This is part of the Lord of the Rings Food Theme Party series

I had a fun long weekend. I spent several days sculpting fudge. Actually, I spent one evening free-hand carving the Moria West Gate inscription on a chocolate bar with a toothpick to see if I could. I did the fudge over the rest of the weekend, when not shoveling. The nice thing about working with chocolate and fudge is that it smells so good!

The Design: It looks like a little cut out of the mountainside. The foundation was formed in a 10 inch round cheesecake pan. The main feature, a 10 x 9 inch wall with the gate in it, is fairly centered and perpendicular to the foundation. The scale is about 1 inch=1foot. However, there was no way to get this scale to fit with where the lake is supposed to be, or the stairs on the ''inside.'' So I compromised and scrunched the distance between things. The gate is a bit bigger than 5 x 7 inches, and the doors which are each approximately 2.5 inches wide are hinged to open outward. If you were to push them far enough, they would fold flat against the ''mountainside'' as the book describes. So, the lake edge is an uneven 3 inches away from the gate. The lake edge is a murky purplish blue, formed from stiff gelatin. Imbedded in it are gelatin tentacles in a contrasting light green that reach out of the water. Several are long enough to climb half way up the wall. On the ''inside'' of the wall, two relief pillars fashioned to match the ones in the inscription offer structural support. Two steps lead up about 2 inches from the gate. Overall, the piece is 10 inches in diameter and 10 inches tall.

I gave the finished model to Imprecation for his birthday. He is willing to vouch for its edibility and structural integrity. He wanted to shellac it, but that would just be nasty. The reason why it is such a great and absurd thing is that it is evanescent after all. Pictures currently reside at www.geocities.com/chattering_teeth.

The Fudge: The fudge recipe itself is almost too easy. For this project, you will need about 5 batches of fudge. Wait to make the fudge in batches as needed since you will need to use it warm anyway.

1 batch:
14 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate I use chocolate chips, it doesn’t really matter that they are lower in cocoa butter than bar chocolate.
2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate I find this helps counteract the insanely sweet condensed milk.
1 can of sweetened condensed milk usually about 14 ounces. Precision is not all that important, but don’t stray too far from these proportions.
Optional: 2 tablespoons of booze such as brandy, bourbon, or dark rum. Note that adding liquids makes for softer fudge; easier to sculpt but not as strong. If you are making fudge just to eat, try adding as much as a half cup to your fudge. It will be soft and silky in texture. Simply lovely.

Thoughts on solid additions: Remember that you will be carving some of the fudge so hard bits such as toffee can be problematic. Also keep in mind that nuts may weaken the structure of the fudge in critical areas as the fudge will tend to pull away from them. Butterscotch flavored chips melt readily, so they can be difficult to fold into very warm fudge. Real white chocolate chips and chocolate chips are fine as long as you exercise care while carving. Use marshmallows with caution as they will increase the flexibility but decrease the amount of compression your structure can withstand. Also, they are a pain to get level. I sandwiched extras instead of mixing them into the warm fudge. This gave me a predictable thickness of smooth fudge to etch and cut.

Melt the chocolate and condensed milk together in a microwave (about 2-4 minutes on high power) or over medium heat on the stove. Take care not to burn the chocolate, although the sweetened condensed milk is forgiving. Stir it with a heat resistant rubber spatula until smooth and completely mixed. It will thicken considerably and look glossy. For regular fudge, just scoop it out onto foil, smooth it out to about 3/4 or 1 inch thick, fold the foil into a packet, and let the whole thing cool. If the fudge is left exposed, a thin crust will develop over the surface. Cut edges will dry in a few hours unless wrapped.

