As promised here I am with a new post and it's time for chocolate! :)
Few months ago while browsing one of my favorite sites, I ended up on a rather interesting decoration - chocolate chips with a Totoro design. Instantly an idea popped in my mind - this is perfect for the cake I'm planning!
At that time I was planning my sister's 30.bday cake, and the chocolate chips gave me the freedom yet precision I was looking for in it's decoration. It took some planning, a steady hand and several hours but the result was more than satisfying!
Back in the times of our childhood, my sister and I grew up watching anime... ah... cartoons of the 80s were so good, were they now? Unlike unfortunately most of the cartoons kids watch today on cartoon network (IMO some should be banned... but then again, this is not that kind of blog ;) ).
Anyhow, back in those days my sister's favourite was Belle et Sebastien, so for her 30.bday I decided to surprise her and bring her back to those days a bit :). Mission accomplished!
As complicated as it looks, it's in fact rather simple. You don't even need art skills if you go with a printed design. There are just a few steps you need to take care of:
- Chocolate temperature - always the same
- Never rush, or you will regret it :)
- Outlines first, inside next, bottom/cover last.
Simple is it not? :)
Well let's get started!
Total time: several hours (depending on the design - this one took me 4h, but it was my first, next time I think it would take 2h)
Difficulty: Difficult, time demanding
Ingredients:- dark chocolate
- white chocolate
- milk chocolate
- food coloring (if needed)
- cocoa butter (to aid hardening the colored chocolate)
- baking paper
- scotch and pencil
- hard, flat surface
- Teflon pan
- heatproof holders
Before you start, choose your design and print it or draw it on a piece of paper. Here is mine, you can see which chocolate I used for which part of the design.
- Prepare the design:
Place the paper on a flat surface and cover it with the baking paper, which since its greased will help you taking off the chocolate once you're done. Fix them both with scotch and start reproducing the lines with a pencil. If you have lots of different areas, add maybe a note in each - telling you which color they are.
- Once you're done with the reproduction, remove the papers from the surface, and flip them. By doing this you will get a white surface to help you distinguish the design, and most important the right design you should be making with chocolate.
- Remember: with this technique you're doing things upside down, which means your design should be in that way too - hence the flipping of the baking paper. Also you don't want to eat graphite right? :)
- Now you need to prepare your melting tools.
The chocolate needs to be always the same temperature, which can either be achieved with a candy thermometer and two pots - one with boiling water, the other inside the first. This design can be tricky since even a single drop of water will ruin your chocolate.
On the other hand putting the chocolate in a non sticking pan and on the stove, even with minimal heat can burn it.
So I came up with this rustic design, which will keep the center of the pan at the same temperature without burning the chocolate.
- For this purpose I used 3 vegetable cutters, even thou any heatproof holder will suffice. Place the holders in a circle, with a tea light candle in the middle. (one or two will be enough)
- Now you can place your pan with chocolate over it, and start the drawing.
- First step - borders
Start always with your borders, but also think ahead. If you're right handed start with the top-left part and work your way down to the bottom-right part. If your left handed - start at top-right down to bottom-left.
- Using a toothpick start applying the chocolate on your drawing. Very slowly and carefully. Bit by bit. Yes, it's a rather long procedure, but the results are more than satisfying :)
- Try finishing a segment of the drawing in each area, to avoid differences in the design. And always make sure to complete the lines - don't leave holes.
- Second step - filling
Before the next step, put the tray in the fridge for at least 10 minutes, or in the freezer for a couple of minutes. In the meantime you can prepare the other chocolate you will be using.
- For the red filling (mouth and scarf) I used just a bit of powdered red jelly with white chocolate. I tried with cherry sauce but it turned out brown on heat and air.
There's a down side to using additions to your chocolate - the structure changes, and the chocolate might be too liquid. To fix that add just a bit of cocoa butter. It will give the chocolate it's hardiness back.
- Add or reduce the amount of white chocolate to get different shades of a color.
- For the eyes and white spots I used again white chocolate. The hair was done with a mix of white and dark chocolate (or milk chocolate if you wish).
- The jacket was a tricky part. I used blue food coloring (unfortunately - now that I think of it I could have used chopped red cabbage in hot water with cocoa butter to fix it) I made a mistake by adding the powder in the chocolate. Always melt the powdered color in a spoon of water - you will need much less to achieve the desired color. You can then add a bit of cocoa butter to fix the chocolate that has been modified with water.
- Once all the fillings have been done, cool it down again (fridge/freezer).
- Last step - background
The last step is the crucial and most difficult one - the background. Mine is done with white chocolate. After the other parts are well cooled down, melt the white chocolate in enough quantities.
- Spreading the background needs to be done delicately. Too much pressure will disrupt the borders - melt them and break them. Spreading the chocolate on such a big surface is tricky - if you push it too much the front part will be pushed along, and you will end up with waves of black chocolate - as you can see in my case :)
- So, if you have a small area - just drop down the white chocolate, don't spread it. If you have a bigger one - try dividing it into smaller parts and start bit by bit.
- Yes, you will use up a lot of chocolate this way, but it would be a shame to ruin all you've done so far by trying to be quicker on this part.
- When you're done, place it in the fridge until you need it. Freezing it for a couple of minutes prior to usage will make things easier ;).
- Turn it upside down on a non sticking cold surface, or directly on your cake, and start stripping the baking sheet off the chocolate.
- Careful now, slowly and steadily.
- Who does it look like? (°.°)
After 4 hours of work on just the decoration I can only say: YATTAAAAAAA!!!!!
- Fixing baking paper on a surface can be tricky, sometimes curves form that will ruin your chip. Instead, if available, you can use a piece of glass or Plexiglas. However, mind that the transfer at this point will be much harder. Before transfer, freeze it for at least 20 min, to be sure the chocolate is nice and hard, then turn in upside down on a stick less surface. Use it afterwords as you wished.
- If you have the tools and if you're skilled (and fast) enough you can pipe down the chocolate. Using a plastic bag with a hole on one edge could do the trick - but be careful - temperature and precision are crucial here.
- Whenever you feel the chocolate on your design is too soft - especially when you start connecting colors - cool it down in the fridge a bit.
- Last advice - try it!