Chemistry

Swedish Lemon Angels Are the Dessert You Should Never Try to Make

Would you make a dessert called a Swedish Lemon Angel? Sounds pleasant enough, like it's sweet with just a touch of tangy. The thing is, no one knows if this "dessert" is tasty or not, because no one has ever successfully followed the recipe. That's because it's impossible.

Delicious Disaster

Before we dive into why you shouldn't attempt to actually make Swedish Lemon Angels, let's see if you can beat us to the punch. To "make" these, you're going to need an egg, a half-cup of buttermilk, five teaspoons of baking soda, a half teaspoon of vanilla, a cup of lemon juice, a cup and a quarter of sugar, 7/8 of a cup of all-purpose flour, and eight tablespoons of melted butter or margarine (whichever you prefer). Got it? Now we'll turn it over to Epicurious.com to give you the first five steps of the baking directions:

  1. In a small bowl or 2-cup measuring cup, beat the egg until foamy.
  2. Add buttermilk and vanilla and blend well.
  3. Add the baking soda, one teaspoonful at a time, sprinkling it in and beating until the mixture is smooth and the consistency of light cream.
  4. Add the lemon juice all at once and blend into the mixture.
  5. Stir, do not beat (you want it creamy but without a lot of air).

There are more steps, but don't worry about preheating the oven, greasing a baking sheet, or setting your cooking time. There's really no need to read past step five in this recipe. Though the recipe looks legit, there's a reason the only note on this Epicurious recipe is a one-star review with a comment that begins "Nice try, buddy." Right after step four, your Swedish-lemon-angels-in-the-making will self-destruct.

Literal Flavor Explosion

Cooking is basically just a chemistry experiment, and nothing proves that better than this recipe. To be fair, though, the first red flag is the name of the cookbook where you'll find these little devils: "Penn and Teller's How to Play with Your Food." As the 1992 book by the famous magician duo notes, this recipe is "a malicious prank," and "anyone who tries to make Swedish Lemon Angels will end up with a kitchen counter full of lemon-egg foam ten seconds after completing step #4."

The grand eruption is a simple science hack. The recipe calls for generous amounts of lemon juice — an acid — and baking soda — a base. When you put those two together, you've got yourself a fizzy, foamy explosion. It's a classic acid-base reaction that results in the release of carbon dioxide glass, which quickly bubbles out of your mixing bowl. So, yeah, don't try this one at home. But if you do for some reason, at least the mess in your kitchen will smell of sweet lemon and vanilla.

If this is your style of humor, check out more from "Penn and Teller's How to Play with Your Food." We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Joanie Faletto May 31, 2018

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