Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cake Decorating Basics: How To Color Fondant


You can buy fondant in many different ways: large tubs, small packages, pure white, colored, you can make your own, whatever strikes your fancy.  I typically will buy or make my fondant white and color it for whatever project I am working on.  Coloring fondant is easy, but takes a little bit of time and muscle power, depending on how dark the color needs to be.


First things first, gather your materials.  You will need: the amount of fondant you desire to color, gel food coloring, and toothpicks (if you don't have squeeze bottle food coloring).  Why gel food coloring?  It doesn't add much water to the system so your fondant won't get overly sticky.  You may also want rubber gloves if you are making a really dark color.  I have stained hands for a few days on multiple occasions.

Next, using the toothpick, dab a small amount of food coloring into the middle of the fondant ball.  Pick up the ball and stretch fondant from the bottom of the ball over food coloring.  Keep stretching the fondant in various directions.

Eventually, your fondant will start looking streaked like the bottom left photo.  If a marbled look is what you are going for, stop here.  If you are looking for a more unified color keep stretching and pulling until everything is the same color like the bottom right photo.

I was coloring this fondant for the sock monkey cake topper, so this brown did not end up being dark enough.  I had to repeat the above steps until I achieved the darker brown I was looking for.  Be careful when adding more color, especially right away because gel food coloring gets darker with time.  

If you do add too much, simply knead in some uncolored fondant to lighten it up.  But, speaking from experience, it is easier to make it darker than to make it lighter.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Apple Walnut Rice Pudding



Rice pudding is like your favorite pair of sweatpants.  It isn't pretty, but so comfortable.  Rice pudding is the kind of dessert you make when the weather is rainy and you just want to curl up, watch a movie and eat something sweet.  This apple walnut version makes the whole house smell like apple pie, without the work of apple pie.  And if you have some leftover rice lurking around the fridge-bonus-you are halfway there.

Apple Walnut Rice Pudding

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups milk, lukewarm (I microwave mine for about a minute)
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 cup chopped apples (about 1 large apple)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2-1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
In a 1 quart casserole dish, beat eggs with a whisk.  Add in sugar and beat to combine.  Slowly add in the milk.  Whisk to combine.  Switch utensils-grab a spoon.  Stir in nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Add in the rice.  Finally, mix in the apples and walnuts.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Now we are making a custard here, so get out a cake pan that is bigger then your casserole dish.  Add 1 inch of water to the bottom.  Place casserole dish in the cake pan.  Bake, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fondant Sock Monkey Cake Topper


My sweet and wonderful friends are expecting their first baby just after the New Year.  Mandy had been my best friend for longer than she hasn't and I've known her husband for almost the same amount of time.  I am so excited that are welcoming an addition to their family!

Which is why when her sister asked me to make a sock monkey cake topper for her shower cake, I wholeheartedly agreed.  The cake was mainly meant to be decorative, a small 6 inch cake.  Her sister, also a cake decorator, was doing the cupcakes.


I meant to have a tutorial for you, but when I build fondant critters, it's a bit of trial and error and I stopped taking pictures about halfway through which is pretty useless to you.

These things I can tell you:

  • I used Wilton fondant for the brown and white portions, coloring my some of the fondant brown. 
  • I bought red Fondarific fondant for the red portions, mostly because I hate dying fondant red-takes forever.  
  • His eyes are mini chocolate chips and his mouth is drawn on with a fine tip food writer.  
  • I cut out the dots for his cap with the tip end of my Wilton #5 piping tip.  
  • He's all stuck together with about a million toothpicks.  I used to use spaghetti instead of toothpicks when making fondant animals to make them totally edible, but nobody eats the fondant and this guy was going for a four hour car ride.




Friday, November 1, 2013

How To Melt Chocolate In The Microwave


Ok guys, November 1st.  In my mind, it's the official kick off of baking season.  Sure, we dabbled with a few things in October, some pumpkin bread and monkey muffins to help get us in the mood, but now, now it gets serious.

This is the time of year when even those of us who never bake a thing feel the need to be Julia Child in the kitchen for the holidays.  Or if you are like me, it's the time of year I crack out recipes I only make during the holiday season and can't remember how the heck that recipe is supposed to go.  So I burn a couple pans of fudge and make some soggy peanut brittle trying to remember.

So we are going back to the basics for a few things.  I realized in many of my recipes that require melting chocolate, I tell you to follow the directions on the back of the package and leave it at that.  But then I watched someone who totally should have know better shove a bowl of chocolate in the microwave for 2 minutes straight and wonder why it was burned.  And let me tell you what, you have not smelled stink until you have burned chocolate in your microwave.

This tutorial is about melting candy coating chocolate.  Like candy melts, chocolate chips, and the almond bark you see in stores this time of year.  NOT melting chocolate bars which need to be tempered.  We are not there yet.  I am not there yet.  These are all chocolate products that contain shortening so they do not require tempering.

I like to use candy melts when dipping, it dries quickly and hard unlike chocolate chips which will not get hard.  They will dry but remain sticky and melty to the touch.


How To Melt Chocolate In The Microwave

  1. Dump candy melts in a heat proof bowl.  I think candy melts are a little on the thick side so I add in a teaspoon of shortening for each package of candy melts.  The shortening thins out the chocolate making it easier to dip.  Don't be squeamish about the shortening, we're talking candy melts here, they are already over processed and unhealthy beyond control.  Don't eat them every day.
  2. Put bowl in the microwave and microwave for 30 seconds.  NO LONGER!  
  3. Get the bowl out and stir.  It won't look like anything happened and you will be tempted to go longer next time because you find this process tedious.  DON'T DO IT!
  4. Put the bowl back in the microwave and microwave for another 30 seconds.  Get the bowl out and stir again. 
  5. Keep doing this until the chocolate is melted.  There will be a point when it is almost melted, just a few little lumps.  Try and stir it smooth at this point.  I have noticed with the candy melts it is possible to over heat it and then the chocolate gets streaky as it dries.

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