Baby Looney Tunes

Episode: Save Our Cinnamon
Cinnamon Rolls

I’ve always been a sucker for baby/kid versions of cartoon characters. I don’t know if it’s because I found them easier to relate to when I was a kid, or if it’s just that the little versions are too cute. Yeah, cute. I’m definitely going with cute. Baby Looney Tunes is no exception. They don’t act much like their adult selves that I know and love, but I like the idea of seeing the characters growing up together in a more modern environment and getting along (for the most part). And I loved watching and waiting to see which characters got the “babyfication” treatment. I mean, of course Bugs, Daffy, and Sylvester are adorable, but have you seen Baby Gossamer? (He’s so cute!) Every time I went to Six Flags, I begged my parents for all the Baby Looney Tunes plushies I could get my hands on because I couldn’t go any longer without that cuteness in my life. Cuddliness aside, Baby Looney Tunes is a sweet, little show, filled with lessons about using your imagination, and trying your best, and doing the right thing, and growing up. (You know, all of those cartoon standards.)

But you know what else is sweet? Cinnamon rolls. Baby Looney Tunes is full of cookies and cakes, but the king of sweets in this show is the cinnamon roll. Granny’s sister, Auntie, owns a bakery called Cakery Bakery Doc which has the most addicting cinnamon rolls. I’m pretty sure the Babies were more excited about eating cinnamon rolls than seeing Auntie. (Daffy was not a happy camper when she brought in a cake for them.) But when the bakery is on the verge of shutting down, the Babies have no problems getting their hands dirty making a giant cinnamon roll worthy of the Skinni’s Book of World Records. As much as I’d love to make a record-breaking, giant cinnamon roll of death, I’m going to play it safe and just bake up a bunch of yummy, regular-sized ones.

Recipe makes 16 cinnamon rolls.

Ingredients

Dough:

1 cup warm milk (105-115 degrees F)

2 ¼ teaspoons yeast

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly

2 eggs, room temperature, beaten

2 egg yolks, room temperature, beaten

4 cups flour

 

Filling:

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon

Pinch of Salt

2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly

 

Icing:

4 ounces (½ cup) cream cheese, room temperature

½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions

Dough:

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 2 tablespoons of sugar in the warm milk. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes, or until foamy. In a large bowl, combine the rest of the sugar, salt, butter, eggs, egg yolks, and 2 cups of flour. Add the yeast mixture. Mix in the rest of the flour until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball again and place in a large, clean bowl. Lightly coat dough with oil and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 2 hours or until it has doubled in size.

In a small bowl, make the filling by combining the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into an 18 X 12-inch rectangle. Evenly brush the melted butter on the dough. Sprinkle the filling over the dough and spread to cover evenly. Pat down on the filling just a bit to encourage it to stick. Beginning with the long edge closet to you, use your fingers to tightly roll the dough into a cylinder. Use a serrated knife to cut the cylinder into 16 rolls. Place the rolls on a couple of greased baking sheets and allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the rolls, rotating the pans halfway through, for 30 minutes, or until the rolls are browned and cooked through.

Icing:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add the vanilla extract. Slowly mix in the powdered sugar and beat until the icing is smooth.

Putting It All Together:

Allow the rolls to cool slightly and generously spread icing on top. Now you can enjoy!

babylooneytunesBaby LT Cinn Roll

I love cinnamon rolls as much as the Baby Looney Tunes do, so I know these won’t last long. If it were possible, that sweet smell would have me floating all over the place like the Babies. But what I truly love about this episode (besides the excuse to make cinnamon rolls) is that a little bakery education is thrown in there. The Babies are truly making a cinnamon roll from kneading the dough, to spreading the filling, to rolling it, and baking it up. It takes some work, but cinnamon rolls (and saving bakeries) are definitely worth it.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Jem

