I've been asked to do a very simple wedding cake for my cousin. She wants a shabby/rustic 3-tier chocolate cake with creamy light frosting (not straight buttercream) with a bull & cow moose silhouette at the bottom tier. I'll decorate with a few fresh red roses and greens, etc. at the base of each tier. My question: Is modeling chocolate an acceptable medium for making the cutout moose? I'm concerned that doing it with straight chocolate and piping the outline and then filling in will be risky. I don't want to worry about breakage and/or melting in May. I've worked with modeling chocolate before, but never rolled it out and cut anything large from it. It's been a while and I don't remember if the chocolate will firm up enough to hold it's shape if adhered to the sides of the cake.
My other question is regarding frosting. They do not want a regular decorator buttercream. They want something lighter and creamier. I don't have much experience with different frostings, but I was thinking of an Italian merengue buttercream.
I appreciate any advice. Thanks!
Italian or Swiss meringue buttercream are the way to go. Swiss is a little easier, Italian is more silky.
When I hear rustic cake I think rough lines left in the buttercream by the spatula that would make it hard to fix a silhouette to the side without making the image bumpy. If you just do a light crumb coat it will give you the naked cake look but also have a smooth surface for the silhouettes to hold onto.
I do not use modeling chocolate in the summertime here in Chicago, can get too warm and slide right down the sides. Otherwise yes, I think it's great for cutting out silhouettes as it doesn't drag on the knife as much as fondant.
If you're able to pipe and outline and fill it in smoothly, I would say that is your best option, but otherwise use fondant or gumpaste and let dry on curved surface (like the pan you're using to make the cake) and then affix it to the cake at the event.
Keep in mind that naked cakes are prone to drying out, so keep boxed and wrapped up once it's frosted until the wedding is about to start!
Thanks so much for your suggestions Cabralej! I will definitely be using them. The couple wants more than just the "naked" look, so I will be piling on a little more frosting. They didn't really want me to use any fondant, but I'm thinking for the integrity of the design, I should probably use the gumpaste instead of any sort of chocolate. Drying them on the pan surface is a perfect idea. I don't know why I didn't think of it. I have plenty of time before hand to make the moose in several different mediums, but I already anticipate that the gumpaste will give me the best results.
A third option is to pipe the design on parchment paper in melted chocolate, then right as it starts to set you can place it on the rounded surface to give you the right curve so it could fit the cake.
The pan trick is something I learned from a coworker, makes you wish you thought of it first!
I've used modeling choc a lot and I've cut out trees deer twigs etc for cakes just make sure you keep it a little thicker than you would fondant and after you cut it out rub it gently with your finger tip you smooth out rough spots it will make it look shinny... Place in the refrigerator for a few mins on a cookie sheet pan until it hardensenough to place in a baggie then keep it there til you decorate with it... If it's going to be standing make it thicker and make small holes with tooth picks by twisting them in prior to hardening so that way all you have to do is insert the picks and stand it up....hope this helps :)