Learn how to make it here!
Learn how to make it here!
Everything we have been doing up to this point has just been a test, I swear. The black pepper bun, the mapo tofu…all good…but all just PRACTICE for what was to come. Soma outdoes himself, AND his competition with the Time Fuse Mapo Curry Noodles. It’s a dish that combines his original idea- the black pepper bun- with the noodles he knew his customers would enjoy, and with the food of his competitor, with a super special surprise- a curry filling in the meatball! There is so much going on with this recipe, it is both amazing and overwhelming. Seriously, I’ll give you a warning going into this- there are a LOT of steps involved. You have to want this dish to stick with making it. But is it worth it? Uhh….YES.
The story you are about to read is based on a completely true story. This occured in October of 2015. There was only one survivor…and only her account to explain the truth.
Once upon a time, there was a girl. She loved Halloween more than anything, and enjoyed celebrating the holiday with her friends at school. Each day leading up to the holiday, she decided to bring fun, spooky treats to class to impress her friends.
It started out simply- ghost cookies one day, witch hat shaped brownies the next. Each day her friends gave her more and more attention, and she soaked it up, basking in the joy of making people happy with yummy snacks. It was harmless- everyone loved to eat her treats, and the spotlight was all on her! Each day her friends eagerly waited to see what she would bring next. She wanted to do something really special for Halloween, something truly creepy.
That was when she remembered- her favorite horror film was Japanese. What if there were other creepy Japanese horror stories out there? She began to research, and a scant hour later she had come up with the ultimate spooky Halloween treat: cupcake characters based on some of the creepy myths from the anime Yamishibai. There were so many great things to choose from! Creepy clowns, weird dolls, dead spirits…she chose to make a gaunt spider lady and a meat-creature.
Everything went off without a hitch-she made and decorated the cupcakes, using special things like chocolate and marshmallows, and hoping against hope they would absorb the spooky atmosphere of the holiday season. She worked on them for hours, and finally set them aside on her kitchen’s counter before going to bed.
The next morning, she woke up and headed straight for school- she didn’t even have to explain to her mom why she was skipping breakfast, as her mom was nowhere to be found- probably went to work early. The coffee pot was warm, and half-full, so it seemed like she’d woken up, at least.
She skipped off to school with her treats. Happily, the cupcakes were a hit with her friends! Everyone was so impressed with her artistic skill, they decided to wait to eat the cupcakes after lunch. She looked around to see what her best friend had to say- she could have sworn she’d seen her walk into the room- but for some reason she was nowhere to be found. Shrugging, she set the cupcakes on a shelf in the back of the classroom, so they wouldn’t get in the way and settled in for class.
The day droned on, and most students found themselves dozing off to the boring, monotone voice of the teacher. Time blurred by, and the girl only looked up when she realized her teacher wasn’t speaking anymore.
Shocked out of her stupor, she started abruptly and knocked her notebook off her desk. The room was completely empty! She looked around warily, wondering if it was a joke. She looked outside the room, under desks, and in closets with no result. Unsure of what was happening, her gaze was drawn to the cupcakes sitting innocently in the back of the room. She went over to study the little cakes, and noticed a shiny liquid on one of the cupcakes. It was red, and sticky, and smelled strangely salty. Confused, she decided to take a bite, wondering if she had somehow forgotten about an ingredient she added at the last minute.
She gagged on the cupcake as an unbearably hot, meaty flavor flooded her mouth, and looked at it in horror.
Inside the cake was a cavity dripping human blood.
OOOOH SPOOKY!!! Actually, was that spooky? I thought I’d be ok at writing a scary story, but now that I’ve done it, it seems kinda silly. A for effort, right? I wanted to make Yamishibai cupcakes using some of the spooky characters from the show, so I thought it would be fun to write a spooky story mimicking the structure of the anime. This show is honestly the perfect thing to show during a Halloween party- each episode is just a couple of minutes, and they’re all mysterious and scary! Things jump out, people get killed- this show is not messing around.
However, my cupcakes kind of failed in the long run. I was so excited about this week, too! Honestly, I’ve been talking about it non-stop the whole week. I’m not sure what happened exactly. The spider lady sorta looks like the main character of Detroit Metal City or Harambe. The meat-creatures took way too long to make- I gave up after two, even though I made all the details. I guess I just got bored too easily, but mostly I think I was really ambitious to make two designs. Because of this, I don’t have exact measurements of everything really, since I didn’t go through with making everything.
This is my first try making the spoooky spider lady’s face:
They say practice makes perfect but I don’t think I improved much.