Episode: A Father Should Be…
Carrot Cake

“Me and my friends are Jem girls!” Actually, I don’t think most of my friends have any idea who Jem is. That is a crying shame. This show’s got it all: the clothes, and the hair, and the singing. I love it love it! And even though the show is chock full of drama, I don’t mind because all the situations are truly, truly, truly outrageous. I love Eric Raymond, but it’s impossible for me to take him seriously as a bad guy. And Jem and the Holograms are always being locked up or stranded somewhere. And everything that The Stingers do is completely over-the-top. (That’s why they’re my favorite!) Yeah, this show is definitely not about the typical rock stars. Well for one, there aren’t a whole lot of bands with a holographic projection computer meant to serve as an “ultimate audio-visual entertainment synthesizer,” like Synergy. And there aren’t a whole lot of rock stars who support a charitable organization to the extent that Jem and the Holograms do for the Starlight Foundation. Not only do they live with the girls, most of the money the band makes goes to support them. Yup, that means they are a big time rock band that isn’t rich. (When it comes to money.)

The Starlight Girls aren’t just there for show. They have their own problems to face and do play important roles in the series. Without them, there really wouldn’t be a Jem and she works hard for their sakes. When Ba Nee can’t handle being apart from her father any longer, Jerrica/Jem, the Holograms, Rio, and Riot and his dad’s connections all pitch in to find him. But before any leg work is done, Jerrica offers Ba Nee a great big piece of carrot cake to help cheer her up. When that doesn’t do the trick, she knows there’s a big problem. I’m fortunate enough to not know what Ba Nee’s going through, but I do act similar when I’m upset. If I’m offered something yummy like carrot cake and I turn it down, then it’s time for action.

Recipe makes 9 giant cake squares.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups sugar

1 ¼ cups vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 cups carrots, grated

3 cups flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9 X 9 baking dish.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil. Add the grated carrots in small amounts, alternating with the eggs, one at a time. Mix well after each addition. Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour the batter into the prepared dish. Bake for about 1 hour. Remove the dish from the oven and cool upside down on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the dish and allow it to cool completely. Cut and serve!

Jem Cake Ba NeeJem Carrot Cake

It could be that Ba Nee likes carrot cake because of its connection to her father’s red hair, but I’m sure nothing in Starlight Mansion tastes bad. They don’t eat anything fancy, but it’s all made with love. Jerrica would go above and beyond for any of her girls, but Ba Nee has been pretty special throughout the show. She gets to sing her own song twice! And she is the only one in the entire series who has the ability to make peace between Jem and the Holograms, The Misfits, and The Stingers.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

The Reluctant Dragon


Upside-Down Cake

When I was little, I loved so many cartoon characters so much that I truly believed they were real. I wanted them to be real and I shied away from anything that could prove otherwise. I find that really silly because the characters are real (They just exist a little differently than I do.) and I love them twice as much now that I know how much work was done to bring them to life. If I had seen The Reluctant Dragon when I was younger, then I would’ve come to realize that years ago. It’s fun and (Dare I say it.) educational watching Robert Benchley lead the viewers on a tour of Walt Disney Studios, and taking them through each part of the animation process from drawing, score and voice acting, foley, cameras, ink-and-paint, maquette-making, storyboarding, and ultimately animating. (Whew! That’s a lot.)

The cartoon that this movie all boils down to is The Reluctant Dragon. The Dragon would rather recite poetry than fight and is so peace loving, he has trouble breathing fire. (The Boy has to call him a Punk Poet to make him angry enough to do it.) He invites The Boy and Sir Giles, the Dragon Killer, to his picnic full of cakes and muffins and tea and jam sandwiches. Sir Giles, also being a lover of verse, is most interested in the Dragon’s poetic abilities and they recite poetry. My favorite poem in the short (And one of my favorite ever.) is “To an upside-down cake.” The entire thing is about how an upside down cake has problems because its top is on its bottom and its bottom is on its top. It’s truly beautiful. And “Radish so red” by Sir Giles is also lovely, but I’m more into cake.

Upside-down cakes can be just about any flavor, but I like pineapple the best. The Dragon doesn’t have any fruit on his cake, so it’s okay to just leave off the pineapple slices. I baked my cakes in 6-ounce ramekins, but jumbo muffin tins work too. (It’s just stickier getting the cakes out.)

Recipe makes 8 mini upside-down cakes.

