From when I was about two to six (fine, eight) years old, I had a security blanket named Bantina. Early in its life, the blanket was a baby pink with a darker pink, satin border. A few years in, the blanket was a dull gray with disconcerting spots because I took this blanket everywhere. If I went to the park, Bantina went to the park. When I went to the doctor, so did Bantina. And when my mom took me to the market, she took Bantina as well. This doesn't seem like a huge problem now. I see parents lugging around kids who refuse to change out of their tutus, kids talking to imaginary friends, and kids dragging all manner of security items around. Heck, a few days ago, I saw a kid wearing a colander on his head at the grocery store. When the mom caught me staring, she apologetically explained that the kid refused to go anywhere without the colander. Apologize not lady, I get it. See, these days, weird kids are endearing. But twenty-some odd years ago in Pakistan, if your kid's constant companion was a raggedy looking security blanket, well, people began to talk.
This blanket was such a huge part of my life, a cousin actually sang its praises in a speech... at my wedding. Yup, we've clearly mastered the art of timing in my family. Recently, a friend asked me to concoct some treats to celebrate her brother's upcoming nuptials. She went on to explain that the treats had to be in the shape of a cute, furry monster. Apparently, the brother and the fiance have a furry, stuffed animal named Hank that fills a child/pet role. I didn't bat an eye. I, of all people, can't judge people's security objects.
So, there I was, left to devise a baked treat that resembled a furry blob with eyes. Oh, and Hank had droopy purple arms and legs. And lets not forget his prominent pink ears. Thankfully, the friend gave me creative baking license. Lord knows what I would've done if she wanted Hank to be crafted as a dessert souffle or something. Or worse yet, if she wanted Hank to be carved out of a piece of fruit.
The plan seemed simple enough a few days before D-Day (or more appropriately, Hank-Day). Vanilla cupcakes topped with shaved white chocolate and piña colada cupcakes topped with shredded coconut. Both the shaved white chocolate and the shredded coconut resembled Hank's furry facade and the different toppings would give party guests some variety when choosing a cupcake. Bubble gum Jelly Belly jelly beans were perfect for Hank's ears. Chocolate chips attached to white chocolate discs for Hank's googly eyes. The problem was Hank's droopy appendages. I contemplated purple licorice (too heavy), blueberry yogurt covered pretzel sticks (not purple enough), and purple toothpicks (um, not edible). For a minute, I even contemplated modeling Hank's arms and legs out of purple sugar paste. Thankfully, the still-present red tinge on my hands from the last time I made red sugar paste reminded me of the follies of the sugar paste plan.
Ultimately, I opted for no hands and feet for Hank. But you know what? The finished Hanks were still pretty darn tootin' cute. Maybe not as cute as a kid with a colander on his head, but cute, nonetheless.
PS: If you missed this week's MasterChef, fret not my fellow foodies, rumor has it that I'll be cooking for the judges in next week's episode! If you're in the US, you can watch the first episode here. If you're in Canada, you can watch it here.