A no bake weekend

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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…

Strawberry-rose mochi with red velvet cake balls. Yes, I know the plating attempt is cheesy. haha Vin's photography just made it look nice =)

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…

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