Ingredients

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 cup brown sugar

3 large eggs

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup milk

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 ¼ cups flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons pineapple juice (Optional)

8 pineapple slices (Optional)

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Divide the butter amongst the ramekins, so each one has 1 tablespoon. Add two tablespoons of brown sugar to each one and mix. Place a pineapple slice in each ramekin.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs. Then whisk in the sugar. Add the oil, milk, vanilla, and pineapple juice and whisk well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until just combined. Divide the batter amongst the ramekins and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the outside of the cakes to loosen them. Invert each ramekin onto a plate. Once the little cakes are free, they’re ready to serve!

reluctantdragonReluctant Dragon Cake

A sweet, little upside-down cake may have cares and woes about its top and bottom being mixed up, but it should be more worried about me. You know, The Dragon and all the people get a happy ending, but I’m not so sure about that upside-down cake. Just like how I’m not so sure about Robert Benchley’s ending. He did get to meet Walt Disney, though. And I know that the animation process has changed a ton since The Reluctant Dragon, but it’s not any less magical getting an idea out of someone’s head and putting it on a large screen for the whole world to see.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

The Phantom Tollbooth


Punctuation Mark Cookies

The first time I watched The Phantom Tollbooth was when I was in 6th Grade. We just covered the book (Or was it just excerpts?) by Norton Juster and were being treated to the movie. I can’t really remember much about the readings or watching the movie. (We also covered Where the Red Fern Grows, so I suppressed a lot of memories from that time.) I do know that I enjoyed them, but I don’t think I truly appreciated them. When I caught the movie floating around on my television years later, I thought I’d give it another go. Within seconds of the opening credits, I freaked out. “What? This is a Chuck Jones film! Look at who’s in this! They’re legends! How did I not notice any of this before?” And then I finished the film and freaked out again. “It’s so cleverly done! It’s beautiful! I can’t get these songs out of my head!” I was very ashamed of my younger self for not caring as much back then, but I guess I was in the school lull like Milo. I also had to discover a love of learning. (I never did learn to love school, though.) If I treated words and numbers like they are in The Phantom Tollbooth, maybe my education would’ve been a tad more enjoyable.

If I lived in the Kingdom of Wisdom, you’d probably find me in Dictionopolis. I just can’t help but love all the letters and words for sale. It’s so overwhelming that I’d probably try to use upholstery, flabbergast, and quagmire in the same sentence too. And I laugh when Milo starts making a speech at King Azaz’s banquet and it’s served to him as food. “I didn’t know I was going to have to eat my words.” Priceless! Now I’m serving up letters and such too, but they’re not from Milo’s plate. When Milo and Tock are thrown into the dungeon, they meet a Which. (Get it? Which? And her brother is a Whether Man! I love it!) The poor Which was wrongfully thrown in the dungeon after Princesses Rhyme and Reason left the land. Lucky for her, she’s got all the comforts of home in her cell and can pass the time by making up cookies! She offers the tastiest looking tray of punctuation marks and representations of King Azaz and the Mathemagician to Milo and Tock. It’s fun enough just seeing that, but I bet it’s even more fun eating them. I hear the the question marks are delicious!

Recipe makes about 20 chocolate shortbread cookies, depending on the size.

Ingredients

½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

½ cup powdered sugar

¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder 

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup flour

 

Directions

Sift and combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In a stand mixer, cream together butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture a little at a time, and mix until combined. Remove the dough from the stand mixer and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes or until firm.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/4 an inch. Cut out shapes with any similar-looking cookie cutters or make stencils and cut out with a paring knife. Place the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. For the cookies that have the details like extra marks and lines, now would be the time to carve those in. I also tried creating the details by making an extra tiny batch of dough using darker cocoa powder and pressing the darker dough onto the lighter one. Once you’ve used up all your dough, chill the cookies for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake cookies until crisp and firm, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Now would be the time to eat them!

Phan Tollbooth CookiesPhantom Tollbooth Cookies

No wonder Tock snuck another one! Who knew that education could be so delicious? And making a batch of these is far from boring. Milo needed an adventure through a magical tollbooth to cure his boredom blues. All I need are some cookies!