Other things I used
The Watcher
unflavored gelatin: You could, of course, forgo mixing green and purple gelatin and buy prepackaged instead. Just use about one third of the water recommended on the package. It will be too sweet, but ,really, who is going to eat it anyway?
lime oil
powdered sugar
green food coloring
yellow food coloring
water
blueberry Torani syrup
a shallow basin for the tentacle gelatin, the gelatin should fill the basin from 1/4 to 1/2 an inch.
1 plastic straw: I cut it apart to make a cutter for the tentacles. You could just use a knife or a loop of wire, but I like dreaming this stuff up.
plastic wrap: to mask off the fudge from the gelatin. Contact with the fudge will make the gelatin weep.
The Inscription
edible silver dust
vodka for dissolving the silver dust
a 5 x 7 inch copy of the west gate inscription. I scanned it from the book, cropped it, and then changed the image size to fit my needs.
a pin: for punching out the outline of the inscription
a t-pin: This is for etching the inscription. You don’t really need a t-pin, but they are long and easy to hold compared to most pins. Also, they are sharper than toothpicks, which does matter. I have learned that toothpicks are better for chocolate and pins are better for fudge.
a cheap children’s paintbrush with all but 4 or so of the stiff plastic bristles cut off. This is for painting in the silver and doing the lettering.
In general
heavy duty foil: from which to make the molds
cellophane or ''scotch'' tape: also for the molds
parchment paper or waxed paper: for lining the pan. Also, lay a piece over the fudge so you can rest your hand on it while working on the inscription. I prefer parchment paper as it will not stick to moist fudge surfaces.
A 10 inch x 3 inch round cheesecake pan with a false bottom. You could also use a spring form pan, just keep in mind that a spring form bottom has a ridge around the outside edge which will make the fudge more difficult to remove. If you are an extremely brave soul, you can try this in a pan without a removable bottom. I don’t recommend it as you will have to flip the whole thing over to remove the fudge from the pan, while applying judicious heat and supporting the weight of the foundation with your fourth and fifth hands. I don’t like to live dangerously, and after all that work I’m not willing to stress the joins quite so much.
Several thin bamboo skewers: these are for structural support and anchoring.
a jelly roll pan or a cookie sheet: this is for supporting your molds while the fudge sets, and for supporting the structures while you work on them or transport them.
a small paring knife for trimming and carving the fudge.
a long serrated knife for leveling and trimming the fudge.
a pastry brush for periodically dusting off the little fudge particles from your big fudge block. This is also useful for cleaning your pin. Just run the pin through the bristles as needed.
Scissors for cutting assorted papers and wraps, and also the bamboo skewers. So, don’t go using good sewing scissors for this!
a hole punch: for the hinge. You could always just cut holes, but a hole punch is easier.
a ruler or tape measure, just because you do need to measure some things.
a small off-set spatula and a heat resistant rubber scraper. Both of these are good for moving quantities of fudge. The spatula is also necessary for shifting the finished piece enough to get the bottom of the pan out.
two 12 inch cardboard cake circles covered in plasticized foil, or some other clean, flat, rigid base: this is what I placed my finished fudge on. This allowed me to wrap the whole thing in cellophane without getting hung up on the corners. The extra width makes it easier to lift. It is also fine for display which obviates the need for a serving platter.
a piece of plasticized foil, about 6.5 x 4 inches. I used this for the hinges. I purchased a large roll of the plastic backed foil from a baking supply store and use it to separate layers of truffles and to cover cake circles. It is somewhat heat resistant and comes in gold tone and silver tone. The reverse side is green. For the hinges, you could use a sheet of plastic instead as long as it is flexible yet strong, and can be creased.
assorted small dishes for mixing gelatin, silver dust, etc.
a level: you will need this to check if your structure is straight.
a kitchen torch is handy but not imperative. Heating the surfaces prior to applying fresh fudge makes for a stronger bond. I also used it to heat the pan enough to release the foundation.

The model was made in several pieces and then assembled. I laid a foundation, poured the lake, molded the wall and the pillars, and then assembled the entire model. I’ve broken it up into 6 sections: Foundation, Watcher, Molds, Pillars, Inscription, and Assembly.

Foundation:

  1. Line the bottom of the 10 inch pan with a circle of parchment paper. Lay a foundation of warm fudge 1 inch thick in the pan, shaping a depression along one edge for the lake. Fudge is not a self-leveling compound, so you will need to check it with the level. Try to make it as smooth as possible on at least the lake half.
  2. Cover just the lake depression with plastic wrap, extending the plastic just beyond where you will be filling the gelatin. Trim the plastic with a knife or scissors so that all the lake area fudge is sealed off, leaving a minute overhang of plastic. Tamp down the plastic gently with a brush so that it adheres to the fudge, smoothing out any air bubbles. Let it cool until firm. While this cools, work on Molding.
  3. Build up more fudge on the opposite side from the lake for 2 steps. When cool, trim down the steps so that they are level and the same depth, about 3/4 of an inch high and deep. Melt the trimmings back into your building fudge.
  4. Create the watcher and lake. This can be done at any point once the foundation fudge has cooled as long as it is prior to removing the model from the cake pan.

