For Halloween this year my daughter emphatically declared that she wanted to be a ninjalino. What is a “ninjalino,” you ask?
So there’s this kids’ show called PJ Masks, involving three kids who fight crime at night while wearing outfits that transform from footie pajamas into superhero costumes. The kids fight a rotating series of super-villain kids, one of whom is Night Ninja, and Night Ninja’s minions (slightly smaller ninjas) are called “ninjalinos.” I’m not exactly sure why my daughter has opted to be a sidekick rather than a villain or hero, but I think it has something to do with the fact that the ninjalinos wear purple (her favorite color) while Night Ninja wears navy blue (boring). In any case, this is what I had to work with this year:
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…
*** By the way, this is my 100th post! I can’t believe I’ve done this many in under a year– thanks to everyone for following my exploits, and I’m looking forward to some great new projects for the next 100 posts!***
In keeping with the ninja theme (it was a really cute baby shower), I finally broke out my ninjabread men cookie cutters and made ninja cookies. After the mini animal donuts I wasn’t exactly in the mood to make more icing, much less multiple colors of icing in small batches, so I decided to make these more traditional in color (black) and use my extra-dark cocoa to make chocolate cutout cookies. This way I only had to use a little melted white chocolate for the faces, and I could decorate the rest with melted dark chocolate.
This is my go-to recipe for chocolate cutout cookies. They don’t really spread at all during baking, so they’re ideal for detailed cookie cutters. Skipping the chilling of the unrolled dough makes the process go faster (soft dough rolls out more easily anyway), and freezing the cut cookies helps them keep their shape in the oven. Plus, they’re delicious– buttery, with good chocolate flavor and a hint of salt.