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

Darkwing Duck

Episode: Can’t Bayou Love
Launchpad’s Hand Grenade Brownies

“I am the terror that flaps in the night. I am the scourge that pecks at your nightmares. I am Darkwing Duck!” Okay, I’m obviously not Darkwing Duck. (The scourge that pecks at your nightmares? How does he come up with this stuff?) But I can dream, can’t I? Just look at Launchpad. One day he’s the number one fan of St. Canard’s Caped Crusader, and then BAM! He becomes Darkwing’s sidekick and even gets to take on the role of hero himself.

Rightly so, because I can’t think of a better partner than Launchpad. He does a lot of silly things, but he means well. Not only is he a great pilot, (He’s gotten better about his crash landings.) but he makes a mean batch of brownies. And by “mean,” I’m saying these brownies will give you a nice kick in the taste buds. As far as Darkwing is concerned, these delicious devils pack enough heat to be used in place of hand grenades. Even Jambalaya Jake is wary of them. No one’s gotten anywhere by playing it safe, so let’s get dangerous!

Recipe makes 25 brownies.

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or broken into chunks

4 large eggs

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 ½ cups flour

¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¼-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (How much heat can you handle?)

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and line a 10 X 15-inch baking dish or lipped baking sheet with parchment paper

Melt together butter and chocolate either in a double boiler/bowl over a pot of simmering water or in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and cayenne pepper. Using a stand mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. On low speed, mix in the sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add the chocolate/butter mixture and mix until fully incorporated. Slowly add the flour mixture and stir until well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when the brownie is tested. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out brownie and allow to cool completely. Cut into about 25 pieces. Eat away!

darkwingdw inspired brwnies (2)

I can tell you that these brownies taste good, but I haven’t been able to test how they work as weapons. Every time I go to throw one, I end up eating it instead. I love these brownies as much as Launchpad and Gumbo do! And no, they don’t smell worse than beaver innards. Just take my word for it. The next time you’re out on an all-night crime-fighting spree, don’t forget to add some of these babies to your arsenal.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

My Love Story!! / Ore Monogatari!!

Episode: My Chocolate / Ore no Chokorēto
Takeo’s Valentine’s Day Chocolate

Hooray for Valentine’s Day! It’s the season of love and hearts and pink and chocolate! I’ve always loved this holiday. Not for the romance, but for the fact that I can shape all of my food into hearts and no one will look at me funny. Plus giving chocolates to people you love is fun. (Especially if you get some in return!) See, there’s that “L” word again. I’ve used it three times already. Since LOVE is what Valentine’s Day boils down to, what better love story to feature than My Love Story!! (Just look at that title.)

Takeo and Rinko love each other so much, but they’re always on the wrong page. They don’t think they deserve each other, but they don’t want to lose one another either. The series is so sugary sweet it makes my teeth hurt. It’s also so funny that I have trouble breathing. (Literally. I was wheezing after the plastic wrap thing.) The show is after my own heart. And stomach. Every time Rinko turns around, she’s got another mouth-watering dessert for Takeo. Valentine’s Day is no exception. Actually, she outdoes herself by making a monstrous chocolate tower. And that’s after teaching her friends how to make chocolate cookies and having a Valentine’s Day get-together with the boys. How she found the time to pull this off astounds me.

Recipe makes 1 tower of chocolatey goodness

Ingredients

Cake:

2 large eggs, separated

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

½ cup cake flour, sifted

1 ½ tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Mousse:

5 ounces milk or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or melting wafers

1 tablespoon butter

2 large eggs, separated

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup heavy cream

White Chocolate Mousse

6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped or melting wafers

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup heavy cream

Chocolate Truffles:

5 ounces milk or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or melting wafers

1 ½ tablespoons butter

¼ cup heavy cream

Chocolate Cigarettes and Other Shapes

½ pound milk or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or melting wafers

½ pound dark chocolate, coarsely chopped or melting wafers

1 pound white chocolate, coarsely chopped or melting wafers

Pink food coloring

Yellow food coloring

Strawberries for Garnish

 

Directions

Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a deep 6-inch round cake pan

