Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pumpkin Dessert Tamales

I went back and forth a lot with this one, trying to decide if I should make these sweet or savory.  But after the little overdose of cumin in the pumpkin hummus, I decided to sweeten them up.  I could also keep them in the freezer for tea snacks at a later date, or even breakfast.

For the most part, I followed my apple tamale recipe and just made a few substitutions for the new flavors.  Pumpkins have a lot of water in them, so I reduced the amount of apple juice.  As an experiment, I decided to use cream cheese instead of butter.  The apple recipe only replaces half of the butter with cream cheese.  I'm not trying to make a low-fat tamale, but I don't see the need for half a stick of butter when the pumpkin provides a substitute texture.  Anyway, I had half a brick left over from the danishes, and those things don't keep.

Before and after:
2-1/2 C pumpkin + 1/2 C roasted seeds
I'm reducing the difficulty rating for these because I realized that they are basically cookie dough minus the egg and the only hard part is wrapping them.  I'm guessing the active work time to be less than 45 minutes, with an hour before for soaking the husks and the hour of steaming.  I will definitely make these again during the holiday season, if for no other reason than there's plenty of pumpkin left.  I roasted up two in case the yield was low, and now have over a pint of purée in the freezer, plus three more pumpkins waiting their turn.

20-24 corn husks
*1/2 C (half a brick) cream cheese
1/2 C brown sugar
*1/4 tsp nutmeg
*1 tsp cinnamon
*1/8 tsp cloves
*1/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp baking powder
dash salt
2 C masa harina flour
1 15oz can pumpkin purée (not pie mix) or 2 C homemade purée
1/2 C apple juice, or as needed
1/2 C raisins
*1/2 C chopped walnuts

1.  An hour before starting, place husks in a deep pan.  Pour boiling water over them and let sit to soften.

2.  In stand mixer, beat cream cheese with paddle until fully creamed.  Add brown sugar, baking powder, and spices and beat until combined, about a minute.  Scrape sides and bottom and beat again until fluffy.

3.  Add 1 C masa flour and beat until incorporated.  Add half of the pumpkin and beat until smooth.  Repeat.  If batter is too thick to shape easily, add apple juice a tablespoon at a time until the consistency is like a soft sugar cookie dough.  Refrigerate 10 minutes to allow the moisture to distribute evenly.

4.  Set up a steamer pot with 2" of water.  My setup is a 2-gallon stock pot with a strainer that happens to fit the rim perfectly.  Any kind of drop-in steamer insert will work, but it should be big enough to hold 18-24 tamales.  If you have to steam them in batches, you'll be there all day.  You don't actually have to turn on the heat until you're down to the last 4 or so, but remember to get the water simmering before you're done wrapping.

5.  For the filling, stir together raisins and walnuts.

6.  Lay down a clean kitchen towel on your work surface.  Get out a corn husk and lay it flat.  Place about 3 Tb of batter in the middle of the upper half and spread it out slightly.  Spoon on about 1-1/2 tablespoons of filling.  Fold in the sides, fold up the bottom, and if you don't trust it to stay there, wrap it with a strip of corn husk.  Place in your steamer basket and move on to the next one.

7.  When all are wrapped, place basket over now-simmering water.  Cover tightly and steam for 1 hour.  Check the water at least once and add more if necessary.  After the hour, remove basket from heat and let tamales sit for about 10 minutes before serving, to firm up.  Leftovers are easy to freeze and microwave later.
Makes 18 to 24

Difficulty rating :-0

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Danish Pastries

I made croissants for the tea party, and it reminded me once again that I have never tackled the Danish. The method is very similar to a sweet, eggy croissant, so there was no reason for me to put it off yet another year.  Besides, I had a whole lot of blueberry and cherry preserves that I could use as filling, plus some almond flour left over from the macarons that I could use for bear claws.

One apology, and that is that this is the one-egg version.  It makes a lot.  The main difference between croissants and danish is that the danish dough uses an egg.  You're actually going to go through three by the time you make the fillings and egg wash the pastries.  I'm using the Bible's recipe because it was the smallest one I could find, but I'm reducing the butter by a stick.  They specify two dozen pastries out of the batch, but I made them out of 3" squares instead of 4" and ended up with more.  It's a good thing they are freezable.
You'll notice the weird ones that are squares with turned-up edges.  Those were supposed to be the diamond pattern you sometimes see.  They came undone in the oven.  I just dropped some jam on them and called it a day.  The pinwheels and bear claws came out the best.  I would do those again and skip the basket and diamond shapes.

