Friday, August 18, 2017

Dota 2 Chocolate Pretzel Wards

"A form of half-sentient plant, often cultivated by apprentice wizards."
- Dota 2 flavor text

Dota 2 observer wards and sentry wards made from chocolate, pretzels and candy-coated chocolate M&Ms. Cute cupcake toppers, or great alone for a videogame-themed snack.

Full disclosure, this is my third attempt at making something that looks like observers and sentries. For the fifth Dota 2 The International (TI5) tournament, I made yellow and blue cake pops, with little eye balls. They were pretty cute, but - confession - I discovered I don't actually like cake pops. I found them a little too sweet, especially since my Dota 2 spread already included a bunch of sweets that I thought tasted better and more closely resembled the in-game item, like the lotus orb apple pastries and the aghanim's scepter madeleines

For the sixth The International (TI6) I tried to go healthier. I candy-coated apples in yellow and blue. Again, the aesthetic was sort of eyeball-on-a-stick, which isn't all that accurate for most ward cosmetics. The apples probably had better nutritional content, but I found it difficult to get a sufficiently bright candy coating, so I think they looked more like eyeballs-on-an-apple than proper wards. 

This year, I decided to throw out the USDA's nutrition guidelines. I wanted to mimic the default ward cosmetics with multiple little yellow or blue eyeballs on a single twisty sort of branch. I didn't want them to be too finicky since I had a few other time-consuming Dota 2 food projects to work on, so I came up with these chocolate and pretzel wards. M&Ms are about the right size and color, taking out a lot of the work from my previous attempts. Also, as far as I can tell from streaming Sumail and Arteezy, Eminems are very appropriate for Dota 2. 

I'm really pleased with how these turned out. They are super quick to put together and look quite recognizable! To really get the wizened wood effect, I probably should have used milk chocolate instead, but I think dark chocolate is so much tastier! 


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dota 2 Lotus Orb Apple Pastries

"The jewel at its center still reflects a pale image of its creator."
- Flavor text from Dota 2 item descriptions

Dota 2 Lotus Orbs made from apples and puff pastry, topped with a cherry! Situational item, core for a Dota 2 party.

This imagining of an edible lotus orb is actually my second attempt. Last year I made "Lotus Root Orbs," which were little spheres made out of lotus roots. They were finicky, and not particularly tasty, but I thought the name was pretty funny (and I love creating pun-based foods).

For this year's The International, I decided to go with an approach more similar to the Magic Sticks or the Aghanim's Scepters, where the dish in question looks visually like the in-game Dota 2 item. Lotus Orbs appear to be white petals surrounding a shiny pink core. I toyed around with a couple of ways to make edible flower structures - I even considered savory lotus orbs made from onion flowers. I wanted an option that would be relatively easy to serve at a buffet-style snack table over the course of a 3-6 hour Grand Finals series, and that would consistently produce an attractive dish without being too finicky. In the end, this laundry list of criteria turned out to be best served by apple roses.

If you've ever watched a recipe gif, you've probably seen one for apple roses. There's good reason for their popularity - they look impressive, they're easy to make, and they only require a handful of ingredients. To turn these into lotus orbs, I dusted the "petals" with powder sugar to lighten the petals and added maraschino cherries to the center. With the added pop of color, I think the resulting dish actually looks more adorable than your run-of-the-mill apple roses, and is a pretty good match for a Lotus Orb. And is, of course, delicious.

Lotus Orbs may just be a situational item for most heroes, but I think these are core for any Dota 2 menu.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Popcornelius Fudge

"Come now Harry, the Ministry doesn't send people to Azkaban for blowing up their aunts."
- Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Sweet and salty combine perfectly in this caramel-coated popcorn fudge

This recipe came about as a literal shower thought. There I was, washing my hair like a normal muggle, when the idea of a Harry Potter dessert pun came to mind. Popcornelius Fudge. Does that ever happen to you? A pun so fun you can't not make it?

In developing the recipe, I started with the popcorn. Stale or soggy popcorn is terribly unappealing, so I kept it crisp by coating it in caramel. Building on the "sweet and salty" theme, I thought sea salt and dark chocolate fudge would be the perfect complement for the base. So here it is - a smooth, rich dark chocolate fudge, topped with the salty crunch of caramel popcorn.

Not an experienced candy maker or baker? Not a problem - this 8-ingredient recipe comes together easily and without specialized equipment. Short on time? Want to cut it down to a 4-ingredient dessert? Use store-bought caramel popcorn! Makes for a very fast Harry Potter potluck dish.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sweet Cakes Soaked With Honey

Catelyn still remembered the innkeep, a fat woman named Masha Heddle who chewed sourleaf night and day and seemed to have an endless supply of smiles and sweet cakes for the children. The sweet cakes had been soaked with honey, rich and heavy on the tongue, but how Catelyn had dreaded those smiles.
- A Game of Thrones, Catelyn V, George R.R. Martin

These honey drizzled sugar cookies would fit perfectly in Riverrun
My re-read of A Game of Thrones last year added many new recipes ideas to my "to-do" list. This one topped the list, because who doesn't love honey? I poked around various medieval recipe sites to see if "sweet cakes" referred to any sort of dish in particular, but this might have been a George R.R. Martin creation. In the end, I selected this recipe from the Receipt Book of Sarah Longe, a beautifully penned cookbook dated to around 1610, because "sugar cakes" seemed to be about as close to "sweet cakes" as I could get.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Teamosas: Mad Hatter Mimosas

'Have some wine,' the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.
'I don't see any wine,' Alice remarked.
'There isn't any,' said the March Hare.
'Then it wasn't very civil for you to offer it,' said Alice angrily.
― Alice in Wonderland, Chapter VII, Lewis Carroll

Teamosa has a jewel-like red color. Shown here in a glass pitcher with a chalkboard label.

Unlike the tea party Alice stumbled into, my Mad Hatter Tea Party certainly had wine. I was torn between making a tea version of sangria and a tea version of mimosas, so I made both! Because I was looking for a caffeine-free alternative to all the other tea drinks at my tea party, this one is technically a tisane. "Tisane-mosa" just doesn't have the same ring to it as teamosa, so I'll stick with the technically-incorrect name.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

DIY Alice in Wonderland Mini-Croquet Game

"The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo... just as she had got its neck nicely straightened out, and was going to give the hedgehog a blow with its head, it *would* twist itself round and look up in her face, with such a puzzled expression that she couldn't help bursting out laughing, and when she had got its head down, and was going to begin again, it was very provoking to find that the hedgehog had unrolled itself, and was in the act of crawling away."
- Alice in Wonderland, Chapter VIII, Lewis Carroll

Miniature croquet set gets upgraded for a Mad Hatter Tea Party. This image shows a close-up of the flamingo mallets and hedgehog balls.
I was really quite pleased with this inexpensive and easy party entertainment for my Alice in Wonderland Tea Party. The croquet game is one of the most memorable parts of Alice's journey in Wonderland. (Also, one of the most relatable parts of Alice's adventures, in that curious Wonderland way. I know I have certainly struggled with flamingos and hedgehogs of sorts that simply refused to cooperate!) I wanted to incorporate the cricket game somehow into my tea party.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Review: Alice in Matchaland

"But this White Rabbit laid down a blanket, opened a parasol, and PREPARED HIMSELF A BOWL OF TEA."
- Alice in Matchaland

Top-down view of the manga cookbook Alice in Matchaland, with cookies, playing cards and glass teacup with matcha latte

I received a copy of Alice in Matchland  by Mosoko Miyatsuki for free in exchange for an honest review. Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite books, so I was excited to see how the creator wove this story into a cookbook.