Saturday, 26 May 2012

Modelling chocolate

I love cake. I love eating cake. I love making cake. And I love watching other people make cakes - specifically very talented people making incredible cakes. For this reason, I really, really enjoy watching Ace of Cakes on Good Food and any other digital channel it pops up on.

In Ace of Cakes, Ace and his team make the most incredible creations for people who want something epic in a cake. (You really should search for some of his creations - the Hogwarts cake for one of the HP premieres is particularly spectacular). The material they use most for this is modelling chocolate. I had never heard of this stuff til I started watching a few years ago, and to be honest I assumed is was an American thing. Which it is, but it's becoming more and more popular over here with bakers, because it seems to be such a fabulous material.

Modelling chocolate is basically like modelling clay: only made of chocolate! It tastes like chocolate but behaves like clay, meaning you can use it to sculpt figures and things. Bakers use it wherever they might use sugar paste.

I've been thinking it must be time for me to have a go at using this, and in the last 24 hours I kept coming across posts about it. First on facebook when a cake supplier I follow announced they now stock it. Then on Pinterest someone I follow posted a link to a post with a recipe to make some. So, given that I had some birthday cupcakes to make, and with no time to order any, I thought I'd have a go.

The ingredients are very, very simple. Chocolate, and golden syrup. In the USA they use Corn starch, which is a specialist product here, so you can substitute golden syrup or glucose syrup. I already had some golden syrup, so that was an easy decision.

There are loads of recipes on the internet, so I picked one (you can find it here), and got on with it. I melted 100g of white chocolate (I wanted white so I can try colouring it later), and left it to cool slightly (although probably not enough), and then added just under 50g of golden syrup which I'd warmed a little to make runny. Then I mixed hard until it came into a soft lump. At this point it looked VERY oily, but the instructions said this was fine, so I poured it onto some foil and popped it in the fridge. Two hours later, I had this to play with!

Now, I'd read people saying things about this stuff that it was a joy to work with - I must admit I thought it was a bit of exaggeration. But no! It really is fabulous. It's quite hard at first, but softens up nicely in your hands. I wore gloves as suggested and glad I did as it's quite oily. I added some pink colour gel to mine (a bit too much if I'm honest), and it took about the same amount of time as colouring sugar paste.

But when it came to rolling it out it was a revelation. I had run out of icing sugar so I had nothing to dust with, but on a plastic mat it rolled out nicely WITHOUT STICKING. Very pliable too, mre so than sugarpaste, and much more forgiving. I cut out some shapes and put them on some foil to pop in the fridge. I experimented with shaping the flowers a bit and adding some white centres, and it was SO easy. It holds it's shape beautifully. Then I put it back in the fridge to harden for use later.

The final result looked lovely. I urge you to have a go at this because it's SO easy. And if you need cake decorations at the last minute, it's perfect, because unlike sugar paste shapes, you don't need to leave them for days to dry - half an hour in the fridge and off you go. Brilliant!

I added these to some lovely chocolate cupcakes I'd made for my friend's 30th bithday present. I hope she likes them...


  1. I'm going to have to give this a try! White chocolate and golden syrup sounds like it migt be a bit over sweet for my tastes, perhaps I'll try with dark chocolate. Your cupcakes look great though!

    1. Hi Annie. It's actually not as sweet as it sounds, but it's really good stuff to work with. Let me know how you get on with the dark choc. Thanks for the comment about the cakes - I do like making them. You might like some of my other cupcake posts.