1/4 C sugar
1 tsp salt
*1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 packages (5 tsp) dry yeast
about 4 C flour
*1-1/4 C milk
*1 egg
1 C (2 sticks) butter - not margarine

1.  Warm milk and sugar to 100ºF.  Stir in yeast and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2.  In stand mixer with paddle, stir together 1-1/2 C flour and the salt.  Stir in milk mixture and beat on medium until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Add egg and beat until incorporated.  Add 1-1/2 C flour to make a soft dough and beat until stringy, about 2 minutes.

3.  Turn out dough onto liberally floured board and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.  Because of the egg, the dough will remain sticky.  Do not add too much flour, hoping it will firm up.  Place in lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat all sides.  Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.  There's a lot of yeast in this dough; it won't take long.

4.  While dough is rising, roll sticks of butter between two pieces of waxed paper to make a 12" by 8" rectangle.  It isn't easy and you have to lean on it pretty hard to get the sticks started.  Place sheet in freezer to firm.
5.  Punch down dough and turn out onto lightly floured board.  You don't need to let it rest.  Roll out into an 18" by 9" rectangle.  Get butter out of the freezer and remove the top sheet.  Lay the sheet over 2/3 of the dough and remove the other piece of waxed paper.  It's ok if the butter cracks or sticks to the paper.  Just patch it back together.
6.  For the first "turn", first fold the unbuttered 1/3 over the butter, then fold in the exposed buttered side, like a tri-fold takeout menu.  Then roll out the dough again to 18" by 9", which should make the open ends on the 9" side and the folds the 18" side.  Fold those ends in again in the tri-fold pattern.  Cover and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to let everything rest and the butter re-solidify.
7.  Do two more turns of rolling, folding, and refrigerating for 30 minutes.  At this point, the dough is ready to shape.  Or, you can freeze it for up to a few weeks and let it rest at room temperature for an hour before rolling.  I chose to refrigerate it for two hours, then proceed to the shaping.  But first, you need to prepare fillings.

Almond Filling
*3/4 C almond flour
1/4 C sugar
*1/8 tsp almond extract
1 egg white
*sliced almonds for decoration

1.  Stir together almond flour and sugar, then stir in extract and egg white.  Refrigerate for 10 minutes to firm.  Fills  about 12 bear claws.

Cream Cheese Filling
1/2 C cream cheese (half a brick)
1/4 C powdered sugar
*1 egg yolk
*1/8 tsp vanilla extract

1.  Beat together cream cheese and sugar.  Beat in yolk and extract until mixture is smooth.  Place in fridge to firm up until needed.

For Jam fillings, have the jar ready.  You don't put it on the danish until it comes out of the oven because the high baking temperature will turn the jam into hard-crack candy.  I made that mistake once with jam tarts.

Also, beat another egg with 1 Tb of water to make the egg wash.

Bear Claws
1.  Remove dough from fridge and cut in half.  Rewrap unused half and return to fridge.  Roll on lightly floured board to 1/4" thickness.  Cut into 3" or 4" squares, whichever comes out more even.  Place a tablespoon of almond filling down the middle of each square, then fold over in half.  Make 4 slashes in the open end to be the "toes" and place on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with almond slices.  Allow to proof at room temperature about 30 minutes, while you're working on the other half of the dough.

1.  Roll out other half of dough to 1/4" and cut into 3" or 4" squares.  Cut a slash in each of the 4 corners reaching at least halfway to the center.

2.  Fold half of one corner in until it touches the center.  Move on to the next corner and fold the same half in, and so on around the square.  Either fill with about half a teaspoon of cream cheese filling or press down to seal pinwheel and put jam in it after baking.  Brush with egg wash and allow to proof at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Folded Danish
1.  Roll out dough to 1/4" and cut into squares.  Place one tablespoon cream cheese filling in center and fold in two opposing corners.  Pinch to seal.  Brush with egg wash and allow to proof at room temperature.  If you want to bake the jam in, fold all four corners so the jam isn't directly exposed to the heat of the oven.

