GARDEN PARTY CUPCAKES RECIPE

If you’ve ever played with modeling clay or Play-Doh in kindergarten, you can make these beautiful veggies in a jiffy.

Garden Party Cupcakes

Garden Party Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

2 whole graham crackers
1 stick mint chewing gum
1/4 cup white chocolate melting wafers
6 thin pretzel sticks
1 cup Vanilla Frosting
Green, red, orange and blue gel or paste food color
1 can chocolate frosting
2 cup chocolate cookie crumbs (Nabisco Oreo or Famous Chocolate Wafers)
24 vanilla cupcakes baked in white paper liners
1 cup Corn Flakes
9 green fruit chews (Jolly Rancher)
1 vanilla fruit chew (Tootsie Roll Midgee
4 red fruit chews (Jolly Rancher)
8 orange fruit chews (Starburst)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
20 green M&M’s
Green apple and watermelon AirHeads
2 teaspoons Multicolored chocolate-covered sunflower seeds (see Note)

Seed Packs and Shovels: With a serrated knife, cut graham crackers in half crosswise. Cut two 3/4-in.-long triangles from gum to make shovel blades. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Put white chocolate melting wafers in a ziptop bag; do not seal. Microwave 10 seconds to soften. Squeeze, return to microwave and repeat until smooth. Press out air and seal.

Snip a small corner from the bag and pipe an outline around each graham cracker. Fill in with more chocolate and spread into a smooth, thin layer to cover cracker. Place on baking sheet and refrigerate until set, about 5 minutes.

Turn each cracker over and pipe a line of melted chocolate down the center of the uncoated side. Place a pretzel stick on top of the line of chocolate, leaving about a 2-in. overhang; refrigerate until set. Cut the remaining 2 pretzel sticks into two 2-in. and two 3/4-in. lengths. Pipe a small dot of melted chocolate on one end of a 2-in. pretzel stick and attach the smaller pretzel piece crosswise to make the shovel handle. Attach the gum shovel blade to the other end of the pretzel with a dot of melted chocolate.

Tint 1/2 cup of the vanilla frosting green, 1 Tbsp red, 2 Tbsp orange and 1/4 cup blue. Spoon each color, including the remaining 1 tablespoon vanilla frosting, into separate ziptop bags, press out excess air and seal. Spoon 1/4 cup chocolate frosting into a ziptop bag, press out the excess air and seal. Snip a tiny corner from each of the bags. Pipe the vegetable names in chocolate frosting and the vegetable shapes in the colored frostings on top of the chocolate-coated side of the graham crackers.

Place chocolate cookie crumbs in a medium bowl. Spread remaining chocolate frosting on cupcakes. Roll tops of cupcakes in crumbs to cover. Arrange in 4 rows of 6 on serving platter.

Lettuce: Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Put cornflakes in a small bowl. Spoon remaining green frosting into a small microwavable bowl. Microwave until smooth, stirring often, 5 to 10 seconds. Pour over cornflakes, toss well to coat, and spread the cornflakes onto baking sheet. Chill to set, about 10 minutes. Cut 2 green fruit chews in half and shape into balls. Place 1 green ball on top of each of 4 cupcakes and arrange 8 to 12 cornflakes around balls to make the leaves. Secure with a dot of green frosting.

Radishes: Cut the vanilla fruit chew into quarters. Roll 1 red fruit chew together with 1 vanilla piece, keeping colors separate, and shape into a ball. Pinch the white end to form the radish root. Place 1 radish on top of each of 4 cupcakes, and add green-frosted cornflakes for leaves.

Carrots: Cut 2 of the orange fruit chews in half; shape each piece into a small carrot. Shape remaining 6 fruit chews into 6 large carrots. Score the sides of carrots with a knife and rub with cinnamon for “dirt.” Use a toothpick to make a small hole in the large end of each carrot. Cut 2 of the green fruit chews into thin strips and roll each strip between fingers to look like carrot tops. Press 4 or 5 strips into the hole in the top of each carrot. Arrange carrots on top of 5 cupcakes.

Peas: Roll out each of the remaining 5 green fruit chews into a 3 x 1-in. oval 1/8-in. thick. Press 4 green M&M’s onto one side of each oval. Fold the other side over to cover the candies slightly. Pinch the ends and place 1 pea pod on top of each of 5 cupcakes. Cut thin strips from AirHeads and arrange around the pea pods as vines.
Insert the pretzel end of each sign into tops of 4 cupcakes. Place at the head of the rows. Insert the shovel blades into frosting of 2 cupcakes; scatter sunflower seeds around shovels. Place in rows with radishes and lettuce.

Note: Chocolate-covered sunflower seeds can be found at Trader Joe’s and the Sweet Factory at most malls, as well as online.

Adapted from the book Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. Copyright © 2008 by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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CHEESE ON TOAST ICE-CREAM BY HESTON BLUMENTHAL

“Because it blurs the boundaries between sweet and savoury, this is one of those recipes that could be presented as a starter, a main course or a dessert. But whenever you choose to serve it, make sure you include all three elements – it’s the combination that makes it so good.”– Heston Blumenthal

Cheese On Toast Ice-Cream

Cheese On Toast Ice-Cream
Serves 6
Preparation: 35 minutes
Cooking: 1 hour

For the tomato and strawberry jam
1.5 kg tomatoes, blanched, skinned, deseeded (seeds reserved) and diced
330 g strawberries, hulled and quartered
60 g golden caster sugar
10 ml balsamic vinegar
10 ml sherry vinegar
6 mint leaves

For the cheese wafers
300 g parmesan cheese, finely grated

For the cheese on toast ice-cream
6 slices white bread, toasted
90 g unsalted butter, finely sliced
250 g cheddar cheese, sliced
1 litre full-cream milk
30 g skimmed milk powder
8 egg yolks
120 g white caster sugar
400 g dry ice

To make the jam, squeeze the tomato seeds through muslin to extract the juices. Place these juices in a pan over a medium heat. Add the diced tomato, half the strawberries and the sugar. Simmer until reduced to a jam-like consistency (approximately 500 g in weight). This will take approximately 25 minutes.

