Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Kazoo Chronicles

I've been married to Tim for long enough now that I didn't find it odd at all when he emailed me from the studio and said, "I need an edible kazoo."

It wasn't until several hours later that I thought, "Most men ask their wives for cookies. Or a loaf of bread. Mine asks for an edible kazoo."

So there was a little talk, a little "what is this going to be used for? Does it have to be playable?" kind of discussion, and I got the requirements:

Has to look like a real plastic kazoo.
Has to be able to be eaten quickly on camera.
Why? To be funny.

So I set to work.

First order of business--a real kazoo I could experiment with. This was easy to find--Tim has a drawer full of kazoos. I found one that lost its zzzz. I usually fix the ones that temporarily lose their zzzz--but this was broken beyond repair. So I adopted it.

Second, I needed a mold. And it needed to be made of things I had on hand, and it needed to be non-toxic (or at least leave no toxic residue). And, since my first thought was a lollipop kazoo, it needed to be able to withstand high temperatures.

My solution: Frosting. I made a batch of royal icing (the kind that is used as icing glue for gingerbread houses) and added enough powdered sugar that it turned into a nice dough. Pressed the kazoo into it and let it sit to harden.

It didn't harden.

So I froze it.

I realized I couldn't have standard lollipop concoction because it needed to not be see-through (or it wouldn't look like kazoo plastic), so I made a batch of lollipop sugar but melted a bunch of butterscotch candies in it. That worked. I dusted the cold mold with powdered sugar and poured in the hot candy, swirling it around up the edges, and then dumped out the excess, leaving a nice, half-kazoo-shaped shell. Then I let that set up.

It stuck to the frosting. Not a problem--I pulled it off. But it didn't come all the way off, even after I washed it.  It also didn't hold its shape well, so it was too narrow to be a real kazoo. It was still see-through (didn't look like plastic!) and the parts that weren't stuck over with frosting were shiny and looked like orange glass. Parts were too thick to bite through, parts were sharp when they broke, so it wasn't something you could eat quickly on camera. Plus, it stuck your teeth together.

Kazoo fail.

Made a batch of marshmallow fondant--too soft and drapey to look like a hard plastic kazoo. That will have to go on Caleb's birthday cake, I guess.

So I made a new mold out of tin foil. Looked good enough. This time, I made a new batch of icing, dyed it green with food coloring, and put it into plastic bags. Then I squirted it into the mold in a nice thin layer and set it aside to dry overnight. The exposed surface dried. The stuff underneath didn't. And it stuck hard to the foil.

Kazoo fail.

More internet searching and I went back to the kitchen and filled a small dish with cornstarch and pressed the kazoo into that. It was a nice idea--but a kazoo is too big to make a good cornstarch mold. Still, it looked decent, so I poured hot candy melt into it. The half-kazoo that came out didn't have a nice smooth texture, and the shape wasn't pristine. But it did take a painted-on coating of food coloring pretty well. Didn't look quite real.

Kazoo fail. Daniel ate that one (because candy melt is YUMMY). And the kids had a glorious time experimenting with cornstarch in the bathroom.

More searching, and I came across a recipe for chocolate clay, made from candy melt so it was white.

So I took out the other half-kazoo mold made from royal icing dough (it had been sitting in the freezer all this time), and I dusted it with cornstarch and pressed the chocolate clay into it. Let it set up for a few minutes, and pulled out a decent model of a kazoo. And then everyone devoured the extra chocolate clay because it tasted SO good. It also had the right "eat"--could be devoured quickly on camera, with a texture exactly like fresh tootsie rolls (in fact, I made a second batch from milk chocolate chips, and it tasted exactly like tootsie rolls, too).

So I found my material. But when I painted it with food coloring, it didn't take the coloring evenly.

So I made a new batch, mixing the coloring into the corn syrup in the recipe, but it ruined the texture of the chocolate clay.

New batch, split in two parts. One colored with gel coloring--worked great. One colored with orange Kool-aid powder. That was interesting. In the candy melt, it just looked lightly pink. But when I added the corn syrup and stirred, it blossomed into a nice orange color! Very cool. Anyway, that tasted good, too.

So I realized I needed a better mold for my kazoo.

And that's as far as we've gotten. Right now, I have a kazoo sitting in a pan of chocolate in the kitchen--we're going to try to make the mold out of chocolate (since I always work on this at midnight and can't just go buy plasticene, which is what I hear you're supposed to use, at midnight).  If that works, I'll press chocolate clay into the mold and we'll have a white chocolate kazoo, dyed blue with gel food coloring, that will look plastic and eat well.

If that doesn't work, we have had suggested to us to carve one out of a giant carrot and to try making one from fruit roll ups. So those are the next tries.

Can't wait to see what Tim has in mind to DO with an edible kazoo.

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