Whip egg whites in a stand mixer on medium-high speed until smooth. Add sugar 2 tablespoons at a time while continuing to whip. Once the egg whites are glossy and form stiff peaks, beat in egg yolks until incorporated. Use a spatula to fold in cake flour. Heat butter and milk until the butter melts. Pour this into a small bowl. Add cocoa powder and salt to butter and milk and stir until dissolved. Stir in vanilla extract. Fold this into the batter, a little at a time, until fully incorporated without overmixing. Pour cake batter into prepared pan and gently tap or drop on the counter to remove air pockets. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when the cake is tested. Tap the pan on the counter again and cool upside down for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan and wrap completely in plastic wrap. This will help keep your cake moist. Cool completely on a baking rack.

Chocolate Mousse:

Slowly melt chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir in butter and egg yolks, one at a time, until incorporated. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and allow to cool slightly. Whip the egg whites in a stand mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture. Whip heavy cream in a stand mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into the chocolate mixture until combined. Move mousse to the refrigerator and allow it to chill until it is set. If it’s still not solid enough to pipe, whip in a stand mixer until stiff.

White Chocolate Mousse:

Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat until on the verge of boiling. Add the white chocolate and whisk until melted and incorporated. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. Chill mousse in the refrigerator for at least an hour or until it begins to set. Transfer mousse to a stand mixer and whip until stiff.

Chocolate Truffles:

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir in the butter until melted and incorporated. Set aside. Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat until on the verge of boiling. Remove from heat and add to chocolate. Stir together until combined. Pour chocolate mixture into a small baking dish and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Remove the baking dish and scoop out balls with a spoon or melon baller. Use your hands to form the truffles into an oblong shape. Allow the truffles to set for at least 30 minutes.

Chocolate Cigarettes:

Melt white and dark chocolates in double boilers or bowls over pots of simmering water. Pour white chocolate onto a work surface. You can use the back of a chilled baking sheet or a cool counter. Spread the white chocolate into a long, paper-thin sheet with a palette knife. Allow the white chocolate to harden slightly. It should feel dry when you touch it. Move a combscraper across the sheet towards you to draw lines. Since I didn’t have the proper tools, I drew lines with a butter knife. (That’s why they look a little funny.) Pour dark chocolate over the white chocolate lines and spread over into a thin sheet. Allow the chocolate to harden until it feels dry to the touch. Clean up the edges so they are straight. Push the palette knife up under the chocolate at an angle. Push the knife through the chocolate and back to make the cigarettes. Allow the cigarettes to rest until completely hardened.

Chocolate Disks:

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Line a baking dish with parchment paper. Place large round cookie cutters on the dish and pour chocolate into cutters until you’ve reached your desired thickness. Tap the dish on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Chill the chocolate until it’s set. Gently tap the dish to remove the chocolate from the cutter. Chill the disks until assembly. You can also pour the chocolate straight into the baking dish, chill, and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter that has been heated.

Stars and Pink Heart:

Melt white chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Use the same method as the chocolate disks to achieve the desired shapes. Before making the heart, add a small amount of pink food coloring to some of the white chocolate. Chill shapes until assembly.

Crosshatch Heart

Melt white chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Mix in a small amount of yellow food coloring. You can use a spatula or fork to drizzle chocolate on parchment paper in a crosshatch pattern and cut out the heart shape. You can also pipe out thin lines of chocolate into the crosshatch pattern and cut out the heart shape. They are delicate so be careful. (Mine broke so many times I had to settle for drawing the pattern on a solid piece of chocolate.) Chill heart until assembly.

Putting It All Together:

Place your cake on your desired base, cake board, or plate. Pipe chocolate mousse onto the cake. I opted for small blobs that sit close enough to squish together. Place a chocolate disk on top of the mousse. Pipe the white chocolate mousse on top of the disk and cover with the second chocolate disk. Be careful not to sandwich the disks and mousse too much. (That’s why my bottom layer isn’t too happy.) Pipe a small blob of white chocolate mousse in the center of the top chocolate disk. Place strawberries, truffles, and stars in front of the blob. Place the pink heart and the crosshatch heart behind it. Stick the chocolate cigarettes out next to the crosshatch heart. To keep the decorations in place, I glued them down with a little melted chocolate and a bit of leftover mousse.

