As I indicated in my last post, Julia had a birthday coming up. In addition to a party at our house, I'd also planned to make something for her to bring in and share with her class.
When it was Alex's birthday in kindergarten, he asked me to make brownies. I asked Julia what she wanted, and she said she'd like cupcakes. White cupcakes with pink frosting. I suggested we have a couple of colors of frosting (thinking of the boys in the class), and she agreed with that. So all set. A batch of cupcakes, some frosting and some food coloring and I'd be all set.
And then I happened to be talking to another mom with a daughter whose birthday is soon, and we moved onto the topic of bringing in goodies for the class. I told her I was making cupcakes, and she said "Um, you might want to check on that."
Apparently the school did not want me (or anyone) bringing cupcakes to school on my child's birthday.
You know, because the occasional birthday treat would make every child obese.
Now, I am a fan of all the efforts in this country to provide kids with healthier lunch options at schools.
I also don't think the schools themselves, or their cafeterias, are to blame for our country's obesity problem. I think schools are a convenient target, and yes, there are a lot of offerings in the cafeteria that aren't on the healthy end of the spectrum. But I also believe that parents are the ones ultimately responsible for what their young children eat, just like I believe that parents are responsible for…well…for parenting their children. My husband is a teacher. We are parents. We know what our responsibilities are AS PARENTS, and we don't expect teachers to do that job for us. We chose to have kids, and in doing so we accepted ALLLLLLLLLL the responsibilities – and joys and everything else, yes – that go along with that.
But anyway. Back to my baking roadblock.
I double checked with Julia's teacher, and, yes, it was true. I had to bring in some sort of healthy treat for her to share with her friends.
But the thing is, it wasn't so much what the treat was, in my mind, but the whole festive aspect of said treat.
And I wanted her treat to look festive. You know, like white cupcakes with a rainbow of frostings would have looked.
Dammit (sorry Mom, I'm saying a bad word), I wanted to make Julia some cupcakes!
So I did.
And here's how.
First, I bought 3 canteloupes, 2 honeydew melons, and a huge watermelon wedge.
Then I got out my little cupcake papers and my round cookie cutters and selected two cutters – one that was about as small as the bottom of the cupcake paper, and one a little larger. I also picked out a round one with a fluted edge.
Next, I got out my big knife and peeled a honeydew.
I got 6 circles out of one honeydew. One each on opposite ends, and four around the middle. I wasn't worried if they overlapped inside the melon, just as long as I had complete circles on the outside.
Next, I peeled away all the extra melon around the circles (and put that in a big bowl for me), and here's what I was left with.
Kind of interesting…makes me think of a gas mask, sort of. Anyway, then I gently separated the circles and scooped the innards into yet another bowl – this one was going to be for our compost bin.
Here's one of the melon circles. I also kind of evened off the edges on the underside. I did this with both honeydew melons and ended up with a dozen large circles. I also realized I hadn't been thinking right, and since there are more than 12 mouths to feed in Julia's class, I'd need a few more. Good thing I had lots of melon.
Here, by the way, are the cutters. The small one is 2 7/16 inches in diameter (hey, if it was 2 1/2 I'd have said so, but I measured it and I wanted to be exact here), and the larger circle is 3 5/16 inches in diameter.
I also scooped out the inside of the larger circles so that the inner diameter was large enough to fit over the outer diameter of the smaller circle.
Bet you never realized how much mathematical precision is required to construct a cupcake out of fruit.
I also scooped out some of the inside of the smaller circles. I'll tell you why in a minute.
Now, why'd I scoop out some of the smaller circle?
Well, right as I'd finished cutting out all my circles, Julia came into the kitchen looking for something to eat.
And that it hit me.
"Julia, do you like this orange kind of melon?"
"How about this green kind?"
"No, I only like watermelon."
Now, I'd bought the watermelon because when I was telling a friend of mine about this cupcake idea, she suggested making "cherries" for the tops of the cupcakes out of watermelon. Pretty cool idea, right? But then, after realizing/remembering that Julia doesn't like other melon (much), I was glad I'd bought a large piece of watermelon. I cut the big wedge into thick slices and cut out some large and small circles, and used the rest of it for little round watermelon cherries.
I was also glad I had blueberries in the freezer. I thawed those in a small colander so the extra liquid could drain away overnight.
And the next day I assembled my cupcakes.
Oh – and I took that fluted cutter that I mentioned earlier, and cut a (sort of) decorative edge around all the larger circles. I'd also carved those larger circles so they were kind of rounded, like frosting.
I'd sort of like to make these again, by the way. Now that I've done it once, I have other decorative ideas I'd like to try out…ways to add more texture to the "frosting" layer.
But that's for another time. Or for you out there, if you decide to make these some time.
And now, back to our program.
Here's everything for the first cupcake: blueberries, bottom circle, top circle, "cherry," and a drinking straw.
First, I put some blueberries in all the bottom circles. I apologize for the blurry photos to follow. I was rushing, or my hand was slippery on the camera, or I'm incompetent. Take your pick.
Next, I stood the straw straight up in the middle of the bottom melon, and pushed the end of the straw right into the melon, so the straw could stand up unassisted. (Yes, I'm anthropomorphosizing a plastic straw. It's fun.)
Then I centered the upper circle over the straw and base, and gently, carefully, pressed the straw through the melon and brought the melon down to sit on top of the base.
And then I topped the whole thing off with the watermelon "cherry."
I assembled all the rest of them and then placed each cupcake in a paper cupcake thingy, and put them all in two cake pans to transport to the school. I mixed and matched melons – there was one lone cupcake that was all watermelon, and that was for Julia.
And so, in the end, Julia was able to bring cupcakes to school to share with her friends.