I’ve always loved to sculpt, and this is the skill that has primarily gotten me into most of my competitions on Food Network. But while shooting “Holiday Wars” in 2019, I became …
I’ve always loved to sculpt, and this is the skill that has primarily gotten me into most of my competitions on Food Network. But while shooting “Holiday Wars” in 2019, I became fascinated by what our team’s sugar artist was accomplishing.
Roberto Nieto comes from wine country in Northern California. He was nicknamed Chef Buttercup many moons ago, but when I saw his work with our team—The Bah Hum Bakers—I quickly renamed him The Chocolate Ninja. Robert was a big reason why we won “Holiday Wars” in December of that year.
When COVID-19 hit, I spent a great deal of time teaching myself some of the skills I saw Robert use on the show. Luckily, I’m close friends with Sidney Galpern, who has the SimiCakes shop in Florida. Sidney supplied me with many raw materials. Before long, I was making sugar look like glass. And the Blue Wonder sugar piece was born.
I’ve always loved the look of sapphire. It symbolizes energy and healing. The ancients believed that sapphire offered spiritual insight, protection, and good luck. Who doesn’t need that?
The primary material for this project is isomalt—a sugar substitute made from beets. Isomalt needs to be heated to very high temperatures in a microwave to be used properly, so I recommend caution—and gloves.
A butane torch is also required, so I would say that a skill level beyond “beginner” is best if you choose to tackle it. The results, though, are well worth the effort. As always, feel free to experiment with any colors/shapes that you would like. It’s always preferable to let your creativity take charge!
Sadly, though isomalt is edible, it’s not really good for your digestive system in mass quantities. Moderation is best there. Also, like many things that are beautiful, your sugar-like-glass pieces won’t last very long. Humidity is a particular enemy. But also like so many things that are beautiful, the temporary joy is worth the short lifespan.
Kim M. Simons is an award-winning artist, cake artist, and food artist. She and her team—the Bah Hum Bakers—were the champions of Food Network’s ”Holiday Wars” in 2019. Kim can currently be seen competing on Food Network’s ”Halloween Wars,” which can be seen on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on the Food Network and can be streamed on https://www.discoveryplus.com. Visit Kim at www.cakesbykimsimons.com.
1. Sketch your design on a SmArt Sheet (from Icing Images)
2. Paint your design with edible colors (I prefer Artisan Accents)
3. Heat the blue isomalt in the microwave. Note: heat for 30 seconds, then in 15-second intervals, until it bubbles. Caution: isomalt is HOT. Gloves are recommended.
4. Surround your SmArt Sheet design with a Flex Form (I prefer SimiCakes).
5. Remove design and pour blue isomalt into Flex Form. Let cool.
6. Clear bubbles on isomalt with a blow torch.
7. Place design on blue isomalt.
8. Heat up clear isomalt and pour evenly over the design. Let cool.
9. Use torch to clean up any bubbles.
10. Heat up isomalt and pour into base mold. Let cool.
11. Remove Flex Form from design. Remove base from the mold.
12. Shine both pieces with torch, and attach base with heated isomalt.