Tag Archives: candy molds

Sawing Logs

21 Apr

Oh, Wilton Bear Pan, how many ways to use you! There’s bears, lions, and uh…and uh…I know there’s a ton more. Beaver! That’s it! Beaver.

Ever notice how there’s not much beaver stuff around? Ever see a stuffed beaver in the toy aisle? A beaver chocolate mold? A beaver anything? The naughty girl industry has taken over the beaver and I say we take it back! Back, I tell you! No more shall we ashamed of the word in public! No more shall we hide our liking for such an industrious beast! Chant with me: Beaver! Beaver! BEAVER!

 Uh hum. Pardon me. Must have missed a dose of meds somewhere. Today’s post is about a furry mammal that builds dams, is the original “Baby Got Back” in the tail department, and has teeth the Osmonds envy. The Castor Canadensis also happens to be the mascot of a certain fraternity (you know who you are, I need not name names).

This beaver starts with the aforementioned Wilton Bear pan. I do not promise to show you miracles for arms, as I still do not possess such enlightening. However, I can show you some stellar tail.

The pan comes with instructions. Follow them. Mostly. Lose your instructions? Here ya go:

http://www.wilton.com/downloads/paninstructions/2105-603Stand-UpCuddlyBear.pdf

While we’re clicking away, here’s a link that shows you some of the many uses for the bear that never poops in the woods:

http://www.wilton.com/shapedpan/Stand-Up-Cuddly-Bear-Pan

 Lose your clips? Wilton occasionally sells replacement here:

http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?id=3E3107DF-475A-BAC0-517051D099ACA8A8&killnav=1

I read on the internet, back when it was the Internet, that you can use binder clips, too. Cause you know everything on the www is the gospel truth. The hubster and I conversed about such an option. After he informed me that there may be leftover oil on them from production and considering the possibilities of heating paint in the same small enclosed space as food, I decided against such folly.  So buy them when you see them.

Back to cake. The instructions will confuse, befuddle, and thrill you. Tis true, you bake him on his head. 

Tis also true you best set him on an old cookie sheet lest you like cleaning your oven.

Look, Ma! Beaver poop!

Ooooh, I don’t think he feels so good. Must have been on his head too long.

All better now? No kissing boo boos until you cool off!

Okay, enough goofiness. Someone remind me to take those meds tomorrow, k?

Take out the core, but don’t clean it just yet.

(I’ve never had one, but this is how I picture the aftermath of a colonoscopy.)

Here is the portion of the evening where I veer from the Wilton pros. I put the core back in and leave it there while it cools. Your choice, your comfort level. Other than that, follow the cooling instructions. First one side…

…then the other.

 

Now, let’s decorate! You will need brown/chocolate buttercream and some yellow and white (a small amounts). If you’re going to decorate the board, you’ll also need green. For the fondant, I used tiny amounts of black and white.

Crumbcoat your beast.

Doesn’t help with the defecation image, huh?

Using the grass tip (#233, found here: http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?sku=402-233), convince the chicklet to pipe the bear. After all, you’ve got a tail to form. Remind her that his tummy and inner ears shall be yellow, or white, before you rush out of throwing range.

While she’s planning her reveng, get out the following schtuff:

Chocolate for melting

Wilton garland marker (http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?id=3E30D6CC-475A-BAC0-58FEDC73887B09DD&killnav=1)

Tape

Wide straws

Wax paper

Table knife

Sharp knife

Ruler

This is the part where we really improvise. Put a piece of wax paper on your work surface. Assemble your garland marker to a size called, “looks right.” (Poinky part facing up) Put one straw on each end of the bendy part of the garland marker. Move the other end of the straws until they are touching or almost touching and tape them to the wax paper so they don’t move. Take another straw (or trim one of the other ones before taping. That’s what my cheap tail did.) and clip off a piece to the length of “that’ll work.” Place the short straw in between the other two. Confused yet? No worries, I took a picture. It should look like this:

Look like tail you’d chase yet?

Before you melt the chocolate, read how to make the tail so you can move as quickly as you need to before the chocolate sets up. Even though my sentence will say, “Melt the chocolate,” don’t do it yet; don’t believe me, I lie.

