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How to Make Fondant

Take your cakes and cupcakes to a new level using our updated and easier fondant recipe and fun decorating ideas.

What Is Fondant?

Traditional fondant is a simple sugar-and-water mixture cooked to the soft-ball stage. After it is cooked, fondant can be beaten and kneaded until it is pliable, then formed into decorations or candy. Fondant has revolutionized cake and cupcake decorating. This versatile mixture can be colored, flavored, rolled, imprinted, and cut into any number of shapes. It can also be used to cover an entire cake or cupcakes. While you can purchase fondant, homemade is softer and easier to work with. Also, unlike commercial fondants, freshly made homemade fondant usually has a better flavor. Traditional homemade fondant requires standing over a hot stove and a candy thermometer, but our streamlined version (below) is prepared in the microwave without having to use a candy thermometer. It's made with marshmallows, white baking chocolate, and vanilla -- a great flavor combination.  

How to Prepare the Fondant

  • In a medium microwave-safe bowl combine 3 cups tiny marshmallows, 1/2 ounce finely chopped white baking chocolate with cocoa butter, 1 tablespoon cut-up butter, and 1-1/2 teaspoons milk or whipping cream.
  • Microwave on 100 percent power (high) about 1 minute or until marshmallows begin to melt and are puffy. Stir the marshmallow mixture until smooth (if necessary, return to the microwave oven to continue melting).
  • Stir 1 teaspoon clear vanilla* into the marshmallow mixture. Stir in 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar.
  • Sprinkle a work surface with about 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Transfer the marshmallow mixture onto the prepared work surface and begin kneading. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar as needed, kneading until the fondant is smooth and no longer sticky (this will take about 10 minutes). Use the fondant immediately; for storage, see tips below.

*Tip: Clear vanilla can be found in the cake-decorating department of hobby and crafts stores.

Tips for Working with Fondant

  • Fondant can dry out quickly. If you need to store it for short periods of time, wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in a resealable plastic bag.
  • For longer storage, roll fondant into a ball, then coat with a little vegetable shortening. Wrap in plastic wrap, then place the wrapped fondant in an airtight container. It can be stored for up to 2 months this way. Do not refrigerate or freeze it.
  • If fondant is too soft or sticky to roll, knead in a little additional powered sugar.
  • You might want to invest in a silicone mat for rolling out fondant for a smooth surface and easy release.
  • Make sure your hands are clean when handling fondant, and avoid wearing clothing with fibers that might shed.
  • If you are covering a cake or cupcakes with fondant, lightly cover with a glaze or buttercream frosting first to create a smooth surface.

How to Tint Fondant

A spectrum of colors is available in paste-style food coloring. The advantage of using paste food coloring to color fondant is that the color will not be diluted when you mix it with the white fondant. You can use the colors as packaged or combine them to create custom colors. Paste food colorings are available at hobby and crafts stores.

Tip: Wear plastic gloves to avoid discoloring your hands. If you are using different colors, you will want to have
several pairs of gloves.

How to Flavor Fondant

In place of vanilla in the above recipe, stir in a few drops of your favorite flavoring, such as almond, lemon, or orange extract.

How to Roll Out Fondant

To use fondant, roll it out with a rolling pin on a surface coated with additional powered sugar. For large sheets to cover cakes and cupcakes and for cutting out decorations, you will want to roll out a sheet about 1/8 inch thick. If you are going to cover a cake, you might want to invest in a special wide rolling pin designed for fondant.

How to Decorate with Fondant

Now that your fondant is made, use these tools and techniques to decorate.

  • Pastry wheel or cutter-embosser: These tools are perfect for cutting decorative strips for edges or borders. You can also create interesting patterns directly on a sheet of fondant, such as a quilt pattern.
  • Cutters: Small shaped cutters designed just for fondant are available at stores that carry cake-decorating supplies. Use the same technique to cut out fondant shapes as using cookie cutters to cut out shaped cookies.
  • Sugar sprinkles or edible glitter: Sprinkle these on fondant for high-impact accents. These work great on small accent pieces made of fondant, such as flowers, leaves, alphabet letters, and other shapes.

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