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Saturday, October 15, 2011

May the force be with you

 Don't get me wrong: I like Star Wars, but I'm not obsessed with it or anything. However, a month or so ago the idea of doing a Chewbacca wearing a party hat cake popped into my head and I'd been dying for an excuse to try it. I also thought this would be the perfect subject to try using ganache as the main covering medium rather than fondant, inspired by the incredibly talented Paul Joachim. Maybe a month later my friend and boyfriend's sister told me her son was asking if I could do Han Solo in carbonite for his birthday- so I said sure, but I'm going to do Chewie too if that'd be alright:) I figured I could do Chewbacca as cake, and Han Solo as a pan of those Rice Krispie Scotcheroo peanut butter bars with chocolate on top, (recipe here).Since I have very limited time during the week I wanted to get as much done as early as I could. The weekend before I needed the cake I baked my cakes and started on the party hats, since I knew I'd be making them out of gumpaste and they'd need time to dry completely. A quick internet search found this nice crafty blog, "Oh Happy Day" with a downloadable party hat template, which I printed out and traced onto some cardboard. I rolled out my gumpaste, and cut out the shape (sans tabs)

On the edge where I would be attaching it, I rolled the gumpaste out a bit and thinner:

I made three PBR party hats for the gumpaste to dry on, and dusted them liberally with cornstarch:
You can see the learning curve for wrapping around the cone, the first one has a messy edge, which gets cleaner with number 2 and number 3:

The next thing I started on was the Han Solo figure for on top of the cereal bars. The first thing I did was find a photo on the internet and print it out in the scale I needed. I can't emphasize how important scale is to making your cakes "look right". I was original planning on doing an 11 x 13" size for this, but scaling up the picture ended up with a 8 x 22" Han, other sizes wouldn't have looked quite right. I printed out the picture, then covered it with a sheet of waxed paper and just started using leftover modeling chocolate to carve the figure and features, using gumpaste tools.
When I was done I did an experiment to see how well the lustre dust/vodka would cover, and wished I had started with a grey modeling chocolate to begin with.

Early in the week I also made a batch of chocolate modeling chocolate, milk chocolate ganache, peanut butter ganche, and black modeling chocolate. The night before I actually started decorating I got my base ready. I used a 16" Wilton cake drum (purchased with the Micheals 50% off coupon off course), then cut out a 14" circle of 1/2" MDF (particle board) with a jigsaw for underneath. I attached a PVC flange to the top of the board with wood screws and used a Dremel tool to shear off the protruding screw tips. I ran one length of PVC up the middle for support. Since I didn't want to leave the birthday family with more cake/desserts than they could ever eat/want I used a Styrofoam cake dummy for the base (though in retrospect I wouldn't bother and would just use cake as it is a pain to carve and you can't change it once you add the actual cake.) I attached this to the board with tub frosting(see it's good for something) and also gave it a coating to seal in the styro crumbs.

Then I stacked the cake, filling with ganache.
Then I started carving and covered in a layer of ganache. I popped it into the fridge (after removing a shelf and drawer to make room) and let it firm up before covering in a clean plastic bag before I left for work.
One day 2 I covered with more ganache and started adding pieces of modeling chocolate to give the face structure

For the furry look I used a pastry brush on the still warm ganache. I also used the pastry brush with the peanut butter ganache for the lighter highlights
Adding the gumpaste eyeballs:

I painted the eyes (and for once only had to do it once before not getting a cross-eyed/mentally-deficient effect) and scoped out where the hat would go. I was tempted to leave it this way, but maybe not entirely appropriate for a kid's b-day. The teeth and tongue are modeling chocolate

I made a double batch of the Scotheroos and then time for work again.  

When I got home I made the chocolate topping, covered the bars, then used a long spatula to loosen Han from the waxed paper and press him into the chocolate. I used a small plastic sandwich bag crinkled up to give texture to the topping, then popped the pan into the freezer to set up a bit so it didn't melt the figure too much.  

In the morning I got ready to airbrush:
However, the color mostly just beaded on the chocolate and didn't cover at all on the figure; so I brought out the 100 proof vodka/ Moonstone lustre dust for the figure, and used a brush top smooth the beaded airbrush on the chocolate topping
I rolled out some black modeling chocolate for the sides of the Carbonite block, and made some modeling chocolate accents, which I also painted silver.

And voila! Star Wars birthday. I would love to see his face, but unfortunately I have to work yet again, then I finally need some damn sleep:) A long week but well worth it