Melt the chocolate. Pour the chocolate into the mold to a depth you are comfortable with. Too thin and it may break. Too thick and you’ll be on a sugar high until your trainer uses lunges to cleanse it out of you.

Let the chocolate cool a bit, but NOT completely. Once it  firms up a bit (but not completely hard), use the ruler and the table knife to score it into a diamond/criss cross pattern. Do NOT cut all the way through or you’ll have to start over. I am not responsible for do-overs. Now, let the chocolate harden completely and remove the mold from around the tail. Use a sharp knife to carefully remove stray bits of chocolate.

Thank the chicklet for her services, promise her you’ll pay for her carpal tunnel surgery later in life, and carefully place the beaver on the board. Use a round tip and pipe the eyes. Using the black fondant, cut small circles and place them in the appropriate pupil place, AKA “about there.” Cut a small triangle and place it in the proboscis area. Cut two small rectangles of white fondant and put them in the chopper area.

Realize that you have 5 minutes before the beaver leaves to build a dam, smear green buttercream on the board and pipe extraordinarily long grass. Consider it the beaver stocking up on vegetation for the winter. Place tail on the board in the buttage area, wave bye-bye to it, and wish it luck on its two hour car trip. Don’t tell it a horde of college kids who are always hungry and love free food almost more than checks from parents await it, should it survive the trip under the watchful eye of Mattimeo, the chinchilla.

 

Good thing I didn’t name him.

Buh Bye, Beaver Boy!

Practice Makes Perfect or Perfect Practice Makes Perfect?

6 Apr

Spring has sprung (at least on some days). Feets and arms and knees and such are about to come out of hibernation.  Combined with changing fashions, I have to face the truth: pleated shirts cannot carry my stomach through another warm season. Getting my capris and shorts out of storage didn’t help, either. Dang it!

Something Must Be Done. Drastic Measures Must Be Taken.

But what?

I have to stop making so much cake and buttercream “just for practice.” Still, I do need the practice. My piping skills have gone from so-so, just need to perfect the rose and writing, to “are you sure you’ve done this before?”  I, my friends, have over-fondanted. I like fondant. It’s fun, it’s crisp, it doesn’t involve quite the amount of small motor skills as piping. Plus, I don’t eat much fondant as I practice. I wish I could say the same for buttercream. Fat and sugar, sugar and fat. Yum! I started playing with buttercream again to sharpen my skills. After all, some day fondant will be passé and clients will go searching for the caker who cakes “the old-fashioned way.” I must be prepared, right?

With my sugar addiction in full swing once more, and my summer clothes laughing when I tried to squeeze them beyond my Shar Pei thighs, I’m gradually changing things up in the kitchen. Mr. Handy is cool with salad for dinner once a week (after many eons of trying to slip it in) and leftovers are still breeding like rabbits since the kiddos decided to engage in some strange ritual called “college and job” so it’s easier for me to take those leftovers and make a meal for one that’s not packed full of the carb fest of rice and noodles that my Sugar Daddy, ooops! husband, adores. I’m drinking more (the non-alcoholic, non-calorie version of that word. No need to replace one addiction with another, I suppose). Still, that leaves the cake/buttercream issue. How can I practice without sugar laden goodies?  Everyone I know says they want free cakes, but no one is willing to come pick them up. That leaves a lot of cake in my kitchen.

I never wanted to do this. It seems like such a waste. Waste is bad. Save the earth, save the chocolate, save the buttercream! Alas, the return of my mother’s stomach in the mirror leaves me no choice. I must practice, gulp!, without cake. But, wait! you say; because you are smart like that. What about the buttercream? Does this mean that now I get to eat buttercream by the mixing spoonful since I cut out the cake calories? Alas, no, it does not. With the exception of the occasional, “what the crap is going on with the frosting? cake, my crumb and final coat are not a problem. I can smooth out nearly every crater you throw at me. Piping practice is what I need and that, my dear friends in cake, does not take much buttercream at all. In comparison, anyway. A quart sized baggie instead of the mondo gallon sized ones. Add in that you stick a tip in a bag, and not much buttercream flies anywhere anymore, much less near the pie hole. *Sigh* I’m in mourning. Is that natural? Don’t answer that. I don’t really want to know right now. Maybe later.

