April 14, 2015

The Video Game Baking Challenge

By: Ryan Hodros, Culinary Arts  and Pastry Arts Graduate

20150409_194358(1)The fact of the matter is, a pastry chef can only make the same handful of desserts so many times before they get bored and want a challenge.  Yes, this has an effect on even me despite how busy I’ve been.  And with video game fandom at record highs I wanted to do something that brings electronic sweets into the real world.

Thanks to successful sites out there doing the same, I can’t help but be intrigued at the idea of making real-life, edible versions of the food you and your friends and family may have run into during your time in neck-deep in gaming.  And while there are some complex versions of this theme that I might tackle one day, I wanted to keep today’s challenge somewhat simpler—cupcakes that mimic the famous mushrooms from Super Mario World

“So what’s the challenge?” I hear you ask.  “It’s just cupcakes.”  Well, with enough know-how, equipment, and time, anyone can make anything in the kitchen.  I wanted bomb-proof cupcakes anyone can make at home.  Let’s say you surprise! needed to make cupcakes for your boss’s birthday on Friday.  Following these recipes will not lead to “close enough” Instagram pictures—these little sprites can be made in any decent home kitchen by just about anyone.



1-upcakes

Sight plays more of a role in what you eat than you’d think.  Today, you can make anything look like and taste like anything with enough science behind you.  So when I set out to work on my 1-upcakes, I tried to figure out what flavor would be in a cake version of a little green mushroom, and I settled on pistachios and mint.  Both are typically flavors we associate with green, and it fits with what you see in a green cupcake.

Ingredients:

1 cup of All Purpose Flour

1 cup Cake Flour

2 tsp of Baking Powder

½ tsp of Baking Soda

½ tsp of Salt

¾ cup of Granulated Sugar

1 t vanilla extract

2 t mint extract

¼ cup of Vegetable Oil

1 ¼ cup Heavy cream

2 Eggs

6 oz pistachios, shelled and toasted

 Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, line 2 muffin tin with 18 liners and set aside.  (You can toast your pistachios by laying them out on a cookie sheet and putting them in the oven for 5-10 minutes once you reach 350 degrees.  Just keep an eye on them, because they can burn in a hurry.)

In a large bowl, add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, set aside.

In a small bowl, add the pistachios and ½ cup of the dry ingredients. Toss nuts around to make sure they are all coated in the dry mixture.

In another large bowl, using a hand held electric mixer or stand mixer, whisk together the sugar, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla extract.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and continue to mix while streaming in the cream. Fold in the nuts until they are evenly distributed.

Divide the batter evenly among the lined muffin tins and bake for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center. Cool completely on a wire rack.

(For decoration, see below)


20150409_194519 Super Cupcakes

I tried to do something similar with these, fitting a “red” flavor in with the red mushrooms in Mario Land.  Raspberry and dried cranberries (DO NOT use fresh, as they will bleed all over your cuppies) seem to fit the trick, but there’s a lot more leeway here.  Try dried strawberry and strawberry extract for a one note cupcake that’s sure to impress.  Or you can go nuts, and do strawberry rhubarb.  It’s up to you—what flavors do you associate with the color red?

 Ingredients:

1 cup of All Purpose Flour

1 cup Cake Flour

2 tsp of Baking Powder

½ tsp of Baking Soda

½ tsp of Salt

¾ cup of Granulated Sugar

1 t vanilla extract

2 t raspberry  extract (I found mine at the local grocery story, so it’s not as exotic as you might think)

¼ cup of Vegetable Oil

1 ¼ cup Heavy cream

2 Eggs

6 oz dried cranberries

 Directions:

Follow the instructions for the 1-upcakes, except you don’t have to toast the cranberries!


 Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese

4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

1 Tablespoon extract (see below)

Coloring (see below)

12 ounces powdered sugar, sifted, approximately 2 cups (flexible)

 Directions:

Beat together the cream cheese and the butter until smooth.  Add your powdered sugar in four or five batches and beat until smooth.  You’ll want your frosting to be a little stiffer than normal here because you haven’t added coloring or flavoring.

How much powdered sugar depends on the water content of the butter, which can vary from brand to brand.  If your frosting is runny, add more sugar tablespoon by tablespoon until it hits the consistency you want.

Normally here you’d add a tablespoon of vanilla but you want three different kinds of frosting for decorating purposes.  So split your frosting into two large batches and 1 small batch.  Dye one batch green (this depends on the dye, the consistency of your frosting, etc, so try to match the color as closely as you can) and add 1 t of mint extract.  The second large batch dye red, and add 1 t of the raspberry extract.  The final, smaller batch,  add in about ¼ t of vanilla extract, but leave it white.

Refrigerate five to ten minutes before using.  If you have a piping bag or a sandwich baggie with the corner cut off, the white dots will be much easier. PLEASE do not expect yourself to be able to put out Pinterest-quality cupcakes on your first try.  This, like any skill, takes practice.  As you can tell, mine do not look like they belong on Cake Boss.  But if you have a night to work with and want something that reminds you of Mario without being prop-worthy, you can’t go wrong!  (And they taste pretty rockin!)