On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place

Modelling Chocolate my first experience

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Some weeks ago now, pre-Craftsy membership, I came across Jessica’s blog. Then she post about modelling chocolate, and I saved the post.

The came Craftsy and I paid for a class called Clean & Simple Cake Design, which Jessica teaches.

I’m like many people, I like free things, and there’s a lot of information imparted in those free Craftsy classes, but Jessica’s class is a paid for class. It’s packed with so much information and for me, money well spent. Plus it’s 50% off via Jessica’s blog, Jessicakes. Jessica also has a Q&A post on Modelling Chocolate.

Before we delve into this, I’ve looked up the Internet and you can spelling Modelling or Modeling. Modelling just feels right to me, so that’s what I’m going with.

Modelling chocolate is incredibly easy to make. But I strongly suggest you buy Corn Syrup if you can find it (I found it at Spotlight in the chocolate section AFTER I’d made 3 batches of modelling chocolate), or add a little bit of water to your Glucose Syrup before you heat it up for using.

My arms feel like they’re going to drop off. They are so sore, my pecs ache and my abs remind me I have them as I’m moving about.

You will get a good work out from making and kneading modelling chocolate with glucose. I can’t say whether the pliability of modelling chocolate is easier to work with, when using Corn syrup. But I will find out since modelling chocolate is in my immediate future.

Preparing modelling chocolate

I found Wilton Candy Melts at Divine Cakes and I know they sell them at Living & Giving and online at Cakestuff. I didn’t have time to order from Cakestuff, but have just put in another order which includes colours that I really want to work with.

I had a very limited choice of colours at Divine Cakes, so orange, yellow and blue it was.

I made the yellow first. There was very little oil that came out and I didn’t dab it with a paper towel. I used probably a minute bit more glucose with the orange (I probably managed to scrape the glass jug a bit better) and did dab it a little, but it wasn’t really oily by any stretch. I left both to firm up (and hour) while I got on with other things (making a mudcake and ganache).

I found the yellow to be so crumbly, each time I gathered it to knead it, bits would flick out. I even tried to add a little more glucose to a small bit of it, the following morning. In the end I kneaded in some yellow fondant I had recently bought. It brought the modelling chocolate together nicely and it finally reached the type of workable consistency I expected. Although it did firm up again and to work with it needed to be microwaved 10 seconds to enable it to again be kneaded.

The orange was mostly ok, but I still added a bit of gumpaste to it to smooth it out a bit better. I also found that when I stopped kneading the modelling chocolate the oil would come to the surface. It gets absorbed though.

The blue, which I made last, after having kneaded the yellow and orange, I added a bit more glucose to. It was a little more oily and needed to be dabbed with a paper towel. And again, when I came to use it, it had gone rock hard, needed microwaving and then a little gumpaste kneaded into it. And it got a little oily once left, which again was absorbed.

I know this is sounding like a hassle, but I really think it’s worth it, and hoping that once using corn syrup the whole process will be simpler and less kneading in of gumpaste or fondant will be needed to reach the pliable consistency needed to roll and then cut.

I’m hanging in there. I’ll let you know whether the corn syrup solves most of these problems I’ve experienced.

Modelling chocolate ready to use

The blue stars were a mix of gumpaste with the blue modelling chocolate. I didn’t need much gumpaste. I had 40gm of modelling chocolate and 10gm of gumpaste. I needed more gumpaste/fondant with the yellow and orange so I’m a firm believer that the more glucose/water used in making the modelling chocolate will get you a better finished product. But find corn syrup. Even though I can’t say it will be better, it MUST be better. Certainly Jessica has no problem with it, and has been using it for years. But I’m also not the first to have found it crumbly which is why Jessica has suggested kneading in some gumpaste or fondant, which definitely works, but changes the consistency a bit. I had no problem with the consistency though. It still rolled and cut like a dream.

My problem, if a problem at all, is my pasta machine not rolling as smoothly as I’d have liked. You can see little ripples when you look at some of the photos.

I used Jessica’s Waxed Paper Transfer Method, which I mentioned last weekend. I used the method to apply the boarder on my first practice cake.

The star you see were made after leaving the rolled out modelling chocolate several hours. I was so excited to use the modelling chocolate that I used the 10 minutes I had after arriving home from Spotlight and before rushing out the door to the vet, to roll out a little bit to see how it worked. It was never oily after having rolled it out, but a later piece I made (for the new stars on the top of the cake) did get oily. I should have left it to absorb back in before cutting out the rest of the stars. This is all about learning though, and I’m learning a LOT.

