Incredible cakes don't just happen (sorry). But, by breaking down various cake decorating techniques used to create show-stoppingly intricate cakes, you'll be on your way to creating your own inspiring design!
Learn how to use fun and accessible chocolate molds to take your cake designs to the next level of awesome!Cake with chocolate flowers via Craftsy instructor Erin Gardner
The first step in creating cakes with chocolate flowers is mastering melting chocolate for molds. On the one hand, it sounds easy: simply melt, and pour into molds. But to ensure high quality, lasting success, there are some important things that you should know about melting chocolate for molds.
Before you melt
Before you turn on the heat, there are some considerations when it comes to melting chocolate.
Prepping your chocolate
Depending on what type of chocolate you are melting, you may need to prepare the chocolate for melting. If you are melting chocolate chips, chocolate candy coating (which is often treated with wax or paraffin), or candy coating chips or "candy melts", part of the work is already done for you: the chocolate is ready to melt, since it is already divided into small, even-sized portions. However, if you are using white or dark chocolate from a block, you will require a little bit more preparation. Coarsely chopping the chocolate will ensure that it melts evenly, and faster than if it were in large, solid chunks.
Get a double boiler
While melting chocolate in the microwave or in a saucepan is possible, melting it in a double boiler over the stovetop will ultimately allow you more control. A double boiler is a special set of pans: a bottom saucepan that holds hot water, plus a bowl that fits securely over the saucepan. Chocolate is placed in the top bowl and allowed to melt over indirect heat. You can easily make a DIY double boiler with a saucepan and a medium bowl. Choose a small or medium saucepan and a shallow bowl that fits over the top of the saucepan, so that the bowl can fit in the saucepan but the top of the bowl will keep it from falling in. Fill the saucepan with a small amount of water, so that it does not touch the bottom of the bowl when it is placed on top. Basically, what you are doing here is ensuring that the boiling water will warm the bowl, but you want a buffer to keep it from getting too hot too fast and scorching the white chocolate after you did all this setup work.
Once you're melting
Now that you're ready to melt, these tips will help ensure success.
- If you're using white chocolate, add any flavoring, shortening or butter, or color extracts before melting, as this will allow them to heat at the same rate as the white chocolate and wonâ€™t cause it to seize later on.
- Use a clean, dry spoon for mixing (metal or silicone work best as they are less prone to store moisture than a wooden spoon). Or, use a spoon-shaped rubber spatula.
- Donâ€™t lift the top of the double boiler during the melting process, because escaping steam can turn into moisture that makes chocolate lumpy.
- Donâ€™t cover the top of a double boiler while heating, because this can create steam, too.
- Make sure your chocolate melts completely. Once you have just a few small lumps remaining, turn off the heat, as the residual heat should help melt those last little bits and you can be sure that the chocolate will not scorch.
Tempering is a method of heating and cooling a substance to improve its texture and durability. While tempering can be done with different materials, including metal, when you refer to tempering in a culinary setting, youâ€™re likely talking about chocolate. To temper chocolate, you first raise the heat, making the chocolate melt, then reduce the heat, letting it cool. When it cools, stable crystals of cocoa butter form. When brought back to a working temperature after this process has occurred, this is what allows the perfect snap on a candy bar, and the impeccably glossy, smooth texture on candies and finished baked goods. Do you need to temper your chocolate? It depends on what you're melting, and how you're using the chocolate. Chocolate chips, chocolate candy coating or candy coating chips do not require tempering, as they have already been treated. Similarly, if you're using pure bar chocolate but are working on very small decorations, or you will be painting over the chocolate to create decorations, tempering is likely not necessary. However, if your decorations will be a prominent decorating element on your cake, tempering will ensure a professional result. This post on tempering details the process of for dealing with different types of chocolate.
From melt to moldPhoto via Craftsy blog
Once the chocolate is melted completely, tempered or not, you can get to work with your molds. It can be helpful to load up the melted chocolate into squeeze bottles or piping bags so that you can control the flow of chocolate. This is especially helpful when the chocolate has been tinted and you want to apply the color to a specific area of the mold. Never overfill molds, as you'll end up with a "halo" around the image once removed. To loosen any bubbles that might leave an impression in your finished decorating elements, bang the filled mold against the countertop, as you would with a cake pan to force excess air bubbles to the surface. (Psst! You can get more tips on how to fill up you molds here.) Always let the chocolate in the molds dry completely before removing. Chocolate pansy cake via Craftsy instructor Erin Gardner
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