Cyndaquil Manju

Since I had already made recipes for two of the three Pokemon: Legends Arceus starters, I figured, why not round out trio, and make something Cyndaquil-themed? Cyndaquil is based on a hedgehog, but instead of spikes, it has flames on its back! They are really cute, with these stubby legs, beak-like snout, and squinty eyes. Admittedly, Cyndaquil is not an easy Pokemon to replicate in food. There are a lot of contrasting colors and features to it that are really complicated to recreate – you have two different colors on the body, then the long, snouted shape of Cyndaquil’s head adds balancing issues, and then finally, the flames on the back. While yes, you can always just ditch the flames, but I feel like that is a copout, and without the flames, there really isn’t a Cyndaquil. Just a…mole rat looking thing. So I knew right away I had to figure out what pastry would hold all of that weight. And then it dawned on me, I would do two pastries, and combine them together. In Japan, there are many different kinds of buns/dumplings that are filled, called manju. Manju have so many different classifications, so trying to get into all of them would take forever. So the Cliff Notes version is that I am making two different kinds of manju, one to represent the body of Cyndaquil, and another to represent the flames.

I remembered a year ago making hiyoko manju, which are these baked pastries that are shaped into little birdies. Like I mentioned before, Cyndaquil’s snout is beak-like, and that’s when I realized that I could use that same manju to make Cyndaquil’s body and head quite easily. The flames were where I got a little lucky. When I was surfing through the internet, I came across some wagashi images, and one was a clear gelee that was shaped into a flame. Upon seeing that, I remembered the clear kudzu mochi that is quite similar to the gelee I saw. Then then I realized that kudzu manju are a thing – usually, they are a clear gelee filled with red bean paste, but in this case, I colored white bean paste yellow and used that instead. I also did two different colors of the clear gelee, one red, and one orange, to really capture the colors of fire in the kudzu manju. The two manju come together to form Cyndaquil, and while this recipe is not 100% there, I am still happy enough with the outcome to share the recipe for everyone here! A warning, I used grams to measure out the kudzu, since kudzu starch is not a fine powder so trying to measure it out in tablespoons or cups was not going to happen in this lifetime. I also had leftover red bean paste lying around from my Polar Bear Shaved ice recipe, so I used that for this recipe as well, but you can just use red bean paste from a bag or can if you want to save time on that component as well!

For the kudzu manju filling:
50g shiro-an(white bean paste)
1g turmeric powder
a pinch of salt

Cook down the three ingredients until thickened considerably – you want there to only be about 40g of paste leftover. Divide into 8 pieces and refrigerate until firm. Keep cold for optimal kudzu manju assembly.

For the kudzu manju:
30g kudzu starch
100ml water
30g granulated sugar
1/4 tsp red beetroot powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder

In a bowl, mix together the starch, water, and sugar first. Once the starch is fully dissolved into the liquid, transfer into a pot and stir on medium heat until completely translucent. Add in the beetroot powder first and stir until combined. Pour half of the manju base into a bowl and mix the rest in with turmeric powder. Line 8 pieces of cling wrap with a thin layer of oil and divide the red mixture across all 8 pieces. Place on the chilled manju filling, then the turmeric manju mixture. Wrap the cling wrap at the top and transfer your manju into the fridge. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before attempting to unwrap them.

For the dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, with one more for brushing on top
1/4 cup soy milk
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp granulated sugar
3/4 tspn baking powder
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp activated charcoal powder
Red bean paste, refrigerated and kept cold

Mix flour, 1 egg, canola oil, sugar, baking powder, and salt together to form your dough. Knead the dough until it forms a smooth surface, then refrigerate for at least 10 minutes so that it can rest. Divide the dough into two batches pieces. Knead the charcoal into one batch, then divide each batch into 8 pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a flat triangle, and place a 1 tbsp-ball of the chilled down red bean on one triangle. Press a triangle of a different color on top and shape the dough into little Cyndaquils, pinching the seams to guarantee that the manju is sealed properly. I would recommend starting with the heads first, then shaping out the back, and finally the feet. To form the arms, just a pair of scissors to snip into the sides of the manju. Brush the tops of these with more egg, and bake at 300 degrees F for 15 minutes.

To garnish:
Activated charcoal
Vanilla extract or clear alcohol

Mix a small amount of charcoal and vanilla to form an edible paint. Using a round piping tip, press on the eyes for Cyndaquil. To glue the manju together, heat up a nonstick pan and gently press the rounded side of the kudzu manju against it until it softened. Quickly press that warmed side of the manju against the backs of the Cyndaquil to glue them together.

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