As you may or may not know, I love to bake. Mostly cookies, but these cupcakes were the bombdiggity so I had to share! I've debated whether or not adding a food component to this blog and decided what the heck, it's bound to happen sooner or later.
For my Asian art history class, we had a project in which we had to pick something artistic and Japanese and do a presentation on it. I chose to do the film My Neighbor Totoro, focusing on O Totoro because he's just so loveable (and my professor's favorite *brownie points*). Since he is the inspiration for many culinary artists, I baked cupcakes to go along with my slide show. The presentation went great!
YOU WILL NEED
- 1 box of vanilla cake, and all it requires
- cinnamon ~ approx. 1tbsp
- nutmeg ~ approx 1 tsp
- cloves and/or allspice ~ approx 1 tsp
- optional: pumpkin or apple pie spice
- 1 tsp of almond extract
- for frosting: cream cheese, butter, confectioner's sugar, vanilla extract
- chocolate frosting ~ approx 2 tbsp
- plastic baggies
- food coloring
Follow the directions on the box for the cake. Add the almond extract and the seasonings while mixing to taste. I understand that snickerdoodle is a fancy way to say with cinnamon, but that's boring by itself! So i always accompany cinnamon with nutmeg and cloves (allspice if I don't have cloves). Cloves really brings the taste of fall. To be honest I'm not entirely sure just how much of each spice I put in, but the ratio is about right (3 parts cinnamon, 1 part each of every other spice) I tasted the batter (alot) as I went along. The almond extract is a great undertone to round out these flavors *yum.*
I used this recipe from allrecipes.com for the cream cheese frosting. It's super great as is but a bit too tangy for this cupcake, so I added an extra half cup of the confectioner's sugar. I also halved this recipe which was just enough for 20 cupcakes/1 box of cake.
- Assuming you mixed the frosting in a bowl, put half of the frosting in a baggie and set it aside.
- For the frosting left in the bowl, add one drop of red, blue, and yellow each to achieve the grey depicted (i wish I made it darker, so maybe two drops each next time)
- place that batch in a baggie. Get the chocolate frosting in a baggie too.
- In the white and grey baggie, snip a larger corner to squeeze out of. For the chocolate baggie, snip a tiny corner (for the detail :3)
- Start with the bellies. You want a semicircle that goes a little more than half way up the cupcake.
- fill the rest of the space with grey.
- Add the whites of the eyes!
- with chocolate, add nose, pupils, whiskers, and the iconic arrows on the belly that make it Totoro.
This was a super fun cupcake to make (and eat). If you don't want to go with Totoro for the cupcakes, I'd suggest the cream cheese frosting with a simple chocolate design like a swirl; the bit of chocolate with all the other flavors was perfect! I was glad I got to experience and research a bit of the magic that is Totoro :) I'll be sure to watch some more Miyazaki films over winter break!