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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Gum Paste Artichoke

Yes, you read the title of this post correctly. After weeks of lovely flowers, it's time to do something completely unrelated: an artichoke. A friend of mine is producing the play "Artichoke" at Coastal Repertory Theatre in Half Moon Bay, and I wanted to make some sort of custom cupcake topper for the opening night gala. Basically, the artichoke is the mum from Wilton's Course 3: Gum Paste and Fondant, but not in a traditional mum color (I used Avocado by AmeriColor). Besides gum paste (stored under a plastic cup to keep it from drying out), you'll need thick and thin pink shaping foam, a gum paste storage board to use as a work surface, a container of gum glue adhesive (a pinch of gum paste dissolved in a tablespoon of water), a small brush, the large modeling stick from Wilton's 10-piece Fondant and Gum Paste Tool Set, one toothpick for each artichoke, a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of powdered sugar and cornstarch, a 9" fondant roller with pink 1/16" rings, and the large and small mum cutters from either the Course 3 Student Kit or the Ultimate Decorating Set. You'll also need a second gum paste storage board, a Styrofoam block, small flower forming cups and Styrofoam cups.
 Start by rolling a 1/2" ball of gum paste to make the base.
 Dip a toothpick into the gum glue…
 …and insert it into the ball. Allow it to firm up a bit (or overnight).
 Dust the work surface…
 …and roll out the gum paste. When it gets to 1/16", slide off the rings and roll it out a little thinner.
 Cut out three large and three small shapes with the mum cutters. You may need to press down on the cutters with the roller.
 Tear away the slack from the cutter…
 …and neaten the edges by running a fingertip from the end of the petal to the base on the underside of the cutter while the cutout is still in it.
 Place all but the one you're working on under the flap on the other storage board.
 Move one of the small cutouts to the thin pink foam, and using the round end of the modeling tool draw the tool from the tip to the base of each petal to make them curl up.
 Paint some gum glue adhesive on the base.
 Stick the toothpick in the center of the small cutout and slide it up to the base.
 Wrap all the petals around the base; it's OK if they overlap.
 Paint the lower half with gum glue adhesive and repeat the process with the remaining two small cutouts…
 …which will look like this when you're finished (and you could stop here for a very small artichoke).
Alternately, keep going with the remaining three large cutouts. To dry, dust the inside of a flower forming cup, place it on an upside-down Styrofoam cup with a hole in the center of the bottom, and stick the toothpick through both holes. 
 And here it is! Bring on the Hollandaise sauce! 

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