Jean—a creative self-taught cook with a passion for helping people develop their cooking skills—has worked as a cooking instructor.
The Fondant Tradition
Fondant and gum paste have been the go-to decorations for wedding and other formal-type cakes. Although it has been around for decades, some say fondant doesn't taste very nice. Enter modeling chocolate that, well, tastes like chocolate. You can mold it, shape it, roll it, cut it, and everything you can do with fondant. It's like Play-Doh you can eat.
Modeling chocolate differs from fondant in that fondant retains a soft texture while modeling chocolate stiffens considerably and must be slightly warmed with the hands to become soft enough to mold and work into shapes.
If you use white chocolate like we are going to use in this recipe, you can even color and flavor it. Coloring modeling chocolate is best done with powdered or paste colors. You can even decorate it with edible food markers, drawing designs on the shapes.
Types of Modeling Chocolate & Tips for Working With It
Candy-Type Modeling Compounds
There are quite a few candy clay-like materials that are fun to work with on cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and as stand-alone decorations.
- Fondant: Fondant is a ready-made, colored, fine-textured compound (although you can make your own) that you can buy at cake decorating supply stores and some craft stores like Michael's. It is made from sugar, water, gelatin, and food-grade glycerine. It is soft and will stay soft while it is completely covered. It is easy to work with, but some complain that the flavor is unappealing. Anything you make with fondant will set at room temperature. It can be molded, rolled, shaped, and imprinted with texture mats and has been the go-to medium for cake decorators for a long time because of its smooth texture. It can be rolled to cover a cake, for example, but it cannot be rolled too thinly and still maintain its integrity when you try to move it.
- Marshmallow Fondant: Marshmallow fondant is a newer creation, used mostly by the home decorator. It is made from melted marshmallow and icing/confectioners sugar. It is easy to make at home and can be flavored and colored. As a stand-alone modeling product, it has a pleasant, sweet flavor and can be used for everything where you can use regular fondant. It too has a smooth texture. It cannot be rolled too thinly, unlike gum paste that will harden quite quickly with air exposure.
- Gum Paste: Gum paste is made of egg whites, confectioner's sugar, and shortening. You can now buy ready-made gum paste. It is a pliable compound that is best suited for making decorations for baked goods. It hardens, so decorations made from it are quite durable, but again, eating decorations made from gum paste is quite unappealing. It is not suitable for covering a cake, as it makes quite a mess when you try to cut it to serve. The gum paste shatters and crumbles.
- Modeling Chocolate: Modeling chocolate is made from some form of prepared chocolate and corn syrup. It stiffens at room temperature, but once kneaded, it becomes soft and pliable. It is a bit difficult to work with in very warm weather, but it can be refrigerated to keep it workable. It is great for covering cakes, making decorations, and everything you would use fondant for. In fact, for some shapes, it is much more versatile than fondant, which can be too soft. The dough tastes as good as the chocolate you use to make it.
- Marzipan: Marzipan is made with ground almonds and egg whites. Although it is traditionally used to top fruit cakes and make cute little figures, it can have a grainy texture. Marzipan can tend to fracture if you are trying to cover a large cake and can be troublesome to use. You cannot roll it too thin or make finely detailed decorations unless you are indenting the marzipan with a modeling tool.
The below candies are quite versatile for making decorations to top cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and other baked goods. They all soften to the warmth of your hands but can be bit sticky. Using fine dustings of cornstarch helps with the molding process, and they can all be used to make finely detailed decorations that will firm up at room temperature, holding their shape well.
- Starburst Candies
- Tootsie Rolls
- Salt Water Taffy
- Kraft Caramels
Tips on Working With Modeling Chocolate
- Use a rubber spatula when you are mixing the ingredients together. Scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl is much easier than using a wooden spoon.
- Don't overmix the modeling chocolate after it starts to thicken.
- Let the modeling chocolate rest for about an hour by dividing it in half, flattening it into a pancake, and sealing it well with plastic wrap.
- After it has rested, it needs to be kneaded until it is smooth and pliable.
