I’ve begun a little of the advance prep work for my birthday cake. To this point I’ve done all I can do with these pieces. They have to wait until I have food coloring to finish them up. I did change how I planned to make them just a little. My original plan involved sugar pearls – but I ran out of patience waiting to get them. I really, really wanted to try my hand at this stuff – but to include the sugar pearls I’d have had to wait. So I said heck with it, and improvised. They are not perfect but I am very happy with them. All things considered I think I did a pretty darned good job.
My medium of choice for these was modeling chocolate. I don’t like fondant. Store-bought fondant tastes disgusting, to be quite honest. Homemade fondant (marshmallow, specifically), while easy, is ultimately far more messy and time consuming than I care to deal with and the flavor aspect is still not great. I also just don’t like working with it. Sorry, I can’t pinpoint why. There’s just something about working with fondant I don’t like. *shrug*
Modeling chocolate, on the other hand, is easy to make, not nearly as time consuming or messy, and it actually tastes good. I mean, who is going to argue with chocolate?
Modeling chocolate involves only two ingredients: chocolate and corn syrup. Though I have screwed it up before. This was my first time successfully making modeling chocolate. After reading up on it more, I discovered where I went wrong in my past attempts: I over-stirred. Yes, it is that simple to screw it up. Just like you can over-whip your cream and wind up with butter instead of whipped cream, you can over-stir your modeling chocolate and wind up with… well, wasted money and wasted chocolate. And wasting either of those things is not good. So I was extra careful when I made my modeling chocolate this time. My batch of white modeling chocolate turned out perfectly. The milk chocolate, however, is a bit off. It’s more solid than I’d like it to be, which means it’s harder to work with and takes a little more effort to get it into a workable consistency. Obviously it worked out just fine, but I’ll know next time what to change to make it better and easier to work with.
I should note at this point, I’m talking REAL modeling chocolate, made with chocolate chips. For years I’d been told and read/heard that using “candy melts” was the same thing. But in reading more to try to find where I had gone wrong in my past attempts to make modeling chocolate – for which I had made attempts using real chocolate as well as candy melts – I found out that though very frequently touted as a chocolate that’s just formulated (ie has stuff added to it) to make it melt better, candy melts are in fact something else completely . They have chocolate flavored candy melts but *candy melts are not chocolate. As such, candy melts and real chocolate are not interchangeable in recipes. If all you want to do is make chocolate covered pretzels or something like that, then yes sure you can use the candy melts instead of real chocolate if you want and all will be well. But for things like modeling chocolate and ganache you can’t substitute one for the other. I opted for real chocolate because: it’s cheaper, I like the ingredient list better, and… well, I’m a woman. It’s chocolate. You do the math. That said, the candy melts can be a great option when you want something colored if you don’t have the time/desire to fuss with coloring white chocolate (which requires special food coloring as regular liquid and gel colors do not work with chocolate). But be aware that if you are using colored candy melts to make modeling chocolate or ganache (which will be ganache-like but not true ganache), you’ll need to make sure you are using a recipe for the melts, not real chocolate, as your ratios of ingredients will be different than if you were using real chocolate.
* – Some of you might be reading this and thinking that’s common sense and I am a total dummy for ever thinking otherwise. But please bear with me, remember I am merely a cake decorating hobbyist, and I am human. I don’t know everything, I have dense moments, I make mistakes, all that good stuff. Also, I do read up on numerous well known food web sites and subscribe to various Youtube channels of PROFESSIONAL bakers, and have always seen them using and referring to candy melts as chocolate. So, this error in thinking was ultimately not exactly my fault… I was mislead by folks I was trusting as a reliable source of information because… well, they’re pros and I’m not, I figured if they had been on Food Network at some point that they knew a little more about these things than me. Lesson learned, and I’ll be more careful in the future when it comes to these things.
But enough of all that.
I am not going to share any plans on exactly what my cake is going to look like. You will just have to wait till it’s done next month to see it. I was just excited and happy with how my modeling chocolate figures for the cake have turned out so far, even though they still need their finishing touches, and thought I’d offer a little sneak peek at part of what’s going into the cake. =)