Smile, You Son of a Shark Critter!

COOKING ADVENTURE # 94: Sharknado Cupcakes

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Yes. ‘Tis I once again, returning for a rogue Cooking Adventure. I’ve honestly been up to my eyeballs trying to get everything ready for Memento Mori: Book 3 of the Monstrum Chronicles and haven’t had any time to even cook new things! I’ve literally been subsisting off of the boring same ole, same ole for weeks. But last week, it was a special week, one of my absolutely favorite weeks in the year. It was SHARK WEEK, a time where the Discovery Channel dedicates the week to raising awareness about sharks and trying to portray them as the beautiful and magnificent creatures that they are, and not as nightmarish beasts. In my bid for a slightly more successful Shark Week party this year, I decided to up the ante by making some stellar Sharknado cupcakes in addition to a carved shark watermelon and cool blue cocktails. This proved to be just a little more in depth than I expected.

For starters, I would just like to say that I agree with a lot of people who think that Shark Week has suddenly become a week full of faux documentaries that aren’t as educational as they are just trying (way too hard) to entertain. All of the stuff with the Megaladon and the fake shark attacks…sure, every once in a  GREAT while, toss one in. But don’t make those the focal points of the entire week. If the goal is really to raise awareness and to try and change people’s opinions about sharks being monsters, at least try to combine the education and entertainment into something that is actually worthy of our time, and something that doesn’t actually hurt the animals you’re trying to promote. I’d love to see more programs about some of the lesser known sharks, about the illegality of harvesting shark fins, about ANYTHING other than a terrible CGI shark named “Submarine Shark” that supposedly stalks and attacks people in a diver’s cage. Please. Because, Discovery will be confused with the Syfy channel if it keeps going at this rate. And we all know what they are responsible for; Sharknado. [Here ends my rant.]

(Remind me to always carry a bar stool around with me to use as a potential weapon. That is, if  Home Alone dad isn’t somewhere nearby at the time.)

Sharknado is a campy B-horror movie that depicts a group of tragically pathetic people trying to survive the apparent storm of the century, that includes shark-filled waterspouts and apocalyptic style flooding (but only in certain places…such as the insides of houses). I didn’t watch Sharknado last year when it came out but I heard a lot about it. So, I figured since they were coming out with a sequel this year (why, oh, why?) that I’d watch the film with some friends and make some Sharknado themed desserts. I found a few different recipes for them online but in the end decided to just try and assemble the darn things simply by looking at pictures. My journey to get ingredients was longer than expected. I picked up some white frosting from the store, food coloring (because I ran out of blue and it was the ONLY color I actually needed that they don’t sell alone), the dinky children’s ice cones that I’m pretty sure are mostly Styrofoam, and blue cake mix. Yeah. Blue.

There were also gummy candies to pick up as well. I managed to find the Sour Patch Kids and the Swedish Fish pretty easily. But when it came time to snap up a couple bags of shark gummies, I found that they were much rarer than I’d anticipated. I searched high and low for them in several different stores until realizing that the only one that carried them was the small market in my hometown…nearly twenty minutes away. Even better? I’d been there the previous night. Most would simply say, “screw it” and just use a Swedish Fish instead. That’s what I did last year. But I was eager to get the recipe right, to make it spot on. So, I hauled ass to the market in Union and picked up the shark gummies. Then…I raced back home.

In my usual way of preparing for a party, I made sure to do most of the work the day before, then waited until the absolute last minute to actually make everything for it. So with about two hours to spare before people started to arrive, I got down to making the Sharknado cupcakes. I first mixed the blue batter, poured them into the cupcake liners, and baked them. While they baked, I unpacked the ice cream cones and paused as I glanced at the shape. In order to get the cone shape correct, I’d have to saw off the boxy portion of the cones. I addressed this problem with my santoku knife and basically stood, carving the cones apart for five minutes.

After pulling the cupcakes out of the oven and letting them cool down, I moved on to the frosting. I probably should have used more blue coloring but I didn’t want to over-do it. The frosting ended up coming out a very light blue color, which I spread over the tops of the cupcakes and then attempted to smear all over each ice cream cone stub. This didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, mostly because there wasn’t any part of the cone that I could hold onto while covering it with blue frosting. About fifteen minutes later, I had finished six and both hands were covered in dabs of pale blue frosting. I laid them out on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer to set for a half an hour.

Finally, after the frosting had hardened a little, I pulled the tray out and proceeded to stick the tornado cones into the still soft frosting of each cupcake. All that was needed was to apply a few shark gummies in various spots of the “sharknado” and then, they were good to go. For an added churning water effect, I took an extra cupcake and tore it up, placing the crumbs around the bases of the sharknados. I actually ran out of frosting so it helped to cover some of the thin spots on the cupcake.

I put them back in the freezer and went immediately to work on the new shark watermelon. I won’t describe this in as much detail because you’ve already seen it from me once. And it honestly came out looking like a demonic Furby rather than a shark watermelon. That might have something to do with the gleaming red eyes that I harvested from a red Sour patch kid. Oh well. On second thought, it looks much more like a Critter…

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Lost cousins?

Yes. You may hold me responsible for any nightmares you may have. But in all seriousness now, the Shark Week party was fun. I hope that next year, I’ll be able to come up with something a little less campy and a little more pretty. Because, honestly, I think sharks are gorgeous creatures. They are one of my favorite animals. I’d love to one day go swimming with a whale shark or go on a scientific expedition to study a hammerhead, or a great white. And I’d absolutely love to one day write a shark novel with as much of a legacy as “Jaws” that doesn’t necessarily portray the shark in such a negative light. (Not saying I don’t like “Jaws”. It’s one of my favorite novels, my 2nd favorite movie, and the reason I became so interested in sharks.) Oh well. There’s still a lot of time for that.

Until next time, folks.

~KSilva

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