Friday, January 27, 2012

Fondant Records for a Sock Hop

Today I made a batch of cupcakes for a sock hop. For those of you for whom the term "sock hop" was before your time, in the 1950's it became a cultural phenomenon in America to hold high school dances in either the gym or the cafeteria, and the dancers were required to remove their shoes to protect the varnished floor. The music was either provided by a live band, but more often by a DJ spinning records (the 1950's equivalent of MP3s). Coastal Repertory Theatre in Half Moon Bay held a sock hop tonight to promote their new show The Marvelous Wonderettes, which features lots of music by girl groups from the '50s and '60s, so I was inspired to make these cupcakes. By the way, the colors of the "record labels" and the pearls (edible, of course) are a nod of the head to the dresses the four actresses in the show are wearing; aren't they cute?:
Here's how I got this project going:
That's a pile of powdered sugar, a rolling pin fitted with purple rings, 2 golfballs worth of pink fondant, a smallish circle-shaped cutter, and the thin-point modeling stick from the Wilton gum paste tool set (I'm sure a skewer or a small awl would do). I powdered the work surface and rolled out the fondant:
I figured I was making 24 cupcakes and using four colors for centers, so I cut out 7 circles (one extra in case I had some sort of mishap later):
Then I used the modeling stick to make a hole in the center of each circle:
And then I put all the pink circles under plastic wrap so they wouldn't dry out. You can see the other three colors already cut out with layers of plastic between them, resting under the pink layer:
Now it's time to make the black vinyl part of the record. I used that batch of dark chocolate fondant from scratch I made the other day, colored it (and my hands) black, and rolled it out. Here's one of the circles being cut out:
Then I used the orange shell tool from the gum paste set to carve some grooves into the vinyl. I'm sure there are more elegant ways of achieving this effect, but this worked sufficiently, considering how much of the "vinyl" would be covered up by the "label."
I dabbed some water onto the backs of the "labels" using a water pen, and stuck them onto the "vinyl." As you may know, a little bit of water around fondant is OK; it acts like glue or a glaze, depending on what you're doing with it; steam will give fondant a gorgeous sheen, if it's done lightly (or turn it into a soupy mess, if it's done heavy-handedly). In general, fondant and water (and moisture in general) don't mix.
I then drove the modeling stick through both layers so the center hole would go all the way through:
And I laid all the "records" on cookie racks covered in parchment paper to firm up and dry overnight:
The next day, an unacceptable amount of surface noise (powdered sugar) remained on the black fondant; sometimes it will absorb, as it did on the colored fondant. So I proceeded to lightly paint away all the powdered sugar with a barely-damp angled brush dipped in water:
Here's a record that's been painted with water half way:
And here's the whole batch, looking all nice and shiny (this took longer than I'd anticipated, because of course I had to paint the reverse sides with water, too):
After I frosted the cupcakes (using a large star tip #1M and two cans of vanilla store-bought frosting) and sprinkled them with "pearls", I let them firm up in the fridge for a while. My plan was to stick the records into the frosting and cupcakes vertically, and I wanted to make sure the frosting was up for the challenge:
When I got to the sock hop, I put them together along with this sign, as it occurred to me a lot of the young folks might not know what records are, and their parents might not "get" that these cupcakes are 100% edible; it would have been devastating to find out that most of the records were left on the table uneaten or had been tossed in the trash:
Also, earlier in the day after I'd glossed out the powdered sugar with water, I used thinned royal icing and a small round #2 tip to write an abbreviation of "The Marvelous Wonderettes" on the "labels"; too bad I couldn't fit in the whole name! Maybe if I'd been making 12" LPs…

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