Monday, February 28, 2011

Modeling Chocolate

I have been trying to expand my knowledge of cake decorating lately and wanted to share one of the recipes that I use all the time.

I use this modeling chocolate to sculpt items for cakes.  Why modeling chocolate over fondant or gumpaste.  I actually use all three all the time but each has it's own benefits.

Fondant: rolls out smooth, it tastes great ( I use a homemade Marshmallow Fondant recipe), I use this for covering cakes and I mix fondant 50/50 with Gumpaste for decorations.

Gumpaste: I rarely use it alone as it dries extremely fast and will crack,  I use Gumpaste 50/50 with Fondant for flowers, bows, and other decorations.

Modeling Chocolate: I love that with modeling chocolate you can smooth out your seams (this is much more difficult with fondant)  and you can also sculpt with it more like clay rather than using fondant.

Here is the recipe I use:

Modeling Chocolate

10 oz. Chocolate melting disks (the ones that come in different colors I buy mine at Hobby Lobby)
1/3 cup corn syrup

Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. 

Use 30 second intervals and stir after each until chocolate is smooth.  When chocolate has a few small pieces left that are not melted, simply stir to melt those rather than returning to the microwave.  Once chocolate is melted and smooth add the corn syrup and mix well. 

Then pour chocolate/corn syrup mixture out onto wax paper. 

 Place another sheet of wax paper on top of the chocolate and press to smooth out in an even layer (1/4"-1/2").  Let modeling chocolate cool overnight and it's ready to use.  To store I just put the modeling chocolate in a Ziploc bag and store at room temperature.  I usually will use it within a week or so.

A tip: You can even cover a cake with this instead of fondant.  I have not tried this yet but I'm thinking about it. 

Coming Soon: Another Baby shower Cake this coming weekend!!  I will also be sharing all the crafts I made for the baby shower as well!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Panna Cotta & Florentine Cookies

Hello Everyone!  Whew!  I've been super busy and first I want to tell all my blogging friends that I'm sorry I haven't been commenting... your posts have all been amazing and I am reading them, it's just usually at 9:00 at night on my phone :) 

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

I have been wanting to try making Panna Cotta for several years now since watching The Barefoot Contessa make it on her show.  Surprisingly it was not difficult at all!  Panna Cotta is a very pudding like dessert without the sweetness.  In my opinion it could have been much sweeter but it was good.  I did add one vanilla bean scraped to the recipe.  The Florentine Cookies were amazing... with or without the chocolate.  I actually preferred them without. 

Here is all the info... sorry about the lighting, it's a dreary day here with no sunshine.

Panna Cotta
Ingredients 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) granulated sugar
pinch of salt

Directions: 1. Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
2. Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage).
3. Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.
4. Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.
5. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve. Hope you love it!

Florentine Cookies

1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) (95 gm) (3
1/4 cup (60 ml) dark corn syrup
1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) dark or milk chocolate
2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter 2 cups (480 ml) (160 gm) (5 2/3 oz) quick oats oz) plain (all purpose) flour Directions:
1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.
2. To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.
4. While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or stove top (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl).
5. Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean).
6. Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate.

Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Baby Shower "Gifts" Cake

This cake I made for my sister in law's very first baby shower.  As you can see she is having a little girl and everyone is just ecstatic!

Note: I know the pictures are not so great, I forgot my camera and these are taken with my phone.  Also, I'm sorry I don't have step by step pictures, I did most of this cake in one night and was super rushed to get it done.

The bottom tier is a 12x12 3 layer cake: Almond/ Vanilla Cake with Cream Cheese Filling (mommy to be's favorite).  The "lid" of the gift box is a single layer of cake covered in fondant.
The middle tier is a 9 inch round 3 layer cake: Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Fudge Filling.  The "lid" of the gift box is rice krispie treats covered in fondant.
And the top tier is the smallest pan of the Wilton Pillow set.  It was pound cake but I did not serve it.

All the fondant is homemade marshmallow fondant and the decorations are 50/50 fondant and gum paste (Satin Ice). 

To get the boxes to look open here is what I did...

I started with a piece of plywood (1/2") and screwed a flange to the middle of it.  Then I screwed a piece of PVC to that to give the cake stability.  Then as I would finish a tier I would cut a hole in the center and "thread" the PVC through the middle of the tier.

Then I doweled the cake....  for instance on the 12x12 I placed three dowels on one side (flush with the cake) and then three on the opposite side about one inch above the cake.

Then when I placed the "lid" on the "box" it was propped open and I "glued" the area that touched the box with royal icing.  On top of the open lid I placed a wedge of cake covered in royal icing.  Then when the middle tier went on it was level.  The process was then repeated with the middle tier.

The baby shoes are made from a 50/50 gum paste fondant mixture and dried for two weeks.  I also painted them with luster dust.

The baby blocks on the side of the cake are rice krispie treats covered in fondant.

I hope I didn't forget anything... sorry I'm rushed for time posting this.  If you have questions please feel free to ask.  :)