Lest you think this blog has become a confessional of purging caking demons, I do have a tutorial in mind. Waaaaiiit for it.

A couple of weeks ago, I was out of buttercream. My recipe takes 4 lbs. of powdered sugar so just imagine for a moment how much buttercream that makes. A Lot. A lot of buttercream, a lot of calories, a lot of inches on the waist. We all know that no matter what we say to ourselves before it happens, there will be buttercream calories on the scale the next day. I like to think it’s magic. Too bad that magic doesn’t transfer to my once cute as heck shorts, huh?

I was firm with myself for once and made an alternate choice.

No, not that kind.

 I’ve heard you can do this with toothpaste, but toothpaste is a lot more expensive than buttercream. I think. I haven’t actually run the numbers, but it seems to my sugar addicted mind that it is. So, no buttercream and no toothpaste. What’s left?

Chocolate

Stay with me here. I haven’t gone off the deep end yet. Probably not, anyway.

Yes, chocolate is still a lot of sugar. No denying my way around that. I also love the taste of chocolate. So much that I will eat sugar-free chocolate despite a case of the toots the rest of the day.  I had been piddling around with the idea of trying chocolate transfers again. You see, I fail at buttercream transfers. I’m missing the gene for it or something. But chocolate, maybe chocolate is the answer. Plus, the chocolate discs can be used in small amounts and are fast to melt and be ready for use when I have an hour to spare to play around. The other handy property of chocolate is: it’s hard to eat much when it’s flowing like Wllly Wonka’s river through the piping bag. You’re too busy trying to keep it corralled to eat much of it. It’s also messy as heck so you spend a fair amount of time with a washcloth in one hand and a piping bag in the other.

So, chocolate it is. Now, I’m not saying I’m a whizz here. No chocolate transfer miracles occurred. These things take time and practice. But one day, maybe; one day I might practice enough and the seas will part and the chocolate will stay put and not lump and I will create awesomeness. Just maybe not today.

It helped that I just read the Whimsical Bakehouse book.

Full of chocolate plaque visions, I tried a beaver first.

Heh. He’s a bit rabid, doncha think?

It’s tough to keep the chocolate at the right temperature: melted enough to flow smoothly but not so thin that it’s running like it’s had too much fiber, if you know what I mean (These kinds of thoughts keep me from considering consuming it in vast amounts while I’m practicing). I did a little better when I free handed a cloud looking object.

Okay, maybe I need more practice. Still, it looks better than my last wrestling match with buttercream transfer, so there’s hope in there somewhere.

What I really liked was writing with it. No messing about with the elusive perfect consistency ‘cause chocolate is what it is. I got brave enough at the end to even try a little freehand action.

Yup. Still can’t freehand. However, notice that there are no breaks in the chocolate. It’s actually even fairly straight. The bottom is even, but the top needs work. Also, spacing is still a problem. I think I need to figure out how to either get a template on the cake and pipe over it or figure out how to remove the chocolate from the wax paper without breaking it so I can place the words on the cake.

Yes, I know about using piping gel and rubbing it onto the cake, but these ol’ eyes aren’t getting any sharper so I have my doubts it would be obvious enough to be useful for me. Plus, I’m pretty good at smearing things when I shouldn’t.

There’s info everywhere about how to do this, so I’ll make this short. You need:

Waxed paper

Image/template

Chocolate discs

Disposable piping bag

Microwave

Tape

You can get the template by printing the picture of your choice from your computer. I suggest one without a lot of details to start. Also, look out for impossibly teeny spaces you won’t be able to get chocolate into.  Like girl child beaver wrists.

For the writing, I used Word and typed with different fonts, and then printed it.

Place your template on your workspace and tape it down to keep it from moving. Place the waxed paper over the template, and tape that down, too. Don’t use tons of tape or you won’t be able to remove the waxed paper easily.

