Saturday, March 8, 2014

How to Make a "Swimming Alligator" with Modeling Chocolate & Fondant

Yes this is a cake about alligators playing frisbee. 

This cake was for a baby shower for our pediatricians daughter.  Surprisingly it was much easier than I anticipated. I haven't done many cakes with sculpted characters besides a few baby shower ducks and bears but once coming across a similar idea I had to try it out.

 The very geometrical-ness and cute klunky-ness of the gators inspired me to try my hand at modeling them with fondant and chocolate. Geometrical = easier to sculpt for a non-sculptor (me), cute klunky = any mistakes or flaws just add a little more character (awesome!). I based my alligators on an adorable image I found of a  polymer clay alligator from  Dee Raa Arts based out of Leyland UK. The frisbee theme was tied in because the soon to be dad is a big fan of the sport.

 Look to challenging for you?! I don't consider myself particularly handy with this type of decorating either although I'm finding the more I try out different techniques and mediums the results seem to be getting better and better. The success of these gators has given me more confidence in tackling other sculpted characters for upcoming cakes. So give the gators a shot, it's worth trying!

 The recipe I use for modeling chocolate is very simple and works great when mixed with 50% fondant. The chocolate also gives the fondant more smooth-ability so you're able to smooth over and cracks or bumps along the way. I also found that heating the surface up with a shot from my hand held steamer added a bright shine and smoothed over areas that I couldn't quite get right.

The big guy took about an hour to put together.  I did not include the steps for making the whole gator, but they are very similar to making a swimming gator. Once you get the swimming  gator body down try using the same steps but attaching the body together and adding feet. 
I hope you enjoy making these gators as much as I did, and let me know how your gators turn out!
Scroll down to the bottom of this post to share this tutorial on Facebook and Twitter, and as always I'd love to help you with any questions along the way!

Enjoy life with Cake,

Really?! Could you get any cuter!

How to Make a "Swimming Gator"

 Start with a 50/50 mix of fondant and modeling chocolate kneaded together until very smooth. To start the modeling chocolate out, I microwave it for a few seconds 5-10 to melt the chocolate just enough to be pliable again. Knead the modeling chocolate by  itself until smooth then knead in an equal amount of fondant and food coloring until the perfect shade of alligator green.

 Measure the surface of your cake to figure out how long your gator needs to be. Roll a hunk of your mixture into a long cylinder. Smooth out the sides until slightly flat and point the end of the tail.  Bend the tail slightly to give the gator movement.  If the 50/50 mixture starts to dry out or is difficult to smooth, rub a small amount of shortening over the rough or dry area until it becomes pliable again.

Next form the middle body section and the snout of the gator. 
To give the gator the illusion of swimming in the cake the middle should be 
a slightly lower height than the tail and snout. The snout can be larger than 
the other pieces to mimic a gator with most of his head out of the water. 

Using dark chocolate fondant (or dark modeling chocolate, for these small accents I try to use up peices and parts of fondant I still have around from other projects) roll out very small scales. 
Brush a small amount of water onto the body and tail of the gator 
and adhere the scales to the body. Press firmly to stick the scale down and 
also pinch the top of the scale to give it a pointy top.

Add small nostrils on the tip of the snout by rolling more 50/50 mix into 
tiny circles marked with small indents from the tip of a pen or a pointed fondant tool. Roll pure white fondant into large eyes and secure on the top of the head with a little water. If the fondant accents are not adhering well you can use gum glue or a little soft fondant under the parts to stick them together. Frequently stop and chill the gator in the refrigerator to better adhere the parts.

Bring your gator to life with small black pupils.
(Man's new best friend?!)

Add a few small spots in a lighter or darker shade of green,
 to the body and snout for color. 

Add a small amount of fondant to form an upper lip of the gator. 
This will hide the seam where the teeth and gums meet once you start adding teeth.

The teeth are made out of pure white fondant, rolled into small teeth-ish shaped pieces. 
 Press the teeth into the gums and point the ends to make the teeth sharp 
 (Scroll down to pics of the finished cake for close-ups of teeth)

The frisbees are made with a small piece of  flattened fondant. 
Here I swirled in some blue color gel but didn't quite mix it all in to keep the swirls intact.

For the ridges on the frisbee I used different sizes of decorating tips to
 lightly press the ridges into the fondant.

After a thorough search of my tools to achieve the  perfect 
middle circle of a frisbee the eye dropper from my children's medicine worked the best.

...And Frisbees!

Before securing the gators down I mapped out on the frosted cake about where
 I wanted to place the finished gators.

To secure your gator to the cake add some swirly blue frosting for him to swim in.
My first attempt above I started piping olny around the gator but soon found it was easier to pipe the swirls first under the gator then place the parts on top and to cover up the gaps with more 'water'.This lifted the body up to be more visible and looked much better.

I ended up re-positioning the gator a few times until
 I found a position that worked and looked realistic, or realistic enough for a bright green gator playing frisbee

I did the same swirls for dirt and grass under the land gator, 
and gave him a few frisbees to throw.

Ta da!

Hope this helps your next cake project!
Send me a pic if you make it for yourself!

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