I also tried to film parts of this, since it’s hard to describe how to decorate something with words. How do you write out how to pipe a face onto a cupcake? But that failed too, since I don’t have a tripod and nothing to stand my camera on. Do you guys even want video tutorials? As a result of trying to film stuff, I didn’t get all the pictures that I normally take, so I’m missing chunks of stuff, and am much too lazy to get stills of the footage. Well, mostly, I’m running out of time as this post is due in about 4 hours and I’m still writing…
Looking past my disheveled attempts at trying new things, these cupcakes taste really yummy, and the decorations are awesome! They leak “blood” too, which is really cool (and delicious). If you have patience, this is a great thing for you to make- the cupcakes came out looking mostly cool, at the least. Perhaps spooked by my own cupcakes and swarthed in misery, I gave up- but even the individual pieces taste good, so there’s that.
- Cupcakes- I used a box mix for convenience’s sake.
- Red and white candy melts
- Raspberry Jam
- 1 cup butter
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- vanilla extract
- almond or lemon extract
- red food coloring
- black food coloring/ premixed black frosting
- yellow food coloring
- cocoa powder
- plastic baggies
Decorating the Cupcakes
First, start by making the buttercream frosting. Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat about 5 minutes, until light, fluffy, and much whiter in color. Add in the powdered sugar cup by cup. Then add a dash of vanilla. At the end, if it’s too firm, loosen up with a tablespoon of milk. Take about 1/2 of the frosting out of the bowl, and set aside. Dye the other half bright red. You will need A LOT of red food dye for this- just be forewarned.
Once that’s ready, set frosting aside. Core your cupcakes by just taking a little knife and carving out a small circle of cake. Set these circles aside, and fill the centers with a red jam of your choice. I used raspberry- I found the tartness of the berry contrasted nicely with the ultra sweet frosting. To make it a but runny, I mixed it with about a teaspoon of water, and ran it through a sieve to take out any seeds. I put this mixture in a plastic bag, snipped the tip, and filled the cupcakes. Then, I put the little circles of cake back on the top to seal it in.
Let’s make the decorations for the little meat guy. Microwave red candy melts following package instructions. Coat marshmallows in the candy melt so they are red. Set aside on wax or parchment paper to harden.
Put the rest of your red candy melt in a ziploc bag. Snip the tip, and pipe out little red mouths on the same wax or parchment paper. Tap lightly on the counter to smooth out any imperfections. Then, make the eyeballs. Take out plain white candy melts, but don’t melt them. Instead, pipe a black frosting iris (I just bought a black frosting rom the store- it’s easier than trying to dye frosting black), and add a little white reflection dot with some frosting or melted white candy melt. Then, using red candy melts or dye, add little eye veins to the outer rim to make the eye look irritated.
Moving back to the mouths- melt white candy melts, and pour into a ziploc bag. Cut a verrry fine tip off the end, and pipe two rows of teeth on each mouth. While waiting for that to dry, attach eyes to the marshmallows with some melted candy melt and set aside to harden again.
Mix up some cocoa powder, yellow food dye, and just a tiny splash of the almond or lemon extract. Use this to paint the teeth a sickly shade of yellow, concentrating on the gums and in between each tooth. When that sets, pipe thin black frosting outlines to define the teeth.
Let everything set up really well, and then assemble! Load red frosting onto a cupcake, and make it textured by gently sticking the spatula down and up and down again all over to make it spikey and gross looking. Place they eye in, and build up the frosting around it to incorporate it into the cupcake. Then, place the little mouth, and settle it back into the frosting as well. Finally, drizzle the watered down raspberry jam on top to give it a gruesome, bloody appearance!
Let’s move onto the creepy spider lady. Pile a cupcake high with white frosting. Neaten up the edges by swiping the frosting upwards all around the cupcake, and then level off the top. Put some black frosting into a plastic bag, and snip a fine tip off.
Start by making the eyes- use a reference picture to help you get the shape just right. Then do the lines under the eyes, the nose shadow, nostrils and mouth. Add cheekbones in, and then give a bit of definition to the face by adding a chin. If you mess up any of the lines, use a toothpick or fork to gently push the line where you want it to be. Finally, make hair by piping long, thin strips around the face.
And now they’re done!!
Ignore the GOT puzzle in the background…The cupcakes came out looking all right, though. I wouldn’t give myself any awards, but things could be worse. Yamishibai is high on the scare factor but not so much on the food factor- I wanted these guys to look scary and creepy, but I’d say that they sort of look cute/funny more than anything. Anyway, if you’re in the mood for some Halloween holiday baking, I hope at least a part of this tutorial can help! Sorry I’m not on my game as much as usual this week… Whatever happens, don’t let these bad boys get the best of you! You don’t want to get eaten like the girl’s friends in the spoooky story.
Check it out on Crunchyroll right here.
