sugar glass butterfly cupcake
Don't you love when chefs make those giant sugar display pieces, just like in the excellent documentary 'Kings of Pastry'? Sugar pieces that are destined to be displayed in grand ball rooms and events around the world can recreated on a smaller scale with the help of silicone showpeels.
Showpeels are embossed thin silicone sheets that allow you to make the most intricate isomalt or chocolate pieces. A mulitude of large showpeels are available but today I'm using one of the two mini types available... 'Mini Bug Collection'.
Four different butterflies and one dragon fly are on the showpeel. You simply cut out each one with a craft knife/mat or small sharp scissors.
I used the smallest butterfly today.
If you wish to recreate today's butterfly you will need;
Mini Bug Showpeel
First Impressions drop pearl mould
gas chef's torch to remove bubbles
*heat resistant gloves (sugar gloves)
1 cup of isomalt
optional 4 tablespoons of water (if the weather is humid don't use any water)
food colour (I use gel)
Turn your oven onto a very low temperature, (this is too keep the isomalt liquid between butterflies) you could also use the type of heating pad that keeps your casserole warm. If your isomalt does set too firmly it can be gently reheated on the stove top.
Combine isomalt and water in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat, stir until combined with a metal spoon. Brush down side with a dampened pastry brush if necessary. Cook until isomalt reaches 160 C (320 F). Remove from stove, whilst still bubbling add a few drops of food colour and stir in a gentle backwards and forwards motion to incorporate colour.
Now your ready to make butterflies!! Watch Pastry Chef Stéphane Tréand to see the technique.
Make a butterfly body using drop pearl mould. Butterflies because they are so thin only take a few minutes to set, the bodies take about 7-10 minutes to cool fully. You will need to keep your isomalt warm between butterflies. Silicone moulds leave bubbles on the surface, for a shiny finish flash briefly with a chefs gas torch... see more on this in this weeks 'beaded butterfly cupcakes' entry.
Attach wings to body with dabs of isomalt.
Handle you butterflies by the edges or wear cotton gloves, sugar work like chocolate will fingerprint.
Store butterflies in an airtight container without touching, add silicone sachets to adsorb moisture. Isomalt butterflies like isomalt gems are at the mercy of the elements and will go cloudy with moisture, they can be lightly brushed with flavourless oil to restore shine or use "cloudy" for a frosted finish.
I'm loving using Showpeels, they are costly but think of them as investment; particularly if you are a cake decorator by trade or just have to have that large butterfly atop your daughters wedding cake.
Showpeels can be used for chocolate work too and are available from Chicago Mold School
Happy Baking :)
*Sugar gloves won't let you dive into hot isomalt, but they do offer splash protection. I did burn myself making these, totally my fault; I didn't put my gloves on and wasn't paying enough attention. Sugar and Isomalt are extremely hot when cooked, please cook with care and remove pets and small children from the work area.
You might also be interested 'Debbie's Beaded Butterflies'
or perhaps a batch of Raspberry Jam to fill your butterfly cakes