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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The birthday party, a space oddity part II

Would you hate it if I said Jasper's space-themed birthday party was a blast?

Well it was. I'm covering just the food in this post; see Just Jasper for more pictures, including the games.

I tried to keep the food for this party simple and took plenty of shortcuts. I think some of the space-theme was lost on my guests, but I'll share them with you. There was, for example, the flying saucer dried peach slices. (Why is this text underlined? Blogger?!?)

And there were planet clementines and comet pocky sticks.

Jasper had just seen an episode of Pee Wee's Playhouse in which Pee Wee serves pigs in a blanet, cheese in a blanket, and blankets in a blanket at a party. That was his one request so I did my best. Above you see Pigs in a Rocketship (or, Pigs in Space!) with honey mustard. Do you already know how to make pigs in a blanket? I made mine by wrapping chopped hot dogs in puff pastry (Peppridge Farms is the best to use). You may need to moisten the dough together with a tiny bit of water.

I tried to do the same thing with brie but it got quite melty and messy. Thankfully, there is no photographic record of those, though people said they were tasty. For the blankets in a blanket I sprinkled cinnamon sugar and just folded. They were like mini bunuelos.

We used Volcano blood orange juice to make Jupiter Juice (mixed with selzer) for the kids and Mars Mimosas for the parents. I find a little bubbly makes the kid party a bit more tolerable for adults. I also made the zucchini fries from Cookie. This time instead of traditional bread crumbs I used Japanese panko bread crumbs (typically used for tempura) and I'm here to tell you not so good. The crumbs are too large and took forever to brown in the oven. In fact, next time I'm going to use dried cornbread crumbs as I think the flavor would compliment the zucchini better and the grains would crumble smaller.

Finally, the black hole cake. Doesn't look like a black hole to you? Well, the lovely thing about making a cake for a small child is that they aren't too picky about the details. I used a chocolate cake batter from a back issue of Kids and made a ganache filling with Green & Black's Maya Gold, which has spices and orange flavoring.

I divided the buttercream frosting into batches to color and then filled a pastry bag with each batch, which resulted in a nice marbled effect when I squeezed it out. I tried to make a swirling pattern, but it came out more distinctly when I added chocolate sprinkles and colored sprinkles. So that was the swirling mass of dense gasses and plasma we call the accretion disk.

For the singularity I scooped out a bit of cake from the middle and plopped in some chocolate pudding, doing my best to smooth the top into a dome-like shape. In retrospect I think a scoop of chocolate sorbet would have been better; either way, this step should be saved until last to avoid soggy melting.

Finally, long, lit candles (see first picture) become the gamma rays. Jasper knows a lot about black holes and gamma rays because we've seen the Black Hole Theater movies at the Planetarium so many times I'm beginning to think of featured astrophysists as family friends. Of course, they would not find my black hole cake scientifically accurate. But I think all would agree that it was delicious. (Did you know the calories in a black hole cake are so dense they cannot be metabolized?)


Anonymous said...

That cake is awesome. I can almost taste its moist, pudding-y, be-sprinkled essence if I close my eyes and concentrate really hard.

ME said...

Love the pics on both blogs! Looks like a fun time for everyone. Jasper is adorable.

BTW, I finally ventured into puff pastry territory the other night and I have a few questions:

Do you pre-bake the pastry a bit before adding toppings? The edges puffed up, but the center was decidedly unpuffed.

And how do you keep it from sticking from the thing you cook it on? Should I not have used foil? Or used cooking spray on the foil?

Regardless of the puff pax, it was tasty: olive oil, Italian seasoning, feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes, unfrozen chopped spinach (squeezed dry) and chopped artichoke hearts.

ME said...

BTW, also digging your hair!!

shaunamama said...

The cake was brilliant! Oh. I'm SO out of it...David oddity...

pass a mars mimosa, please.

Kate The Great said...

The cake is beautiful. I love it, and Chad's family is not too fond of cake, birthday or otherwise. Pie, oh yes. Ice cream cake, sure. But the cakes all get crusty and dry before they get eaten.

Yours, however, is lovely.