Porg Rice Balls

porgs-tray

For May the Fourth I attended a Star Wars themed party, so of course I had to make something in-theme to contribute! I decided on these porg-shaped rice balls, which are rice balls rolled in crushed sesame, with nori accents and a chunk of cucumber in the middle for extra crunch. They turned out adorable, if I do say so myself, and were popular with party-goers, so I consider them a success!

While you can make these without any special tools, it’s a lot faster and easier to do if you have the right equipment. I used a nori punch for the facial features, and a rice-roll press to make my pieces evenly shaped and well-compressed. That being said, you can feel free to shape your rice by hand (wet hands make it easier) and to cut out eyes and mouths with scissors. I would definitely recommend using the parchment paper cutout to mask off the white parts of the rice during the sesame step, though!

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Eyeball Cake Pops

eyeballs.jpg

For a Halloween party this past weekend I was tasked with bringing something sweet– last year I made iced pumpkin cake balls, which were a rousing success, so I decided to revisit the idea and try again with a different theme. Eyeballs!

This time I started off with a regular box of white cake mix, doctoring it up with some sour cream in place of the water– in this case 1 1/4 cups of it. This really is necessary to make the cake batter thick enough to properly fill the wells of the cake pop maker– otherwise the batter is so thin that when it rises it just overflows, rather than doming to fill out the ball shape.

eyeball-cook

Once my cake balls were cool I popped them in the freezer for a little while to firm them up a bit while I prepared my coatings.

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Japanese Skyline Cake (With Microwaved Lemon Curd)

skyline-cake-done

For my last project for the ninja baby shower I made a cake. The mother-to-be had requested bright, punchy flavors, so I went with a lemon cake using my hot milk sponge cake as a base, filled with a fantastically easy homemade lemon curd (recipe below, and it’s the creamiest, most luscious lemon curd ever) and iced with my favorite cooked-flour frosting. Then it was time to decorate!

I knew I wanted something special to tie in to the ninja theme, but just piping little ninjas or sticking the ninja cookies to the outside of the cake seemed boring, so I went in a little more sophisticated direction. I printed out some reference images of Japanese temples, and sketched them (interspersed with trees and a bridge) onto long, skinny pieces of parchment paper. I flipped the paper over (didn’t want graphite in my cake), and carefully traced out the design with melted dark chocolate in a squeeze bottle (a little less precise than I’d have hoped, but not bad). Then came the tricky part…

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Mini Animal Donuts

animal-donuts

It’s no secret that I adore cute food, and cute food that’s been miniaturized is automatically cuter than the original. So when I saw these cute-tastic Japanese animal donuts, I immediately tried to think of ways to make them myself, only extra-adorable. That’s where my mini-donut maker came in.

Another one of my kitchen unitaskers, the mini-donut maker churns out ridiculously precious little donuts, 6 at a time, without all that frying. No, the donuts don’t have the classic texture of a fried donut– firm to the initial bite, then giving way to pillowy softness– but they’re perfectly respectable baked donuts, and did I mention they’re cute?

I’ve made these with regular boxed cake mix before, but the soft fluffiness of the cake made the donuts one-dimensional and boring– plus, the relative thinness of the cake batter made the little donut wells more difficult to fill properly. I’ve learned that boxed pound cake mix actually works best for mini donuts– it’s thick enough that it can be easily piped into the donut wells, it rises to just the right height to make a nice rounded donut, and the pound cake flavor is pretty close to a classic old-fashioned donut, which is my favorite. Sure, I could make my own pound cake mix from scratch and use that, but these are so small and will be coated with so much sugary icing that no one is going to notice the flavor of the cake– at least not the difference between homemade and box mix.

Anyway, so I mixed up the cake mix per the box directions, piped it into the heated donut maker, cooked for 3 minutes (2:30 if you want them extra-soft), and pretty soon I had a big batch (about 6 dozen) of tiny donuts. On to the decorating!

animal-donuts-cooking

animal-donuts-rack

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Victorian-inspired Fondant Cookies

cameo cookies

After making those Spring Watercolor Cookies, I started getting the urge to indulge my “cute food” obsession by making other kinds of decorated cookies using different techniques. When a friend of mine decided to have a fancy tea party for her birthday, I knew I’d found my excuse. Continue reading

Molded Bunny Eggs

bunny eggs molded

Another break from sewing…

As I’ve said before, I love making cute lunches for my little girl, and when it comes to ideas and supplies it doesn’t get any better than Japanese bento websites. When I saw these egg molds for hard-cooked eggs, I knew I had to get one. (You can also get them on Amazon)

I admit, I like using the bunny mold much better than the bear mold– it always seems to come out better and bunnies are cuter anyway.

The basic steps are simple: cook the egg, peel it, place it in the mold while warm, dunk in ice water to set. However, my experience with these has helped me develop some tips that will help you get the perfect (and convenient) molded egg.

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Piggy Buns

piggy buns done

Cute food is its own excuse, right? But I admit that having a kid to pack lunches for makes a nice reason to spend a little more time making things adorable. My daughter, despite our best efforts to introduce her to new and interesting foods, stubbornly adheres to a diet consisting of chicken nuggets and other processed meats (i.e., hot dogs and ham), along with carbs of all kinds. When we went to dim sum last weekend and she carefully ate only the outside of a steamed barbecue pork bun (the filling was not deemed acceptable), I knew that I could make a variation she’d devour. Continue reading