Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cake Design--Using a Cricut with Modeling Chocolate

I got a Cricut machine last week, and was anxious to void the warranty and try it with some non-paper-related projects. (I’m sure the manufacturers wouldn’t approve of the way I use it, but oh well, I don’t do scrapbooks.)

The Cricut is a computerized machine that cuts paper shapes for scrapbooking, but people have been using it with gumpaste. I tried that and it worked fine, so I decided to try it with modeling chocolate. It worked okay, but it has limitations. The Cricut manufacturer has taken notice of the fact that people have been using it for cakes, and is coming out with a model specifically for cakes. There doesn’t seem to be a huge difference between the functions of the cake version and the regular machine, though.

I do have to say that I have the regular Cricut blade, not the deep cut one, and I think that it would work better with the deep cut. The main problem that I had was keeping the chocolate cold enough to keep a clean edge when I separated the shapes from the sheet. Because the edges weren’t completely cut through, they would tear a little. The deep cut blade would probably take care of that, so I’d suggest that you use the deep cut if you want to try this technique.

First, I rolled out the modeling chocolate on a 12x12 sheet of parchment paper. (I’ve used waxed paper before and that worked fine if you don’t have parchment.) The chocolate has to be very thin for this to work, so really roll it out to about the depth of a dime. Cut the sheet so that it doesn't overlap the edges of the cutting mat and put it in the freezer to harden.

Once the sheet is stiff, you can put it onto the Cricut cutting mat. And load it into the machine the regular way. I used a depth of 5 and low/medium pressure settings. I used both some patterns from the Sure Cuts A Lot program and a Cricut cartridge.

I did notice that when the blade repositioned itself after each pattern was cut, it dragged across the chocolate and left a mark. This can be rubbed away, but you might want to use the reverse side of it as the right side when you use the cutouts. This dragging wasn’t as pronounced when the Cricut pattern was being used, and worse when the SCAL patterns were being used.

If the chocolate is too warm it will rip, so make sure it’s cold. After the cuts are made, put it back in the freezer and let it stiffen up again before you separate the cut piece from the rest of the sheet. This will keep the edge cleaner.

I did a small scroll, a larger scroll, and a simple snowflake-backing shape. I’ve also added a photo of a flower pattern that I did a couple of days ago. (In that photo the pink is chocolate, the white is gumpaste.) The simple shape was the cleanest, obviously, and I did have to take a knife to clean up some of the edges on the scrolls. Again, the deep cut blade might be the answer for that. Even if I did need to use a knife to fix some edges, though, it’s still a lot faster than cutting all of these patterns out individually with a stencil.

I can see the Cricut used with modeling chocolate for cakes that have a larger pattern, as opposed to something that has a lot of little details. Once I get the deep cut blade I might be able to get better results with the edges, so that will open up more possibilities. If I do decide to stick with the exacto knife, the low knife depth setting on the Cricut would work well to mark the outline to cut, rather than trying to use a stencil to cut the pattern.

Next on the subject of the Cricut: Is this the end of creativity? Cake decorating for people with no artistic ability! (Not my words, but I’ll be commenting coming up.)



 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

8 comments:

Heather in FL said...

Great idea! You know Cricut just came out with the Cake machine with the intention of cutting fondant. But molding chocolate is a good idea and probably (hopefully) tastier. And I don't think it's the end of creativity. I think the true artists will continue to push the envelope and come up with new, fascinating cakes. Being able to do this will just give options to those of us without that kind of talent. :-)

Kara said...

I'm going to write about the creativity question next...I saw an interesting line about it on someone's website, and some other decorators have been discussing whether using the Cricut is "cheating." More to come!

Kiwi Cakes said...

Wow thanks so much for sharing, I want one even more now!

Veronica said...

Both articles are really well thought out. Creativity can only come to an end when we decide to stop trying. I'm excited to give my Cricut a run for it's warranty!

Lisa in NJ said...

How did you prepare your mat? I took the sticky stuff off. Should I put some crisco down then wax paper then the chocolate?

Kara said...

If you took the sticky stuff off, then you can just grease the mat and use it that way. I put waxed paper on the sticky stuff to keep the chocolate off of it, then greased the waxed paper. You don't have to remove the sticky stuff from the mat, you can just cover it with waxed paper. The new Cricut for cakes has mats that don't have the adhesive on them, and it's my understanding that they can be used with the regular Cricut machines. Once they start selling those you could get one of those mats, which will fix the adhesive problem all around.

Cat said...

Have you played around with the Cricut and modeling clay again? What works well now?

Kara said...

Honestly, I haven't used the cricut for cakes in months. I just don't have a need for it, and I find it much faster to take out an exacto knife or cookie cutters.