A Cracker Jack of a Dessert

By Carolyn Wyman

Originally published on philly.com July 2016

Chef Tim Spinner is the mind behind 95 percent of the dishes at the local Feliz Mexican restaurants

But the restaurants’ most famous menu offering was invented by businessman co-owner Brian Sirhal.

It was 2011 and the partners had just opened Cantina Feliz in Fort Washington, the first of what is now a four-restaurant chain.

“It was at the end of a 20-hour day and I was really hungry,” recalled Sirhal. “I grabbed some caramel popcorn we were serving with a pudding and put it on a scoop of churros ice cream,” another one of the new restaurant’s desserts. Though “great in its own right,” Sirhal thought it might be even better on top of a brownie with whipped cream and caramel sauce.

So he asked his pastry chef to make a brownie and, within a week, this so-called Domingo sundae was on the dessert menu, where it has remained ever since, the one constant and the best-selling sweet at Cantina and all the subsequent Feliz restaurants.

“It’s universally loved by everyone from little kids to the oldest adult,”  Sirhal thinks because of the complementary flavors and contrasting textures — “the softness of the ice cream, the crunch of the popcorn and the chewiness of the brownie.”

There is also the quality of the ingredients: The caramel corn, brownie and churros ice cream are all made from scratch at the birthplace Cantina. (They source the cajeta goat milk caramel sauce from a Mexican specialty food company.)

The ice cream is particularly labor-intensive — it involves soaking house-made cinnamon-y churros in heavy cream, straining out the pastry and adding ribbons of caramel and chocolate — with a payoff noticeably complex flavor.

The result sells well year-round, not just in summer, as might be expected of an ice cream-based dessert.

Skinner and Sirhal’s Feliz restaurants are known for unexpected contemporary spins on Mexican traditions, or, as Sirhal puts it, “building off of tradition with modern ingredients and cooking techniques, and borrowing from other cultures.” Like old-fashioned American culture’s Cracker Jack, and brownie sundae, complete with fire-engine-red maraschino cherry.

The dish also fits the Feliz restaurants’ colorful decor and feliz or “happy” names.

Speaking of names and fun, the dessert’s name, Domingo, is a play on words. Domingo, in Spanish, means Sunday. It’s also slang for a striking or sexy person, something that Sirhal did not know or intend, though, he quips, “That does describe me.”

Sirhal also created Feliz restaurants’  bacon and fig guacamole when he added bacon and blue cheese to some guacamole, also originally for his own enjoyment. Although Spinner added the dish’s defining figs, and need not fear the loss of the culinary reins.

“As much as I love eating, and cooking at home, I enjoy my business role. I do not go into our kitchens wishing I was sweating over a stove,” Sirhal says.

Get it: $5.95-$7 at La Calaca Feliz, 2321 Fairmount Ave., Fairmount, 215-787-9930; Cantina Feliz, 424 S. Bethlehem Pike, Fort Washington, 215-646-1320;  Taqueria Feliz, 4410 Main St., Manayunk, 267-331-5874 and Taqueria Feliz, 303 Horsham Rd., Horsham, 215-323-4530, www.felizrestaurants.com.

Make it: To quote Marvin Gaye, ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby, especially when it’s house-made, but Brian Sirhal was kind enough to provide instruction for those who’d like to make a quick and dirty home version of his Domingo sundae.

1 homemade or bakery-bought brownie, cut into four, 1-inch squares

1/3 cup Cracker Jack or Fiddle Faddle caramel or butter toffee popcorn with peanuts

2 scoops of cinnamon super-premium ice cream (Bassetts and Little Baby’s are two brands available locally)

1 tablespoon goat milk caramel or other caramel sauce

Whipped cream

1 teaspoon roasted pepitas (available at nut stores)

1 maraschino cherry

Arrange pieces of brownie on the bottom of a large cereal bowl. Cover with the popcorn. Add ice cream, drizzle with caramel sauce and top with whipped cream. Sprinkle with pepitas and adorn with the cherry. Serves 1.

109 thoughts on “A Cracker Jack of a Dessert”

  1. It’s really a great and useful piece of information. I’m satisfied that you simply shared this useful information with
    us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. An intriguing discussion is worth comment.
    I do believe that you should publish more about this issue, it may not be a taboo subject
    but usually people do not talk about such subjects. To
    the next! All the best!!

  3. Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve been to your blog before but after looking at many
    of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Regardless, I’m definitely pleased I discovered it
    and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!

  4. This is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger.

    I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your
    wonderful post. Also, I’ve shared your website in my social networks!

  5. What i don’t realize is in reality how you are no
    longer really a lot more smartly-preferred than you might be right now.
    You are so intelligent. You know thus considerably relating to this subject, produced me for my part consider it from so many various
    angles. Its like men and women don’t seem to be involved except it’s something to do with
    Woman gaga! Your personal stuffs excellent.
    At all times care for it up!

  6. It’s really a great and helpful piece of information. I am satisfied that you shared
    this helpful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this.
    Thank you for sharing.

  7. Does your site have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but, I’d like
    to send you an email. I’ve got some recommendations for
    your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great
    site and I look forward to seeing it improve over time.

  8. Nice blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it
    from somewhere? A design like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog stand
    out. Please let me know where you got your theme.
    Many thanks

  9. Great blog here! Additionally your web site rather a lot up very fast!
    What web host are you the use of? Can I get your affiliate hyperlink for your host?
    I want my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

  10. Hello would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with?
    I’m looking to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a tough time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S My apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  11. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of
    any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter
    updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this.
    Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new
    updates.

  12. excellent post, very informative. I’m wondering why the other
    experts of this sector do not notice this. You should continue your writing.

    I’m confident, you have a huge readers’ base already!

  13. Good day! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a
    group of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community
    in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have
    done a extraordinary job!

  14. I blog frequently and I really thank you for your content.

    The article has really peaked my interest. I am going
    to take a note of your blog and keep checking for new information about once
    a week. I subscribed to your Feed too.

  15. We stumbled over here coming from a different web page and thought I might check things
    out. I like what I see so now i’m following you.
    Look forward to finding out about your web page for a
    second time.

  16. You’re so interesting! I don’t think I’ve truly read
    anything like that before. So good to discover someone with some unique thoughts
    on this issue. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up.
    This site is something that’s needed on the internet,
    someone with a little originality!

  17. Aw, this was a really good post. Spending some time and
    actual effort to make a superb article… but what can I say… I put
    things off a lot and never seem to get anything done.

  18. What i don’t understood is in fact how you’re now not really a lot more smartly-liked
    than you may be right now. You are very intelligent.
    You realize thus considerably in terms of this
    topic, produced me for my part believe it from so many various angles.
    Its like women and men are not involved unless it’s something to accomplish with Lady gaga!
    Your personal stuffs nice. At all times maintain it up!

  19. What i don’t understood is actually how you’re no longer really a lot more well-appreciated
    than you may be right now. You are very intelligent.
    You understand therefore considerably in relation to this matter, produced me in my opinion consider it from numerous numerous angles.
    Its like women and men are not interested unless it’s something
    to do with Woman gaga! Your individual stuffs outstanding.
    At all times care for it up!

  20. Thanks for a marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading
    it, you might be a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your
    blog and definitely will come back sometime soon. I want to encourage you continue your great work, have
    a nice afternoon!

  21. of course like your website but you need to take a look at the spelling on several
    of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling issues and I to find it
    very troublesome to inform the truth on the other hand I will surely come
    back again.

  22. Magnificent beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your site,
    how can i subscribe for a blog site? The account helped
    me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your
    broadcast provided bright clear concept

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.