Variations:

I assumed that the fillings were mousse, but I could be wrong. You can use marshmallow, cheesecake, panna cotta, or anything you want. You can also use other decorations, like regular chocolate pieces in place of the truffles.

my love story chocolate (3)My Love Story

Rinko must REALLY love Takeo because there’s a lot of work involved to make this towering chocolate. At least I got to try some of it. Rinko doesn’t even watch Takeo eat it. She’s feels rewarded just by giving it to him. She even apologizes for making mistakes. And that makes Rinko a much better person than I am. Not to mention that Takeo just wanted any chocolate from Rinko and was already satisfied with the cookies he’d gotten. He was already on his way out to buy her some expensive chocolate in return. Even though he wasn’t expecting anything else from Rinko, he was overjoyed and made sure to savor every bite. They’re just too cute! The couple is perfectly imperfect and show that love is difficult, but it’s the silliness and over-the-topness of it that makes it worthwhile.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Episode: The Great Divide
Egg Custard Tart

Avatar: The Last Airbender came into my life at the most opportune moment. My TV watching days and school life were both changing so drastically, that it was getting harder to find things to watch and even harder to find the time to watch them. I was busier than ever and didn’t have too much to look forward to except doing piles of homework. Then came Avatar. It’s so beautiful and different that I immediately fell in love with it. To me, it was so much more than just a cartoon and I was on pins and needles waiting for each new episode.

There are so many strange and wonderful places, people, and animals in the Avatar universe. And let’s not forget food! Out of all the tasty treats, the one that caught my attention as much as Aang’s is an egg custard tart. He was all goo-goo eyes for it because he hadn’t eaten since before he stepped into the Great Divide. Plus, I hear he has quite the weakness for these tarts. So do I.

Recipe makes one deep 8-inch tart or about two regular 9-inch tarts.

Ingredients

Crust:

1 ¾ cups cake flour

1 cup powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) butter, cold and cut into chunks

1 large egg

Filling:

2 cups water

1 cup sugar

6 large eggs, room temperature, beaten

1 cup half-&-half, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla

 

Directions

Crust:

In a food processor, pulse cake flour, powdered sugar, and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg and pulse until dough just comes together when pressed. If the dough is too dry, add ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time, and pulse again. Form dough into a disk and cover in plastic wrap. Let dough chill until firm, 30 minutes to an hour.

Filling:

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar completely dissolves. Let sugar water cool to room temperature. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, half-&-half, sugar water, and vanilla. Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer.

Putting It All Together:

Unwrap dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough anywhere from 10 to 14 inches across and place in a 1.5 quart, round casserole dish. Gently press dough into place. Trim excess dough or fold it back on itself. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Pour filling into crust. I sent it through the strainer once more to ensure no chunks or bubbles appeared on the surface of the tart. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 1-1 ½ hours, or until skewer inserted in it comes out clean. If the edges of the crust darken too quickly, cover them with foil. Remove tart from oven and cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. Remove from dish and serve or just dig in!

avatar egg custard tartEgg Custard Tart

So I had a little mishap when I went to remove my tart from its dish, so it’s not as pretty as it was when it came out of the oven. But someone in the Zhang tribe managed to carry an egg custard tart for an entire day throughout the largest canyon in the world and it stayed perfect. Tarts don’t really travel well, so I’d say in all actuality, my tart doesn’t look too far off from what it should be.

It’s funny, but I feel a bit like the Avatar when I’m in my kitchen. I have to master all four elements (I still need some work on my airbending.) to bring together ingredients from different backgrounds to create something grand. Although I’m not ready to take on the world just yet, I believe I can bring peace to my pantry.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

The Great Mouse Detective

 

Cheese Crumpets

Before I ever heard the names Hercule Poirot, Kogoro Akechi, and C. Auguste Dupin, I was captivated by mysteries. I loved putting the pieces together to find out “Who done it?” I’d always pay extra attention to episodes and movies about detectives, so it was only a matter of time until I met the famous Basil of Baker Street. I didn’t even know about Sherlock Holmes yet, but I found the whole detective dynamic with the hero, his partner, and the villain absolutely brilliant. Especially when I wanted to root for Basil and Dr. Dawson, but Vincent Price kept pulling me over to Professor Ratigan’s side. I had good taste.

