Inspired by the design, characters and storylines behind the world of Japanese animation, Emily Buschman’s new cookbook, Bake Anime, is a fun and unique compilation of 75 recipes that is a feast for the eyes.
The book is packed with colorful photography and is divided into three sections – Japanese desserts, western desserts and character desserts.
Recipes include Nerikiri from Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, Ohagi from Demon Slayer, Pocket Monster Swiss Roll from Pokémon, and mini Hello Kitty Cakes, with detailed stories behind each character like history, culture and tips like what belongs in a sugar lover’s pantry. The ingredients are exotic, but the results are dramatic.
The Japanese section includes classics like ichigo daifuku, monaka, nerikiri and matcha warabi mochi. The western chapter is an inventive and playful mix of countries and culture, like four layer semifreddo, chocolate gingerbread checkerboard cake, orange and cinnamon gateau mille crepes, mini Sacher tortes and baumkuchen cake rolls – each recipe inspired by a different anime episode.
Bushman is a self-taught cook and baker who started her blog targeting food in anime, called Penguin Snacks, in 2015. The blog has since evolved into a career working on video creation for the anime streaming platform Crunchyroll, and for franchises like Naruto, One Piece, Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma, Jujutsu Kaisen, and more. She currently lives, works and bakes in a small apartment in Tokyo, Japan and shared her recipe for Mini Kitty Cakes with L.A. Weekly.
Excerpted from Bake Anime. Copyright © 2022, Emily J. Bushman. Reproduced by permission of Simon Element, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.
Mini Kitty Tarts
Hello Kitty, also affectionately known as Kitty-chan, is one of the most iconic Japanese
characters. Her image has spread to anime, manga, games, theme parks and more.
Beloved for her cute appearance, she’s meant to be a friend for the people – there to
support you no matter what.
To depict this beloved and trendy kitty, I opted for a Japanese treat with matching
characteristics: the Hokkaido cheese tart. This treat is a mild, creamy cheese tart encased in a crunchy outer shell. These have become very popular in Japan and for good reason – they’re addictive. Plus, the white cheese filling is the perfect backdrop for Hello Kitty’s face.
3 TO 4 HOURS
MAKES EIGHT 2-INCH TARTS
EIGHT 2-INCH EGG TART MOLDS, INFRARED THERMOMETER, PASTRY BAG
For the Tart Shell:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting, if needed
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Cheese Filling:
5 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1⁄3 cup whole milk
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1⁄3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
For the Decoration:
Black, red, and yellow fondant, or an assortment of black and yellow sprinkles
A red chewy candy or fondant, for the bow
Don’t feel like making tart shells? You can find them online or in baking stores.
Don’t want to decorate the tarts? Refrain from smoothing the cheese filling out and instead simply brush the tops with egg wash (whisk an egg with a tablespoon of water) before they go in the oven, to give them an attractive browned appearance when they come out.
- Make the tart shells: Whisk together the flour and salt in a small bowl to combine. Be
sure to remove any lumps.
- Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then add the egg and vanilla. Mix again to incorporate, scraping down the sides as you go. Add the flour all at once and mix on low speed until just combined.
- Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press it into a disc shape. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to three days.
- Make the cheese filling: Fill a pot with 3 inches of water and bring to a boil over high
heat. Combine the cream cheese, mascarpone, Parmesan, milk, and butter in a tempered glass or metal bowl. Place the bowl over the pot to make a bain-marie (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water), reduce the heat to medium-high, and allow the cheeses to melt, stirring occasionally. While you wait, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Prepare the other filling ingredients while you wait for the cheese to melt.
- When the cheese has melted, add the confectioners sugar and cornstarch a little at a time, whisking to bring everything together, then cook, whisking continuously, until the mixture has thickened to a puddinglike consistency. Add the egg and lemon juice and whisk briskly to incorporate, then cook, stirring the cheese as it thickens, until it reaches 150°F. Remove the bowl from the pot and whisk in the vanilla, then taste and add salt if needed. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl to remove lingering lumps. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly against the surface of the cheese mixture to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate until cool, at least an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Roll out the tart dough between two sheets of parchment paper to a thickness of 1⁄8 inch, dusting with flour as necessary to stop sticking. Cut rounds of dough that are about 1/2 inch bigger than the tart molds. Press the dough into each mold and prick the bottoms with a fork to prevent bubbling. Place the tart shells on a baking sheet so they’re easy to maneuver into and out of the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the tart shell is golden brown all over. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before filling. Raise the oven temperature to 450°F.
- Transfer the cheese mixture to a pastry bag. Cut the tip of the bag, then pipe a generous amount of filling into each tart shell. Use a small palette knife (or the back of a butter knife) to smooth and flatten the tops. Bake for 6 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely.
- Decorate the tarts: I used fondant, but sprinkles can work. Use two large round black
sprinkles for the eyes, a small yellow sprinkle for the nose, and black sprinkles for the whiskers. For the bow, use red fondant or a moldable red candy: Roll it into a pill shape and use the pointy end of a chopstick to press a dot into the candy at either end, then use the pointy end of two chopsticks to pinch in the middle of the bow. Finally, roll a little ball of red fondant or candy into a circle and place it over the pinched middle of the bow. Serve and enjoy.
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