Last week I shared with you how I made the structure to my Puss in Boots cake. This week I am going to share instructions on sculpting Puss and Humpty Dumpty out of modeling chocolate. Today I will start with Puss.
I am the first to admit that I am no sculptor. I have no formal training and have just sort of picked up things over the years by watching others or messing around with it until it looked good. I tell you that because there are probably lots of other ways out there to sculpt these characters and if you happen to know better ways, please feel free to post information in the comments section at the end. I always love to learn new and better ways to do things.
Before beginning any cake project, I usually spend quite a bit of time on the computer accumulating photos so that I have something to use as my example. I also have a little wooden art mannequin that is very helpful when determining things like arm length and knee placement for human-type bodies. Although these characters aren’t human, the mannequin still helped me visualize where to place things and how to bend arms and such.
I started by coloring some modeling chocolate orange with just a slight hint of red, using some paste food coloring. (If you have never used modeling chocolate before, I will be posting basic information on making it, coloring it, etc. in a future blog post but that is too much to include right now.) I shaped it into a long flat log that was wider on the bottom than top. Once it was the length I wanted, I used a knife to cut it straight across at the point that the boots would attach to the legs then cut out a “V” shape for where the separation of the legs would occur. I used the heat from my fingers to rub the edges so that they would round and soften out.
When I had my desired shape, I used a veining tool to make marks all over the body to resemble fur. Puss has a lot of white coloring on the front of him so I then used a dry paint brush (one that is only used for food) and brushed some white petal dust along the center front of his body.
For the belt, I took some brown modeling chocolate, rolled it out thin, and used a strip cutter to cut out an even sized strip. I wrapped it around the waist at an angle and used a little bit of piping gel to keep it in place.
I then took a couple of tiny piece of chocolate, rolled them in my fingers and thinned them down on the ends, then wrapped them around the belt to form the buckle. I finished by adding another piece of chocolate to make the pin of the buckle. You can’t see it in this picture but I turned the buckle a golden color by mixing a little bit of vegetable oil with gold luster dust and using a fine paint brush to paint it on the buckle.
Next I added the arms. To form the arms I rolled out a long sausage-shape of orange chocolate then cut it at an angle at the midpoint. The angled ends are the sides that will attach to the torso. I used the veining tool again to make fur markings. For the paws, I used an exacto knife and made cuts to separate the toes.
To round out the underside of the paw, I used a small round cutter and cut away some of the chocolate.
I then attached the arms to the torso using a small amount of piping gel to help them adhere. This is where the mannequin is helpful for showing how to shape the arms so that they bend in the proper locations. I used my fingers to rub the chocolate so that the seams from the arm would disappear into the torso. This caused some of the markings to rub away so I went over everything again with the veining tool and added some more fur markings. To make the stripes on the arms, I mixed some vegetable oil with red petal dust and used a fine paint brush to paint on the stripes.
To form the neck, I added a ball of chocolate to the top of the torso and used my fingers to shape it and rub the seams into the torso. I stuck a small piece of dried spaghetti into the neck to use for attaching the head.
For the head, I took a ball of chocolate and shaped it into an oval shape that thins out on the bottom. I added a little piping gel around the base of the neck then slid the head onto the spaghetti piece and attached it to the neck.
I took the end of my veining tool and pressed it into the head at the location of the mouth. While it was in the head I pulled it downward just slightly to cause the chocolate to stretch down and form a jaw.
I then added a tiny piece of log-shaped chocolate and formed it into a bottom lip. For the upper part of the mouth I made two balls and attached them over the upper lip. For the nose, I shaped a small log of chocolate so that it was sort of triangular. I then cut off the end of it so you could tell the distinct triangle shape at the bottom of the nose. Once I attached it to the face I used my veining tool and my fingers to help shape it into the face and smooth the seams out. I then took the end of a celpin tool and pressed it into the head to form eyeball sockets.
Here is a close up of the face. You can see that I used a toothpick to add some nostrils at the end of the nose and some dots on the balls where whiskers would normally be.
