Don't rush it... and don't take it out on the cat

Yesterday I began a project involving cake bites and fondant. The cake turned out well for what I was to use it for. Surprisingly, the cake recipe was not nearly sweet or chocolaty enough, however that should have been expected since there was no butter involved and bittersweet cocoa was the only source of chocolate. I followed tips found in "The Essence of Chocolate", by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg- in That Chocolate Cake recipe, the water is brought to a boil and then mixed in with the other ingredients. I liked this technique as it improves the cake's texture, helps with blending, and brings out the flavors of the cocoa and sugar. The mixture was quite soupy when put into the oven, but came out nice and moist after 40 minutes.

After allowing the chocolate cake to cool, it was crumbled into a bowl and mixed with cream cheese frosting. After dipping my hands into a fresh bottle of olive oil, I began forming 2 to 2-1/2 inch balls, placing them on wax paper. So far so good right?

Knowing the cake bites would be far more workable if I refrigerate them for a few hours or even put them in the freezer for an hour, I was far too anxious for the end product... I decided to continue with room-temperature cake bites. Since the idea was to wrap a fondant bow around them and turn them all into little presents, I proceeded to shape the balls into squares. The chocolate bark was melted and ready so I began dunking my little chocolate presents in the bath of brown bark.

First cake bite out, on the parchment paper, and looking good! Second cake bite out, on the parchment paper, and also looking good! Okay, so this might be just as easy as dunking bon bons in chocolate for Christmas right? Nope, not really even remotely that simple- I soon found that with the more time each cake ball spent at room temperature, the less the cream cheese frosting seemed to act as an adhesive. Eventually, after covering only half a pan of cake bites, I found myself with not only lumpy square cake balls, but was even stuck with lumpy chocolate bark since each ball that went in for a dunk lost chunks of cake in the process. I soon concluded that it would be easier if I take the time to cool all of the cake bites and then proceed with the dunking (using a new, non-lumpy, batch of melted chocolate bark).

Two hours later I returned to the remainder of my now chilled cake bites and proceeded with the dunking. Pleased with the ease of forming and dunking the remaining bites, I dove straight into preparing the fondant... after all, the fondant recipe I was following recommended allowing 10 minutes of preparation start to finish...Half an hour later I was still kneading the fondant. I decided to call it a night. Finally the next morning I took a deep breath and dove back into my fondant mode. The heap of mushy white stuff, presumably fondant, from the night before remained the same: a sugary mess. I decided to soldier on and follow the recipe since I have doubted myself before while in the middle of a recipe and voila... by the end, things always seem to turn out like the recipe says it will, right?. Pulling out my fondant recipe once more, I looked to where I had left off: "...roll fondant out on a clean surface that has been dusted with confectioners' sugar until it is 1/8 inch thick or thinner... cut into strips to make bows and other decorations." Yes, my heap of fondant was complete... and yet it was not smooth and play-doh-like, but was coarse, grainy, and not even remotely elastic-like. All I could do at this point was keep going and hope for the best.

Removing the cake bites from the fridge made me wish I had a better air conditioner- my chocolate-covered cake bites were now starting to sweat. Great. Rolling the now yellow-dyed fondant onto the sugar-covered counter top and thinly slicing a ribbon, I moved the fondant to my first cake bite specimen. I gently worked to lay the fondant atop a line of sticky chocolate frosting (aka glue) already in place on the cake bite, which was lining where the fondant ribbons would go. Well over 30 minutes later, I finished my first cake bite. Sweating and frustrated, I threw down the toothpick I was using to shape the fondant and subdued to trashing the "short cut" fondant recipe. Leaving the house in search of what I would need to make fondant the right way, I tried to find the lesson I was to learn since I knew there had to be one somewhere within that thick mess of a fondant pile.

Now, hoping this is my last lesson on the short-cut subject, I confess that I have learned the hard way that it is best to not take the short cut or easiest way out in baking... and that no matter how much your kitten may love to jump up and clamp her claws into your beautiful silk tablecloth, you should not take your lack of fondant skills out on her... sorry Lila.

I am now on a hunt for glycerin and glucose syrup, once I have found these ingredients I will be right back at the forefront of fondant making. Until then, it's time to make bread!

Update! I have mastered fondant! I am now forging my way through mounds of fondant and am making and selling cakes with a fondant recipe that I actually designed!

1 comment:

Krystal said...

For all the effort you put in to this recipe - they were totally worth it! Yummy! Thanks for sharing them with us!

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