Ok everybody, as your loyal food-blogger I feel it’s my duty to call cooking BS when I see it, and boy oh boy, was there a lot of BS going on in Takumi’s Shokugeki.
Takumi competed in an infamous Shokugeki where his prized mezzaluna was at stake and…..SPOILERS……lost. It was a frustrating loss, and heart-breaking to boot. Since I prize my kitchen tools very highly, and am actually operating without most of them at the moment (more on that tragedy later), I actually feel really bad for him. Cooking without your trusty tools can be really unsettling. However, I have a bone to pick with the creators of this series.
Out of sympathy for Takumi, I decided to make his four-layer semi freddo, replicated as closely to the source material as possible. A praline layer on the top with almonds and hazelnuts, then a lemony-almond semi freddo with meringue, a lemon curd that uses olive oil instead of butter, ending with a genoise liberally doused in limoncello to moisten the cake.
For one thing, Mimasaka is well known for using the EXACT SAME ingredients as his competitor in the EXACT SAME dish. All well and good, but the ingredient that pushes him ahead of Takumi is the use of preserved lemons, made with lemons and salt. Ok, ok, surely Takumi had those ingredients. BUT, as stated in the show, preserved lemons take weeks before they’re ready. And, I’m sorry to say, but once they’re ready, it’s no longer just lemons and salt- it’s a preserved lemon. A whole new ingredient that Mimasaka would have had to make on the spot in the Shokugeki in order to adhere to his own weird rules. Except that this dish takes several weeks to make. How did he do that in the span of a single Shokugeki?
I know we’re operating in the anime world here, but can I also make it known that somehow, someway, Takumi and Mimasaka essentially made ice cream during a food competition with NO FREEZE TIME? Hear me out here, I’m well-aware that there are fancy ice cream makers that can fully freeze the ice cream base and pop it out, ready to eat, in no time flat. However, the point of a semi freddo is that you don’t NEED an ice cream maker to make it. That is one of the great benefits of a semi freddo. Semi freddo means semi-frozen, and is traditionally made by pumping the base materials full of air and then freezing WITHOUT using a ice cream maker. And when you do that, a semi freddo needs at LEAST 12 hours to harden completely, as I ever-so-tragically discovered when I only waited 8 hours for my four layer version to harden. So what’s the point of making a semi-freddo if you somehow cheat the freezing stage? HOW DID THEY DO THIS IN A SINGLE SHOKUGEKI??
Do you sense some frustration and sadness? I’m kinda getting ahead of myself here. Let me start at the beginning of this truly soul-crushing story.
I decided to catch up on Food Wars!, partly because I really like the series, and partly because I was doing research for this article, looking for something new to make. I was having a grand old time, and when I saw Takumi’s dessert, I was really inspired! A semi freddo! Lemon curd with olive oil! Toasted nuts! This was truly a dish meant for the great and mighty. I decided to set about making this dish with great fervor. I couldn’t find a recipe that even came close to replicating this entire dish, so I had to do my best to find individual recipes for each part of the whole dessert. I drew from the wisdom of our Lord and Savior, Ina Garten, the great Southern Monarch, Paula Deen, as well as a handful of other internet denizens who helped me understand what genoise is, the traditional components of a semi freddo, and the basic ingredients for a lemon semi freddo. That’s right gentlefolk of the internet, I did so much research on this dessert my brain almost exploded. I couldn’t even comprehend making dinner in addition to this, so I went and got WingStop to calm the pitter patter of my excited heart.
So busy am I with my other jobs, I decided to start this at 7 pm last night to give myself adequate time. I didn’t finish until 2 am, and here is the reason why: Three out of the four layers of this semi-freddo require extensive aeration. And I do mean extensive. No trouble for any old person at home who has a hand or stand mixer. Except I’m not at home, I’m living in the Bay Area for a few weeks to do some work here, and my friend’s kitchen is woefully ill-equipped compared to my own kitchen.
The funny thing is that I actually stole a Kitchen Aid stand mixer from a very un-deserving friend for recipes such as this one, but it’s at home, with all my other kitchen tools. (He moved out of his old apartment and abandonded his mixer in a closet, so I rescued it, cleaned it up, and haven’t bothered to tell him I took it. After a year, he still hasn’t asked about it. I sure hope he doesn’t read this.) So, lacking a stand or even a hand mixer, I decided to hand-whip EVERYTHING that required mixing. This includes: The genoise cake mix, lemon curd, the zabaglione for the semi freddo, the meringue for the semi freddo, and the whipped cream for the semi freddo. This seemed daunting, but I figured “hey, I like challenges, so why not?” A day later, with a seriously hurting wrist and suffering from physical exhaustion, I could give you a whole list of reasons “why not”, so just take my word for it and use a hand or stand mixer. You’ll thank yourself later.