Puss’ eyes are sort of a yellow-greenish color so I colored some chocolate that color, rolled it into small ovals and placed them in the eye sockets. I added more details by making fur markings around the sides of his face and adding some white petal dust to his cheeks and chin. I also added a little dry brown petal dust to the tip of his nose.
For the black outlining (as seen in pictures further down), I mixed some black petal dust with vegetable oil and used a very fine paintbrush to paint around the eyes and on the bottom lip of the mouth.
Puss would not be Puss without his trademark hat and boots. For his hat, I thinly rolled out some black chocolate then used a circle cutter to cut out the brim of the hat. I then took a ball of chocolate and used my fingers to shape it into the main part of the hat, making it flat on top and pointed in the front.
I attached it to the brim with some piping gel. I then took a small amount of red chocolate, rolled it out, cut a strip and wrapped it around the base of the main part of the hat. I then lifted one side of the brim and attached it to the main part with some more piping gel. To make sure it would sit properly on Puss’ head, I took my finger and indented the underside of it. Once it had some time to set up, and the brim was stiff, I placed it on Puss’ head and formed it so that it looked natural in it’s position on his head. Once in place, I took some red petal dust, mixed with a vegetable oil, and painted the red along the edge of the brim.
For the boots, I rolled out another log of black chocolate then cut it in half.
I stood each log upright, on the non-cut end, and used my fingers to pinch and pull the chocolate out at the bottom to shape it into the foot part of the boot. I then attached them to the torso, using a little melted chocolate to really hold them in place. To help them firm up so that I could stand Puss up on them, I placed Puss in the freezer for about 5 minutes.
I finished them off by thinly rolling out some more chocolate and cutting out a ban that I wrapped around the boot at the point where it met the leg. Once in place, I painted some red petal dust, mixed with vegetable oil, around the bottom edge of the ban.
The big feather is an important part of Puss’ hat so I needed to make sure and include one. I ended up using some gum paste for this because gum paste dries much harder and is just better for making very thin, detailed things like that. I colored some gum paste yellow then rolled it out very thin, using the pasta roller on my KitchenAid mixer. I used an exacto knife to cut out the shape I wanted then made cuts all along the edges. I hate to use non-edible items in my cakes but I had to use some wire for the stem of the feather because I needed it to be very strong and also needed to be able to bend it. I brushed some piping gel onto the wire then laid it on the feather and wrapped the feather onto it, lightly pinching the gum paste around the wire on the other side of the feather.
I allowed it to dry overnight on a small piece of crumpled up foil. The next day I stuck it in the hat, hiding it behind the brim so that you couldn’t see the wire. If you do something like this, make sure that you let the recipient know that there is a wire in your cake so that they don’t hurt themselves by accidentally biting into it.
The final step was to add skewers into Puss’ legs, so that he would stay upright on the cake. I used wooden skewers and cut them the length I needed then slowly twisted them and inserted them up through the legs and part way into the torso. This probably wasn’t the best way to do that because Puss had dried enough that he started to crack a little while I was doing this. In the future I will probably form him on the skewers right from the start so that I don’t have that problem.
After I finished him I realized that I had forgotten his sword. I didn’t take any pictures of this but what I did was take some more gum paste (I used gum paste again because of how hard it dries) and pushed it through my clay gun, using the largest round plate, to make the blade of the sword. I used my fingers to roll the very end of the blade to a point. For the hand shield, I rolled out some gum paste and used a tiny flower cutter to cut it out. I then used a small round decorating tip to cut the center out of it and slide it onto the blade. I attached it in place with a tiny dab of melted white chocolate and used my fingers to form it into a cup shape around the blade. I then rolled out a tiny ball and attached that to the end of the handle with some more melted chocolate. When the entire thing had dried hard, I mixed some silver luster dust with vodka and painted the whole thing silver.
And here he is on the finished cake. If you missed my posts on the cake, check out Puss In Boots Cake and Beneath the Fondant: The Making of the Puss in Boots Cake
Next time I’ll post instructions on how to sculpt Humpty Dumpty.
Until then, God Bless and Sweet Dreams.