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I have been tasked with creating war-zone brownies: should contain visual cues that the brownie is a conflict zone and have edible props.

My progress has been very slow. After a few days, I'm still at the drawing board. I've only ordered some cheap toothpick props to stick in to cultivate the war-zone atmosphere: ak 47s, flags, ect. The trouble is these are not edible and betray the spirit of the project. In other words, I will still need some edible things too.

My online queries found no shortage of fairy-dust, unicorns and a slew of other goody-two-shoes edible confectionery decorations, but virtually nothing in terms of the macho-man, war-zone edibles I'm after, leading me to conclude that a store-bought solution is unlikely. That leaves me with improvising edible props.

To keep things simple, and to keep this question within a reasonable scope, I'll simply limit the universe of answers to help find edible solutions to my checklist, which is short:

  • Guns / gun-looking things (best I could do was pocky)
  • Bullets
  • Debris

Question

Given my needs and approximate aesthetic as described above, what edible solutions can I improvise to decorate my war-zone chocolate brownies? (note: answers should ideally pair well with the flavor chocolate).

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  • 2
    Chocolate soil, craters etc.
    – dbmag9
    Oct 13 at 7:33
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    Your thoughts, and my own assumptions, set me thinking along the lines of fairly modern inland warfare, but how constrained are you? An amphibious landing could look good, with individual brownies as landing craft and fortifications, some stacked as cliffs behind a marzipan beach. This question put me in the mood to listen to Sabaton, and that's giving me ideas
    – Chris H
    Oct 13 at 9:37
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    I know this may not be strictly protocol for this site, but please comment with a link to some pictures of your finished product when you're done. This sounds like a cool project
    – Kevin
    Oct 13 at 15:33
  • As @Kevin says, it would be nice to see the end result. This could be in the form of an answer that demonstrates what works and what doesn't, or just a little addition to the question.
    – Chris H
    Oct 14 at 11:18
  • May we see the specific wording by which your client and contract define "war-zone brownies"? Oct 14 at 20:36
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First, pick a scale and more detailed theme:

  • I'd go for battlefield scale, so a person would be an inch or two high (3-5cm). This means you can cast moulds from toys. A few soldiers might need to be made, not easy but they don't have to be great.
  • Otherwise go for life size. Make each brownie the right proportions and shape, helped by fondant, for a rifle magazine, accompany with cast bullets. Or a cake shaped like a military helmet.
  • I've assumed something like WW1 below, but much of it would hold for older battles (cannon would be simpler than some of what I've suggested, but horses would be too hard)

Then you can choose whether to present a full scene, or just individual servings with a suitable decoration.

Military Hardware

Chocolate tools (and other models made of chocolate) have become quite common recently. The link is to a video, but it's adequately summarised in text. Their method starts with taking a cast of real tools. If you can buy miniature weapons you can start from those, or full size (model or used) bullets. Note that the things you cast need to be fairly flat. Making moulds of toy tanks etc. should work, though the main gun would need to be added after casting (cylinders are fairly easy. Even failed attempts can be made into military debris.

Flags, maps etc.

You can get printed edible rice paper cake toppers. For common national flags you can probably buy it pre-printed, anything else might be a custom order. I had a couple of pages of my thesis printed like this for a cake to celebrate. Edible flagpoles can be made using sugarwork techniques. A little white food colouring powder will make them opaque.

Scenery and other fiddly things

Here are a few ideas:

  • Marzipan or fondant (or modelling chocolate, but that tends to be brown or creamy white and doesn't take colour as well as the others) for:
    • Sandbags, perhaps making trenches (at your cut lines).
    • Troops (lying prone perhaps, or leaning against a trench wall)
    • Coloured grey or brick-red, hard fortifications (pillboxes)
  • Dig out shell craters from the brownie itself
  • Sugarwork with powder food colouring again for fences/barbed wire.
  • Food colouring dust and lustre powder can give surface colour or a metallic sheen
  • You can paint with concentrated food colouring. I'd start with the paste type, mixing with a bit of icing sugar and water as they'll be too strong to start with. There's also edible food paint.
  • Chocolate suggests mud, fitting with my European theme. Desert scenery could be made from marzipan or coloured fondant, while lush greenery would need lots of coloured fondant
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  • 1
    As for whether it's a good idea - that's up to you. At a birthday party when the main activity was paintballing, it would seem quite fitting, for example
    – Chris H
    Oct 13 at 13:08
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    A sandy field could be created by making blondies instead of or in addition to the brownies. Crumbling the blondies could make good sand debris or dunes, and making them really thin then cutting them could make decent walls for sand brick huts or other barriers. Oct 13 at 18:06
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    Marzipan sandbags are a good idea - it's obvious what they are, and the skill level required is pretty low. Also if you press them into a woven dishcloth then you'll get the right kind of textured finish.
    – Graham
    Oct 15 at 12:53
  • @Graham good thinking, though I'd use cheesecloth as I have some and it's quite a fine weave
    – Chris H
    Oct 15 at 13:04
  • If this is for a kid - aside from making a warzone for a kid - Lego minifigs could work too Oct 16 at 3:22
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Consider using fondant toppings.

