Watermelon Turtle

Let’s take a break from baking and talk about watermelons! It’s been a while since I last posted and I don’t have any baking projects I want to show, but I did work on a watermelon project over the weekend. Summertime is a great time to exercise your watermelon cutting skills and through Pinterest, I came across a website where I was inspired by what others have done with watermelons thus far. I’ve never really created anything special with watermelons, except make a basket out of them when I was younger, but when I saw this turtle, I knew that was my next project.

Tools: a long knife, paring knife, channel knife, toothpicks, and melon baller.

Ingredients: 1 oblong seedless watermelon, blueberries, grapes, and 2 peppercorns.

I searched many places for the channel knife – Target, Crate & Barrel, Chef Central, Bed, Bath, & Beyond – and all the employees gave me a blank stare when I asked if they carried channel knives. Surprisingly, IKEA had them and they come together with a melon baller too. If you’re not on a time crunch, you can purchase these online. Amazon.com has a lot to choose from.

Below is the process work and the final product. I didn’t follow all the instructions on the website, such as not using the dry erase marker, so I’ll give you my version according to what I did.

Instructions:

  1. Choose an oblong seedless watermelon for carving.
  2. Wash watermelon and pat dry.
  3. Cut in half lengthwise.
  4. Cut a slice no more than 1/4″ thick off the bottom, lengthwise, to create a flat base.
  5. Hollow out both sides, using a melon baller.
  6. Carve out block design in the bottom side, using a channel knife. (Copy from photo).
  7. Take the top half, cut that in half lengthwise. The top portion will be the shell. The bottom portion of the top half will be for the head, legs, and tail.
  8. Draw the legs and head on top piece (not being used for the shell) by lightly scoring with the tip of the paring knife. I went about 0.5 mm – 1 mm deep.
  9. After the sketch lines look ok, cut through the piece all the way, using the paring knife.
  10. Carve the shell design using the channel knife.
  11. Add peppercorns to the eye holes to fill.
  12. Fill bottom with fruit salad.
  13. Attach legs, head, and tail to shell using strong toothpicks or skewers, and put on top of salad.

Scooped out the inside of the watermelon using a melon baller

Made the block design around the bottom piece using a channel knife

Cutting out the limbs, head, and tail

Using the channel knife to create the turtle shell pattern

Attached limbs, head, and tail to the shell with toothpicks. Cut out small holes for the peppercorn to create eyes. Added the fruit salad.

Finished watermelon turtle

Wintery Spheres of Heavenly Chocolate

Just last week, I posted on the Facebook page, “What would you like to see namabakery design/create next?” I received a couple responses (some were offline), and Sumenta Paul’s “Wintery Spheres of Heavenly Chocolate” theme had been selected.

To be honest, it was more challenging than I had thought. But challenge is a good thing! I was definitely thinking of white chocolate spheres, but I didn’t want solid ball of white chocolate on top of a cupcake. That would’ve looked a little lame and uninteresting, I think. 😛 I wanted to incorporate namabakery’s signature pattern and I wanted the sphere hollow so I could fit a mini cupcake in it to resemble a wintery globe encapsulating a cherishable item or surprise inside. I experimented with a couple different techniques. Of course, some failed, so it was back to the drawing board – brainstorming the process of putting together intricate spheres that didn’t break when the “mold” came off, or crumbled under warm temperature. Keep in mind, there were no special molds bought for this. I am only using common household items to create the decorative pieces for namabakery cupcakes.

After three days of tempering white chocolate, chocolate, piping the ingredients, grinding up scrap pieces of white chocolate, remelting the pieces, repipingmeltinggrindingremeltingrepiping, I finally managed to come up with the white chocolate spheres which I had envisioned.

On a side note, before we move onto the pictures, I am not a huge fan of artificial food coloring. Research has shown that consuming too much food dye may cause cancer, thyroid tumors, allergies, mutagenic effects, kidney damage, asthma attacks, adrenal gland tumors, chromosomal damage, and more. To make your own natural food dye at home, try using fruits or vegetables (such as raspberry juice for these red velvet cupcakes). Some sources to start with: http://www.ehow.com/how_2302808_make-natural-food-coloring.htmlhttp://www.marthastewart.com/267850/dyeing-eggs-naturally. I could’ve done this project with just plain white cupcakes, but for the sake of holiday spirit, visual contrast, and those who have asked if I bake anything else besides brownies and chocolate cake, I am going to use red velvet this time. 😛

As promised, here are the results, along with some random other winter holiday-themed cupcakes!

PS – Thanks to Steven Su for letting me borrow his awesome camera!

Empty sphere of white chocolate awaits to capture a cupcake

White chocolate sphere successfully captures a mini cupcake while spying on another one

Sphere with solid bottom half

You know Christmas will be good when the gift is larger than the Christmas tree itself.

Turkey Cupcakes

Apologies for the delay! Just came back from vacation not too long ago, so I didn’t get the chance to post this until now. These White Chocolate Turkeys on Mini Brownie Cupcakes were made for a Thanksgiving dinner event a couple weeks ago.

