I promised my mixer and oven some time off this week since they were worked to the point of slave labor during most of July (my poor oven… it seriously needs a cleaning). But I felt like I still had to make SOMETHING and ended up using the stove and microwave instead.
I had about a dozen leftover red velvet cupcakes from last weekend’s bake-a-thon. These were the f*ck-ups; they were a tray of red velvet gone wrong and was slightly overbaked in my inferno oven. They didn’t taste bad; they were just a little dry but I would have been mortified to give them out to anyone b/c they weren’t absolutely perfect. Plus, a week had gone by and they were starting to take up prime real estate in the fridge. I also had 2 boxes of strawberries I bought last week that were about to turn, so it was getting to the use ’em or lose ’em stage. However, being Asian, I felt guilty letting good food go to waste (thanks, mom! =P) so I gave myself a “Chopped”-like challenge with a subconscious spherical theme in mind. What to do with very ripe strawberries and stale red velvet cupcakes…
The cupcakes were an easy save: cake balls. They were actually a pretty ideal consistency for crumbling into… um, crumbs, and I just mashed it with some leftover cream cheese frosting. I got a dozen little balls out of this and dipped half of them in melted Hershey’s milk chocolate and the other half in the never-ending supply I have of green candy coating. I think I got the hang of making cake balls now that I figured out what tools work best and I’m pretty deft with the whole dunk/swirl/gently-yet-quickly-get-dipped-ball-off-stick-to-dry-on-tray-with-minimal-touching thing. It took muuuuuuch less time than my first time w/the balls and I’m sure I’ll be a ball-dipping machine come fall for those wedding orders. (TWSS!) And there you have your basic reconstructed cake –> cake balls.
Now for the strawberries, there were so many options. At first, I was thinking of making strawberry shortcake but then I’d have to bake the buttermilk biscuits and that would go against my “no baking” rule. So I looked through my flour and spice collection and saw a box of rice flour I bought a while back from this Korean grocery store in LI. (It’s a b*tch to get to though, and even then I still have to ask my sister to smuggle me some goods from Manhattan’s Chinatown b/c this place doesn’t have much in terms of Viet ingredients). I’ve been meaning to make mochi, so I decided it would be good to try to test out strawberry mochi. I chopped up 2 pints of strawberries into 1/4″ pieces and made a fresh compote for the filling. I don’t know why, but I felt like throwing in some vanilla, rum, and rose water in the compote and now the whole house smells like roses. I mixed in some drained liquid from the cooked compote to enhance the strawberry flavor in the mochi dough. It was sooo sticky. I kept coating my hands and the roller with powder so it wouldn’t stick to everything, and that probably changed the whole consistency. This was definitely an experiment. I mean, it IS pretty unconventional and non-traditional b/c I didn’t use red bean or green tea filling, but hey, what the hell, you can’t die from eating it and personally I thought it tasted good.
I had Vin try a test mochi ball while he was editing pics from a photo job. Here’s how the exchange went down:
Me: Hey baby, you want to try a bite of the mochi?
Vin [eyeballs the pink ball in my hand like I just stuck an alien fetus in his face]: Uh… sure. [He takes a smaller bite than I thought he would.] …Interesting.
Me [I cock my head and raise my left eyebrow–it’s a reflex, I can’t help it–and blink @ him for a couple seconds]: You’ve HAD mochi before, right?
Vin: Uhhhh oh look, I was about to spell “Greene Ave” incorrectly for this caption…
[I blink @ him again, then quickly turn my heel and walk out of the room.]
Vin [calling out after me]: Yeah, I’ve had it before! It tastes gummy… like edible gum… that you can eat… [His voice trails off in the distance as I’m already back in the kitchen, sulking.]
PPPfffffttt. Sorry, baby, but that was weak. That was like, giving your wife the wrong answer when she asks, “Does this dress make me look fat?”… which, I can honestly say, I’ve never tricked Vin with that question with the intent of entrapment. haha Whatever, I’m just teasing… he’s the best and most supportive taste tester ever <3 But I admit, “…interesting” was not what I wanted to hear.
I decided to take a couple mochi balls into work to get better feedback. It sounds like food snobbery, but well… some of my co-workers are Japanese and I’ll believe their critique over Vin’s on this one. haha I brought in a couple to one of the Admins and she was instantly impressed by their appearance (phew!). I should probably disclose that she loves strawberries so maybe her opinion may be a LITTLE biased, but my co-worker was honest. She said that my “homework was to make the mochi dough a little stickier”, but other than that they were “really good!”, she liked the flavor combination, and she said they looked really nice considering I don’t have a mochi machine (I wasn’t aware these things existed haha) Yay! It wasn’t a terrible review @ all!
I’m pleased now and can go merrily back to baking. This weekend is Vin’s brother’s birthday and the plan is to make something really special. Stay tuned…