Place a dozen or so chocolate discs in the piping bag and microwave the bag in 20 to 30 second increments. Take it out, smoosh it around to mix, repeat as needed. Stop nuking it when it’s almost completely melted. The remaining heat and smooshing will finish the job without burning the chocolate.

Snip a tiny hole in the end of the bag. You’ll have to experiment a little to figure out the right size. If that’s too frustrating, grab another disposable bag and rig it up with a coupler and a small round tip. Not to state the obvious, but don’t put your couplers or tips in the microwave. It will be pretty, but no good shall come of it. Once you have the second bag ready, snip off the end of the first bag (the one without the coupler and tip) and insert it inside the first bag.

Now, you’re ready to practice. If you messed around with royal icing and cookies, you know what to do. If not, here’s how:

For images: outline the image, including any parts you want separated from the rest like the arms. You are building the image from the front to the back. This means you create the facial features, let the chocolate set, and then fill in the other parts like the belly and feet. If you want toe/finger nails, pipe those and let it set before you make the actual foot/hand. I hope that makes sense. Look at your image for a couple of minutes and think about how you need to build it. You may even want to write it down for reference and to make sure you’re not overlooking something.

The important things to remember are:

Let each layer harden before adding the next

Chocolate spreads

For writing: just have at it. Remember to move your arm rather than your hand and to let the line fall into place rather than trying to etch it onto the surface like you do with a pencil.

What I don’t know yet: how to make the chocolate smooth.

I know I have to keep it melted, but the stuff is hardening in the bag and I’m trying to hurry before I run out of time and it’s a rock again so I just hope it all levels out.

It doesn’t.

It seems to me that it also needs to be cool enough that it doesn’t melt the features I’ve already added (like eyes) and it also can’t push down on those features to make them spread and thus make the image look messy/creepy. Eh, it’s a work in progress.

Leftovers: like dinner, I always have leftover chocolate and I believe, with all my heart, that every time you throw chocolate in the trash, a butterfly loses a wing (just kidding, kids. Calm down). Therefore, I put the leftover chocolate into a mold and, after it sets, bag it for use another day.

Now, put down that frosting and give me 2 miles on the treadmill! The dreaded bathing suit is just around the corner!

Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

 

Christmas Cheer but first: Harried Merry Christmas

17 Dec

In the spirit of “gotta get stuff done,” the next few posts will occur over the next few days. That oughta be enough to get you through to the New Year and show you how to make those goodies everyone thinks you have oodles of time, talent, and resources to create. Your emergency plan: show everyone these posts, tell them it’s your blog, and explain how the dog/cat/kids/horrific dropping or freezer accident destroyed them all. I gotcher back on this one.

 Goody #1: Stained Glass Candy AKA Hard Candy.

Ingredients and Tools:

 Yes, that is a hammer.

Ready? Lettts go!

Begin with putting the candy thermometer in the pan. It should be near, but not touch, the bottom of the pan.  Yeah, I know, those clips are handy as all get out, ain’t they?

 Measure and pour the sugar, corn syrup, and water into the pan.

 

Give it a stir. Do NOT whack the thermometer. Turn the burner on medium and stir until the sugar dissolves. After that, don’t touch it. DO NOT TOUCH IT. Don’t do it. The instructions say so. Do too. Right here:

 https://www.lorannoils.com/p-8752-stove-top-hard-candy.aspx

While you’re waiting, begin the “clean as you go” method. We’ve got a lot to make today and we’ll be reusing our utensils because we don’t have a big commercial kitchen with unlimited utensils and such.

Other things to do while waiting and NOT TOUCHING IT:

Go through the stack of mail that’s been piling up for 2 weeks.

Wash the other stuff that’s been waiting during the contest-of-wills-to-see-who-will-clean-it-first. Sure, in effect, you lose the contest, but your candy will be all the better because you won’t be touching it.

Time to check on the creation without touching it.

Kinda yeller looking. I hope it’s not burning.

It reaches 200 fairly fast but then slows down like time on Christmas Eve when the kids are waiting for the morn. However, it does have a tendency to suddenly rise at the end.

