Abraham Lincoln: The Modeling Chocolate Man

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The world is full of thoughtful and witty Abraham Lincoln quotes. Here is my favorite one:

I can quote that movie forwards and backwards. Please don’t judge me. It’s just that it’s so useful! For example: Are you feeling chilly, and then you realize you left the door open? Just say,

Ok sorry, I’m stopping! Back to Abe! After participating in the Lake County Fair last year (with a Nerds cake and a modeling chocolate bust), I decided to go whole hog, as it were, and head down to the State Fair this summer. I couldn’t think of an idea- all I knew was that I wanted something Illinois-themed– and then a friend suggested Lincoln! As you’ll see below, the cake is made of styrofoam. This was a requirement of the competition.

Here are some photos of the process:

STEP 1: Create the Cake Base
I covered the base in white fondant, layered red and white strips, and then used a heart cookie cutter, cutting off the top portion, and layered those around the cake. I used a star cutter to add embellishments.patriotic red white blue flag cake fondantSTEP 2: Create Abe’s face
Check out this time-lapse video showing a 10-hour project condensed into 4 minutes.

Here are some still shots taken during the process. I like to call them, in order, “Captain Picard,” “The Beardless Wonder,” and “Hugh the Wolverine.”

Abe abraham lincoln cake modeling chocolate step by stepSTEP 3: Add color dust to face
Once the face is completed, take a little paintbrush and lightly brush on some brown color dust. Adding the dust in the creases and shadowy areas helps bring the face to life. The photo below illustrates the difference: the right side has the dust and left side does not. abraham abe lincoln made of modeling chocolate with dustSTEP 4: Create plaque
As I said earlier, Abe is full of great quotes. It was hard to choose just one to put on this cake. In the end, I chose the following quote because it seems to sum up his life, mission, and legacy perfectly:

lincoln quote be sure you put your feet in the right place then stand firm painted on fondant STEP 5: Carefully drive to the Illinois State Fair
While he may look sturdy, Abe is very sensitive to the sun. And unlike a regular human, he doesn’t just suffer sunburn, he instead suffers “My Face Literally Melts Off If Sun Hits It Directly.” I placed him on the front seat inside a rubbermaid, put a towel around the sides to block the sun, and then opened an umbrella across the top. I forgot to take a regular photo, but I managed to screenshot my snapchat of the set-up:
IMG_6049STEP 6: Take a short field trip back home
Before we went to the fair, I took Abe to see his old house!

abraham abe lincoln comes home to springfield

STEP 7: Drop off at fair!
Here he sits! Good luck, Abe! I hope you win!

abraham abe lincoln cake entered in illinois state fair 2015 made of modeling chocolate close up of abraham abe lincoln modeling chocolate face Do you have a favorite Abe Lincoln quote or memory? Or a favorite Robin Hood quote? I love those, too. Please share in the comments below! 🙂 abe abraham lincoln face made of modeling chocolate

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A Chocolate Lady Liberty Atop a Wobbly Flag Cake

A silence fell over the kitchen as I set the cake down on the counter. The candle, so unceremoniously shoved last week into her raised chocolate hand, was lit by my mother with a reverence usually reserved for old family photos and high-thread count fabrics. It flickered an eerie greenish glow as we all stared. “Well, we should sing!” someone piped up.
“What, just because there’s a cake with a candle on it, we have to sing?”
“But it’s not a birthday!”
“It’s sort of America’s birthday, I guess…”
A quiet pause. The guests shifted uneasily on their feet.
And then, from the back, in an octave known only to prehistoric reptiles and James Earl Jones, a voice began, “O beautiful, for spacious skies.” My eyes snapped away from the cake and I looked about for the rumbling initiator. Slowly, one by one, more voices added in. Not wanting to appear an ungrateful host, I attempted to join in as well, only to find that my singing voice stops approximately five octaves higher than their chosen range. My gaze drifted from guest to guest, all of whom were intently staring at the green lady and her wimpy torch. And as the final sounds of “From sea to shining seeeeeeeaaaaa” melted away, the Fourth of July guests, tank-top-clad and red-faced from the heat and yet sounding like a Russian Men’s Glee Club, looked expectantly at me for direction.

