I was inspired to make this cake from Boticelli's Birth of Venus oil painting. I decided to try and sculpt with Modelling Chocolate / Candy after seeing some detailed sculptures made with this medium online. In addition, it's also relatively more delicious compared to fondant and gum paste. However, Karo corn syrup is not available in Australia. I researched for an alternative and found that Glucose syrup will work as well. The recipe for the modelling chocolate / candy uses the glucose syrup. If you're using corn syrup, check YouTube videos online for the recipe.
Since modelling chocolate / candy melts easily. I suggest using this clay during colder seasons and if it starts to become oily let it rest for a while or place it in the refrigerator to firm it up.
I have a 2 part video on my YouTube channel on the making of this cake.
Step 1: Ingredients & Materials
- 2 Cake Mix ( I used Betty Crocker Chocolate Cake Mix)
- 12 ounces Dark Chocolate Chips
- 2 cups Heavy cream
- 400g Candy Melts
- 300g White Chocolate
- 270g Glucose Syrup
- Food Gel colors (red, green, blue, yellow, black)
- Wilton powder dust in red shimmer
- Gold sugar dust
- Lemon extract
- Paint brushes and fondant modelling tools
- Bamboo skewer
- Cake pop sticks
- Baking pan
- Cling wrap
- Rolling pin
- Double boiler
- Styrofoam Block ( I bought this at Daiso)
- Wax paper
- Round Cake board
Dark chocolate chips and heavy cream were used to make chocolate ganache frosting.
Step 2: Making the Modelling Chocolate / Candy
Modelling Chocolate Recipe: For every 100 grams of white chocolate add 50 grams of glucose syrup and 1/2 teaspoon of water.
Modelling Candy Recipe: For every 100 grams of candy melts add 30 grams of glucose syrup and 1/2 teaspoon of water.
For detailed sculptures I use the candy melts recipe because it holds details very well and it doesn't melt as quickly compared to the white chocolate recipe. The white chocolate recipe is great for simple figures and for covering cakes as an alternative to fondant.
To make the modelling candy, melt the candy melts on a double boiler then heat the glucose syrup with the water either in a microwave or double boiler. When the syrup becomes runny, pour in the candy melts and stir. Stop stirring when the mixture stiffens. At this point, it looks like soft serve ice cream. (1st image) It is important that you stop stirring when you reach this point to avoid separating the oils from the candy. Place the mixture on cling wrap to let it cool.
Making the modelling chocolate is a bit tricky because it tends to separate very quickly. The method by Innovative Sugarworks on YouTube, however is the best I found online. First, melt the white chocolate in a double boiler then add in the glucose syrup and water. Stir the mixture. Initially, the oils will separate but keep mixing and eventually it will be reabsorbed. (2nd image) Let it cool for a while before placing on the cling wrap.
The next day, I knead the modelling chocolate / candy wrap it in cling wrap and store it in ziplock bags. You can add color to the clay with food gel colors when it's pliable.
For the modelling candy, I made a flesh color by mixing a small amount of red, yellow and green food gel while for the hair, I added yellow and red. On the other hand, the modelling chocolate is colored with green and blue gel. I also set aside some uncolored modelling candy for the shell.
Step 3: Sculpting the Head
Start with an egg shaped piece and refer to your reference for the size. To prevent melting the clay with your hands, use a toothpick as a holder. Then with a needle tool or toothpick, indent a central vertical line. This will help you with symmetry. Indent placement for the eyes, nose and mouth. Using a paddle tool, indent the sockets of the eyes. Form the nose by moving the clay towards the center of the face. Draw the eyes and lids with a needle tool. Form the lips by indenting the corner of the mouth then make a line to connect both corners. Make an indentation below the lower lip to start shaping the chin area. Add more clay to areas as you see fit. I usually add more to the chin and brow areas. Prop the head on a piece of clay to keep it from deforming. At any point you feel that the clay is too soft to handle, let it rest in the refrigerator to cool.
Step 4: Sculpting the Body
Sculpt the body by referring to the photo with regards to the size and shape. The torso is an elongated piece with tapered ends and pinched mid-portion. The limbs are elongated pieces or clay with one end flattened out to form a hand and the other curved to become a foot.
After the initial shapes, add clay to parts of the body that needed bulking out. I added more clay to the buttocks area and I further tapered one end of the torso to become the neck. Add some details to the abdomen with a paddle or needle tool.
To help prop and pose the figure, use a styrofoam block covered with parchment paper as your stand. Insert a bamboo skewer to the legs and place on the stand. Insert another one to the left side of the torso and insert it on the left leg.
Step 5: Detailing the Figure
With the figure on the stand, add more clay to the areas that needed more muscle mass. Check the figure in different angles and refer to female anatomy images to help you with the shapes. I added more clay to the hip area, leg, calf, buttocks and scapula. I also added more clay to the chest area because the rib cage bulks this out. In addition, I added two balls of clay for the breasts. Then with a tool, indented an inverted triangle above the buttocks to indicate the sacrum and a vertical indent on the back to indicate the back bone.
After sculpting the torso and legs, sculpt the hands by cutting the flattened end portion of the limb to five fingers. Lightly roll each finger with your index finger and thumb to smooth out the edges. Attach the limbs to the shoulder area with a piece of toothpick and pose the limbs by bending on the elbow region.
Attach the head on the neck with a toothpick as well and add clay to the sides of the neck for your trapezius muscles.
Step 6: Sculpting the Hair
To sculpt the hair, start on the back of the head. Instead of shaping thin ropes of clay, it's easier to make several elongated flattened pieces of clay then texture with a needle and paddle tool. After the back of the head, make the hair on the sides and crown of the head. What's great about this clay is it doesn't need armature for the small pieces that sticks out like the pieces of hair flowing on the left side.
Step 7: Painting Venus
Paint the face using food gel color that has been thinned slightly with lemon extract.
I started with the eyes, sides of the nose, nostrils and chin with brown then black color for the iris and eyebrows. I then used red for the lips and cheeks. I also painted parts of the hair brown. Then using wilton dust powder, I blushed the body focusing on the creases. I also painted the ridges of the shell with brown and sprinkled some gold colored sugar.
Step 8: Making the Cake
Bake two sponge cakes of your choice in 20 x 4.8 cm round pans. Stack two with frosting in between then with a knife cut out a shell shape on the top part, after which frost the whole cake.
Roll out the modelling chocolate on a surface with powdered sugar to prevent it from sticking. Try to have it as thin as you can. I think mine was about 4 mm thick. Then cover the cake with the modelling chocolate. It's okay if the surface of the cake is not very smooth since I will sculpt waves with ropes of blue and white clay on the surface of the cake. I textured the waves using a shell fondant tool.
Sculpt the shell by flattening out a fan shaped piece then draw lines from the mid lower portion of the shell outwards. Slightly curve the clay between each lines.
Insert 4 cake pop rods into the cake to support the sculpture. Place the shell on top of the cake then place Venus on top.