To bake: Preheat oven to 400º while danishes are proofing.  Bake for 11-16 minutes, until golden brown, crisp, and puffy.  Remove to cooling rack and place half a teaspoon of jam on the ones that need it.  Before wrapping for storage, either at room temperature for one or two days or frozen for longer storage, allow to cool completely.

Makes 2 to 3 dozen, depending on size

Difficulty rating  $@%!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pumpkin Hummus

I bought the tahini paste for this before the pumpkins were even ripe.  I like baba gannouj, and this is the same concept with pumpkins.

I'm descended from farmers on Papa Smurf's side.  How is it the only gardening I'm good at is trimming away dead plants?  Two of my pumpkin vines died before their pumpkins were ripe.  From what I understand, that's ok.  Just put the pumpkins somewhere warm and sunny until they ripen, like setting pears out on the counter if you buy them too hard.
I have something like ten pounds of pumpkin now and one more on the vine, if you count the stems, skins, and seeds.  I think I came out ahead if you only count the price of the seeds versus buying about six cans of pumpkin purée.  But that wasn't the whole cost.  There was the soil, water, blood meal, and pesticide/fungicide.  Even with doing half of the watering by using groundwater collected by the sump pump, this was definitely not as cost-effective as growing tomatoes.

For this batch, I cut open the smallest pumpkin, the one on the right, because it weighed the right amount to sub in for a can.  Turns out, even a tiny pumpkin has normal-sized seeds.  I was nervous about how this would affect the yield of the pumpkin flesh, but they don't weigh much and it came out how I was expecting.  Still, it's something to consider before I crack open another.
Be warned, this is a savory recipe.  And it came out a bit spicier than I expected, so maybe cut down on the cumin if you want to taste the pumpkin more.  As much as I would love to turn the whole harvest into sweet treats,  I really want to use the fresh pumpkin for as many squash-style recipes as I can.  You can get the slightly sweet canned stuff any time of the year.

1-1/2 lb raw pumpkin or 1 small can pumpkin purée
1/4 C tahini paste
*3 cloves garlic
1/4 C lemon juice, or to taste
1/4 tsp salt
*1/2 tsp cumin
olive oil as needed
paprika and roasted pumpkin seeds to garnish

1.  If using canned pumpkin, skip to step 2.  If starting from raw: preheat oven to 350º.  Split pumpkin in half and remove seeds and strings.  Lightly coat pieces of pumpkin with olive oil.  Place pumpkin cut-side down on cookie sheet (lining it with foil is a good idea) and roast until tender, about 40 minutes.  Then it will be easy to scrape the flesh out of the skin and into the food processor.

2.  Place first six ingredients and a light sprinkling of paprika in food processor and run until smooth.  Taste and add more lemon juice or garlic as needed.  If too thick, add a bit of olive oil.

3.  Place in serving bowl and garnish with paprika, pumpkin seeds, and maybe a little more olive oil.  Serve with pita chips and veggies.

Makes about 2 cups

Difficulty rating  π

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Blueberry Jam

I bought an 18oz package of blueberries because they were on sale for $1.88.  I figured I could make enough jam to last the year, and I think that's about right.  It's a lot of blueberries.

In the past, whenever I have made blueberry jam, it hasn't really worked well.  That's why I've never posted it.  This time, I checked out Food in Jars to find out what I was doing wrong.  Oh, you smash them first.  I've always tried soaking them in sugar like you do other berries, which inevitably doesn't work because the skins are too thick.  Then I have to add more lemon juice and water than I ought to, to keep the sugar from burning until the berries pop.  Basically, I used a cranberry sauce recipe on the blueberries.  Yeah, that was the wrong thing to do.

So here's what I should have been doing all along.  You can either refrigerate the product for up to several weeks, freeze it in small batches to use later, or go ahead and do the whole canning thing.

I'm scaling down Marisa's recipe to the 18 oz box, or 1/3 of her original recipe.  That's about the biggest box I will ever buy.  If you get the more traditional 6 oz container, cut this in thirds again and you'll get less than a cup of jam.  I'm also using ginger instead of cinnamon.  I just felt like it.

Oh, and one last tip.  If you were planning to clean your stove or kitchen floor any time in the near future, wait until this is done.  You're welcome.