Watcher:

  1. Mix up a batch of green gelatin. I used 2 cups of water, 1/2 a cup of orange juice, 4 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar, 4 packets of powdered gelatin, 1/4 teaspoon of lime oil, and green and yellow food coloring. I sprinkled the gelatin over the water and let it bloom. Then I melted it in the microwave. Do not over heat your gelatin. Not only will it boil over all over the interior of you microwave, but excessive cooking reduces the strength of the gelatin. Just get it hot enough to melt the gelatin part way, and stir to finish the job. Or use boiling water, that works too. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Pour it into a shallow pan, preferably glass, and let it set. Note- I used powdered sugar as it contains corn starch which made for cloudy green tentacles, a nice contrast to the clear ''water.''
  2. Mix up a batch of purplish blue gelatin. I used 3/4 of a cup of water, 1/4 cup of blueberry Torani syrup, and 2 envelopes of gelatin. Let it cool most of the way down before using. It should still be pour-able, but somewhat thick and viscous. If it is too hot, it will melt the tentacles.
  3. While the ''water'' is cooling, cut out tentacles. I did this by cutting a straw to make a loop:
    _______________________________
    |   ---------------------- /   |
    |___|__________________________|
    If the topmost line and the bottommost line indicate the straw, all the other lines are where you would cut. This leaves a little ring with a handle. Push the loop into the green gelatin and pull it slowly across, making sure that the loop stays deeply imbedded. This will give you a long rounded tentacle. Trim one end flat and notch the other end for ''fingers.'' Make several of these and set them aside.
  4. Begin layering the purple gelatin into the foundation. Put a spoonful in, spread it around and let it firm up. Then place a few tentacles on top, curving them artfully over each other. Make sure that the cut tentacle edges are flush with the side of the cake pan and that any loops you make are not too tight as the gelatin can break. Layer more ‘water’ to hold the tentacles in place. Do this several times until you have a good 3d representation of the watcher’s tentacles suspended in water. Try to loop a few tentacles so they will protrude above the water line. Beat the remaining purple gelatin with a spoon to create some froth. Spoon a bit of the froth around the edges of the lake and around the protruding bits of tentacle. Avoid large bubbles as they will pop as they dry, small froth is best. You may need to re-melt the gelatin slightly to do this. Do not use it if it is hot, or you will melt your watcher! While the water is setting, place the tentacles on a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper on top of the fudge. Do not allow the gelatin to come in contact with the fudge or it will start weeping. Drape the tentacles artistically for display, but try to keep that contact short. Piling them on top of the water also works as a display option.

Molds:
The wall is comprised of 5 pieces. 2, the columns, are fashioned separately. 3, the wall with the 2 moveable halves of the gate, are made as one piece so that the doors can be hinged. The hinges are two strips of plasticized foil. The edges are folded under so that the plastic and the foil do not separate. The strips are folded in the middle along the length, silver side out, and several holes are punched along the length to ensure that they will anchor firmly in the fudge. The folds are then opened somewhat and they are placed over the separator between the wall and the gate. The hinge strip rests flush with the top, and almost down the entire length of the gate. It looks like this in cross section:


            /|\
           / | \
     _____/  |  \_____
             |
             |
The bent ''witch's hat'' is the hinge. The vertical line is the folded strip of foil which separates the gate from the rest of the wall. Fudge is placed into the mold, the hinge is pressed into it, and then fudge is filled in over it. This means that the exposed surface of the fudge is the wall face, or inscription face. Alternately, you could put the hinge in while making the mold, and fill in the fudge around it thusly.

             |
     _____   |   _____
          \  |  /
           \ | /   
            \|/
Using the first method, I ended up having to trim quite a bit of fudge to clear the hinges. This led to a really neat surface effect because of the serrated blade. Reversing it would have left a relatively smooth surface, but there is always the risk of bubbles which would not be visible until the piece is unmolded. All in all, I prefer trimming, especially since the surface needs to be freshly exposed for making the inscription anyway.

There are 2 molds made out of heavy duty foil and some tape. From above, the mold for the wall looks like this (refer to step 1 of Inscription for what the slash and backslash skewer note indicates):

____________________
|                   |    /skewer 
|     _________     |    \
|    |    |    |    |
|    |    |    |    |
|    |    |    |    |
|    |    |    |    |
|    |    |    |    |
|----|----|----|----|
     A    c    B
A and B support the hinges. The entire mold needs to be a little over 3/4 of an inch deep in order for the wall to end up being 3/4 of an inch thick. There are several ways you can go about making this mold. I folded A, B and c from the main sheet, and then cut the part above the gate and folded those bits flat. The piece across the top of the gate was an insert, the sides were folded up from the main sheet. I folded in extra foil if I didn’t quite have the length I needed. I also at least doubled the foil for rigidity.