Speaking of good taste, I need to talk about the movie’s unsung hero, Mrs. Judson. She’s an angel for being able to put up with Basil and his eccentricities. Not only that, she makes the most delightful looking cheese crumpets. Sure, hers are baked in muffin tins so they don’t have the classic shape, but they do keep their familiar nooks and crannies. Call them whatever you want. (Baked crumpets. Bread Muffins.) I call them delicious.

Recipe makes 16 crumpets.

 Ingredients

 1 ½ cups warm milk (105-115 degrees F)

¾ cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)

2 ½ teaspoons yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter, melted

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups bread flour

1 cup shredded cheese, cheddar or any other kind you want

 

Directions

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm milk and water. Let rest for 5 minutes or until foamy. Meanwhile, melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly. Add the salt, baking soda, melted butter, and both flours to the yeast mixture. Stir until well combined. Cover the bowl and allow the batter to rise for 30 minutes.

Add cheese to the batter and stir to incorporate it. Scoop the batter into greased muffin tins about two-thirds of the way full. Allow the batter to rest in the tins for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake the crumpets until they are lightly golden and done, 20 minutes. Remove the muffin tins from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the crumpets from the tins and enjoy!

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Olivia Flaversham has her priorities straight when she fills her pockets with yummy cheese crumpets before going adventuring. The poor girl’s been through a lot. She deserves them. I need them just from watching Fidget kidnap Mr. Flaversham. That really frightened me when I was little. But in a good way because there isn’t a thing I didn’t like about this movie. That still holds true, so I figure it was only natural that I’d grow up to be a detective nerd. Well, I’ve got to run, so, “With time so short, I’ll say so long. And go, so soon. Goodbye.”

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

Little Audrey

 

Episode: Tarts and Flowers

Gingerbread Man

Gingerbread men have become synonymous with the Holiday Season, but when I think of those guys, my mind goes straight to Little Audrey. My grandparents had one nondescript little VHS tape titled The Gingerbread Man, and we watched it quite frequently. Tarts and Flowers easily became one of my favorite cartoons and it still ranks up there. I’m a sucker for anthropomorphic food and I’ve always been a sweet fiend. Needless to say, I want to live in Cakeland! Well, if I did, no one else would. I’d eat all of my neighbors.

Everything about this cartoon is just so darn charming. Angel Cake getting dolled up for her wedding with powdered sugar, whipped cream, and a cherry. And my favorite part is when Little Audrey busts out an egg beater and whips the Old Milk Stream to stop that nasty Devil Food Cake. And I can’t forget about that heroic, little Gingerbread Man. He was in a hurry because he was getting married and he invited Little Audrey to follow him if she could keep up. I was so used to hearing stories about a mischievous cookie, so the friendly one was a nice change.

The recipe that Little Audrey follows from her radio chef is kind of odd because she adds things like mustard and a cake of yeast. The Gingerbread Man also started out as batter before he went into the oven. I know that gingerbread can be made a thousand different ways, so I’m just going to stick with the rolling and cutting cookie dough method.

Recipe makes about 13 giant gingerbread men, but it varies with the size and shape of the cookie cutter.

 Ingredients

 Gingerbread Men:

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter, room temperature

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

¼ cup molasses

3 cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon cloves (It’s a gingerbread must, but I don’t really like it, so I say optional.)

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger

Royal Icing

 2 large egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Black and Brown food coloring

 

If you want to avoid raw eggs, use these in place of the egg whites:

3 tablespoons meringue powder

½ cup warm water

 

Directions

Gingerbread Men:

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ground ginger in a medium bowl.