If you are making 2 batches at the same time, start your second batch about 10 minutes after the first. At the end, you will not have enough hands or enough time to do what needs to be done right away. Plan on soaking the thermometer, pan, and spoon for a long time to dissolve the candy. In other words, don’t plan on mashed potatoes for dinner because your pan will not be ready in time.

It looks like we still have some time, so let’s get stuff ready for the next step. Take your hammer (yes, hammer; for Hammer Time, of course), put the top of it into the baggie, and wrap a rubber band around the baggie thusly:

Necessity is the mother of invention and all that.

Spray your cookie sheet with non-stick spray.

Aaannd that’s it. You’re ready. But the candy is not.

Lordy, that’s looking orange. Please don’t burn, please don’t burn, please don’t burn.

*Siiiggghh*  Back to whiling away the time while not touching it.

I guess we should keep cleaning. Shoot, the only thing left is the dreaded pearl dusting brush. I love the dust, hate the clean up.

Is it done yet?

Is it done yet?

Is it done yet?

Yes! It’s almost to 300 so take it off the burner and let it sit until it stops boiling. Do not stir it yet.

While that’s happening, take the caps off the flavoring and the coloring because you’re going to move quickly here. Also remember to put a hot pad under the cookie sheet before pouring this time, k? You’ve been lucky before, but don’t count on it this time.

Four hands is better than two in a moment, so either grow more hands or call someone in to help. It can be done with 2 hands, but it’s tricky.

We’re going to move faster than a naked toddler in the yard in front of the neighbors, so take a breath before we start. They won’t be time to breathe during.

Pour in the flavoring and coloring. It will spit, sizzle, and steam (wink, wink) so stand back as far as you can and plan on clean up time.

Stir it all together but don’t bump the thermometer. If your memory is better than mine, you will have removed it before this step. If not, just don’t bump it.

Since the heir to the throne eats most of the candy, it’s his choice of flavors. This year: coffee and strawberry. Yeah, I know. If offered whipped cream on top to make his cuppa complete, but he declined.

Once it’s combined, suit up your spare hands with mitts, and have s/he start pouring it onto the pan while you scrape the remainders.

That’s haute couture. Small town on Christmas break from college Haute Couture.

Tilt the pan as needed to spread it around a bit and then let it cool and harden. While you’re waiting for that, soak the first pan, spoon, and thermometer.

Second batch is ready, so repeat.

Looks much more appetizing, doesn’t it?

After half an hour, it should be ready to crack. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the top, and grab the hammer ‘cause it’s Hammer Time. Woo hoo!

Gently but firmly whack the bejeebers out of it until the pieces are the size you desire.

The pieces will be sharp, which is why I prefer the name Stained Glass Candy. Glass is right in there so you know it may be sharp.

Gently toss the pieces to coat them with the sugar.

Package as you like.

Yeeeaaaah, I’m not touching the coffee ones. Go ahead. You enjoy. I’ll stick with Strawberry.

Let’s clean up the mess and move on to the next project: Fudge!

Let’s ready to Wrrrestlllle! With cake, of course.

23 Nov

For all of our fans who are into watching grown folks fight like cousins at a family reunion, this cake is for you. With one exception, it’s easy enough to make. Yeah, it’s the exception that’s gonna kill you; but let’s cross that mat when we get to it.

Supplies are simple: square cake, frosting, fondant, chocolate and mold, black straw shaped objects, and fondant (of course).

First, the cake. Square shaped. Anything beyond that is your choice. My line between vanilla and chocolate didn’t come out centered. Note to self: bake 2 separate cakes and join them next time.

Torte, fill with gray colored buttercream, stack, settle, and board the cake.

Crumb and final coat with more gray frosting.

Easy-peasy so far, right? Don’t freak out on me yet. The next stuff is still pretty easy, too.

Using gray fondant, create a rectangle tall enough to cover the height of the cake and long enough to go around the perimeter. Make sure it’s fairly thick to prevent tearing.