When I made seam c, the inside was not centered. I caused it to ''squiggle'' like this in cross section:

  |__
     |
I tried to center the exterior edge of c as much as possible. I went for an uneven seam so I could trim some fudge off the door to permit a tight fit and clearance without losing overall thickness. Hmmm. That makes no sense. Basically, because the doors have thickness, when they pivot on the hinge, the inside corners of the gate will angle outward, increasing the width of the door beyond the amount of clearance that exists. If the edges of the doors overlap rather than meet flush, this extra width is reduced. If trimming is necessary, it can be done on the inside where it won’t impact the inscription. Just trust me. I’ve already tried it and it works.

Be sure to measure each section as you shape it so that all the pieces measure 2.5 inches wide and the correct length, 9 inches. The finished mold should be wider than 10 inches because of the aggregate foil width. Upon removing the foil, mine was a tiny bit under 10 inches wide, which was fine.

The second mold is rectangular, 6 x 9 x a minimum of 3/4 inch deep. This, when cut in half, lengthwise, provides the pieces which become the pillars.

Placed the molds on a jelly roll pan and fill with fudge, being careful to fill all the corners and build it up beyond 3/4 of an inch thick. Cover both molds loosely with foil and let them set overnight.

Pillars:

  1. Cut the 6 x 9 inch brick into two 3 x 9 inch strips.
  2. Take a skewer or straw and choose the short edge which will be the bottom of the pillar. Push the skewer into the fudge, being careful to keep it level so it doesn’t poke out of the front or back. Push it in until it runs the entire length of the strip, or as far as it will go. Trim off any excess. Repeat this with the second strip.
  3. Using the drawing of the pillars on the inscription as a guideline, carve the two strips into two relief columns. Do not attempt to make them true half columns, just taper the shafts, curve the front edges, and detail the capitals and bases. Make sure to trim the entire surface of the columns. If you use a reasonably sharp smooth edged knife, the set fudge will have a very smooth finish after you carve into it. Allow it to dry for at least a few hours and it will be firm and smooth, and not take imprints or dent easily. Be careful with scraps of cut off fudge. The cut edges will stick to freshly cut fudge with the least pressure and they will be difficult to brush off later. Remove large pieces promptly and wait until small pieces are dry before brushing them off.
  4. Since the pillars are both about 2.5 inches wide, they do not account for the curvature of the foundation. To find out how much to trim off the base, place the wall in the pan and slide it back towards the steps until it stops. Then, one by one, rest each pillar on the side of the cake pan so that its base lines up with the side of the gate. Mark it with a pin or a knife from the inside of the cake pan. Trim the pillars from the base up about 2 inches. Collect all the scraps and melt them back into your building fudge.

Inscription:

  1. Remove the foil from the wall fudge; strip off the flat areas and then carefully pull out the seams from the inside. You may need to slightly open the doors, etc to make this possible. Refer to the ASCII of the wall mold. The
      /skewer
      \
    indicates where you need to run a skewer through the top of the wall. It needs to be centered in the thickness of the wall and run for as much of the width of the wall as possible. It absolutely must extend beyond the edges of the gate on both sides. When inserting it, make sure it does not poke through the front or back of the wall. If it does, redo it, patch the rent and then let the fudge set for several hours.
  2. If it isn’t already, turn the fudge so that the front of the gate, the inscription side, is up. Trim the surface of gate until you can see the surface of the hinges and the surface of the doors is fairly level. Avoid gouging the fudge. Removing thin layers is better than digging a huge hole. Short sawing motions across the surface with a serrated knife will leave a shallow interesting texture that looks better and is easier to achieve than a perfectly smooth surface.
  3. Cut out the scan of the inscription so that you can easily line it up with the fudge gate. Place it onto the fudge and, using the pin, prick through the paper and into the fudge, marking out all the lines but not the lettering in the arch. Make sure you do not shift the paper while you work. Once you have pricked out the entire inscription except for the arch lettering, you can run the t-pin along the now punched lines with light pressure. This will leave neat grooves, but does not work well where there is a lot of detail.
  4. Remove the paper and, using the pin marks as a guide, draw shallow lines with the t-pin. Clean the built up fudge off the pin frequently. Avoid applying pressure to fudge granules. Let them dry for about a half hour and then dust them gently off with the pastry brush.
  5. Mix a small quantity of vodka with some edible silver dust or luster dust into a paint. It should not be thick enough to glob up on the brush, but you should not be able to see through it. It is actually easier using two dishes, one with a thin solution suitable for cleaning the brush from clumping paint, and one which is a bit too thick. Using your almost bristle-less brush, fill the thin grooves you’ve drawn on the fudge with vodka. Then, taking a small amount of thicker ‘paint’ onto the brush, dab it gently to the vodka. Additional silver will bleed into the thinner vodka, without spreading to the dry fudge. Do only a small area at a time or else the vodka will have dried or soaked into the fudge before you get to it. Avoid touching the surface you have painted until it is thoroughly dry. Let it dry for several hours. Do some stretching exercises as the hard part is still to do.
  6. This is one of my favorite bits. You can’t really prick out the lettering on the arch with a pin as it is too small. However, if you lay down lines of vodka, even without neat grooves the silver will only bleed onto the wet surfaces. So you can actually make quite good lettering if you have a steady hand, fairly good penmanship, and patience. Use very thin paint for the first step of laying down the vodka. This is so you can see what you have written. Then carefully go over it with the thicker paint as you finish every few letters or a word. Again, don’t do too much at once or bits will dry out before you get to them. The only thing to really be careful about is the spacing. This is especially important with the second row as the letters are much smaller and there are so many more of them. Alternately, if you just can’t do the lettering, you can use a silver paint pen or silver craft paint and a small sable brush and draw paint them onto a piece of thin clear plastic. Place the plastic over a copy of the lettering and trace the writing. When the paint has dried, clip the arch insert out and stick it to the fudge. Carefully heat the surface of the fudge with a kitchen torch just until it is shiny, or brush it with a small amount of melted butter if the plastic won’t stick.

