Hi everyone! I have worked with Modelling Chocolate (referred to as M/C throughout this article) many times over the past few months, trying to find the perfect recipe, and the best ways to use it. I have encountered many wonderful results, but also disasters, mistakes and mishaps. This is why I have decided to write this article, so none of you will ever have to perform a M/C ‘test-period’ again!
Modelling Chocolate has changed the wonders of modern day Sugarcraft. It has added a new dimension to modelling as seams can be ‘blended’. This is simply achieved by running a finger along a seam, the chocolate melts and hey presto, it disappears! But there are obvious drawbacks. Chocolate melts. This product has to be handled hardly at all and this can be a challenge at times!
It can also be used as a layer under sugarpaste on a chocolate cake, you need the M/C to be heated to ensure it is soft so that it does not crack when layed over the cake. Or if you prefer you can use it as the top layer for a cake. There is nothing better than having a covered cake which not only tastes wonderful, but actually has the most amazing aroma too…something you will never achieve with sugarpaste.
Once you get used to it, I promise you will love it as much as I do.
Above – Zero from ’The Nightmare Before Christmas, along with his bed and kennel (headstone).
I tend to make my M/C in small batches, as this makes it easier to work with. One batch makes around 600g, but this obviously depends upon the products you use, and the slight variations with scales! The finished product is quite heavy, more so than sugarpaste. It is also rock solid!
You also need to know that you will have to vary the amounts of syrup that you use depending on what type of chocolate you will be using.
White Modelling Chocolate Ingredients -
- 1lb of white chocolate – the quality doesnt matter, pick one that you like the taste of! (you need roughly 4 and a half 100g bars.)
- 7 tbsp of syrup – i use golden syrup, as explained below!
Dark Modelling Chocolate Ingredients -
- 1lb of dark/plain chocolate – (you will need roughly 4 and a half 100g bars.)
- 10 tbsp of syrup.
(There is no specific recipe for making milk chocolate M/C. This is made by mixing together white and dark M/C on a 1:1 ratio. Eg, mould 50g white M/C with 50g dark M/C, knead until blended.)
Products to use-
I am always asked where to buy corn syrup when it comes to making M/C. Most recipes on the internet for M/C are American and the Americans use a syrup in their recipes called Corn Syrup. It is near impossible to buy in the UK, but i have heard of people importing it using American websites. This is totally unnecessary and a big waste of money! To put it simply, from now on please tell everybody that American Corn Syrup = English Golden Syrup! They are the same thing…
But saying that, it is not necessary to use golden syrup wither. When the chocolate is melted, all it requires is something of a sticky liquid consistency to make it pliable once set. Use your imagination and the list is endless…
- Black Treacle
- Liquid Glucose
- Agave Nectar
- Maple Syrup
…the choice is yours. The two main objectives for most is to have the best flavour at a low cost price. So golden syrup would seem the obvious choice, would it not? M/C should taste of pure chocolate, and ideally nothing else. This is the main reason golden syrup is used, as a product it does not have much of a flavour, and does not taint the flavour of the chocolate when added to it. It can also be bought for less than £1, good for anyone’s pockets!!!
But of course making M/C with another product such as honey could also be done to give the M/C a new depth of flavour, to give it a twist! You just have to decide which you prefer..!
With my first ever batch of M/C I used Tesco economy white chocolate and the same brand of Golden Syrup. The batch was perfect, and I have tried to use other products since…Sainsbury’s Chocolate…Tate and Lyle’s Golden Syrup…complete disasters are the only words to describe it – straight in the bin! Needless to say i now stick with the original ingredients i started with…
Above – Koala made entirely from Modelling Chocolate, in two parts. (Body and head)
Recipe Instructions -
The main issue which can cause problems with the recipe, is overheating the chocolate. We do NOT want to do this! Break your chosen chocolate into equal sized pieces, which will ensure they all melt through at the same time. Put them in a bowl and heat for 30 seconds. Remove and stir. Heat for another 20 seconds, remove and stir vigorously. The chocolate should be just warm, stirring the chocolate will spread the warmth and begin to melt the rest of the chocolate. If not melted now then heat for another ten seconds, remove and stir again. (If you have armache now, then you did it properly!)
Measure your syrup into a jug. Heat in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. It should be roughly the same temperature as the chocolate. Pour directly onto the chocolate and get those muscles ready for stirring again! The longer you stir, the thicker the mixture will become. The mixture should begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl. (Don’t panic if it doesn’t, keep stirring for another 2 minutes and the mixture will be ready.)
Lay a sheet of cling film on the work surface, and place the mixture onto the centre of the film. Spread the mixture over the film into a rectangular shape around 1-2cm thick, this will enable the chocolate to set quickly. Wrap up the M/C then lay onto another sheet of cling film, wrap again.
You now have two options. If you are in a hurry you can place the m/c into the fridge. A 1.5cm thickness should set in about 2 hours, but it all depends on how thick you have spread it. Check after 1 hour, and turn the m/c over.
The other option (being for the more organised – not me!) is to make it before you need it and then leave at room temperature for up to 24 hours to set – this process should be finished in around 12 hours, but again it all depends on how thick you have spread the mixture.
Above – An incomplete Jack from ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’.
Colouring Modelling Chocolate -
There are many options with colouring the chocolate but I do have my preferences. The options are kneading, painting and pre-setting.
Kneading – add black to dark M/C as you will use less paste colour, and all other colours are made from white M/C. But this is a hopeless option in my book. How do you knead in paste colour into a product you aren’t supposed to handle? The answer? I have no idea. (At least im honest!) Kneading = melting = mess = no colour absorbed. Grrrrrr….solutions below please!!!!
(Haven’t tried this using gloves yet…this could be the answer, i will let you know!)
Painting – applied once you have painted your model/sculpture. I find edible dusts and alcohol are the best option, as pastes don’t seem to dry when painted onto the chocolate (even when painted on with alcohol). Resulting in messy fingers when handled. Not advised!
Pre-setting – not quite as swish as it sounds…and this is probably the most expensive option, but i promise it’s the best option! It means you need to make a batch for every colour you need, but if you reduce the amounts in the recipe, by a half or a quarter, then you wont need to spend all of your months wages on chocolate! Once you have melted your chocolate, add enough paste colour to the chocolate to get it the colour you require. (Add black to dark chocolate and all other colours to white chocolate.) Stir it into the chocolate before adding the syrup and continue as per the above instructions.
Hints and tips-
There is one thing you need to be made aware of. Water is poison to M/C, it will kill it. Ensure everything is dry before use, and don’t go near a tap until you have finished or you will regret it!
Always keep you M/C in an airtight bag, or it will become dry and crumbly. I have been told you can recover the mixture by kneading trex into it, but this has never worked for me!
If you find it impossible to cut/break pieces off/ knead the M/C, then its back to the trusty microwave. Heat for 5 seconds, you can try another 5 if this isn’t enough. It should now be warm enough to work with.
If you find the chocolate is too warm to work with then stop! It’s because our hands give off too much heat and you are warming the chocolate as you play with it. M/C ideally needs to be handled as less as possible, so if you can find a tool to hold it in place while you are working on it, then well done you! Obviously it is best to use tools to mould and shape it also, but if you need to use your fingers then don’t be afraid to. Only use it when your ovens and heating are off, and try to keep a window open if you can bear it…you will thank me later!
Oh and one more thing, don’t put the M/C back in the fridge. Once you have sculpted a model, it becomes sensitive to heat. Putting it back in the fridge, only means it will sweat once removed, and trust me, you don’t want that!
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