Friday, August 29, 2008

Chocolate Monogram Favors

Be gentle with me folks. I am not very computer savvy. No really. I am bad. Ask my 2 friends Heather and Kim. I am sure those 2 poor girls wish my PC and I had never met.

Heather, who is my BFF (we live close by but we met on a cake message board many years ago), is awesome with graphic arts. She is our Webmaster, logo designer, and is creating the covers for the upcoming DVDs. Heck, I can't even log onto my own website to work on it. Sad, I know. She has to do it all. And all for very little pay. OK, OK, no pay.

Kim is a computer guru by profession, but an awesome caker as well. You may know her work. She calls herself a newbie, but we all think she is lying. Her cakes are too darn good. She helps me with all the technical/operational computer junk. Things like doing updates, backing up files, maneuvering windows, downloading, troubleshooting....all that kind of icky stuff.

Here is the lovely Kim (and me) at my Baton Rouge class I taught with Jen Dontz.

Not to mention that the SugarEd girls also listen to my non stop brainstorming, obscessing and generally constantly asking for advice. I honestly do not know what I would do without the help of my team. They are so good to me, and I do not deserve them. (You will meet more of them later.)

So, now that I am armed with the knowledge that these 2 wonderful women have imparted upon me, I am going to now dip my toes into the waters of blogging. Oooooooooooooh, it's cold!........ Deep breath. ..........Here I go:

A few weeks back, one of my all time best customers and ex-neighbor asked me to make a baby shower cake for her SIL. Well, turns out that MIL went and ordered a cake from somewhere else (GASP), so Tracy asked me to do the favors. She wanted me to make monogram favors out of chocolate to match the monogram on the invitation. (Not anticipating at the time that I would be blogging, I threw the invitation out, so I cannot show you how wonderfully I matched it . (Grin.)

I had no molds that would do for this job, so I decided to cut the candy discs with cookie cutters from poured out chocolate. I had never really done this before, so there was a little trial and error involved. I tried using parchment, plastic wrap, my silicone mat, and silpat under the chocolate but none worked well. I found that using plastic sheet protectors worked perfectly. Now, I cannot tell you if using those is food safe or not, so I am not telling you that it is. You will have to use your judgement on that one. You can however buy food grade acetate for chocolate work that would be fine. (I had none and no time to get any , so I decided to live dangerously this once.)

Here is a sheet protector on the counter with spacer strips on each side. These are called perfection strips and you can get them at Country Kitchen Sweet Art. They make sure you get the chocolate level all the way across your field. I placed them on the thinner sides and I think the chocolate was about 1/4 inch think, but do not quote me on that.

You melt your chocolate (I used candy coating cuz I am not about to temper anything in this life time) and pour it out on the sheet. Use a food grade ruler to spread the chocolate out, resting it on the spacer bars to make sure the chocolate is spread out evenly along the sheet. I could not take a picture of me doing this, because it took 2 hands to do it, and no one was here to take the pictures for me. Ah, such is the life of a lonely baker.....

Now go get a Diet Coke from the gas station soda fountain (because they have the perfect balance of carbonation and syrup), and wait for the chocolate to set up. You have to wait for the surface to turn dull and firm. If you tap it lightly with your finger you will not mark it, but if you press firmly you will. It will still be slightly warm to the touch. How long will this take? It depends upon how cool your room is, how hot the lights are, how fresh your chocolate is. I had my portable A/C on in my cake room (his name is Jack and I love him so) so it set up in probably 15-20 minutes.

Then take your cookie cutter (which I also failed to take a picture of) and cut into the chocolate. If it makes a nice clean cut, you are doing fine. If the edges of the cut are kind of squooshy, it is not ready yet. Press it hard so you cut all the way down to the bottom. If you are using crappy cheap chocolate like in this picture, it might be hard to get the cutter out. (Yes, I can say crappy . This is my blog and I can say it. Gotta love that. (Wink.) Hence all the fingerprints on the chocolate. I actually ended up doing these again a few days later when my good Merkens chocolate came in and it was clean and beautiful. The cutters came right out. No finger prints. It is amazing what a difference a good vs bad product can make. Again, I was only taking these pics to send to Kim (she is so needy, sheesh), and not expecting to use them on a blog tutorial, so I did not take pics with the good chocolate. Let's just pretend this one looks pretty, kay?

Now, go to the gas station and get a refill on your Diet Coke. Yes, I drink that much Diet Coke. Doesn't everyone? Then get on the computer and IM with your buddies for a while until the chocolate sets up nice and firm and is totally cooled off. I guess you could do other things like clean the kitchen or help your kid with homework, if you are into that sort of thing. (J/K, I do those things too.)