My dad broke the silence, “Well, that has to be the weirdest thing this family has ever done.”
“We’re being patriotic!”
“Yeah, we’re just celebrating the 4th!” a few people countered.
“No, you’re all staring at a cake. And singing to it,” he pointed out.

Well, as usual, he was right. It WAS weird. But “weird” is why I love my family and friends. I can confidently say that no other family was singing to a green chocolate statue that day. And I can confidently say this is why I love them so dearly!

STEP 1: Make modeling chocolate
Easy recipe! Melt a 12-oz bag of candy melts in the microwave. (Half power, 30 seconds at a time.) Once it’s melted, stir in 1/4 cup of corn syrup. The consistency will immediately change and it’s AWESOME! Wrap the blob in saran wrap and put in the fridge for a few hours. Ta-da! modeling chocolate how to step by stepSTEP 2: Create Lady Liberty (a week or so in advance)
This portion took approximately two days of non-stop work. I set myself up with Netflix on the left and the photos of the Statue of Liberty on the right, and I began! My version has a styrofoam cone to begin with, and then I coated it with a layer of green chocolate. I then started at the bottom and added the folds. If you compare it to a real photo of the statue, the folds are pretty close. I didn’t embellish anything! Which reminds me- I’m glad I wasn’t the model for this statue, because she is wearing a LOT of fabric. 🙂

step by step modeling chocolate statue of liberty Here is the final version, front and back:

statue of liberty modeling chocolate back and front Here are some up-close detail pics:

close up of lady liberty statue of liberty modeling chocolate cake STEP 3: Make the cake
Ugh that CAKE! The thought of it raises my blood pressure! Making the colored layers was easy enough- but stacking thirteen layers was literally a recipe for disaster. More on that in a moment… Here is what the inside eventually looked like! inside of statue of liberty cake flag cake STEP 4: Add the details
Once the cake was covered in its base layer of fondant, I cut fondant bricks and began to lay them on. I could have used a brick imprint mat (a piece of plastic you press into the fondant) but I think this looked better. Then I covered a small cake board in brown fondant, and using a very tiny paintbrush and food coloring, painted on the quote of Emma Lazarus’ that is inside at the base of the actual statue. I just love this quote. Having also worked in genealogy, and having found the names, dates, and photos of the ships in which my ancestors arrived from Ireland, Sweden, Norway, and Hungary- I’m just happy to know that they were coming to a country that welcomed them.

emma lazarus poem base of statue of liberty cake flag cake As you can see, I didn’t have a plan or anything drawn out. I was really really hoping that the words would all fit on this circle. Luckily, they fit just perfectly. WHEW!painting words on fondant with food coloring STEP 5: FIX THE CAKE BECAUSE IT IS FALLLLLLING
Ok. So I covered the cake in fondant on Friday afternoon, went to dinner, and when I returned, everything was fine. As I sat there that night, gluing bricks to the sides, I noticed a tiny crack at the top. Bit by bit, the crack grew, until suddenly it was a gaping hole!!! It turns out that the blue cake section and the striped cake section next to it would NOT stay together. They were coming apart faster than a Hollywood marriage. I grabbed boxes and put them flush against the sides of the cake, squeezing it back together, until I could work out a solution.

And by “I,” I mean my mom. She is my cake engineer. She texted me a brilliant idea: “Why don’t we sew it?” Ladies and gents, this is actually true. This cake was literally sewn together. Here is a small sketch:sewn fourth of july cake

Once the string was pulled taut, the foamboard pieces held the cake together. It really worked. My mom, a quilter of much renown, sewed a cake. Here she is “un”-sewing it so we could eat it:

statue of liberty with lit torchstatue of liberty cakestatue of liberty cake modeling chocolate