*18 oz fresh blueberries (or 2 C smashed)
1-1/3 C sugar
*1 Tb pectin powder
2 Tb lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
*1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
*1/4 tsp ground ginger

1.  Wash and sort blueberries, removing stems and any moldy ones.  Drain, then smash with a fork or potato masher until they have all popped.  Wash jars or containers.  If canning, start the sterilization process.

2.  In a medium, non-reactive saucepan or deep-sided skillet, stir together sugar and pectin.  Add blueberry mash and stir to combine.  Allow to sit about five minutes so all of the sugar can dissolve.
3.  Bring mixture to boiling over medium heat.  Skim off foam as needed and continue to boil for 10-15 minutes, until mixture thickens and falls in ribbons from the spoon.  Stir in lemon juice, zest, ginger, and nutmeg and boil for 5 more minutes, until mass is sticky.

4.  If canning, process in water bath for 10 minutes.  To store for immediate use, allow boiling to subside and refrigerate uncovered until it stops steaming.  Then transfer to clean containers and freeze or refrigerate.

Makes about 2-1/2 cups

Difficulty rating :)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Barbecued Kale Chips

I'm not a fan of potato salad.  It's the mayo.  If I can taste mayo more than something to hold everything else together, I don't like the whole thing.  Paradoxically, I don't like German potato salad either, specifically because it doesn't have mayo.

So I needed something else to have with my burgers.  Hey, there's a kale plant in my front yard!  And I hadn't trimmed it in a while.  Meaning, if this didn't work, I still had plenty left to do a more traditional oven version.

Really, this isn't much different than the average kale chip recipe done in the oven, you just leave the stems on while cooking so they're easier to turn.
*4 leaves of kale (or 8 if they're as small as mine), stems intact
2 Tb olive oil
salt or other seasonings for dusting

1.  Trim stems close, then rub leaves with olive oil until thoroughly coated.

2.  Line a spot on the grill with foil.  I did this originally so they wouldn't stick to the grill or fall through.  At one point, one of the leaves was hanging over the edge of the foil and caught fire, so I guess this is a necessary step to avoid kale flambé.  Place leaves on preheated barbecue grill and roast until crisp and slightly browned, turning every few minutes to avoid burning or catching fire.  This may take up to half an hour, but every grill is different.

3.  Dust with salt, garlic, chili powder, or whatever else sounds good at the time.  Either cut leaves from center ribs or serve whole and let everyone tear off as they go.

Difficulty rating  π

Monday, August 4, 2014

Pastry Bagging

A lot of people read a recipe up to the point where it requires a pastry bag, then move on.  They think it's too hard, or they don't have the right equipment.  Both assumptions are usually false.

Let's start with the latter.  Unless a fancy tip is required, most people have the means to MacGyver a pastry bag right in their kitchen.  Any resealable plastic bag will do, but some brands are stronger than others and will hold up to a stiffer mixture.  Pick one of the bottom corners and snip it off to the right size after filling and voila, instant pastry bag.  Even if you need a tip, it can be dropped into that corner prior to filling and works just the same.
Um, no, I don't think that's too many pastry tips.  Why do you ask?

As for how hard it is to use one, that's a matter of opinion and practice.  There are lots of tricks you can use to make the experience less stressful.  A paper clip behind the tip will seal it sufficiently while filling and between uses, for example.

The best trick is to get out a glass.  Place the tipped bag/baggie in the glass and fold the open end down.  Then you can fill it with the glass acting as a third hand.  Plus, anything that falls out the tip just goes into the glass and not all over your counter.  The glass also makes a great bag stand if you're working with multiple pastry bags.  If you lay them down on a counter, they tend to squirt under the pressure of their own contents.

While using, the tip-end hand should be to guide the bag and the back hand controls the pressure.  Using the tip to manage the flow results in product flowing out the back of the bag.  The tip hand can stop the flow by folding it upward if things start to get out of control.

Most of my recipes that require a bag use a plain tip, which is the same thing as snipping the corner off a ziplock unless you have to use it to puncture something you're going to fill.  I don't even know what all my tips do, and I'm awful at using the Rose Nail.  I'm a bread baker, not a pastry chef.  And yes, there is a difference.  That's why they have two different terms for baker in French.  I suppose I could take a cake decorating class.  Michaels sponsors them, I live in driving distance of several culinary schools, and one of my friends is awesome at it.