Beat butter and brown sugar together in a stand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg, molasses, and grated ginger and beat together another minute. Add the dry ingredients a little at a time and stir until combined. Divide dough in two and flatten each half into a disk. Cover each disk with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Lightly dust a counter with flour and roll out a disk to ¼ inch thickness. Cut out desired shapes and place on a cookie sheet. Re-roll and cut until you run out of dough and continue this process with the other disk. Place cookie sheets in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes. This will help your gingerbread men stay in shape.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place cookies in the oven and bake, rotating trays halfway through, until the edges are set, about 15 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on their sheets for 2 minutes and move to a wire rack. Let them cool completely.

 

Icing:

Beat the egg whites (or meringue powder and water) and vanilla in a stand mixer until just combined. Add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to high and beat until the icing is stiff and shiny, about 5-7 minutes. Divide icing among smaller bowls and add different food colorings to each one.

 

Putting It All Together:

Transfer icing to piping bags and pipe features onto cooled cookies. You can also draw them on with a toothpick dipped in the icing. My gingerbread man has a simple face with a brown nose and small black mouth and eyebrows. Let the icing stand for just a minute to harden. Now they’re ready to eat!

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When my grandparents decided to clean house and get rid of most of their videos, we were happy to snatch this tape up. It sits safely in my sister’s room and we still pop it in every now and then. With all the baking I do, I really hope that one of these days I’ll get to go on a magical dessert-themed adventure. My Gingerbread Man looks like he’s about to run off somewhere, but I think the only place I’ll be following him to is a glass of milk.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

The Book of Life

 

 

Pan de muerto (Bread of the Dead)

 My house has been decked for weeks with lights, pumpkins, and every kind of dead person you can imagine. We’re on pins and needles waiting for the day we can dress up, eat half our weight in candy, and see how badly we can scare said candy out of each other. That’s fun and all, but I truly respect how other cultures still have meaningful reasons behind their similar holidays. El Día de los Muertos, or The Day of the Dead, is a beautiful tradition that I’d love to celebrate.

The Book of Life puts such a fun spin on the holiday with the Land of the Remembered. With all the fiestas, parades, balloons, and food, I could get along just fine there. That place is really hopping and they have all you can eat churros! That’s delicious but I’m going to focus on the even yummier holiday staple, pan de muerto. There were piles of these wonderful little guys all over the cemetery and it makes me want to hop a plane to see this in real life. Even though La Muerte and Xibalba asked for bread as a way to gauge Manolo and Joaquín I’m pretty sure they just really wanted the bread. It’s that good.

Recipe makes 5 breads

 Ingredients

 1/2 cup warm milk (105-115 degrees F)

1 ¼ teaspoons yeast

¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

¼ cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons orange blossom water

2 teaspoons orange zest

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 egg plus 1 tablespoon of milk or water for egg wash

 

2 tablespoons butter, melted

¼ cup sugar

 

Directions

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 2 tablespoons of sugar in the warm milk. Let rest for 5 minutes or until foamy. Add the remaining sugar, salt, melted butter, eggs, orange blossom water, and orange zest and mix until just combined. Add flour and mix until everything is combined and dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until elastic and smooth, 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball, lightly oil, and place in a large bowl. Cover and let rest in a warm area until doubled in size, 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Punch down dough and divide into 5 equal portions. Pinch off ¼ of each portion to use for decorations. Shape a large dough piece into a slightly flattened ball. Break down the decorative dough piece into 7 equal portions. Shape one into a ball, slightly flatten, and place directly on top of the large piece. Roll out the other pieces between your hands to form long strips. Pinch the ends of each strip, so they resemble bones. Place a “bone” on the large dough piece, so the top is below the ball and it extends to the bottom of the piece. Working clockwise, attach the other 5 bones in the same manner. Repeat this with the other sections of dough. Cover breads and let rest another hour or until they’ve doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush each bread with egg wash and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Remove breads from the oven and move to a cooling rack. Once the breads are cool enough to handle, brush each bread with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. All that’s left is to enjoy them!

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These breads come in a whole slew of sizes, flavors, and colors, but this is a good place to get started. (Seriously, this was my first time making them.) The Book of Life shows the importance of honoring and remembering your loved ones, so you can lead the best life you can from their examples. The decorations and food may be extra, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go all out and have fun.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!