Watch Me Pull An Easter Bunny Out Of My Hat
Another holiday another challenge. It doesn’t matter your culture, your religion, or your nationality, if it’s a holiday and your in the food business in any form, you need to know all about it. That’s how an existentialist baker ends up being challenged with tapping into the cultural aspects of holidays like the one facing me now, Easter. Yea, yea, yea, I get it. Palm Sunday Jesus came to town on his ass (I have to admit hearing this as a kid made me chuckle). Him and a dozen compadres ate together for the last time and it was a feast fit for a vampire. All body and blood. One of the twelve dudes dropped a dime on the J man and Roman guards whipped him and then crucified him. A few days later his ghost rose from the dead and they proclaimed it a holiday. Celebrating his death seems counter-intuitive but religious obsevervances have always befuddle me a bit.
No matter, I’m not making a cupcake that rises from the dead nor am I making one out of wafers or wine. I am tapping in to the cultural aspects of Eater. The happy stuff, like the candy part. So what do I have to work with? Chocolate bunnies are too old school and besides, they already have a stronghold just being themselves. Jelly bean are a must, I can do something with those classic favorites. What else? Peeps! Now there a tradition worth raising some insulin levels over. A marshmallowy ball of cooked sugar coated in……more sugar of course. Only colored sugar.
Not just yellow anymore, these stretchy marshmallow treats shaped like little chicks come in array of color these days. Pink, Green, Blue, purple, and the old standby, yellow. And not just little chicks, these Easter basket must haves can be either a chick or a bunny. Gender appropriate candy, amazing how much we have evolved. Evolutionary advances aside, I plan to stick to the original. Well original shape anyway. So I’m set. I will use jelly beans for one and Peeps for the other.
Just making a jellybean cupcake or a marshmallow cupcake is not much of a challenge for The Existential Baker. I need to dig deep own into my creative culinary depths and so something different. So not cupcakes for this holiday, but Cake Sliders. Or maybe I’ll call them stuffed cupcake tops!? Elaine made it work with muffins on Seinfeld so WTH?
The first one will be Stuffed Jellybean Cupcake Tops. Now I am somewhat of a jellybean aficionado. Gourmet, No name, spiced, Jelly Belly, all brands, all types. I’ve tried them all. (with the exception of the jelly bean featured in Harry Potter. However, if they were available to me…..) But The Existential Baker can’t just make what he like best, I need to make what works the best for my cupcakateers. After careful sampling of a number of easily available jellybeans it hit me like a sugar rush. A stomach ache. After a few Zantacs and some Pepto, I went back to my notes and discovered that the winning bean contestant was the “LifeSaver” brand jellybeans. Why them? None of them singularly overpowers the others, the coloring and size is perfect, and the flavors blend effortlessly. Since there are apparently no beans left from the testing I went out and got ssome more.
My first attempt was a bit of a disaster. I placed some vanilla cake batter in the whoopee pans, topped them each in an artistically arranged collage of jellybeans and popped them in the oven. Cooking time is about 12 minutes so I checked them after about six. To my dismay the designs had sunk to the bottom and seemingly disappeared. No worries, I’ll flip them over when they finish and cool. Uh uh..No, no, no! Thee delectable cute innocent jellybeans refused to let go of pan. The cake part had no such attachment and instead of having my base I had to carefully clean the mess and start again.
Once bitten twice shy I settle on the same theme with a new approach. This time I filled the pans with vanilla cake batter and right into the oven. After six minutes I removed the pans, sprinkled them with jellybeans in a totally random pattern and back into the oven. It had to be done quickly and efficiently, and I felt like the Jason Bourne of cupcakery. Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum. The most perfect looking cupcake tops ever. Randomly arranged and barely beginning to show signs of melting they were a masterpiece. Now to cool and fill.
A variety of flavors began dancing in my mind. What best to fill these beauties? I settled on a strawberry custard and chopped up the remaining jellybeans and folded then inside. The result was a pleasing pastel pink custard dotted with an assortment of tiny bright-colored jellybean segments. I placed a scoop of the delish filling on top of half my cupcake tops, reserving the prettiest ones for the toppers. Another success for the EB’s guests at Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes this weekend. But I’m not done there, I need to do something with the Peeps.
“Peeps for my Peeps” cake sliders take center stage to the cupcake tops understudies. This time I used a heart shaped pan, because I love my peeps. Not the candy, my peeps. Yea, I have peeps! A few anyway. But I digest, lets move on. This was a bit more of a challenge for a few reasons. First those cute little chickies are hard to cut up, and if you put them in a bowl together they begin to re-knit into a glob of marshmallow madness. The other challenge was the presentation. What I wanted to do was top each heart shape slider with a head of the Peep. Just the head, the whole Peep would look messy. But will the EB look like a murdering marauder who hangs the heads of his prey like a trophy on the wall? A game hunter proudly displaying his kill for all to see atop a cake slider? Will it cause lasting scars on the hearts of my little peeps? Will my peeps children forever view me as the villain that slew packets upon packets of sugary chicks removing their heads? Profound quandary. I mean after all I am a lifelong pacifist. I admit to killing more than one lobster during my days of restaurant life. That lobster scream still ways on my conscience. But these Peeps are not and never have been alive. So I can move forward with eight inch chef knife in hand and remove the heads of my peeps. The candy, not the people.
There it is. Heart shaped chocolate and vanilla sliders waiting patiently to morph into a treat. I had reluctantly beheaded all the colored Peeps and set them aside. What to do with the bodies? Wrap them up in blankets and toss them in the sink? No, no way. I want the short temporary lives of those seasonal marshmallow favorites to mean something. So I cut them into pieces. This created another problem. As I mentioned they have an uncanny ability to reform into larger pieces of themselves in various shapes. My solution was to cut and mix in small batches using some marshmallow fluff to keep them bound . Success! Next I took said mixture of mallows and folded them into some vanilla mousses. The result was a bowl of marshmallow mouse dotted with pastel pieces of Peeps. A scoop on a heart shaped cake, topped with another heart happed cake, then adorned with a small dollop of buttercream. Then the prized peep head went on top. Cute, but I feel like they are all looking at me now. Menacingly!! How I suffer for my art!!
Happy whatever you celebrate. If you don’t celebrate any specific occasion, then Happy Life.. What better to celebrate than that???….Peace