Fondant is a confectionery topping with a consistency similar to modelling clay. It should be possible to cut a sheet of it into shapes such as firearms, bombs, military vehicles, destroyed buildings, flags, et cetera, or to hand-mold it into appropriate shapes. It's often used on cakes, and it should work well enough on brownies as well.

I question the wisdom of doing so, since it might offend or hurt someone who has lost loved ones in a conflict zone, but I guess it might make sense if you're doing this baking on behalf of a military unit, or you're raising awareness about a current conflict zone as part of an anti-war campaign.

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    You can also use gum paste, marzipan, or modeling chocolate
    – Joe
    Oct 13 at 8:23
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    Suggested edit, "Fondant is a confectionery topping with a consistency, and taste, similar to modelling clay."
    – BruceWayne
    Oct 13 at 17:05
  • @BruceWayne It's edible. Technically.
    – APH
    Oct 14 at 22:47
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Tank trap barricades

Tank traps

These have a definite warzone vibe. How do you make them? Thin chocolate sticks. In the UK we have Matchmakers, but other places may have local equivalents. You could use thin biscuit sticks instead.

Matchmakers

Cut these into suitably sized sticks, and assemble with a dab of melted chocolate in the middle. Three equal-sized sticks joined together creates a caltrop. Probably more convincingly scenic would be a barricade made of two or three X's joined with one cross-piece.

Barbed wire

Get some liquorice laces and silver edible glitter spray. Apply the latter to the former.

Liquorice laces

Blood

Raspberry sauce. Nuff said.

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  • Nice ideas - I'd like to see a demo (I could say the same about my own suggestions, but know I won't have time in the near future). Your matchmakers and liquorice could also be combined to provide a barbed wire fence to match my trenches.
    – Chris H
    Oct 15 at 11:50
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    I don't have a demo of using them for tank traps, but I've built a wooden bridge out of them. My son wanted a cake with a waterfall for his last birthday, so I added that over the river for decoration. Of course they're a bit fragile, but then "battle damage" is a thing! :)
    – Graham
    Oct 15 at 12:47
  • Your mention of kids and birthdays makes me think - build a jig out of Lego for while the chocolate glue sets, and it will be easier.
    – Chris H
    Oct 15 at 13:03
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Chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.

Without the proper treatment, chocolate doesn't gloss. That's perfect if you want to have a matte, dirt-appearing surface. With such a matte black and brown mix, it should be easy to turn the surface of a brownie into no-mans-land. by laying down the chocolate in layers and keeping some areas much less covered, one can create bomb holes and trenches, which then can be reinforced with colored white chocolate sandbags, bunkers, and other entrenchments, turning this brownie into Flanders Fields.

In scale, I would actually go for the Z scale (1:200) as that massively reduces the need to actually put figures onto the picture, and instead one could use flags to indicate positions of units.

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  • While I prefer my own idea on scale, this is a good one, and could be quite easy (custom-printed rice paper as I mention). I'm sure there are standard flags/icons used to represent different units, and the level of abstraction might suit some people better than the human scale
    – Chris H
    Oct 15 at 13:06
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I don’t know how blatantly obvious you need to be about it, but the most simple thing that I can think of to represent a war zone is a barrier of some sort.

At first I was thinking mine fields and concertina wire, but then I realized that a wall might work

You could even just frost it so it’s two different colors

If you need something more obviously violent, frost it, bisturb the frosting, then add a tombstone. Or rows of tombstones, like a military cemetery

And as nick01200 mentioned, you may risk re-traumatizing people who have been in conflict zones, so please be careful how you use this

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(Disclaimer: ChrisH had the idea of a beach/landing in a comment.)

Cookie crumb topping for sand and dirt. This will be tasty (better than fondant) and also have a lot of artistic potential, but also it will be a lot easier than icing.

You can use multiple colors of cookie to create cool effects like "wet" sand or layered dirt. And you can add footprints, tank tracks, tire tracks, etc.

For a beach, you can use a little bit of blue/white icing on one side to create water and some green/brown icing on the other side for the land side, maybe with bigger chunks of broken cookie for boulders.

For barbed wire, you can use spun sugar. Even if it is a bit messy, it will just look more barbed.

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  • Yup. I was also thinking finely grated chocolate. White choc for beach, milk/white choc mixed for drab grey etc
    – mcalex
    Oct 15 at 8:21
  • I'm glad to see someone running with this idea - I didn't want to go into it in my own existing answer. Now I'm wondering how to make a tank-track effect with a roller - perhaps brown icing, green edible dust on top for grass, then wrap two thick strips (foil, slightly crumpled?) round a cylinder and roll across the surface
    – Chris H
    Oct 15 at 11:54
  • @ChrisH They make specialty rollers for this, for people who make gaming props: greenstuffworld.com/en/textured-rolling-pins/… But that would be overkill for this project (and the detail might be too fine to pick up in cookie crumb). I would be inclined to use a kid's toy, personally, but I have horrible food safety habits and everyone else should "do as I say, not as I do" (but something like the rear wheel of a kid's toy tractor--not the exact tread of a tank but good enough and should have a big, clear pattern). Oct 15 at 15:00
  • Well I suggested a Lego jig under another answers to I'm no better (though you could cover Lego in foil). I think if you're imprinting cake or cookie crumb, just the pressure of the track is enough and you don't need a pattern. Icing would be another matter.
    – Chris H
    Oct 15 at 15:22

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