Edible steampunk cupcakes
October 8, 2012 7:19 AM   Subscribe

How does one make edible yet metallic looking/steampunkish cupcakes that resemble these earrings?

I would like to make cupcakes that match the metallic looking texture, including rivets. Suggestions for how to do this would be appreciated. I realize it may be impossible to match exactly, that's ok.

It's important to stress that these cupcakes are meant to be eaten, not simply displayed.

The cake itself would probably be chocolate, with gold or silver type frosting. There seem to be plenty of directions on how to make a metallic style frosting on the web, so no help is needed there, unless you happen to know they suck or have a better recipe .

What sort of tool would make those awesome rivets? I’ve been experimenting with various small things from my tool box, but nothing comes close to those in the photo.

Is there a good off the shelf frosting that would sturdy enough for making the rivets? I’ve been testing several off the shelf brands and they all are too loose, for lack of a better term. Specifically, when these frostings are touched with a small screw or nut, the frosting wants to cling to the tool, as opposed to be molded. Is there a more moldable brand that is still edible? Can I mix off the shelf frosting with something else to thicken it?
posted by Brandon Blatcher to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You'll probably want to use fondant. You can buy it pre-made (in tubs or pre-rolled out) at Michael's Crafts.
posted by vespabelle at 7:23 AM on October 8, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'm thinking you might want a dyed sugar paste. Look at a store that sells Wilton supplies, or speak to a food distributor.

Alternatively, talk to a cake decorating place and offer to buy some dyed sugar paste or fondant (sugar fondant) from them.
posted by tilde at 7:23 AM on October 8, 2012

You probably want to use fondant or gum paste to make the rivets or anything else that's molded to look like something solid. They don't taste wonderful, but they're both edible.
posted by xingcat at 7:24 AM on October 8, 2012

If you want something tastier than fondant, I've had good results with plastic chocolate which as a side bonus is also really easy to make. You basically melt chocolate and add corn syrup, which then can be molded, shaped, stamped, etc.

(I guess the downside is that you seem to be looking for off-the-shelf products, which you can get with fondant)
posted by artifarce at 7:38 AM on October 8, 2012

Melting chocolate and adding corn syrup sounds interesting, but it's not something you could color, correct? If it's possible, instructions would be cool, thanks!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:41 AM on October 8, 2012

There is airbrush metallic food coloring you could use but I feel like that is a pretty large commitment to kitchen tools for a one-time use.
posted by elizardbits at 7:43 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Although I think that many of the colors can also be painted on with a small brush in the absence of an airbrush setup? Maybe?
posted by elizardbits at 7:44 AM on October 8, 2012

So, to clarify (sorry for being spammy) you would make the rivets and whatnot from the melted formed chocolate or whatever, but instead of mixing the color into the material, you would just paint it on afterwards.
posted by elizardbits at 7:47 AM on October 8, 2012

So, to clarify (sorry for being spammy) you would make the rivets and whatnot from the melted formed chocolate or whatever, but instead of mixing the color into the material, you would just paint it on afterwards.

What you want is silver "luster dust." Mix it with a little clear lemon extract and just paint it on to the molded fondant. (This is how I made R2D2's head convincingly silver for my son's b-day cake. It works really well.)
posted by jrossi4r at 8:07 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would probably see if there are silver or gray candy melts or molding chocolate (you can get powdered dye to add to them) and then get some dark silver luster dust to give it the right sheen. Here are some people discussing it on cake central.
posted by brilliantine at 8:12 AM on October 8, 2012

Oh and for painting, a lot of people recommend vodka bc it dries quickly and doesn't have a flavor.
posted by brilliantine at 8:13 AM on October 8, 2012

Vodka or alcohol is probably out of the question, as several people who will be eating these are in AA.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:15 AM on October 8, 2012

Melting chocolate and adding corn syrup sounds interesting, but it's not something you could color, correct? If it's possible, instructions would be cool, thanks!

I'd be willing to be that this white modeling chocolate recipe would paint really nicely.
posted by xingcat at 8:17 AM on October 8, 2012

You can use jimmies and pearls and stuff for the rivets, knobs etc.