Then take the cutters and go back in again, into the same cuts, to make sure the bottom is cut all the way through. I found that if I did not do this, the underneath side had kind of melded back together and the pieces would not break off clean. Now transfer the sheet to a cardboard and score the chocolate around the blossoms with a sharp knife. Pop that in the freezer for 6-9 minutes until set up totally. The blossoms will just pop right out perfectly clean with beautiful edges. Do not touch the tops or you will get finger marks. Let them sit at room temp, and all condensation must dry before you work with them again.

I did the exact same thing with the white chocolate to make the circle discs. Merkens, not the crappy stuff. Attach the 2 pieces together with some chocolate and pipe the monogram with royal icing. I used a clay gun to make the pink string border. The party theme was pink, brown and white, so I wanted to get all 3 colors in there. So here is the finished product. They were about 3.5 inches in diameter.

And just for fun, here is a pic of the coordinating cookie favors. Sugar cookies with textured fondant, candy pearls and luster dust. Tracy loved them. Hmm, I wonder if their cake was dry.

OK class, your homework assignment is to go make some cute chocolate cut out thingies. Email me the pictures of your creations and I will post them here.

Happy Caking!

or should I say Happy Chocolating

or Happy Chocolatiering

Happy Messing with Chocolate

Whatever..........get going!!


SugarEd Productions


Zakia / The Frosted Bake Shop said...

aahhh. these are very cute. love the cookies. something else to put on my things to try list :)

WendyB said...

oooohhhh so thats what you did with them!!!!!!!!! Kewl.

Sandra said...

Love the blog! These are beautiful!

Oh, I don't drink the much Diet Coke but my husband does : )

ShirleyB said...

Boy, you had me going, gal -- I kept trying to figure out what you used the Diet Coke for! (Did I mention I am as gullable as they come?) :) Anyway, these are real beauties! Question...what kind of clay gun did you use for the pink rope border? The crappy one I had was so difficult, even my hubby couldn't push fondant through it, so I pitched it!

ShirleyB said...

Boy, you had me going, gal -- I kept trying to figure out what you used the Diet Coke for! (Did I mention I am as gullible as they come?) :) Anyway, these are real beauties! Question...what kind of clay gun did you use for the pink rope border? The crappy one I had was so difficult, even my hubby couldn't push fondant through it, so I pitched it!

carlam said...

Great tutorial! And can't wait to see more pictures of your family and friends...well some of them at least..tee hee

Anonymous said...

that is so interesting.Thank you so much for sharing.
Me and my family are praying for y'all in New Orleans.Please take care.May GOD protect you.
- haniya.

Alana said...

Sharon! Thanks for sharing. Your favors turned out incredible, but I'd expect nothing less from you. And you made me giggle, so I know I'll be enjoying your blog immensely!

KB said...

Hey! Where'd you get that picture of me!!! (wink) I had so much fun at your class and finally getting to meet you.

So, I'm needing huh?...ok, I agree!..but ya still love me.

I love that candy tutorial and I'm glad you have your blog going to show all us "needy" SugarEd fans!

Bcake1960 said...

OK I have got to try those! You are so thorough with your instructions. Cant wait to give them a try! Thanks again

SugarEd Productions said...

Thanks ya'll!

Shirley I have the black and red Sugarcraft gun. I will have them on my site when the next DVD comes out, but you can get them at Gobal or Cake Craft Shoppe.

Anonymous said...

Where on earth do you get the time to do alllllll this? You are amazing! I love the favors! Thanks for the instructions!

Janice said...

These are so cool! My name is Janice and I am a Diet Coke-aholic. And a Chocoholic. Thanks for the tips about the chocolate brands. You helped me a few months ago with the Carousel chocolate mold. I have to admit I failed miserably, but I'm going to keep trying. Now I think it could have been the white chocolate I was using!

SugarEd Productions said...

Time? Um... let's just say I am not fond of housework. ( grin.)

Janice! OMG there is nothing like an icy plastic bottle of DC with ice slivers in it when you take the first sip, followed by a Hershey kiss! Divine.

Sandi said...

Oh, another way to work with chocolate, going to try have to give that a try!

amybruntz said...

Oh that is really cool!! I cannot wait to try this! These look too cute. I love all the things you share thanks a bunch. Maybe if you come to Colorado for a class I can attend :).

Amy Bruntz

Uniqueask said...

Your work is amazing as usual thanks for sharing

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