So, the next time you see a recipe that mentions pastry bags, don't panic.  I bet it's something you can do.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Mini Onion Tarts

The fact that these were a big hit at the tea party is most likely due to the unique pungency of my backyard onions.  Still, any onion will provide a more subtle flavor to these while retaining some of the zing.  The secret is putting them in raw.  Usually, you cook veggies before putting them in a quiche because they will not cook further.  In this case, I wanted the texture, aroma, and taste of raw green onion.

I made these in an itty-bitty mini-muffin pan.  If you do them in a regular muffin tin, I think you'll get three or four, and they won't puff up nearly as high as these did.  A double batch will barely make an 8" tart, and it will be thin.  This is not a quiche-quantity recipe.  I'm giving you the hors d'oeuvre version.

1/2 C flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tb shortening, chilled
1 or 2 Tb cold water

1 egg
*2 Tb minced green onion
1/4 C milk
2 Tb finely shredded havarti
dash of pepper

1.  For crust, stir together flour and salt.  Cut in shortening until mixture resembles oatmeal.  Stir in water just until everything sticks together.  Form into a disc and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate for about half an hour, to allow the dough to rest and hydrate.

2.  Roll out dough on a lightly floured board to 1/16", or as thin as you can get without tearing.  Cut with a 2-1/2" or 3" round cutter as closely as possible.  Reroll scraps once, to get about 12 circles.

3.  Place dough in muffin cups.  Because it's so thin, don't press down right away.  Fold the edges gently to get it in the holes, and only press at the end to smooth out the folds and patch any tears.   Chill for at least half an hour.

4.  Preheat oven to 350º.  In a bowl, beat together egg, milk, and pepper.  Get out the tin.  Distribute onion among the shells.  Then portion out the egg.  It's less than a tablespoon per crust.  Sprinkle tops with havarti.  Bake for 15 minutes, then start checking every 5.  Tarts are ready when the crust is lightly golden and the tops are set and starting to brown.  Mine were about 25 minutes, but every oven and pan  is different.  These are very easy to burn.

5.  Let cool in pan 5 minutes, then pop out.  Can be served warm or allowed to cool to room temperature.

Makes 1 dozen

Difficulty rating :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Prosciutto e Melone

This is a classic Italian appetizer.  Mixing sweet, juicy cantaloupe with the salty, leathery prosciutto and drizzling it with the light bite of lime juice makes a refreshing and satisfying appetizer for a summer meal.  Some recipes also call for balsamic vinegar as a dressing, but I thought that might take away from the other flavors.  As much as I love the stuff, it does tend to overpower.

1 small cantaloupe
1 3 to 5 oz package prosciutto
2 Tb lime juice

1.  Cut prosciutto into 1"-wide strips.  Figure out how many you have, so you can make that many slices out of the melon.

2.  Cut stem and flower ends off melon, then cut in half.  Scoop out seeds (ice cream scoops are great for this) and place cut-side down on cutting board.  Carefully pare off rind until you have a naked melon.  Repeat with other half, then slice into needed number of wedges.

3.  Wrap each slice around a melon wedge, then arrange on serving platter.  I did them standing up, but there's nothing wrong with laying them on their sides.  Drizzle arrangement with the lime juice and serve.

Makes about 12, depending on prosciutto

Difficulty rating  π

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Provençal Tea

I decided to do this year's tea as a French-themed garden party.  It fell the weekend after Bastille Day, but I did it mostly because I wanted to use my new patio furniture.  It actually ended up South of France, with a slight Italian influence.  I got out the hand towels and apron I bought in Antibes several years ago and made a whole bunch of cute stuff.
The spice merchant at the very cool Farmer's Market in Antibes

Because I was baking at work all week and had to work the morning of the tea, nearly everything I served was do-ahead.  Most of it was in the freezer and just had to be pulled out in the morning and plated.  The only thing I made that day was the prosciutto e melone and sliced the fresh fruit and baguette.  I just prepped or baked about two items a day and stored it properly until needed.  This is an excellent tactic for anyone with a busy schedule who wants to throw a party without a caterer.  If properly frozen, no one can tell a baked good isn't fresh, and many other items can be prepared a couple of days in advance without looking like leftovers.  Really, fresh fruits and vegetables are the only things that will look old, and reheated meats can end up overcooked.
This was the first tea party I had ever thrown without scones or cucumber sandwiches.  Those are not only expected, they're practically sacred at tea time.  It made me very nervous, but I was not about to overshadow the croissants, and the brie et baguette seemed more appropriate than cukes.  I also got lucky that my guests were all new to my tea, even though I had known them a while (in one case, all my life).  They had no idea what to expect.  Mwah, ha, ha!

