What’s a girl to do when one of her best friends is turning 40 halfway across the country and March Madness pushes airfare into the four-digit range, making it difficult to get to the party? Ship cupcakes to her friend, that’s what!
My good friend Michele turns 40 next week and today an amazing sushi party is being thrown in her honor. I have many fun memories of times spent with Michele: cramming far too many people into a tiny rental car in Belgium to go out for Chinese food, watching the sunset on my favorite beach for my last milestone birthday, searching for a pizza place in Paris, most recently frantically searching for lost rental car keys in Vegas…Okay, so that last one wasn’t such a fun time but Michele always manages to make every moment we spend together fun. I have literally been through thick and thin with Michele and am blessed to count her among my dearest friends. Join me in wishing her an amazing birthday, complete with cupcakes!
I have been baking and shipping pie-in-a-jar for the last year (a yummy recipe is here). Recently I started experimenting with cupcakes-in-a-jar. So far, the results have been good but I’ve also been shipping in the cold weather months. If you plan to do this in warm weather, definitely pack them with an ice pack and use overnight shipping. Freezing the cupcakes before shipping will help, too.
Lemon Ricotta Nori Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
12-4 oz. regular mouth canning jars, not jelly jars
4 sheets Nori
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Preparing the Jars
Cut the Nori sheets into 2″ wide strips. Each sheet will make 3 to 4 strips. One at a time, brush both sides of a Nori strip with simple syrup.* Gently insert the strip into the jar, creating a ring around the inside of the jar. Slide it into place. The ends will overlap slightly. Once in place, sprinkle a little granulated sugar on the inside of the jar and roll it around to completely coat the inside of the Nori ring. Let sit for 2 hours to dry a bit.**
*Unlike when making real sushi, it is not necessary to be mindful of the smooth and rough side of the Nori. When rolling sushi, the rough side usually goes on the inside to help grip the ingredients and absorb moisture. After applying simple syrup to the Nori, both sides are smooth and it doesn’t matter which one is facing outward or inward.
**I am not a big fan of Nori. In fact, I don’t like the flavor at all, candied or otherwise. If I were baking these again and did not have to include one of the ingredients from this year’s 52 list, I would instead brush the inside of the jars with melted chocolate, dusting them with cocoa before filling with cake batter. Or perhaps make them with chocolate cake.
Lemon Ricotta Cake
1 cup of my favorite gluten-free flour blend
1 cup of almond flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. guar gum
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 stick butter, melted and allowed to cool
1 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 T. lemon curd
2 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 T. lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together flour, almond flour, baking powder and guar gum. Set aside.
In bowl of stand mixer, cream eggs and sugar together for 2 to 3 minutes, until a pale yellow is reached. Incorporate melted butter, ricotta cheese, lemon curd, lemon juice and lemon zest. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until batter is smooth.
Fill each jar with a scant 1/4 cup of batter. Bake 17 to 20 minutes. Cupcakes will be slightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted will come out with nice crumbs on it, not sticky batter.
White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
6 oz. white chocolate (I used two bars of Green & Black’s, which leaves an ounce extra for snacking!)
1 T. coconut milk (or dairy milk if you prefer)
2/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 T. coconut milk (or again, dairy milk if you prefer)
1 t. vanilla bean paste
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Melt white chocolate and coconut milk together in a bowl in the microwave, about 30 seconds will do. If it is not completely melted, trying 15 second increments at a time, stirring until smooth.
Using hand mixer or stand mixer, mix butter, coconut milk and vanilla bean paste until well incorporated. Add powdered sugar 1/3 cup at a time. Once all of the sugar is incorporated, add melted white chocolate. Blend until smooth. This makes a very stiff frosting. There will be frosting leftover, enough for about 6 traditional cupcakes. You could save it for another time…or eat it with a spoon.
Assembling Sushi Cupcakes
You will need an assortment of candies and dried fruit to decorate your sushi cupcakes. We used the following:
Sour Patch Kids
Jelly Belly jelly beans (I used Very Cherry)
Sunkist Fruit Gems
White sprinkles (I could only find these locally, so these have super fancy “rice” sprinkles)
Black gel frosting in a tube (not necessary, but it was a nice little extra on the Salmon Roe style we created)
After cupcakes have cooled, carefully spoon a heaping tablespoon of frosting on to the top. Gently spread. This will be a thin coating of frosting, not as much as you would typically put on a cupcake. Generously cover top with sprinkles, pressing down lightly into the frosting. Shake off excess sprinkles.
After frosting and sprinkling, use an assortment of candies to decorate to look like sushi. Roll the Laffy Taffy out into very flat pieces with a rolling pin (I learned this from Alan and Karen at Hello, Cupcake!). Cut the fruit gems, papaya spears and Sour Patch Kids into small wedges. Cut the Swedish Fish in half, use both halves sticking out of a cupcake. I used the jelly beans to look like roe and applied a ring of black gel frosting on that particular style, as the jelly beans completed covered up any view of the Nori. My husband joined me for the cupcake decorating and it made for a fun morning in the kitchen. I think kids would enjoy participating in this, too. Have fun, be creative!
You can also customize any of the in-a-jar Treats with a label on top. My husband created these especially for Michele. He printed them on sticker paper, which makes it really easy to attach them as you are packing them for shipping.
I was on a roll with sushi (Haha! Get it, roll, sushi, groan…). I decided to make one-bite sushi rice krispie treats. Here’s how:
You will also need Fruit Roll-Ups and leftover candies and dried fruits from the cupcakes above. I used the Tropical Tie-Dye variety because I like lots of color. You could use any variety.
Put the packaged Fruit Roll-Ups in the refrigerator while you make the rice krispie treats. I found them difficult to unroll at room temperature.
While the rice krispie treat mixture cools, work quickly to unroll four Fruit Roll-Ups. Place them on top of parchment paper on the countertop. In the middle of each Roll-Up, spread about 1/4 cup of the Rice Krispie Treat mixture. On top of that, place a few cut wedges of candies or dried fruit. Roll as you would for sushi, use a Makisu if you’d like, although I didn’t find it necessary. I rolled mine about 2″ in diameter, which leaves about a 1/2″ overlap of the Fruit Roll-Up.
Once they have set up, slice each roll into 6 pieces, about 1/2″ wide. Decorate with additional candies. I used rolled out Laffy Taffy to resemble scallions and red Sour Patch Kids to resemble chopped tuna, making something similar to Negitoromaki.
After slicing and decorating, refrigerate or freeze again. If shipping, freeze first and ask the recepient to place them in the freezer upon arrival. They tend to stick together but unstick with just a little time in the freezer.
I am really enjoying baking in jars because of the single-serving size and am having so much fun shipping them to friends across the country. I would love to hear from you if you have tried shipping pie or cupcakes baked in jars.