If you follow any goth news feeds or Facebook pages or are friends with goths or have even thought the word “goth” recently you are probably aware of the buzz surrounding the recent Japan Burger King’s debut of a black cheeseburger – The “Kuro Burger” (“Black Burger”) has “buns made from bamboo charcoal, an onion and garlic sauce made with squid ink, beef patties made with black pepper, and black cheese, which is also apparently made with bamboo charcoal.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Japan, you so crazy.
This isn’t the first time Burger King Japan has done the black burger thing: The new version is pretty much identical to a limited-time burger they did in 2012, except this one adds black cheese. Charcoal is a hugely popular dietary supplement in Japan and several other Asian countries; it’s sold widely as a health food additive, and bread made with it isn’t particularly unusual. (Burger King isn’t the only chain which has used black buns as a hook; McDonald’s China offers black and white burgers using the same kind of charcoal-y bread).
Anyway, my point–and I do have one–is that the visual is quite striking and if you’re feeling a bit ambitious this is totally do-able at home.
The bread part is pretty straightforward: You can find charcoal powder at Asian groceries or online (just make sure it’s marked as a “dietary supplement” or some similar food-grade use). Googling “charcoal bread” brings up several interesting “this sounded neat so I tried it” accounts like this, this, and this (and also this discussion of other things you can do with charcoal powder, like goth macarons). Make your favorite burger-bun recipe–I’m partial to Smitten Kitchen’s light brioche buns–and add a tablespoon or so of charcoal powder. You may need to experiment a bit to get the color you want.
The black “ketchup,” which sounds more like “whatever savory sauce you like, only black,” is pretty much…whatever savory sauce you like, only black. The onion-and-garlic sauce on the original sounds tasty, but you can use plain ol’ ketchup if you want. If you’re feeling fancy, you can tint it with real squid ink; you could also just use a little black gel food coloring for the same effect.
The cheese is the trickiest, since you’d want the meltiness of processed cheese slices. Fortunately, the DIY Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen includes a recipe for homemade “American” cheese. Brown Eyed Baker–amongst many others–has the recipe along with a review (it sounds easy and yummy). You should be able to add the charcoal powder along with the dry milk powder in the recipe.
If you don’t feel up to experimenting with charcoal powder, the buns and cheese could also be colored with black gel food coloring.
Obviously, you can experiment beyond the burger with black bread, cheese, and sauces. Any combination of them would be great at a Halloween party, or just to make lunchtime a little more interesting.