Missing the CNE? Try Brian Francis's Cheetos Corn Dog Recipe
Since the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) isn't happening this year, we're being denied cronut burgers, deep-fried Mars Bars and all the other bad choices we'd usually be making around now, for the second year in a row. So we asked ourselves: is there any way we could reproduce this experience at home?
Fortunately, Toronto Public Library has a resident expert: our Marketing Communications Manager, Brian Francis, is a writer who is also celebrated for his blog, in which he taste-tests terrifying junk food so you don't have to.
So we've asked Brian to delve into our cookbook collection and share with us the most CNE-worthy food he could find. Buckle up and get ready for (drumroll): Cheetos Corn Dogs!
Cheetos Corn Dogs
by Brian Francis
It’s not officially the end of summer until I’m strolling around the CNE, eating a corn dog and listening to teenagers scream for their lives on the Zipper. Unfortunately, the CNE is closed for the second year in a row. But that doesn’t mean you can’t whip up some of the CNE’s culinary delights in your own kitchen.
Treat Yourself by Jennifer Steinhauer
In her book, Treat Yourself: 70 Classic Snacks You Loved as a Kid (and Still Love Today), author Jennifer Steinhauer serves up recipes for all kinds of guilty pleasures. And provided you don’t mind spending seven hours making something you could buy at No Frills in five minutes, this book is made for you. The recipe for homemade Cheetos piqued my interest. And I wondered: What if I could make a Cheetos corn dog?
Jennifer’s recipe starts with a dough made with flour, potato flakes, cheddar cheese, butter and corn meal. Once chilled, break off bits and roll the pieces between your palms to make Cheetos shapes. Bake them, then toss in a mixture of cheddar cheese powder, potato starch, kosher salt and buttermilk powder.
While shopping for my ingredients, I noticed Cheetos Mac n’ Cheese is a thing. So, I picked up a box and used the powder as I figured it would lend an air of authenticity to my creation.
I made the Cheetos, ground them up, coated wieners in the crumbs, and baked them. And while my first attempt was okay, my Cheetos corn dogs didn’t really hit the flavour mark. So, I tried a different approach. I rolled the dough out and then cut it into 3.5 x 6-inch squares.
I wrapped each square around a wiener like a pig in a blanket. Have some patience wrapping your wieners. The warmth from your hands will make the dough a little more malleable. And don’t worry if your wiener is ugly or a little bumpy.
I baked my corn dogs for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, turning them every so often. When they were cool enough to handle, I put them in a baggie with the cheese mixture and gently shook them until they were coated all around.
They were a big improvement from my first iteration. The crust mirrored corn dog batter, I got a salty tang from the cheese coating, and I had neon orange fingertips for three days following. I count that as success.
Was it as good as a corn dog at the CNE? Not a chance. Was it a pale comparison that almost had me hearing screaming teenagers on rides that looked more like death traps to my middle-aged eyes? Absolutely. Here’s hoping the CNE returns next year in all of its deep-fried glory. Be on the lookout for me. I’ll be the one waving you over to Brian’s Cheetos Corn Dogs truck.
Thanks, Brian! This may just salvage what's left of our summer.
If you want even more DIY CNE, here are a few more books to help you make your own fun:
Mini Donuts: 100 Bite-Sized Donut Recipes to Sweeten Your "Hole" Day by Jessica Segarra
A CNE meal isn't complete without a little paper bag of mini donuts, fresh from the donut maker. (You'll need to provide your own paper bags.)
Make an Amusement Park by Anna Claybourne
So you can't ride the Zipper this year — you can at least make a small Ferris wheel out of household items.
Classic Canadian Rock by various artists
And while you're at it, you can pretend that some of these acts are echoing over from the bandshell.
Did you try making Brian's Cheetos Corn Dog? How do you feel now? Let us know in the comments!