I had no real ideas of what design to go for, and I wanted to give Natalie a couple of different looks so she could see how modelling chocolate could be used and help her to decide what she might like to see on Cameron’s 21st birthday cake.

I grabbed those two stars and put them on the top of the cake and questioned what I should do with the top. Those two stars inspired Mr Fussy to say it looked like stars from the Southern Cross from the New Zealand flag. He was really keen to see the New Zealand cookie cutter used and then the remaining stars made. The end being a bit of a retro design of what the New Zealand flag could look like. They’re still questioning what it could change to, right? Maybe I’ll make a submission Winking smile

Here’s the different views on all sides. 

Retro NZ design

The top view. And this is a good look at how wonky the sides are and uneven the top is. Each bit of modelling chocolate was cut to 8 1/4”. That was the height of the part I measured. I didn’t realise just how much the height fluctuated around the cake.

Front view

I think this was the second side. I realised the width of the cake wasn’t what I’d measured either. So this allowed me some slack as to the placement of the vertical stripes so that they started and ended right on the corners. But you can see that they are too high. But once they were placed on the cake it was too late. I really really wanted to get the blade and cut each to the appropriate height, but I knew I’d end up damaging the stripes. So I did something I found very uncomfortable. I moved on and started on the 3rd side.

Right side horizontal stripes

This is the third side. Have a look at that terrible left corner. Eeek. This side was deliberately left with a gap in the middle to show up some of the grey. I had placed those top two strips at the finished height of the first side I’d measured. So yeah, it was going to finish higher than the top of the cake. I managed to bring the top edge down a little before properly adhering the stripes and then used the ruler to straighten it up. The vertical and horizontal stripes were adhered using Sugar glue where as the other two sides were totally covered so I smeared shortening on the fondant first.

Left side

This was my first side. And those two yellow strips on the sides were not planned, but were added when I realised the measurement I took was too short . Can you see that teeny tiny bit of blue on the top right corner? Can you imagine how difficult it was to keep that in place given the side of the cake was shorter?  It was really fiddly, but I didn’t give up, as you can tell.

I purposefully made the stripes different widths. Mr Fussy and I agree that this was the best side, and so I used the same design for the last side but with the lines going in the opposite way. I didn’t plan for the stripes lining up or anything. I was on the homeward stretch and I was happy that it was coming together, so don’t expect the final side to be perfectly matched. You can see the ripples in the stripes from the pasta machine. The pasta machine is essential in my opinion. When using lots of different colours you can’t afford to have uneven thicknesses. That will just look bad (says she looking at a cake with so many flaws).

Back view

And the final side. What did I learn for this side?  Not to have a teeny tiny bit of fondant in a corner, and to shorten the depth so that it finished at the height of the cake, and that it was also as wide as the cake. It only took 3 sides to learn Winking smile

Wrapping paper design

This morning I mentioned to Mr Fussy that putting the sides on the cake was a bit like a tilt slab building. It wasn’t difficult to get it on the cake, or to peel the waxed paper off. In fact I used the same piece of waxed paper for all sides, having reapplied a bit more shortening each time. I used a brush to brush off the extra shortening that was visible after peeling the waxed paper away.

Yes this is a bit of a gaudy looking cake design, but when I arrived home after my run this morning (in what was reported as “feels like –5), and seeing the vertical stripes first, I decided it looked like a happy cake.

I thought that the stripes might crumble as the cake was being cut but am happy to report that the knife cut through it (the sides with the diagonal sides) nicely and nothing slipped or fell off.  Win!

It’s been decided that the bottom tier of Cameron’s cake with have this diagonal design which is reminiscent of wrapping paper I’ve used before, but it will be in black, grey and red. Again with random strip widths.

I’m hoping that I can pre-prepare the modelling chocolate onto the waxed paper several days ahead and that it will still peel nicely from the waxed paper when the time is right. Being able to make up the stripes ahead of time will be a real time-saver for me. And I’ll grab any extra time for Saturday, when I have to complete the decorating and stacking, that I can.

Jessica has made some amazing cakes using modelling chocolate. Have a look at her blog, I’m sure you’ll be impressed at how well modelling chocolate works.

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