After a few hours of sketching and paper prototyping, I finally found a design solution which I thought would address my main concerns – structural support (was it going to hold up during transport or fall apart by the time I get there), time limit (it was getting really late and the process of making anything with white chocolate/chocolate requires hours of preparation work), and aesthetic appeal (will it look like a turkey).

I ended up making these white chocolate turkeys from 10pm til 5am. A lot of times I am most productive during the late hours, and the best concepts come when I am asleep (but that’s a story for another day). When I was done, mom came downstairs with the biggest scowl on her face because every little noise coming from the kitchen gets echoed and amplified on the way to her room. Woops. 😛

The best part about these turkeys is that NONE of them broke when I brought them over to the party! They survived every bump on the road from Neshanic Station to Jersey City. This is a first, and a very big improvement for namabakery. 😀

Enjoy!


one weekend: 101 cupcakes + mini wedding project

What a big weekend of cupcakes! On Saturday, I went over to Bayside, NY to bake with a few guys from TANG from 1030am til around 930pm. We borrowed Godwin’s lovely kitchen, and I got to demonstrate how to properly pipe icing onto the cupcakes as well as decorate them. For decorations, I provided the white chocolate and chocolate butterflies, and several designs of the white chocolate leaves. On Sunday morning at 7am, the guys transported all 101 cupcakes to Passport to Taiwan festival at Union Square, NYC. It turned out to be a very hot and sunny day, which is great for the sun tanners, but not for the cupcakes. In the end, I still had a great time and I am really happy to have had the opportunity to bring nama bakery cupcakes to NYC. This whole weekend was a huge learning experience so I don’t regret any part of it.

While selling cupcakes, I also got to do some face/body painting with Vivian and Jenn for TANG. It was quite fun! Then, on Monday, I was called in to help my friend Sumi with wedding cupcakes for a coworker. Hope you guys enjoyed the cupcakes, and congratulations to the one getting married!

Also, thank you Vivian for helping me grab some of these pics during the event!

My feather banners! Made these for the festival 2 years ago. They were printed in Taiwan.

Orchids are a huge part of the Taiwanese culture. Taiwan is actually known as the Kingdom of Orchids.

The cupcakes.. getting baked again.

TANG logo, painted by Vivian. Nicely done!

face painting supplies, and the TANG brochure i had put together for this year's conference (upper left)

Fiona chases cupcakes, by Vivian!

I donated white chocolate leaves to Sumi's batch of cupcakes and helped with the decorating

White chocolate leaf, sugar pearls, blueberry, whipped chocolate, and cupcake with fudge icing

佛誕日 – Buddha’s Birthday

As mentioned in the previous post, there were two cupcake-licious projects set for this month. The first of the two took place today at a local fundraiser which was to celebrate the Buddha’s birthday – 佛誕日 (fo2 dan4 ri4), and also to help the temple financially. On the Lunar calendar, the Buddha’s birthday is always April 8, but on our calendar, it varies every year, and this year would have been on May 10. But since the monks can’t be hosting the event at different temples at the same time, or there weren’t enough to host them at each location, this local temple celebrated today.

After a week of planning and design, and three days of building, here are some photos of the 50 cupcakes that were prepared for the fundraiser. Unfortunately, these weren’t vegan. At the end of the 4-hour event, 43 cupcakes were sold successfully. 😀 But first…

Common FAQ’s I received today:

Q: How did you make the butterflies?

A: Magic! Just kidding.. I used white chocolate and chocolate morsels which you can find in any supermarket. The rest is history.

Q: Did you use a template for the butterflies?

A: No, everything is free-handed. It’s as if I were drawing with white chocolate.

Q: Will you be able to provide a workshop in a future?

A: I’m not sure I have enough material to teach with.

Q: Do you own a bake shop?

A: No, I just do this for fun. Contact me if you’d like some cupcakes made!

Q: Did you study culinary arts?

A: No, I just like playing with food.

(Click on this first image below to go through the photos more easily.)


Winter Cupcakes

Since spring doesn’t officially start until March 20th, it is technically still winter, and therefore I will allow myself to post photos of the cupcakes made back in December. ^_^ They were made for two different holiday events.

After doing extensive research online and through cupcake books, I had many ideas I wanted to work with. As with all design projects, I sketch on paper to help me think it through.

White Chocolate Christmas Trees

White Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes

Nama Bakery is excited to share its first post on the web!

First up is a batch of mini brownie cupcakes I made for Vivian’s recent birthday, topped with white chocolate butterflies. I experimented with white chocolate to get a feel of how well the ingredient melts, drizzles, how fast it dries, and how hard is it after cooling. I noticed what a soft medium it was and how quickly I had to move my hand while piping. The first dozen butterflies were a little challenging but then I realized I could go for a Marcel Wander type of butterfly. I was inspired by his Airborne Snotty Vases, which were inspired by – you guessed it – human snot. Let the ingredient be its natural self, and you will find something amazing and beautiful to work with.

Batter: Brownie mix
Topping: White Chocolate