Thursday, February 13, 2014

Craftsy Class Review: Modeling Chocolate Magic


Modeling Chocolate Magic was taught by Lauren Kitchens, who obviously is in love with modeling chocolate...AND SO AM I!!!

I love working with modeling chocolate for all the same reasons she lays out in the beginning of the class. It's more flexible as a modeling medium than fondant is, it's bendy but doesn't stretch, doesn't dry out, holds its shape easily, etc etc.

A couple of things I'd have an issue with that she addresses... One is that it's fine to use modeling chocolate in the summer heat. She says that as long as the indoor temperature is cool it's fine to use, but I've noticed that even in air conditioning, modeling chocolate just seems to know that it's hot outside and it behaves differently. And I've seen some really sad cake disasters involving chocolate roses and outdoor wedding cakes in the summer. The original cake that made me coin the term "monkey iced" had chocolate roses, or what started out as roses before they melted, on it. If you do outdoor cakes in the summer, do not use chocolate roses. Better safe than sorry.

The second thing I object to is that she says that she doesn't recommend using modeling chocolate mixed with fondant. I personally never use fondant by itself, I always put some modeling chocolate into it. I think that it gives you a better stretch to the fondant and makes it taste bettter, too. So do what you want to on that front.

The first part of this class is devoted to showing what modeling chocolate can do and what it can't do.
She then goes on to show three very specific designs and how to do them with modeling chocolate and fondant. These include an octopus cake that you could adapt for different occasions by eliminating the tentacles, a wizard hat cake, and a suitcase cake.

I want to congratulate her for not being afraid to use sculpey products and foamcore, and for explaining that she does that so that the cake won't fall over. Thank you. I've always wondered why people insist on making everything out of pastillage or whatever if it's going to be likely to break. I also wonder why people insist on making candy out of fondant when real candy would taste better. But that's another issue.

She shows how to do a lot of different techniques in this video, including the way to make striped panels that seems to be exactly like the one that Richard Festen from Baking Arts in San Francisco teaches...

They also add a pricing section in this video, and oh my God, she tells people to triple the cost of your ingredients. Just kill me. She goes on to add that you need to ADD IN THE COST OF YOUR LABOR after that, but you can't tell me that people won't hear "3X the cost" and leave it at that. No, no, no, no, no.

At least she starts with the minimum price for sculpted cakes...That section made more sense because she gives people a little lecture on how people don't charge enough for their time. But even after the long explanation of her pricing process, I'm sure that people are going to take away the idea of $5 a serving or 3X the cost of your ingredients. That's not what she said, so pay attention!

Strangely, they put the section on how to make the modeling chocolate at the very end as a "bonus" section. I know that they had this information in a different Craftsy class, but it really should be included at the beginning of the class. So watch section 8 at the beginning, then do the rest of the class. Then you can have the argument about whether candy melts should be called "modeling chocolate" instead of "candy clay." Personally, I call it candy clay if it's candy melts, but that's just me.

There's also a good section on coloring the chocolate that includes making it, airbrusing and stencilling.

The only thing I'll add is that modeling chocolate is a very expensive choice as far as modeling media go. I love using it but you do need to keep in mind that it's going to cost a heck of a lot more than fondant does. I make everything myself, though, so if you're buying fondant and making the modeling chocolate the cost might be more similar. Just remember to price things out before quoting prices for clients.

This class was pretty good, especially if you're new to using modeling chocolate as a main method of decorating. Watching this class will convince you that it's a viable option for certain cake designs. It doesn't go into making flowers with it, but it's a lot faster to make roses with this than it is with gumpaste, too. Just don't take them outside in the summer heat...

My overall review:

Skill Level: Intermediate since it assumes you have a knowledge of stacking etc.
Equipment You Have To Have: rolling pin, structural stuff, it depends on the cake.
Sleep-Inducing Level: Not bad but it felt like it was a shorter class than others were.
What It Assumes You Already Know: how to stack a cake, how to ice a cake.

Unnecessary Difficulty Level Of Methods Demonstrated: It was all pretty straightforward.
Annoying Host Habits: Not a lot, but the number of times she had to say "modeling chocolate" made me want to start a drinking game.
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: There were a lot of tips in it. Watch the last part first, then do the class though, it will make more sense. I wouldn't say that an advanced decorator would take a lot away from it technique-wise, but if you've never worked with modeling chocolate (drink) before it would be worthwhile to see how it handles.

Click here for my Craftsy pattern shop, which has a bunch of freebies in it: A Cake To Remember On Craftsy


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

1 comment:

scott kelly said...

Happy Valentines Day Kara!

Scott