Lightly grease on side of the fondant so it doesn’t stick together when you do this:

Rolling it is the easiest way I’ve found so far to move it without stretching beyond all practical use. Roll into a tube, take it to the cake, and unroll it around the cake while adhering it to the side. Once you’re all the way ‘round, trim off the excess and finish adhering it. This is now the back of the cake so plan ahead for this and start unrolling on the ugliest side so you end there, too.

Back before final adjustments:

Front:

Grumble under your breath while you fuss with the height (mandatory).

Still keeping it easy, grab a dowel rod, skewer or other implement and begin dotting the top of the cake to simulate a mat.

The deeper dot in the middle was my starting point. That’s the only thing I measured. There are so many dots on this that unless you veer way off course, it’s not noticeable. Although it looks time consuming, it only takes about 5 minutes to accomplish unless you get obsessive about it. I didn’t. The cake had to be out the door at 7 the next morning and it was already after 9 the night before. Obsessiveness is for those who have loads of time or who don’t have deadlines. In other words, not me.

Logo-ize any way you please.  Remember: you cannot sell an exact copy. Don’t call me when the feds come.

(Loosely inspired by: http://www.wwe.com/)

Let’s see: what supplies are left? Mmm, chocolate. There’s no room on this cake for writing unless you want to detract from the look, so I chose to make a chocolate plaque that can lean against the side. Don’t tell our big boy, but I used part of a mold for a baby carriage to make the plaque. Hey, it’s not my fault I couldn’t find a plain rectangle candy mold. The cake must go on and one has to use what one has, yes? Yes. So, carriage mold it is.

Melt your chocolate, pour it into a clean mold, tap the mold on the counter until the bubbles rise to the top and pop. Refrigerate mold until set, unless you have a lot of time. If you have enough time, just leave it on the counter to harden. Once it’s set, tap it out of the mold and inspect it for obvious flaws. Repeat as necessary.

My handwriting still stinks on cake, despite practice, so I cut out fondant letters. Feel free to pipe letters if you can. I can’t (not yet, but someday!) so I fondanted.

The name has been covered to protect the innocent. Or the presumed innocent. Or the minors among us. Definitely the latter. The cake was for a teen AKA a minor, so I covered it. Pervs and freaks and all that. The age didn’t fit so I left it out. Plan ahead if the age must be on it. Elsewise, you’ll end up here: http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/ if you try to squeeze it in. As much as I love the place, I’d rather not play a starring role, if ya know what I mean.

What’s left? Thaaat’s right. The hard part. Ugh. Do we have to? Can we just skip to the final picture? Please? Pretty please with whipped cream, cherry, and nuts on top? Dang it.

Okay, the ropes. I recommend you find black licorice strings if you frustrate easily and can get away with it. I couldn’t. A caker’s gotta do what a caker’s gotta do. My supplies included 10 black straws and a box of black coffee stirrers. Stash the coffee stirrers for another project ‘cause they won’t work here, darn the luck. I purchased the straws at the dollar store. They had plastic skeletons on them that slid off the straws and make great toys for someone else’s house. No, I don’t know if your dollar store will have them. I looked everywhere for them and probably the only reason I found these is because it was near Halloween. Best of luck to you in your hunt.

The posts are easy. Stick a straw in the corner, and cut it so it’s about yea high above the cake. Nope, I don’t have a more exact measurement. Night before, remember? Remove the straw and cut 3 more just like it. Save any small pieces. I got 2 corner posts and a scrap from one straw. Stick one straw per corner in the cake.

Think and play with straws for awhile. Wake up the snoring giant on the loveseat and beg for help. Walk away when he starts showing signs of extreme aggravation. Return just in time to help said giant join the last piece.  That’s how it works at my casa. Nearly every cake is a family adventure. Bonding time. Yeah, that’s it.

As near as I can figure, this is how he did it:

Split the uprights- the corner straws. On opposing sides, cut down the length from the top to the point you want your first set of ropes to sit.

Join four full length straws together by gently shoving one inside another. You’re going for a complete square when it’s done. Repeat with 4 more straws.

