Admit it: You’ve wondered what Pikachu would taste like. We all have; just some of us are more willing than others to admit it. And we all know the answer, too: a cupcake. He would probably taste like a cupcake.
Well, wonder no more because now you can make Pikachu cupcakes, and many other baked goods inspired by your favorite pocket monsters, courtesy of Jarrett Melendez’s new cookbook, My Pokémon Baking Book: Delightful Bakes Inspired By The World Of Pokémon (hardcover, Kindle).
In the following email interview, Melendez explains how this cookbook came together, as well as which recipes are his favorite to bake.
To start, what is My Pokémon Baking Book about, and what makes it different from such other video game-inspired cookbooks as Victoria Rosenthal’s My Pokémon Cookbook and Maki Kudo’s The Pokémon Cookbook?
My Pokémon Baking Book is a collection of 50 recipes, all bakes, based on Pokémon. Unlike Victoria and Maki’s books, which are both great, this one focuses entirely on baking.
Whose idea was it to make a cookbook specifically about Pokémon-related baked goods?
I believe Insight Editions already had this on the slate as a follow-up to Victoria’s book. It had done very well (I still see it everywhere!) so it made sense that IE would want to do another.
So, what was it about their idea that not only made you want to write My Pokémon Baking Book, but also made you think were the right person to do so?
This was something my agent brought to me, actually. It was a very exciting phone call to get. She basically rang and asked, “Hey, do you have any interest in working on a Pokémon cookbook?”
It was an emphatic yes from me. I grew up with Pokémon, was a huge fan of the original GameBoy games and the anime, and it’s been part of my life since day one. I had both the Pokémon knowledge down, as well as the baking and recipe developing know-how so, for me, it was a no brainer. Thankfully, after an interview and brainstorming session with my editor Sadie, she agreed.
Pikachu Tropical Cupcakes
You’ve worked as a food writer and recipe developer, and have written for Bon Appetit. But My Pokémon Baking Book is your first cookbook. I would think writing a pop culture-related cookbook is not the same as writing a regular one. Did you look at any others to get an idea of what to do, and what not to do?
Honestly, the only one I looked at was Victoria’s so that I wouldn’t repeat a bunch of Pokémon she’d already used. I think the only duplicate we have in our books is Pikachu, but you gotta have Pikachu.
How hard was it to find the right food and the right corresponding Pokémon? Or do I have that backwards; did you start with the Pokémon and then figure out what food fit them?
The only hard part was choosing. There are over 1000 Pokémon to choose from now and, because we wanted to include every region, it was tricky narrowing down which ones to use for the book. I would just scroll up and down through an online Pokedex until one caught my eye and then I got inspired and then go from there. Like, I saw Whimsicott and thought, oh that one’s really fluffy, like the inside of an angel food cake. Like my comic-writing process, it was a lot of sitting and staring until inspiration struck.
So, was there a Pokémon that you had a hard time finding a baked good for? Or maybe never found one?
Nope! I had pretty free rein to choose from all the Pokémon as long as there was a fairly even spread among the regions. So, as I mentioned above, I’d scroll until inspiration struck. It was pretty easy to fill up a book of 50 recipes with that many Pokémon to choose from.
Yamper Mint Mocha Cake
And was there a pairing you came up with for My Pokémon Baking Book that, when you figured it out, it just made you laugh because it was so silly or just inspired or maybe the perfect revenge for it always getting away from you when you play Pokémon Go?
Spoink was a really fun one to figure out. I really wanted to include Lechonk from the games Pokémon Violet and Pokémon Scarlet, but for logistical reasons I could only use the starters and the two Legendary Pokémon. I’m obsessed with pigs, so I really wanted to include at least one pig-like Pokémon in the book. Spoink is super adorable, and has that little red ball on its head, which looks like a cherry to me. Black sesame turns grey when you mix it with lighter things, like creme patissiere, so I knew I could more or less color match Spoink with that and a cherry or raspberry for the ball. Plus, black sesame cream puffs are so very, very good. It felt like a good fit.
Now, unlike Halo, Skyrim, and some of the other games that have cookbooks, Pokémon appeals to both kids and adults. What age group are the recipes in My Pokémon Baking Book? And I’m referring to the difficulty of the recipes and what’s involved; not the food itself. A Miraidon Margarita wouldn’t have fit a book about baked goods, regardless of drinking ages.
This is targeted for any age, really. We leaned heavy on beginner level recipes because it’s not just kids starting out baking for the first time. The idea, at least for me, was to make a book that was accessible to new bakers, regardless of age, but still fun for more experienced bakers. Like I have a ton of experience baking, but I’m trash at decorating (but good, I think, at explaining how to decorate) so I would look at this book as a challenge to level up my decorating skills.
Oshawott Blueberry Meringue Tartlets
So, of all the recipes in My Pokémon Baking Book, which is your favorite to bake, and (if different) which makes your favorite food?
Bidoof was really fun to make. It’s an easy recipe with minimal actual baking (you just have to bake the crust to set it) but it’s definitely a crowd pleaser. I based it off one of my favorite snacks — dark chocolate-covered peanut butter filled pretzels — and turned it into a really cute, sweet / salty tart.
I’m also a big fan of the Mudbray Mud Pie. I have like four different mud pie recipes up my sleeve, but this is by far the most decadent. It’s a good recipe for a big party because you can serve really thin slices and be sure that everyone’s sweet tooth will be satisfied.
And which did you have the most trouble getting right when you first tried to bake it?
Whimsicott. But it was mostly because I got a note back saying that it needed to look fluffier on the outside. I sat with that for a while and decided to just do big swoopy piles of whipped cream on top (and decreased the original amount of sugar in the cake to account for the topping).
It was honestly pretty smooth sailing throughout, which is really less about my skill level (I promise this is not a humblebrag; there’s nothing humble about it) and more about how fun a project it was.
So, is there anything else you think people should know about My Pokémon Baking Book?
I was going to say something about the holidays and this being a good gift, which isn’t untrue, but I actually want to tell a little anecdote.
Once we could talk openly about the book and show progress stuff on social media, my friend Ruby reached out to me. She’s been a big supporter of me forever and knew I’d been secretly working hard on something important to me. I’d shown off the Bidoof tart and she popped into my DMs to say how cute it was and then said something along the lines of, “You know how many kids are going to have birthday cakes or desserts made from this book?”
I instantly teared up.
Food is important. It’s something everyone has in common; we all gotta eat. But we create connections, moments, and memories with food. My hope for this book, and every cookbook I write, is that it gets people excited about food. About cooking it, learning new skills and techniques, being exposed to new flavors, but most importantly, sharing that food with others. I want this book to help shape happy little memories for everyone that gets it.
Finally, if someone enjoys the recipes in My Pokémon Baking Book, what other cookbook — pop culture or not — would you recommend they check out and why that one?
Look, if you dig this book, you’ll dig all of my upcoming cookbooks. Since Pokémon, I’ve written two more, and have three others in varying states of progress. I think I should have all six out by the end of 2025 or so, but don’t hold me to that.
But the less narcissistic, though still honest answer is that Victoria is a great recipe developer and writer, so snag anything she’s done, especially if you’re in the mood for more pop culture-related books.
If you’re a baking fan, literally any of Cheryl Day’s books are incredible. Her Treasury Of Southern Baking is a masterpiece, plus she’s a wonderful human being and one of the best people I know.
And I would be an utter monster if I didn’t shout out my friend Sohla’s upcoming book Start Here. She is an incredibly talented chef, masterful with flavor, and one of my favorite people. I think she’s one of the best recipe developers of our generation, and I can’t wait for her book to finally drop this month.