Assembly:

  1. Make sure that every bit of fudge is dry to the touch and your inscription is thoroughly dry. Mix up a batch of fudge if you have run out, or melt your scraps. You won’t need more than a few ounces as cement.
  2. Determine where you will be attaching the wall to the foundation by placing it onto the foundation and sliding it towards the stairs until it can’t go any farther. Use the knife or pin and trace that footprint.
  3. Fold a piece of parchment or waxed paper less than the width of the gate so that it makes a thin wad, about 1/16 of an inch thick.
  4. If you have one, use your kitchen torch and heat the surface of the foundation where the sides of the wall will rest until it is shiny. Do not heat the center where the doors will go. Immediately place a dollop of fudge onto the heated fudge on both sides, spreading them a bit. Place the piece of folded paper between the two dollops of fudge. Then heat the bottom of the wall on either sides of the gate doors and press the wall gently into the dollops of fudge. Fudge should squeeze out, creating a good seal. The thin wad of paper between the doors and the foundation should help the doors open and close smoothly later. Check to make sure the wall is straight with the level.
  5. Using the same technique of heating both surfaces, apply the pillars. However, this time be sure to spread a layer of warm fudge fairly evenly over the entire flat side of the pillar. The fudge at the base of the wall should still be plastic, so make sure to also heat the bottom of the pillar. Push the pillars firmly to the wall and foundation.
  6. Cut 2 pieces of bamboo skewer a little shorter than the combined thickness of the wall and pillar. Push one length straight back to front from each pillar to the wall. Use an extra piece of skewer to sink it below the surface of the pillar so there is just a small hole. These should be centered in the pillars about 2/3 of the way up from the base of the wall, avoiding the lengthwise skewer in the pillar.
  7. Cut 4 pieces of bamboo skewer a little shorter than the length necessary to run in a diagonal going from the wall, down through the pillar and into the foundation until it stops. The angle should be sharp enough that the skewer does not poke through the opposite side before entering the foundation. Insert these on either side of the gate, one each wall to pillar to foundation and pillar to wall to foundation.
  8. Use a small amount of fudge and spackle the holes left by the skewers. Allow the model to set for several hours.
  9. Once the fudge has set, remove the model carefully from the cake pan. Heat the sides of the pan gently with the torch or a hot, damp towel. Then slide the base out. Be very careful. The model will not be centrally balanced.
  10. Slide the offset spatula between the pan base and the parchment paper liner. Using the spatula for leverage, slide the fudge onto the cardboard rounds or serving platter. Try to keep everything as flat as possible while handling the fudge.
  11. Trim the cementing fudge even, and fill any gaps where necessary. Remove the paper under the gate, make sure the doors open smoothly. Trim around the door and the foundation if necessary. Allow any remaining fudge to set.

Wrap the model well with plastic wrap until you are ready to display and serve. Use a thin paring knife to slice bits out or just use your teeth.

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