You’re going to slide your ropes into the corner posts. As each corner is placed, cut a short length of straw to hold it down. Cut the length of the short pieces so they come up to where you want the second set of ropes to start. Do the same with the next set of ropes, but higher up (obviously) and cap the whole thing with another short piece of straw.  I know- this description isn’t clear enough. Hang on; I’ll take some pics that will hopefully explain it better.

Create ropes:

Slit corner posts:

Slide the ropes into the corner posts:

Cut a short length of straw:

Cap the first set of ropes:

Repeat for the remaining 3 corners.

Start from the beginning for the second set of ropes until you finally-

Cap the second set of ropes:

Expect to growl at the last cap. It won’t be happy, but it will eventually do what you need. You may need a second set of hands, though.

I know, I know. It’s not edible and it’s on a cake and I have a “thing” about that. I considered all the options- make fondant ropes and let dry, coat spaghetti in chocolate, use pretzel rods for posts, etc… etc…etc…. Nothing would work as well as this would. I needed a certain look and I needed the cake to travel 45 minutes to delivery and then another 15 minutes to its final resting place. My fondant ropes would probably show chatter from my tool and fondant never dries completely when you really need it to. If perchance it did dry, it was sure to break in transit. I’m leery of using spaghetti in general because I’m afraid it will soften, despite many people who use it successfully. I’m just not that lucky in life.  Besides, what are the odds I can coat the spaghetti to make it that thick and that the chocolate would coat evenly? Slim to none, in my inexperience. I looked for a candy mold to use, but there were none to be found. 

All that to say: give it up.

Buy black straws.

I think it’s worth it. Judge for yourself:

Chocolate Shells

10 Jun

Isn’t this a lovely cake? I know how to cover cakes in fondant so all that’s left is to see if I can make shells like this. While these shells are fondant, I’m going to make mine from chocolate because I love chocolate and I always have a tough time getting fondant out of molds. I have a few leads on how to do that, but in the meantime: chocolate shells. 

Tools and Ingredients

Tools and Ingredients

The ingredients and tools are fairly simple for this project: a shell mold, some candy melts, and a way to melt the candy. I’m using an electric chocolate melting pot my daughter gave me because somehow she ended up with two. Yay for me! I love free stuff! LOL Not pictured just yet, but you will also need luster/pearl dust, a small bowl, and a food safe fluffy brush.

After gathering your ingredients, proceed with melting the chocolate. You can use a little melting pot, the microwave, or a double boiler. Remember to heat in small increments in the microwave, stir, and heat more until melted. If you leave it in too long, the chocolate will burn, and your house will stink for hours. The smell will be so bad it almost, just almost, turn me off chocolate for awhile. If you use a double boiler, remember to not put too much water in the second pan and keep the water at a low boil. Water and chocolate do not mix. Even droplets of steam in the chocolate will cause it to “seize” and it will become unusable. If this happens, you can try stirring in a little bit of vegetable oil to get it back to consistency. It doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try before pitching it in the trash. So sad- chocolate in the trash. There outta be a law, I tell you. There outta be a law.

shells in molds compressed

Once your chocolate is melted, stir it so it’s smooth with no lumps at all. Then you simply pour the chocolate into the molds. After your molds are filled, lightly tap the molds on the counter top to release any bubbles. Bubbles are for champagne- not chocolate. I usually put my molds in the fridge at this point to make them harden faster and I personally think it helps the chocolate release from the mold.

unmold shells compressed

Once the chocolate is set (firm), turn the mold upside down and lightly tap the mold on the counter to release the chocolate from the mold. As you can see, a few of these need trimmed. Trimming needs to be done quickly yet gently. The longer you hold the chocolate in your hand, the softer it will get. Soft is bad. However, if they just need a tiny bit trimmed or smoothed, rubbing your hand along that area does a nice job without messing with a knife.

all shells unmolded compressed

Ta-da! Brown, pink, and white chocolate shells. Pretty, huh? But not pretty enough just yet. Coming up: the final step that will make these babies good enough to put on any beach cake- even a wedding one!

