Oh, the holidays. I remember sitting by the fire with my brothers while my mom stood by the stove for hours, moving the same tart dish in and out of the oven, adding more and more absurd layers to some nasty-ass insane holiday dessert before covering the whole thing with vanilla merengue, kitchen-torching the shit out of it, and then passing out from fatigue and long-festering marital resentment. Then my dad would come home from ‘Drinks with the Guys’ and ask whether the roast was done and give my little sister a half-used lipstick and my brothers each three cigarettes.
I try to keep the tradition going by out-baking fucking everyone I know. That’s right Margaret, I see you and your piecaken, which is in fact a damn monstrosity and you know it. Who wants a pumpkin pie inside of a cake? Nobody, that’s who. And that’s also who’s going to want to come to your stupid cookie exchange after they’ve caught wind of my magnificent Salted Caramel Rum Pecan Pumpkin Spice Mexican Chocolate Peppermint Custard Tartin.
The SCRPPSMCPCT comes from a long tradition of putting some tasty shit inside or on top of some other tasty shit. You know Peet’s has a dark chocolate pumpkin spice mocha now? A mocha is already chocolate and coffee, but now this one has more chocolate and also pumpkin and spice. A turducken is just an abominable portmanteau of poultry. There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are new combinations of other things inside of or next to other things, and that’s where I excel.
Now, it’s true that even a single slice of my famous Salted Caramel Rum Pecan Pumpkin Spice Mexican Chocolate Peppermint Custard Tartin will make you instantly defecate into whatever Anthropologie loungewear ensemble you’re wearing, but you won’t regret it. The massive delivery of sugar and a wide variety of flavors has consistently proved too much for a typical digestive tract to process. Susanna Carlton actually vomited several feet when she ate some. But that didn’t stop her from coming back for more, and it shouldn’t stop you from tasting the phenomenon for yourself.
The first flavor that you’ll notice in my Salted Caramel Rum Pecan Pumpkin Spice Mexican Chocolate Peppermint Custard Tartin is the taste of orgasm. The nuttiness of roasted pecan with the sweet, just-burnt salted caramel combine for a taste somewhere between love juices and funnel cake—there’s nothing else like it, trust me.
Following close behind is the highly-concentrated flavor of your childhood. I don’t mean that in a general sense. To me it tastes like the whiskey-soaked wonderbread my grandma would feed me when I wouldn’t fall asleep on Christmas Eve or any given Thursday, along with the almond cookies my nanny used to make before my father fired her when I was eleven on the second-worst birthday I ever had. But my perfect friend Margaret tastes the peppermint chocolate she drank in the alpine ski lounge of her golden youth and the light scent of her sweet grandpère’s cigars. My own daughter Samantha tastes coconut flour birthday cake (from my paleo phase) and the pink-frosted Safeway cookies we’d buy on the way to Margaret’s cookie exchange and repack into Tupperware and warm against the heat vents in my car on the drive over to her gated living community.
Further tasting notes on my Salted Caramel Rum Pecan Pumpkin Spice Mexican Chocolate Peppermint Custard Tartin usually include lightheadedness from the sugar rush followed but the instant and unmistakable sensation of digestive trauma. A close friend compared it realizing you drank about five too many cups of shitty diner coffee with your biscuits and gravy and begging your wife to pull over the car, dear god, anywhere.
Because who are the holidays really for?
They’re for the man who spends $10,000 on his electric bill for the music-timed, Star Wars–themed, moving holiday display (complete with animatronic ewoks and working blasters). They’re for the woman who makes 1,000 shortbread cookies and tops each one with a perfect frosting holly branch. They’re for stores who keep their employees working until 3 am cutting and folding plastic soda bottles into a towering fir tree, dripping with bottle cap ornaments. They’re for couples who assemble an entire room full of moving Christmas dioramas, with little ice skaters and trains and shoppers and reindeer who stretch tiny necks, slowly, to watch a rabbit hop across a frozen lake.
This year, our lights flash red, then green, then white in time with our outdoor speakers’ blasting carols. This year, my gingerbread people have gingerbread shoes and scarves and hats to keep warm. This year, each of the 15 presents I have bought for each of my children are wrapped in coordinated, color-coded wrapping with tags and ribbons and tinsel to match. I quit my job so I would have time to hand-make a wreath for every door, a garland for every horizontal surface. This year, I made too much of everything, and this year, it will finally be enough.
And the jewel in my Christmas crown is this glorious Salted Caramel Rum Pecan Pumpkin Spice Mexican Chocolate Peppermint Custard Tartin. You’ve got to try it, just a little slice. It tastes like everything you love in such abundance that you hate it.
It tastes just like Christmas.