Delicious Distractions to get us through the days.

Simple recipes for those with simple chef skills.

Frozen Fruit “Ice Cream” Cones June 28, 2011

Summertime is upon us and of course one of the best ways to cool down is with ice cream. But this isn’t your traditional ice cream cone of summers past.  Just select your favorite fruits, your favorite melon ballers and your favorite white chocolate for a quick and easy summer treat!

 

Ingredients:

Watermelon

Cantaloupe

Honeydew

Mini cones

White Chocolate (quantity will depend on the number of cones and the thickness of chocolate, maybe 1 chocolate melt per 2-3 cones)

Utensils:

Melon ballers in various sizes (I used a round measuring tablespoon and regular sized melon baller)

Small Silicone brush

Medium bowl

Directions:

Melt chocolate in the microwave until smooth. Quickly brush the insides of each cones making sure no gaps are present. This will insure the cones do not become soggy from the water content of the fruit. Let set until completely hard. This step can be done ahead of time and store cones in an air tight container.

When ready, use the regular melon baller to create two balls for each cone.

Using the round tablespoon, start to cut into the fruit at about a 90’ angle, curve into the fruit creating the main body of the ball. Go deep enough into the fruit so that a small portion of the handle is hidden. Turn the handle clockwise and just before you make a full circle pull up and pop the fruit ball out.

Place the first ball deep inside followed by the second ball on top making sure enough  is above the rim so the larger ball can rest on top of it. This will help the top layer not slide off.

20-30 minutes in the freezer and it will be perfect for a hot summer day.

Frozen Fruit "Ice Cream" Cone sample

 

Cherry Blossom Cupcakes and cake January 28, 2011

Here in Okinawa, we have the distinct pleasure of being the first place in Japan where cherry blossom trees blossom. Thousands and thousands of delicate pink flowers are everywhere. One castle ruin has 70,000 trees to feast your eyes upon. The freeway toll booths are decorated and lined with flowered branches. Even the used car lots put huge fake cherry blossom trees out front to celebrate this time of year. It is some serious business in these parts.

So in the honor of my friend’s baby girl to-be, a coworkers birthday, and this season I made some cherry blossom cupcakes and a cake.

What you need:

  • Bake your cupcakes as you normally would do, I made 73 cupcakes and had plenty of the supplies remaining
  • I cheated this time and bought about 2 pounds of bakery butter cream frosting
  • Pink, maroon, teal, royal blue, and black coloring
  • Gum paste, mix and prep about half a tub * Mini blossom cutter for gum paste
  • Gum paste small ball tool
  • 1 small tipped paint brush
  • A small dish with about a tablespoon of water
  • Yellow pearls for the center of the flowers
  • An airtight container
  • 2 hours of uninterrupted time or about 4 hours of normal life

Directions:

You can make these blossoms several days in advance. I would recommend this because they take a few hours to make and they need time to dry completely.

Place a small amount of pink coloring in the small dish with water. I did not bother dissolving the coloring completely because I found the right shade of pink I wanted. Follow the instructions for the gum paste. Once the gum paste has set add a little pink coloring and kneed the color in. Add a small amount of color at a time because these flowers are a very faint and are a delicate pink. Working with part of the gum paste at a time, roll a very thin layer out. Use the small blossom cutter and cut out about 60 per group. The left over cut outs can be balled up and placed back in the sealed container with the rest of the gum paste until needed later. Using the small ball tool, lightly press the center of each blossom making a small indentation in the center for the pearl. Dip the paint brush in the pink water, starting at the center of the blossom brush outwards. Do not go all the way to the end of the petals but rather about 60% of the way. Do 5 to 7 brushes per blossom. At about 20 painted blossoms, add the pearls and gently press them into the flower. Be careful not to press through the gum paste. After you have finished the set of 60ish, scoop them up with a tiny spatula or frosting scissors, and place them face down in an airtight container. To help give them a more uniform 3D look, I gently pressed the blossom cutter over them again. This helped to center the pearl and slightly wrap the blossom petals around the pearl. Let a little air circulate in the container until the blossoms dry completely.

Upside down and drying.