- If you notice little bits of hard chocolate in your modeling chocolate microwave it for about 10 seconds and knead it again. The bits should be all gone.
This Simple Easy Recipe for Modeling Chocolate
Ingredients and Instructions
Modeling Chocolate Ingredients
- 5 cups Candy Melts, white, milk or dark chocolate
- 1 cup light corn syrup
Instructions for Making Modeling Chocolate at a Glance
- Measure 5 cups of white chocolate and melt it in a microwave-safe glass bowl.
- Microwave on full power for one minute, then stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula
- Microwave again on full power for one minute and stir again.
- Microwave again for 30 seconds at half power and stir. Repeat the 30-second pulses until the chocolate is almost melted. Be careful not to overcook it, or it will turn into a rock.
- Remove the chocolate from the microwave and stir until no lumps remain.
- While you are stirring the chocolate, heat 1 cup of light corn syrup in the microwave for 40 seconds.
- Pour it into the smooth chocolate and slowly stir the two together.
- Continue to mix carefully until the mixture is quite thick. Do not vigorously stir the mixture.
- Lay two sheets of plastic wrap side by side with the middle slightly overlapping. Lay half of the modeling chocolate on the plastic wrap, flattening the chocolate to about half an inch thick. Seal well with the plastic wrap. Repeat with the second half.
- Let the chocolate rest for at least an hour, but no more than two hours. Unwrap and knead each half until smooth, microwaving for about 10 seconds if small, hard lumps of chocolate appear.
- Re-wrap well with plastic wrap and let rest overnight before you use it.
- To color your modeling chocolate, use paste colors after the overnight rest. Divide the chocolate into pieces and knead using a disposable glove for each color used.
Measure 5 Cups of White or Chocolate Candy Melts Into a Microwave-Safe Glass Bowl
Microwave on Full Power for One Minute Then Stir the Chocolate With a Rubber Spatula
Microwave Again on Full Power for One Minute and Stir Again.
Microwave again for 30 seconds at half power and stir. Repeat the 30-second pulses until the chocolate is almost melted. Be careful not to overcook it, or it will turn into a rock.
Microwave Chocolate Melting Instructions
- Microwave at full power for one minute, then stir.
- Microwave again at full power for one minute, then stir again.
- Microwave at half power for 30 seconds, then stir.
- Microwave at half power for 15 seconds, then stir.
Remove the chocolate from the microwave and stir until no lumps remain.
The Chocolate Should Then Look Like This
If the chocolate still seems to have lumpy bits in it, microwave for another 15 seconds at half power, then stir.
While you are stirring the chocolate, heat 1 cup of light corn syrup in the microwave for 40 seconds on full power.
Pour the Heated Corn Syrup Into the Melted Chocolate
Slowly Begin to Stir the Mixture, Scraping the Sides and Bottom of the Bowl Regularly
Lay two sheets of plastic wrap side by side with the middle slightly overlapping. Lay half of the modeling chocolate on the plastic wrap, flattening the chocolate to about half an inch thick. Seal well with the plastic wrap. Repeat with the second half.
Dump Half of the Modeling Chocolate Onto the Plastic Wrap
Flatten With Your Fingers Until It Is About Half an Inch Thick
Let the Chocolate Rest for at Least an Hour, but No More Than Two Hours. Unwrap and Knead Each Half Until Smooth.
Let the pancakes of modeling chocolate rest for at least an hour, then open one of the pancakes and break it in half. Knead each half until it is smooth. If you notice it is grainy or has minute chunks of chocolate in the dough, microwave it in a small bowl for about 10 seconds, then knead again. When it is smooth, rewrap it well and let it rest overnight. Repeat with the other pieces of modeling chocolate.
Re-wrap well with plastic wrap and let rest overnight before you use it.
To color your modeling chocolate, use paste colors after the overnight rest, by dividing the chocolate into pieces and knead using a disposable glove for each color used.
The Delicious Taste of Modeling Chocolate
How to Make Easy, Foolproof Modeling Chocolate
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