Even if you've watched only 1 or 2 episodes of Cake Boss, you've probably noticed that Buddy uses a medium called 'modeling chocolate'. It's like a modeling clay made from white, milk, or dark chocolate, which is often used to form figures (e.g. his dragon cake) or sometimes even to cover cakes (e.g. the planet cake). It is very hard to find pictures of cakes on the show, when I can, I'll point you to them. :)
Here is a beautiful cake I found on the Better Homes and Gardens website: Tiffany Cake
This cake is covered in chocolate (rather than fondant) and features beautiful chocolate roses and stephanotis.
As a result, I decided a good weekend activity was attempting to make modeling chocolate. So far, I've only tried white modeling chocolate, as the coloring possibilities are more varied than the milk and dark counterparts (though supposedly dark is the easiest to work with...)
First Mistake: I made my first batch using white chocolate chips. IT DOES NOT WORK. Apparently chips are treated with something to make them hold their shape. The modeling chocolate was lumpy, and after I refrigerated it, it was hard as a brick.
Here is the recipe I used for a small batch:
1/2 lb white chocolate, chopped
3 1/2 tbsp light corn syrup
I used 2 Ghirardelli bars for this, but I am anxious to try other varieties.
Cut or break up the chocolate, and put it in a microwave safe bowl. Melt it in the microwave using 30 second intervals and stirring, to avoid burning. Heat the corn syrup in a separate bowl, but be careful! You want the corn syrup to be a similar temperature to the chocolate, but it heats very quickly in the microwave.
Second Mistake: I tried a finger test (dipping my finger in the corn syrup) and I DO NOT recommend this approach. The corn syrup was much hotter than I anticipated, and it's very sticky, so hard to get off your finger. Don't make my mistake and end up screaming while you can't get the corn syrup off your finger.
Anyway, combine your warmed corn syrup and melted white chocolate, and stir quickly with a rubber spatula. Once mixed, pour onto plastic wrap. Double wrap and let set for a couple hours in the fridge.
Once your chocolate has set, you can break off a piece and knead it with your hand to make it pliable.
I was particularly interested in trying roses. To make roses, I rolled out some modeling chocolate on a Sil-pat (an amazing nonstick mat that is heat proof... awesome investment). Then, I cut out circles, and manipulated them with the double-sided ball gum-paste tool-- I have this kit.
My first rose attempt.
The goal was to thin the edges of the petals to make them more realistic.
To form the flowers, I wrapped one petal around a small ball to for the center, then did layers of 3, 5, and 7 petals. The large roses were made with a 1 1/2 in round cutter, and the small roses were made with a 5/8 in round cutter.
My favorites. :)
I think these would look amazing on a wedding cake, but they are time consuming! Would take quite some time to make the hundred or two that would be required to make even a small version of the Tiffany Cake I liked earlier.
The good news is, they taste like chocolate!
I did taste some modeling chocolate. I think it's tastier than gum paste (the more common medium for making sugar flowers-- see Sylvia Weinstock's work if you haven't already.) It tastes like chocolate, but it's a bit chewy, like taffy.
Finally, I wanted to experiment with adding some color to the roses. So I took some roses that weren't my favorites, and painted it with diluted gel paste and petal dust:
I think these have a lot of potential!
Modeling chocolate is fun to try and doesn't require a lot of supplies. I'd say, go for it!