I worked so hard on this. And in the end, I made two big mistakes: praline thickness and freeze time. On the upside, this dessert is frickin’ DELICIOUS. My god, it is really heavenly. It doesn’t matter that mine ultimately fell apart, because it still tastes amazing. I highly recommend you try this! But, it isn’t for the faint of heart, and if you get impatient waiting for things to freeze completely, you might struggle with this recipe, as I did. Let’s get into it, and buckle up. Four layers means there are a LOT of steps.
Here’s what we’re recreating:
OK, some notes before we get started: 1) This is going to take a decent amount of time to make, even if you use a hand or stand mixer. Prepare yourself. (And that’s another thing! This would take a REALLY LONG TIME TO MAKE, probably around two hours. What did everyone do while they were waiting around? 2) This makes a LOT. Prepare your pans.
You need some kind of container to put this in that is rectangular and long. A loaf pan works. I found a plastic container from Daiso that had sharp corners and was perfect for what I wanted, so I used that. It should be at least 9 inches long, 3 inches tall, and 4-5 inches wide. I also ended up using another plastic container for leftover materials, so as not to waste anything.
So this semi freddo has four layers. Semi freddo refers to the frozen part in the middle- not anything else. The semi freddo itself is made up of three components, the cream, meringue, and zabaglione. I will list ingredients by layer. All recipes are adapted from the links above, mostly to accomodate the volume of product I needed.
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp corn syrup
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds (I couldn’t find hazelnuts. If you can, do half and half.)
- 2 lemons and zest of both lemons
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup cake flour, sifted twice (You can make your own cake flour using regular flour and cornstarch!)
- about 1/4 cup limoncello (this is alcoholic- if you are under 21, either get a parent to help, or use a simple syrup)
Semi freddo layer:
- 1 3/4 cup whipping cream (Cream component)
- 4 egg yolks, 2 egg whites (Zabaglione and meringue components)
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds (Final mix in)
- 1 cup and 1/4 cup sugar (Meringue and zabaglione components)
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (Zabalgione component)
- 1/4 tsp salt (Zabaglione component)
- 1 tsp cream of tartar (Meringue component)
- 1 1/2 lemons
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
Confession time. I, unlike Shichika, am no master in the art of anything, least of all dango-making. It turns out that dango is HARD to make. It seems so deceptively simple! There are very few ingredients, the cooking method simply requires you to place dumplings in boiling water, and there are no sauces or extras you need to complete the dish. It should be foolproof! Well, call me a fool because I don’t really think I mastered it.
Let’s first talk about this show. I finished it awhile ago with my best friend, Sarah, and I loved it! I like the art, I like the story, I LOVE Shichika and Togame. I could go on. But why should I? The ending was a blow to my heart, a punch in the stomach, a heartless, if necessary, final act. I liked the ending, but I felt severe loss nonetheless. Did anyone else feel this way? Also why is Shichika constantly sporting the WEED on his clothes? (Just kidding, I know it’s a maple leaf. But you have to admit…it looks suspicious.)
Anyway, my best friend just left me to go study abroad in Spain, and so I thought I should make a commemorative dish this week to celebrate her departure (And mourn her loss. Goodbye forever, Sarah. *single tear* See you in Korea.). I wanted the dish to be simple, and hanami dango match the season. In the episodes, you see Togame and Shichika eat them in episode 4, and then they’re eaten again in the last episode. They’re traditionally sakura flower viewing food (so spring time food), and it’s spring now so I thought it would be appropriate. Sadly, I learned that there’s a lot I don’t know about making dango. Learn from my mistakes.
Have you every accidentally spilled curry spices into your eyes?
I’ve had a very eventful Sunday. I wanted to try making this dish because I couldn’t find a suitable recipe already online, so I decided to invent one. Let me tell you, that was no mean feat. I’ve only made risotto once before, last week for dinner, and risotto is kind of tricky to get right. There’s a lot of stirring involved and many taste-tests to make sure your rice is getting soft. The good news is that now I can justify my obsession with ice cream because of how many calories I worked off just by stirring the damn rice for so long.
The other TWO reasons this dish was hard to make were that 1) I hate eggs and have never made an omelette before and 2) I’ve never made curry from scratch before, which I knew I had to do or risk being a facsimile of a sham, living in Soma’s looming shadow. The challenge was, after all, about creating the finest curry dish imaginable. Nonetheless, I have certainly accomplished a delicious dish, and I even managed to follow the hints dropped in the anime to make it as authentic as possible! 🙂 Yay authenticity! (It only cost me about $60 to buy all the spices and other ingredients required. Hue hue, boo T_T goodbye money, rip my bank account)
Without further ado, read on to learn how to craft this magnificent dish!!!