the middle of each cupcake. Alternatively, use a small sharp knife to cut out a small circle, lift out gently, add jam and then replace the cake lid.

Pipe over with the balsamic frosting. Just before serving, dust with strawberry popping candy - encourage your guests to eat this immediately as the candy will quickly dissolve upon contact with the icing and lose its mouth-popping ability. The popping candy is available at supermarkets in the ice cream topping section.

Alternative serving suggestion: Instead of the strawberry popping candy, serve with fresh strawberry halves dusted with icing sugar.

Balsamic frosting
Using an electric mixer, cream the unsalted butter until light and fluffy. Beat in 250g of the icing sugar, then add 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, adjusting according to your personal taste. You may need to add more icing sugar to get the icing to a pipeable state.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Cupcakes - Bacon chocolate
Cupcakes - Bacon, peanut butter and strawberry jam (Elvis cupcakes)
Cupcakes - Banana
Cupcakes -
Black sesame in ice cream cones
Cupcakes - Chocolate
Cupcakes - Coca Cola
Cupcakes - Ginger with chai icing
Cupcakes - Mini
Cupcakes - Popcorn
Cupcakes - Red velvet
Cupcakes - Vanilla
26 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/30/2009 02:55:00 am


  • At 12/30/2009 4:50 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    Reading about Luther burgers at 4a.m. does my stomach no favours at all! I'll have to re-read the post later on in the day! Hehe.

  • At 12/30/2009 8:07 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Haha you're right, there was something so wrong about that burger, but somehow it kind of worked! And your cupcakes were awesome of course, loved the icing with the popping candy :) I'll have to post the recipe for my s'mores cheesecake soon

  • At 12/30/2009 8:21 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    BWAHAHAHAHA the luther burger was so fun to make! and to watch peoples reaction as they took a bite, preparing themselves for it to taste disgusting but then to find themselves strangely liking it hohoho

  • At 12/30/2009 9:00 am, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    So much food Helen! I'm not so sure about the Luther burger...although I would def try it for "research" purposes of course!

  • At 12/30/2009 9:30 am, Anonymous The Ninja said…

    The surprise was tame only because the wasabi must have come out of a not-so-spicy packet, not due to Simon's allocation of quantities.

    One of these days Shinobi Valley will have Lutherburgers for breakfast. That will be a good day for our enemies.

  • At 12/30/2009 9:49 am, Anonymous YW said…

    Love toasted marshmallow... on a chocolate cheesecake?? EVEN BETTER!! :D

  • At 12/30/2009 11:55 am, Anonymous ladyironchef said…

    burger on its own is already quite heavy, but a burger in KK donut? WOW! exceptionally sinful, but sounds so good

  • At 12/30/2009 12:18 pm, Anonymous laire @ therawnoodle said…

    goodness me! That Luther burger just looks like all the wrong flavours put together - I'd like to try some! hehe. Although, it looks like it might come with a side of heart attack! =/

  • At 12/30/2009 1:01 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    These are all that I missed?? Gonna cry now :( You all had a fun day and great food. Too bad I had other engangement that I couldn't make it to the BBQ...

  • At 12/30/2009 1:11 pm, Anonymous jude said…

    Disgusting, those burgers, sets a dangerous precedent. Keep that up and soon you'll be spruiking all those awful American deep-fried combo's. Not to be encouraged. Krispy Creme very dangerous. The rest looks fab.

  • At 12/30/2009 2:07 pm, Anonymous Belly Rumbles said…

    Okay those Luther burgers are just so so wrong on how many levels, and like everyone else, I wan't to try one!!

    All the food look amazing and delicious.

  • At 12/30/2009 2:44 pm, Blogger Kate said…

    Yum Yum Yum! The lemon cake with cream looks sooo good. Me, I can never get enough cream and LOVE citrus things. The cookies sound great. A bit like lucky dip. Never seen a toasted marshmallow cheesecake before, very effective. And as always your quirky cupcakes are making me hungry! Balsamic icing, ingenious!

  • At 12/30/2009 3:14 pm, Blogger Karen | Citrus and Candy said…

    I hate Krispy Kremes... truly! But rather embarassingly I'm actually craving those devil Luther burgers. They're so wrong in so many ways...

    And you are truly a cupcake queen! I always can't help but wonder in anticipation what flavours you'll bring next! But hey, no pressure! :P

  • At 12/30/2009 6:15 pm, Anonymous billy@atablefortwo said…

    The Luther Burger was weird but worked, I think I want my Luther Burger still warm next time. Mine is already cold by the time I got there. :(

  • At 12/30/2009 8:26 pm, Anonymous Trissa said…

    Note to self: Must take cholesterol medicine when reading Helen's blog! You must put a warning sign on your header Helen - this site can induce cravings and mini heart attacks!

  • At 12/30/2009 9:46 pm, Anonymous he needs food said…

    My arteries are tightening just looking at those burgers. And my stomach is curdling just thinking about it. I've eaten fried insects, intestine and drank snakes blood, yet this stops me in my tracks. I really don't think I could go there. A true American fast food junkie would have dipped it in batter with a Mars bar and deep-fried it
    Was it really good??