Get the cupcakes baking and prepped for frosting. Once your cupcakes are cooled they are ready for frosting. I wanted a smooth finish for my background. Separate into two bowls, 1 cup of frosting and another ¼ cup of frosting and set aside. Tint the remaining frosting pink with the pink coloring. To start, I placed about 2 cups of pink frosting in a bowl and heated in the microwave for about 10 seconds. Stir and heat it up again for another 10 seconds. Keep stirring and heating until heated through. This should only be 2 to 4 times. Once heated through, spoon the frosting on to the cupcake and gently spread to the edges. Each cupcake should take about two spoonfuls. Do this quickly because the frosting will start to set again. Reheat as necessary.

Now to create the branches with the 1 cup of frosting. Well, you would think that brown branches would be nice, right? But brown coloring and the amount of white frosting I combined made for a color that is just not pleasant looking. I’ll just leave it at that. So I opted for black branches. Apparently, I forgot my kindergarten color wheel because I combined black coloring with white frosting thinking that would do the trick. But black coloring and white frosting makes a very dull gray. Oh ya, duh, so please don’t make this same mistake as I did (but that is why I am telling you this side of the story). Now that I had run out of all my white frosting, I needed a miracle and I needed it NOW! I did what any little sister would do, I panicked, looked at the clock, did the time change subtraction thing, thought “Ya, it’s not really that late in California for me to call with this oh-so important emergency” and so I called my big brother (aka my color expert). Who says a college Art degree doesn’t have it’s advantages? Please!

And out of some left field I had no idea existed he told me to mix red, some unknown shade of green, brown, and something else and not in equal ratio amounts either. I told him “What?!?! I don’t have have those colors! And I need specific quantities mister.” So he settled for the colors I had on hand- maroon, teal, royal blue, and black. And viola, I had a very dark midnight blue which once dried looks very black. Now I was back on track.

Pipe the branches on the set pink frosting. Add white dots (from the ¼ cup) to the branches where you are going to place the cherry blossoms. This will help anchor the blossoms and help separate the flower from the branch.

Do the exact same for the cake.

 

Oreo Sunflower Cupcakes with Bubble Bees June 28, 2009

These cupcakes will impress any company you have and get them thinking you spent a great deal of time on them.  But in reality, frosting these cupcakes doesn’t take very long at all.

Adorable Flower Cupcakes

Bubble bees and regular sized Oreos adorn the large sized cupcakes while mini Oreos top the mini cupcakes.

Mini Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • Bake as directed according to the box. Makes about 24 large cupcakes or about 48 mini cupcakes.
  • 24 regular sized Oreo cookies or 48 mini Oreo cookies.

Frosting:

  • ½ cup of green frosting
  • 1 cup yellow frosting

Directions for Frosting:

  • Frost cooled cupcakes with a thin layer of green frosting.
  • To help center each flower, take one Oreo and lightly press it into the frosting just enough to make an impression. Remove the cookie.
  • Using either a leaf tip or star tip, start the frosting of each petal just inside the rim of the cookie impression. Make the length of each petal as desired.
  • Twist each cookie apart removing one of the cookie sides.  Place the remaining cooking and filling on top of frosted cupcake.

Hint:

  • Clustering 2 to 3 mini cookies together to make a small bouquet of flowers adds a nice touch to the over all finished cupcakes.
  • These cupcakes can be made a day in advance.  Keep in a tightly sealed container so that the cookies don’t become to moist.

Directions for Bubble Bees:

  • I highly suggest using your sister’s highly talented clay creation making niece to make the bubble bees, as I did.  But if you don’t have one then follow the instructions below.
  • Make 8 ounces (half a can) of gum paste according to the directions.
  • Remove about an ounce from mixture for the white stripes and antenna.
  • Color the remaining gum paste with yellow food coloring.
  • Using the yellow paste, roll 24 small heads and 24 bodies.
  • In the smaller head balls, poke long blue sprinkles into each head for eyes.  Role a small amount of white paste and curve it for the antennas. Attach by poking a small hole in to the head with a toothpick, then placing the antenna in each hole.
  • Take the remaining white paste, spread it out into a thin layer.  Place two strips on each of the bodies for stripes. Trim as needed.
  • Attach the heads to the bodies with a small amount of frosting.
  • Attach the bubble bee to the cupcake with a small amount of frosting.

Enjoy!