Add the remaining strawberries and both vinegars to the pan and simmer briefly to soften the strawberries. Remove the pan from the heat and cool at room temperature before placing in the fridge.

To make the cheese wafers, preheat the grill to high. Place the grated parmesan in a saucepan over a high heat and cook until the cheese begins to split.

Remove the cheese from the pan and place on a flat baking tray lined with a sheet of baking paper. Place another sheet of baking paper on top and roll to a thickness of 1 mm. Remove the top layer of baking paper and use a sharp knife to cut triangles out of the rolled cheese.

Place the baking tray under the grill for approximately 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the tray and allow the wafers to cool.

To start the ice-cream, preheat the grill. Place the slices of toast on a baking tray and divide the slices of butter between them, then cover with the cheese slices. Place under the grill until the cheese begins to melt and colour. Remove the tray and allow to cool.

In the meantime, place the milk and milk powder in a pan over a medium heat. Bring the mixture to 52ºC.

Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until light and creamy. Once the milk has reached temperature, add a little to the egg mixture in order to temper it, then add the egg mixture to the milk and cook, while stirrin,g until the temperature reaches 70ºC. Hold at this temperature for 10 minutes then immediately cool the pan in a bowl or basin of iced water.

Put the slices of cheese on toast into the ice-cream base and, using a hand blender, blitz the mixture until fully incorporated. Pass through a fine sieve and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, chop the mint leaves and stir into the tomato and strawberry jam.

Place the ice-cream base in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. With the mixer going, add bashed-up dry ice until ice-cream forms. This should take approximately 1 minute.

Place a little jam in the bottom of 6 glass bowls, spoon some of the ice-cream on top and finish by adding more jam on top.

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BACON AND EGG ICE-CREAM BY HESTON BLUMENTHAL

“This is one of my signature dishes at The Fat Duck. What makes this recipe so special is being able to make instant ice-cream at the table with the help of a little dry ice. Dry ice can also be used to turn bought smoothies and custard into ice-creams and sorbets. I serve this dish with marmalade because its bitterness and acidity cut through the richness of the ice-cream.” – Heston Blumenthal

bacon and egg ice-cream

Bacon and Egg Ice-Cream
Serves 6
Preparation: 45 minutes
Cooking: 1 hour 30 minutes

Ice-cream base
400 g sweet-cured smoked back bacon
1 litre full-cream milk
30 g semi-skimmed milk powder
24 large egg yolks
120 g unrefined caster sugar

Crispy soldiers
Clarified butter
1 loaf brioche, crust removed, cut into soldiers (1.5 x 1.5 x 5 cm)
Golden caster sugar

To serve
6 medium eggs
Pastry offcuts or other bits of dough, to plug holes
400 g dry ice (see note)
Orange marmalade

Infusing time overnight

To start the ice-cream base, preheat the grill to high. Lay the bacon slices on a baking tray lined with baking paper and place under the grill for 5-7 minutes or until crisp.

When the bacon is cooked, drain on kitchen paper and cut it into strips. Place in a bowl, pour over the milk then refrigerate to infuse overnight.

The next day, put the milk and bacon into a saucepan and add the milk powder. Place over a medium-low heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Remove from the heat.

In the meantime, blitz the egg yolks and sugar together using a hand blender. Combine the egg mixture with the warm milk and bacon and return the pan to the heat. Warm the liquid until it reaches 85ºC.

Once this temperature has been reached, remove the pan from the heat and pass the ice-cream base through a fine sieve into a clean container over iced water, pushing the custard through with the back of a ladle.

To cook the crispy soldiers, melt a tablespoon of clarified butter in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add some of the soldiers and fry on all sides, remove and place on paper towel to absorb any excess fat. Repeat as necessary to cook the remaining soldiers.

Clean the pan completely then place it over a medium-high heat. Add enough sugar to cover the bottom of the pan and allow to melt.

Once the sugar has completely melted and caramelised, add some of the soldiers, no more than 4 or 5 at a time. Turn using tongs in order to cover every side, being careful not to touch the sugar as it is extremely hot. Once coated on all sides, remove the soldiers from the pan, place on a silicone mat and allow to cool. Repeat as necessary, cleaning the pan thoroughly after each use.

To serve the ice-cream, use a large-gauge needle or an egg punch to make a hole in the top and bottom of the eggs and gently blow out the contents. Rinse the shells in cold water and place in boiling water for 45 minutes to sterilise. Remove, allow to cool and plug one of the holes in each shell with pastry.

Using a syringe, fill the eggshells with the ice cream base. Plug the remaining hole with pastry and keep refrigerated until needed.

To serve, make the ice-cream in front of your guests by cracking an egg filled with ice-cream base into a saucepan and adding some of the crushed dry ice while mixing continuously until the ice-cream is formed. This will take approximately 1 minute and it will look like scrambled eggs. Place in a bowl, add a teaspoon of orange marmalade on top of the ice-cream, place a slice of crystallised bacon on top and serve with crispy solders on the side.

Note
When handling dry ice, you need to take exactly the same precautions as you would with naked flames, hot pans and baking trays straight out of the oven. Don’t let it come into direct contact with your skin or you will get a nasty burn. And make sure all the dry ice used to freeze an ice-cream has dissolved before you serve it – you don’t want to bite into or swallow a chunk of dry ice!

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