  • At 12/30/2009 10:07 pm, Anonymous Simon said…

    That Luther burger is one of those life experiences where you're happy that you did it at the time but it's not something I'd repeat again. That half I had took some willpower to work through. Not due to the taste (that was ok) but just the sheer fact that I know that I'll be paying more for it later than the experience at the time. Kudos to Suze for coming up with such an audacious dish! :)

    The chicken surprise was more that there were a variety of fillings (not just vegetable) that weren't really distinguishable until you bit into it. Shame that these didn't fare well on the trip over.

  • At 12/30/2009 10:49 pm, Anonymous reality raver said…

    Were the Luther Burger's cold, now that in itself would be a challenge. By the way I thought Suze had some cholesteral issues...

    Happy New Year.

  • At 12/31/2009 2:47 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    I think the Luther burger would be one of those you try just so you can say you've tried it later (and bask in the bewildered faces of those you tell).

    Apart from that, bravo to all of you - the food looks magnificent. I adore macerating strawberries in a little balsamic vinegar, so the cupcakes sound delicious.

  • At 12/31/2009 7:41 am, Anonymous Veruca Salt said…

    Another great feed. You food bloggers are so dedicated to the cause.

    I love donuts and I love burgers but not sure about them together.

    Nice combo with the cupcakes but I think the pressures on now.

  • At 12/31/2009 11:03 am, Blogger lex said…

    to all: Luther Burgers are DISGUSTING - especially with baconnaise; I'm sure deep frying them will make some of that horrible taste go away haha

    oh mann... dw it wasn't your cooking chocolatesuze haha just very distasteful combo -_- my respect for American food just dropped a notch

  • At 12/31/2009 4:09 pm, Anonymous Jacq said…

    Loved your cupcakes Helen! Where do you get your popping candy from?

    The Luther burger was surprisingly good, I don't know but everything just somehow worked together! Lex, it might have just been the baconnaise which just threw everything off ;)

  • At 12/31/2009 4:25 pm, Blogger Forager said…

    Woah! Those Luther burgers look like heart-attack city! Another great feast and looking forward to another year of them!

    Happy new year!

  • At 12/31/2009 10:34 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Joey - I don't think anytime is a good time really to be reading about Luther Burgers. lol!

    Hi Stephcookie - It was a shame the popping candy went soggy so quickly. Your s'mores cheesecake, on the other hand, was so very impressive. Can't wait for the recipe!

    Hi chocolatesuze - Only you could think of bringing the Luther Burger to a lunchtime gathering! They were so wrong, and yet so worryingly good...

    Hi Peter G - The Luther Burger was definitely one to try to "research" purposes. Not sure I'd want to recreate it at home, but glad I had the chance to try it.

    Hi The Ninja - A breakfast of Luther Burgers? I shudder to think of the consequences!

    Hi YW - It was such a mesmerising sight watching the marshmallow slowly toasting. A great pairing for the chocolate cheesecake.

    Hi ladyironchef - I don't think this is diet food, that's for sure. lol!

    Hi laire - I think it should come with a defibrillator!

    Hi Ellie - Such a shame you couldn't make it. A food blogger get-together is always a guarantee of a feast!

    Hi Jude - lol, I agree, Krispy Kremes are very dangerous!

    Hi Belly Rumbles - The Luther Burger certainly got all our attention. It's wrong on so many levels but interesting to try, all in the name of research of course!

    Hi Kate - The lemon cake was great. I agree - citrus and cream are a lovely combo. The toasted marshmallow cake was so much fun and lol, the balsamic cupakes were a last-minute inspiration. I think I'm going to have a keep a notepad of potential crazy combo's from now on!

    Hi Karen - Ha, the pressure mounts on the next cupcake flavour. Irony is that after I baked these, I thought of so many other flavours I could've made!

    Hi Billy - Most of our Luther Burgers were lukewarm but hmm next time?! maybe we should warm the filling for ya :)

    Hi Trissa - Haha, don't shoot the messenger. The ingenuity is all Suze's!

    Hi he needs food - That's one thing about insects - they're usually quite healthy! It wasn't distasteful - just like a burger in a sweet bun really. Each mouthful was preceded by pangs of guilt though!

    Hi Simon - I agree. I think half the "appeal" of the burger is the idea of how "wrong" it is.

    Hi Reality Raver - The Luther Burgers were lukewarm as Suze prepared them at home. And hmm, I believe Suze only had half a burger? lol

    Hi Hannah - The Luther burger had plenty of calorific "novelty" value and yes, the balsamic cupcakes were inspired by my love of strawberries macerated in balsamic. They're such a lovely combo aren't they?

    Hi Veruca Salt - It's not so hard to be dedicated to the pursuit of eating :) And hmm not sure you'd be keen on sweet burgers but hey, you never know until you try!

    Hi Lex - I think it was the baconnaise that ruined it for you. lol

    Hi Jacq - The popping candy was from the supermarket. I found it alongside the ice cream toppings.

    And yes, it was quite worrying how edible the Luther Burger was.

    Hi Forager - Heart attack city indeed. Not sure I would do it again, but glad I tried them once. Here's hoping 2010 is a little more nutritionally-balanced!

  • At 6/07/2010 9:45 am, Anonymous Benson Lau said…

    You guys are a weird and crazy bunch. Love your network of blogs. But hope you guys don't die of heart attacks yet. :)

  • At 6/14/2010 4:50 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Benson - Er, yes, some might call us crazy. I prefer the term adventurous - but all in moderation of course!


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