“Frozen” Polar Bear Cake

This “frozen” polar bear cake was inspired by the millions of Disney Frozen cakes out there. I was intrigued by the edible ice palaces and set out on a quest to learn how to shape sugar (should be easy, right?) A quick Google search introduced me to a product called Isomalt. Fun fact: Isomalt is a sugar substitute made from beet sugar. Because of it’s structural integrity Isomalt out performs conventional sugar when sculpted into elaborate or delicate shapes and has become the go-to ingredient for pastry chefs and sugar artists everywhere. Particularly those we see on televised culinary competitions. Cool. I definitely wanted to know how to do THAT!

Polar bear cake with Disney's Frozen inspired ice shards and polar bears on an Isomalt glacier. Coconut covered white layer cake with vanilla buttercreamWhy I love this project

I love how this “simple” cake turned into a weekend long self-taught class in sugar work. And I love LOVE that after just a few attempts I was able to achieve exactly the look I was after! An Isomalt “glacier” for my polar bear figures to sit on and “ice shards” that look so realistic you can almost feel the chill! Fun right?!

Polar bear cake with Disney's Frozen inspired ice shards and polar bears on an Isomalt glacier. Coconut covered white layer cake with vanilla buttercream.Polar bear cake with Disney's Frozen inspired ice shards and polar bears on an Isomalt glacier. Coconut covered white layer cake with vanilla buttercream.Tips, techniques + takeaways

The biggest takeaway from my polar bear cake project was that Isomalt needs to be cooked and cooled before you heat and form it. Unless you purchase pre-cooked Isomalt nibs from CakePlay. When I started this project I had no idea these existed so I used the traditional Isomalt crystals I had purchased ahead of time. The instructions on the package say to chill the Isomalt in in a cool water bath after bring it to temp, but I found that the water bath caused some of the liquid Isomalt to seize up in the pan before I could pour it out on a surface to cool. And once it sets, there’s not going back. At that point it hard as a rock. So, instead of following the instructions I modified the process just a bit:

How to cook Isomalt*

  1. Line a 1/2 sheet baking pan with a silpat mat and a sheet of parchment paper
  2. Place a sauce pan fitted with a candy thermometer on medium heat (non-stick works great)
  3. Add 1/2 cup distilled water (use distilled water to maintain clarity)
  4. Add 2 cups Isomalt crystals and whisk to evenly distribute crystals in water
  5. Brush the edges with a wet pastry brush so that no crystals remain on the side of the pan
  6. Heat liquid to 140ºC. Add food coloring at this point (optional)
  7. Continue to heat liquid to 160ºC or “hard crack” (do not stir)
  8. Remove from heat and rest pan on a trivet to cool for about a minute or until bubbles settle down
  9. Pour hot liquid Isomalt onto prepared baking sheet in a puddle
  10. Let cool for about 20 minutes or until set but still bendable
  11. Break into pieces and store in a zip loc bag until ready to use
  12. Soak pan and candy thermometer in water overnight to dissolve remaining Isomalt (this is the only way I’ve found to remove hardened Isomalt from cooking utensils)
  13. When ready to use, melt Isomalt “chips” in a glass measuring cup in the microwave on high in 30 second increments until melted and bubbling
  14. Pour into silicone molds or into desired shapes

I found, that a cool smooth surface works great if you’re looking for ultra clear Isomalt shapes. I poured my Isomalt onto a marble pastry slab and it worked great. I poured a small puddle for the “glacier” and a larger puddle for the ice shards. Once cooled I tapped the center of the large puddle with an ice pick and it shattered into cool shapes!

I opted to add a little color to my “ice” after cooking and cooling it vs. during the cooking process. That way I could retain some clear areas and I think it looks a little more realistic. A mixture of sky blue and pearl sheen airbrush color worked great to give the sugar ice edges a cool blue glow.

I made a double batch of Vanilla Bean Buttercream so I could pipe a generous layer of buttercream between the cake layers and still have plenty for a deep frosting to hold tons of unsweetened coconut flakes and support my sugar ice shards.

TIP: To make bright white buttercream add a small drop of Violet gel food coloring to the butter before adding the icing sugar. The violet will cancel out the yellow color in the butter resulting in a bright white buttercream! It may look at little gray at first, but it brightens up quickly when the sugar is added to the mix.

Polar bear cake with Disney's Frozen inspired ice shards and polar bears on an Isomalt glacier. Coconut covered white layer cake with vanilla buttercream.Polar bear cake with Disney's Frozen inspired ice shards and polar bears on an Isomalt glacier. Coconut covered white layer cake with vanilla buttercream.Tools for success

CK Isomalt crystals
Ateco 10-piece plain pastry tip set
Marble pastry board
Schleich polar bear
Schleich polar bear cub
AmeriMist sky blue airbrush food color
AmeriMist pearl sheen airbrush food color

* Please be careful when preparing Isomalt. The sugar syrup is very hot and sticky. Make sure your work area is free of pets and small children and use extra caution to avoid harmful burns. Sugar work gloves are also a nice precaution if you have them.