This is the step we’ve all been missing. It’s like it’s some big secret or anything; but after today, even you, yes, you!, will be able to make stellar chocolate shells! Step right up to the check-out counter and purchase these: pearl or luster dust, and a food safe brush. If you wanna get real swank, get some Vodka at the liquor joint on the way home. Clear vanilla will also work, but Vodka is so much more fun! 😉 The color of dust you buy is personal preference, but most people stick with white or pearl dust. Today I used pink and white colors.

 When you get home, shoo the kids outside so they don’t see the vodka. After all, we don’t want the neighbors talking, do we? The last thing you want is your kids carrying wild tales to school about alcohol in your home. Ask me how I know this.

Okay, the kiddos are stashed somewhere now, so open up your purchases and grab a small bowl (custard cup size works well) while you’re throwing the packaging trash away. Pour a little bit of dust into bowl (and a lil vodka, if using. A lil vodka for you, a lil vodka for me. Oh, sorry. That’s a whole other story I may tell you some time. If you’re really nice.).

dusting shells compressed

Now, pick up the brush, dip in the dust, and go wild. Okay, not wild, because that would make a mess. Tap your brush against the side of the bowl to remove the excess. Using a little dust at a time, brush your chocolate until you’re satisfied with the colors. Don’t brush too hard or too fast or you’ll be picking dust boogers for a couple of days. Not pretty. Not PTA PC, either. They’ll never believe it was a kitchen accident. All sorts of weird theories/gossip will spread. For goodness sake, go easy on the stuff!

Finis!

Finis!

Voila! Shiiinnnyyyy. Preeetttyy. Must… touch… now. I used white on the white, pink on the pink, and pink on brown just for funsies. The brown turned purple. Betcha don’t find that in nature, huh? It’s all good, though. The cake I made to put them on had PMS or something that day so the now purple shells seems like the perfect match for that cake.

Lemon Cake, Lemon Filling, Lemon Icing. Lot o' Lemon!

Lemon Cake, Lemon Filling, Lemon Icing. Lot o' Lemon!

See? When good cake goes awry. My frosting wouldn’t smooth for nothin’ that day. Good thing this is a house cake (a house cake is any cake you don’t want people to look at and think, “She/He makes cakes?”). Since it wouldn’t smooth I tried going for the whole “cliff on a beach” look but that was not to be. The sand is crumbs from a cake that fell apart. I crumbled the failed cake into little pieces; let them dry for awhile, and the processed them in a food processor. The stuff at the top is supposed to be a grassy moss thing. The side décor is how ivy looks when your icing isn’t stiff enough. The cake was too far gone in the looks department by that time so I refused to stop and stiffen the icing. *Shrug* It’s house cake, anyway. The dudes here don’t care how it looks, they just want cake, cake, caaaaaakke.

So now you have pretty chocolate shells and you’re cleaning up the mess and stashing the vodka before the rugrats interrupt you. How on earth are you going to get the brush clean? Not with water. Step away from the sink. Walk towards the pantry. Find the cornstarch. Grab a couple of paper towels or paper plates or regular plates or something you can use to pour out some cornstarch and still have room to clean the brush. Wax paper would also work. Pour a small pile of cornstarch on one side of the plate (or whatever you’re using) and rub your brush around in the cornstarch. Don’t rub like you’re cleaning the mystery spots off the wallpaper, but rub hard enough to work the cornstarch into the bristles a bit. Now, move to the other side of the plate and pounce the brush to remove the cornstarch and pearl/luster dust. Pouncing is a motion kind of like jumping on a bed. Straight up, straight down, repeat. Again, not so hard you bend the bristles permanently but hard enough to remove the dust. You can even tap the brush on the plate. Repeat until all that comes out of the brush is cornstarch, then pounce a few more times to remove the remaining cornstarch. All clean! (I believe CakeCentral is where I found this little tip.)

Once they are completely dried, the shells can be stored at room temperature in a sealed container. Again, moisture is the enemy of chocolate so check on them occasionally to make sure they’re still in good shape. You can store them for as long as you would store the chocolate you used to make the shells with so check your container for an expiration date.

So, there you have it: how to make shiny chocolate shells. Not so hard, is it? Now, go forth and cake!

 

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