Silver Jimmies

Silver Pearl Dust

Color Mist

Silver Chocolate Pearls

Michaels will have a decent Wilton cake decorating center. Or if you have time, buy on-line.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:21 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ruthless Bunny's links mention stirring the dust into vanilla extract as well, but the reason that works is the reason the vodka works, because of the alcohol in it. I don't know if you're worried that members in AA would taste the alcohol or just get the alcohol content, but likely there won't be any of either content or taste left. It's just the medium to distribute the powder, then it evaporates.
posted by artifarce at 9:33 AM on October 8, 2012

You can make plastic chocolate out of white chocolate, and color that grey. The silver pearl dust may melt into that as well, but I've never tried it.

The silver pearl dust that Ruthless Bunny mentions should give a nice metallic effect.

I've always been told to avoid even extracts with alcohol if you're making food for people with addiction issues - you may be able to use an egg white wash or sugar water to the same effect though.
posted by FritoKAL at 11:20 AM on October 8, 2012

Glycerine seems to be the substance of choice for making non-alcohol extracts; maybe it'd be worth experimenting with using it as the luster dust mixer?

Can you clarify which part you're referring to by "the rivets"? I'm not sure whether you're referring to the thing that looks like a ten-penny nail sticking out of the top, or the dot-and-circle pattern embossed in the surface, and don't want to waste your time with suggestions for emulating the wrong one.
posted by Lexica at 6:46 PM on October 8, 2012

The latter.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:47 PM on October 8, 2012

I may be too late to the party, but modeling chocolate or fondant is your go-to for making rivets and doodads; unless you have mad piping skills.

Micheal's Craft store will have fondant, they'll also have edible glitter and metallic dusts that can be brushed on. You can use corn syrup diluted with a little water to make a liquid paint with those powders as well.

Keep in mind that commercial fondant tastes...well, like commercial fondant. But homemade fondant is a lot of work, and the first few batches you try are bound to be on the learning curve.

Here's a post I wrote back in 09 on how to make various kinds of modeling chocolate with those candy disks...almond bark type chocolate from the craft store baking section, and also how to do it with "real" chocolate.

BigFatBaker has the best marshmallow fondant recipe I've tried. There are other recipes out there that start from scratch, where you make the marshmallow first; but I've found that it's too sticky to work with easily, and I end up with a sticky, tacky-feeling final product. If you're starting from scratch, be sure to leave yourself at least 2 days drying time between making the mallows and making the fondant.

All that said; here's how I would do it: (assuming 24 cupcakes)

I would find metallic cupcake papers. I would buy a small container of white, vanilla fondant (try to avoid pre-rolled if you can, it tears and is pain), and 1 big, or two small jars of edible glitter dust in your metal of choice, and some food safe markers.

Fondant work: dust your work surface with powdered sugar, roll couple of tablespoons of fondant (or modeling chocolate) out to about .25" thick. Chocolate is easier to work with from a time perspective, as fondant dries out ridiculously fast. With fondant, work in small batches, work fast, then set it somewhere to dry, as though it were clay.

These are simple shapes though, so no worries, you can whip through that in no time. Cut out your squares and hearts and set them on parchment paper or wax paper. Dry-brush the metallic pigment on. Color in the heart and any details with the markers if desired. (You may have to come back for second coat later). Make sure to make any impressions like the die holes before they dry. If you want to do the doodads stacked, you need to mold the nail piece, and make sure that the other bits have a hole big enough for you to slide the pin in, at least a little, so it doesn't look squished on.

If you want to do cake topper circles, so that the fondant can mimic the patterns in the earrings, you'll need to do the math to figure out the radius of the circle you need, or have steady enough hands to trim it on the cupcake.

So, you bake your cupcakes. You put a thin layer of frosting on the cake, so that the fondant will adhere. Roll your fondant to about 1/4 inch. Having a long flat spatula is helpful if working with bigger pieces. Cut your circles, and drop them on to the cupcakes. Once the fondant meets frosting; you don't have to worry about the drying factor, so you have plenty of time to draw in the lines and make the patterns.

Dry brush with metallic dust. If the color isn't what you want, try making a solution of 1 part corn syrup to 1 part water. Dip your brush in that, then in a small pile of the dust, and see if that deepens it up enough for you.

Those circles look like they could be made with an old style ball point pen, the little dots could be done with the end of your paintbrush.

You can totally do this! I want pictures when you're done.
posted by dejah420 at 6:18 PM on October 10, 2012

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