Sunday, November 09, 2008

Attack of the Domo-Kun! (Birthday Party, Part II)

In addition to making Totoro cupcakes (see post below), we made Domo-kun brownies for the combined SuperCat/Daniel's dad's birthday/Halloween party. Who doesn't like brownies? Who doesn't like Domo-kun? I looked around the web and didn't see any food that was Domo-Kun related, so I created these. The brownies were a natural for Domo-kun's body, and the rest was easy to figure out.

When I was diagnosed with Celiac and could no longer eat wheat, I stopped baking for a while. I could no longer just "make" our favorites because it isn't possible to simply substitute any one type of flour for wheat flour. Wheat flour gives food a unique flavor, texture, and taste to food that nothing else really has.

When I started baking again, I started with mixes. My favorites are Bob's Red Mill(^), and Whole Foods' 365 private label(^) gluten-free products.

I am a pretty accomplished baker with wheat flour, but still resort to "mixes" once in a while as I learn to navigate gluten-free waters. One great thing about eating a gluten-free diet is that many of the mixes I've used have fewer processed ingredients. This is because who really wants high fructose corn syrup in everything?

The brownies we had for our party were gluten-free from a mix. We added some extra high-quality semi-sweet chocolate, and used real butter, both of which made them taste a lot closer to "homemade".

Gluten free brownies taste at least as good as "regular" brownies. I like to serve mine about 8 hours after they've cooled, to reduce any chance of them having a grainy texture. After about 8 hours, though, no one I have ever served them to could tell the difference.

If gluten-free isn't a concern and you'd like to make these, use your favorite brownie recipe, or the boxed mix of your choice.

About Domo-kun: Domo-kun is sort of short for "dōmo, konnichiwa!" which means "hello, there!" in Japanese, but can also mean "Hello, Domo!" "Kun" in Japanese is an honorific used for young men. So, sort of a pun, and a play on words.

Domo-kun is the mascot of Japan's NHK television station(^), sort of the way NBC has the peacock. We get stuck with a peacock and that goofy CBS eye; the Japanese have this happy fuzzy monster who lives in an underground cave with a rabbit named Mr. Usaji (a play on the Japan words for rabbit "usagi" and old man "jii").

The TV-watching public in Japan get the better deal, I think.

If you decide to go to their website and see Domo-kun at the link provided above, click through his world. At the end, the fine folks at NHK have a bunch of cool Domo-kun wallpaper and Java widgets.

Recently, the US department store chain Target brought Domo-kun to the US in the form of Halloween toys. I was happy to see Domo-kun, but a bit miffed that there were only a limited number of toys, and that almost all of the items used in their advertising (a Domo-kun Halloween pumpkin, for example) were never available in stores.

Not to worry - I'm already working on my own Dono-kun pumpkin for next year. We tend to theme our pumpkins, so next year will be Japanese icons. You'll have to wait to see what else we come up with :)

Yay that Target had anything Domo-kun related.
Phooey that they didn't even have the stuff in their own in-store pictures, though.

Back to the brownies.

After the brownies were cool, we cut them into blocks roughly 1½ by 3 inches.

We placed the cut brownies on a platter and used mini-Tootsie rolls for arms and legs, attaching them by pushing them gently into place on each brownie.

Next, we placed a rectangle of cut strawberry fruit leather where the mouth would be. I cut the fruit leather using clean scissors. Fruit leather or "fruit rollups" are available in pretty much every grocery store on the planet.

Then, we placed two rows of teeth, made from a flattened bit of roled fondant left over from the Totoro cupcakes onto the top and bottom of each mouth. To make the teeth with fondant, thinly roll out the fondant, then use a sharp knife point to cut the teeth. We allowed the fondant to set up lightly covered with paper toweling overnight before we used it to decorate the Domo-kuns.

If you would like to make these but don't want to purchase or make fondant, a rolled out piece of white taffy cut to size would be a fine substitute.

After that, we pushed semi-sweet chocolate chips into his "head" for eyes, and that was it. Done. The one thing I would have done differently is that I would have used brown M&Ms for eyes if I had had them. They are slightly larger and shinier, and would have looking a bit better in my opinion.

Here they are (click each for the larger size)

This was our menu:

Wild antelope burgers (from my hunting husband)
Organic uncured buffalo dogs
All sorts of condiments
Wheat buns (I just skip the bun if I want a burger and use a fork)
Hash brown casserole
Twice-baked stuffed potato
Tossed salad greens with veggies

Chocolate cupcakes with fondant Totoros

Domo-kun double-chocolate brownies

Several different delicious ice creams.

Everything was wonderful, and we had great company. Dan and his dad did the grilling, his mom made the salad, the hash brown casserole and the twice-baked double-stuffed potato (made after she noticed gluten in one of the casserole ingredients).

We were joined by the SuperCat's grandparents, her aunt and uncle, her two cousins, some dear friends. It was a lovely day to celebrate.

I have to say, these were so incredibly easy that I will certainly make these the next time I bake brownies because they add only a few short minutes to the process, but were so much fun to make and eat.


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