First Course
Brie et baguette
Prosciutto e Melone
Onion mini-quiches

Second Course
Lemon Curd
Cherry Preserves

Third Course
Petit Fours
Fresh Fruit

Hot tea
Basil and Mint iced tea
Ginger Lemonade
Champagne (why not!)
Patio set plus a kitchen chair

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Petit Fours

Petit Four literally means "little fire" or "little oven", depending who you ask.  What it really amounts to is a chance to eat more than one slice of cake, because no one counts how many you take from the platter.

Prepared fondant can be found at most grocery stores and craft stores like Michaels.  It makes for beautiful cakes and even someone as bad at icing as I am can create masterpieces.  All it requires is patience.  You can't force fondant to do anything or it will tear.  You have to convince it to mold into whatever shape you need, like edible Play-doh.  Well, I guess homemade Play-doh is edible, but you get the point. The only problem is that, like Play-doh, it doesn't taste very good.  Sure it's sweet, but pasty, like stale icing or dried-out Oreo filling.  The way around this defect is to coat the cake with some kind of thinned-out jelly or syrup and then a thin layer of decent icing.  Then you can put the pretty cover on.  It's kind of like making a bed: fitted sheet, top sheet, and decorative comforter.  Any decorations you put on top are the throw pillows.

The recipe I'm using is basically a half-recipe from the Bible, but in an 8"x8" pan and slicing one layer in half instead of stacking two layers.  I did the math and knew the cake would come out thicker than the one in the book.  I've made the full batch and thought those were too tall, so this would have been even taller.  For the tea party, I was going for cute and no more than two bites big.  I also didn't need that much.  As is, I got sixteen 2"x2" cakes.

2 eggs
6 Tb sugar
6 Tb flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (or almond for a different flavor)
1/2 C filling of choice
*1/2 C buttercream icing
approx 4 oz fondant

1. Grease 8x8 baking pan, line with wax paper, and grease the paper.  Preheat oven to 350º.

2.  Beat eggs at high speed until foamy.  Gradually sprinkle in sugar and continue to beat until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 7 minutes.

3.  At low speed, mix in flour, baking powder, salt, and extract until just combined.  Pour batter into pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until cake springs back when touched.  There is no added fat or liquid in this cake, so the toothpick test won't work.

4.  Allow to cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto wire rack and remove paper.  Allow to cool completely.  At this point, the assembly becomes easier if you freeze the cake solid, then allow it to thaw halfway.  Wrap it in plastic, then foil, and freeze on a level surface.

5.  When cake defrosts enough to slice, slice horizontally into two layers.  Place the top one upside down on work surface and spread with filling.  Top with upside-down bottom half, leaving you with the level bottom of the cake as your top.  Having the two cut sides together will make these more finger-firendly and less likely to lose crumbs out the bottom.  Freeze cake again, but it doesn't have to be solid.  Maybe half an hour.

6.  Frost top of cake.  I colored the icing.  You can sort of see the color through the white fondant, but it's mostly a neat surprise.  Trim edges even (and snack on them), then divide cake into sixteen squares.  I guess you could do other shapes and sizes, use cookie cutters, whatever.  It depends how much effort you want to put into it and how much cake you don't mind wasting in scraps.
7.  Get out the fondant.  Knead in color or flavor if desired.  Roll very thin, using powdered sugar to dust the surface of the board.  Gently place piece over one cake piece and drape down the sides until smooth.  This is such a small cake that you probably won't get any air pockets, but pop them with a toothpick if you can't get them to move out the sides.  Trim the edges and place on serving platter.  Decorate tops as desired.  I did colored fondant cutouts, using a cookie cutter tool from my Easy-Bake Oven that I got when I was eight.  Yes, I love cookie cutters that much.  Then I was able to stick on some flower sprinkles using a dab of water.
8.  If cakes are filled with anything that could go bad (I used that first fluffy batch of lemon curd), refrigerate until serving time. Otherwise, cakes can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Makes 16

Difficulty rating :-0