As consumers are becoming a bit more daring (and demanding) when it comes to their occasion cake requests, it’s important for decorators to have a wide variety of tricks up their sleeves. One such trick you can add to your repertoire—as taught in a class by Tina Taub at Mike Elder’s recent Icing on the Cake Sugar Art Show and Exposition in Kansas City— is the ability to make wine (and beer) bottles and grapes out of isomalt. While isomalt can be somewhat intimidating, CakePlay (www.cakeplay.com) offers wonderful isomalt sticks that melt in the microwave, making it a much easier task to work with the substance.
To begin, you will need a wine bottle mold. For about $20, you can make one at Hobby Lobby. Just take in your favorite-shaped bottle and they will help you with the rest.
Once you have your mold, pour the melted isomalt into it, then hold it horizontally and continuously roll it around in your hands until it thickens, which will take about 15-20 minutes. To avoid burning your hands, roll the mold inside of a larger cup so your hands never directly make contact with the hot portion of the mold. After about ten minutes of rolling, begin checking the inside of the mold to see how the isomalt is shaping up. It’s helpful to leave the neck of the bottle solid, rather than hollow, so it is less breakable. To do that, simply stop spinning the mold as soon as you have achieved the bottle height you need. Remember that the bottles are most commonly placed on top of a cake, so often don’t need to be very tall.
When the mold is cool to the touch, you can open it and pull out the isomalt bottle. If the neck is too soft when you first try to pull it out, just pop it back in the mold and wait a little longer.
When the bottle first comes out, it will appear dull, so you’ll most likely want to add some shine by hitting it with a steamer. You can then add on whatever bottle labels you like, which you can print on edible paper. And you can use colored foil to cap off the top. If you’re instead making beer bottles, you can use silver pixie dust to make the beer bottle cap. Simply use a steam iron to heat the top of the isomalt bottle and then roll it in the pixie dust.
If you would like to “set the scene” for your wine bottles, you may also want to make isomalt ice cubes and grapes. To make an ice cube mold, simply pick up a little fake ice from the floral department of a store like Walmart, and again visit Hobby Lobby to turn the shape into a mold. You can then simply fill it with melted down, clear isomalt sticks. The same procedure applies to the grapes. However, when you make the grapes, you either have to hang the grape mold while the isomalt sets up inside, or continuously roll it until it’s cool, otherwise the isomalt grape inside will flatten on one side.