Polar bear cake with Disney's Frozen inspired ice shards and polar bears on an Isomalt glacier. Coconut covered white layer cake with vanilla buttercream.

Polar bear cake with Disney's Frozen inspired ice shards and polar bears on an Isomalt glacier. Coconut covered white layer cake with vanilla buttercream.

1 vote

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Winter White Cake

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 24 servings

Makes 2 9" round cake layers.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

+

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting pans
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool

Instructions

  1. Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended. Set aside so they have time to come to room temperature.
  2. Set oven rack in middle position. Preheat to 350º.
  3. Coat two 9-inch round removable bottom cake tins with butter and dust with flour. If using standard cake tins, line bottom with parchment paper for easier removal.
  4. Sift cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix slowly for a bit to blend.
  5. Add butter a tablespoon at a time. Continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs.
  6. Add half of the milk/egg white mixture and beat at medium speed for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add remaining milk/egg white mixture and mix on medium speed for about a minute. Scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  8. Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans. Using an offset spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops.
  9. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. If oven is small, place pans on separate racks in staggered fashion to allow for air circulation.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  11. Let cakes rest in pans for a few minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto wire racks. Reinvert and let cool completely.

Courses Cake

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 55g

Amount Per Serving

Calories 167

% Daily Value

Total Fat 6.2 g

10%

Saturated Fat 3.9 g

20%

Trans Fat 0.2 g

Cholesterol 16 mg

5%

Sodium 117 mg

5%

Total Carbohydrates 26 g

9%

Sugars 15 g

Protein 2 g

4%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

 

Polar bear cake with Disney's Frozen inspired ice shards and polar bears on an Isomalt glacier. Coconut covered white layer cake with vanilla buttercream.

1 vote

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Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Prep

Total

Yield 24 servings

Makes enough for 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 300 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons whole milk
  • 675 g icing sugar

OPTIONAL

  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds only

Instructions

  1. Beat butter on medium high speed until pale and smooth. About 5 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla extract (and vanilla bean) to milk, mix to incorporate and set aside.
  3. Add icing sugar to butter in two stages, mixing well after each batch.
  4. Gradually add the vanilla milk mixture and beat for another 3-5 minutes or until almost white.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and give it one last blast to blend it all together.

Notes

Source: Cupcake Jemma

Courses Frosting

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 43g

Amount Per Serving

Calories 201

% Daily Value

Total Fat 10.2 g

16%

Saturated Fat 6.5 g

33%

Trans Fat 0.4 g

Cholesterol 27 mg

9%

Sodium 3 mg

0%

Total Carbohydrates 28 g

9%

Sugars 28 g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

 

* This post may contain affiliate links. I may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links.

 

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Polar bear cake with Disney's Frozen inspired ice shards and polar bears on an Isomalt glacier.

10 Comments

    1. Jes Lahay January 10, 2017 at 9:55 am

      LOL Modeling fractals with sugar. I love it! Shouldn’t everything just be made out of sugar? 😉

      Reply
  1. Kreanimo January 13, 2017 at 5:57 am

    I have a Frozen linkparty on my blog!
    If you want you can come and link to it 🙂

    It would fit in great!

    Lovely by the way, my daughters’ birthdays are in July – so I’ll have to wait to try this out!

    Reply
    1. Jes Lahay January 13, 2017 at 8:28 pm

      Thanks for the link party invite Ilse! I can’t wait to see how you use the Isomalt “ice” for your birthday party project!

      Reply
      1. Kreanimo January 14, 2017 at 1:16 am

        You’re welcome – There’s a translate button on my blog, by the way.
        I blog in Dutch and English.
        Next coming weeks there’s a linkparty every week on Thursdays, so you are welcome to join in any time you want.
        I’m putting your blog on my reading list. It’s really my cup of tea 🙂

        Reply
        1. Jes Lahay January 14, 2017 at 8:03 am

          Thanks for adding me to your reading list Ilse! I’ll keep an eye out for the link parties!

          Reply
  2. ElsaR January 14, 2017 at 2:07 am

    Beautiful ♥

    Reply
    1. Jes Lahay January 14, 2017 at 8:05 am

      Thanks Elsa!

      Reply
  3. Lodi January 16, 2017 at 4:11 am

    Wow, beautiful

    Reply
    1. Jes Lahay January 16, 2017 at 6:18 pm

      Thanks Lodi!

      Reply

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