Sunday, October 11, 2009

Marshmellow Fondant 101

Fondant is a funny bird! It looks great and is fun to work with but can taste gawd awful! Marshmellow fondant is a yummy alternative that is easy enough for the average "Joe" (ie: Me!)to make. I'm no expert, but I've had good luck with this method. I won't make it if it's raining out because the result can become...unpredictable. I'm not sure why, but when I mentioned it to Mom she said that she can't make fudge (Hers is better then sex - btw!) when it's raining cuz it doesn't turn out. I figure, there must be some connection.


1 bag of small marshmellows.
1 bag of icing sugar (I always keep a 2nd on hand just in case!)
1 tsp clear vanilla
2 Tbsp of water
Butter - for greasing your bowl (adds a tiny bit of flavour too)
Shortening for greasing your hands.

I start with my "fondant bowl". I love this bowl - it's one of my favorite things! It used to belong to Nann (God I miss her) and it works perfectly for fondant! It's heavy enough that it holds the heat in and when I grease it first, the marshmellows slide right out! :) Sooo - step 1...grease the bowl. I have a rubber pastry brush that I use to brush the entire inside with butter. As Mom would say..."It's a Dandy!".
I normally use the small marshmellows. They melt and mix more evenly. For this batch, though, I had a small amount left over from another bag of big marshmellows, and needed a bigger batch so I added the big ones to the small ones. I also pour about 2Tbsp of warm-ish water over them before putting the bowl into the microwave. That's why they look a little sweaty. Oh - You'll also want to butter a rubber spatula or scraper'll need it to stir them as they melt. Do it now cuz once you get started, everything goes really quickly!

I put the entire bowl in the microwave for 1 minute. With my original recipe, I was only in about 30 second increments - but - I'm using a really heavy ceramic bowl so 1 minute increments works for me.

While the marshmellows are melting, I sift my icing sugar. I can NOT stress how important sifting your icing sugar is. You MUST MUST MUST sift it!! Don't believe me?? Try to skip this step and you'll quickly realize (the hard way - like I did) why it's so important!! If you do not sift it, you'll get these little hard-ish bits of icing sugar lumps throughout your fondant. These little hard bits poke through the top...then crumble leaving a gaping hole with powder poofing out! Not awesome!!! PLEASE sift your icing sugar!!

Most recipes I've found call for greasing your counter top. I'm sure that works great...I just found it more messy then I needed so I simply sift a HUGE amount of icing sugar onto my counter and make sure the melted marshmellow doesn't touch the counter.

I also make sure I have my sifter full of icing sugar at the ready. Like I goes fast once the mellow's are melted.

Keep nuke-ing your mellow's 1 minute at a time until they're melted. About the same as you'd use for rice krispy squares. I take them out after each minute and stir them. It usually only takes 2 minutes - but sometimes 3. Not sure why?? Once your mellows are melted, stir the crap out of them - like - your life depended on it - get a great arm workout stirring (this too will help prevent those little awful powder lumpies)...then grease your hands. Butter is not enough - use lard or shortening. I use a high ratio shortening and it works quite well. Keep more at hand, though - this can get really messy!!!

Pour the melted marshmellow out onto the island of sifted icing sugar. It's going to travel, so act quickly. I typically start by coating the entire surface with another layer of sifted icing sugar so that my hands don't touch the bare mellows. Believe me - even shortening is no match for bare melted mellows!! lol

Once it's totally coated in icing sugar, I start to kneed it. I start by folding the side in on top of itself, then pushing into the middle. I repeat that over and over until it forms a dough. About halfway through, I pour 1tsp of clear vanilla over the almost kneaded fondant. It adds flavour and helps with the kneeding. Because my hands were coated in mellow goo - I couldn't take any of the "kneeding" pics...sorry! (Thankfully - hubby consented to take a few during the kneeding process of the next batch!! - Thanks DH!) Continue kneeding until it's firm, but not streatchy like silly putty. If it gets too hard - add water a drop at a time (literally). If it's still too streatchy - add more sifted icing sugar.
When you're done - your fondant will look like this. Clean and white and firm and fun!! Now - wrap it wicked tight in plastic wrap and set it aside for a couple hours to set up. You may need to add more icing sugar later, but you're done for now! :)

(*note - all recipes I've found call for setting it aside for a couple hours...I have no clue why cuz I never have...I'm sure there's a reason...I just haven't figured it out yet! lol )
(*UPDATE!!!* Cake making is a learning process - every time I make a cake, I learn something new!! In this case, I actually DID wrap my fondant and set it aside for later! Guess what??!! There IS a reason for it!!! The reason is that it sets up better and rolls out nicer! It gives it a firmness that makes it MUCH easier to work with! So...although you CAN use it right away - it pays to let it set up for a bit! See!! I'll admit when I don't know everything!! ;)
Now - if you want to color it - toss it into a plastic bag with some coloring gel and smoosh the heck out of it until it's colored. Using a plastic bag will save your hands from becomming an unnatural shade of whatever color you are using!.

To apply it - roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick. Be sure to flip it over after each roll. It keeps it from sticking to the counter and keeps it rolled evenly.

Lay it over your cake when it's big enough. You can use either the warmth of your hand to smooth it out or Wilton has a "Dandy" of a spreader that I couldn't live without! Use a pizza wheel to trim the edges off and voila! Oh - the sticks are to suppor the top layer - check out my post about the wedding cakes and you'll see what I mean. :)

Now - for some important points...

1 - SIFT SIFT SIFT!!! Can't stress that enough!
2 - Please don't FREEZE! Freezing is bad! Why? cuz it sweats when it thaws out and sweaty fondant can not be fixed.
3 - You cake must be iced smooth to accept the fondant. I read somewhere that it's like putting on a spandex dress...every dimple and bulge will show.

4 - air bubbles can be popped with a very thin pin and more smoothing.

5 - fondant will not stick to dry frosting.

6 - fondant will successfully send the average 6 year old on a most excellent sugar rush that will last much longer then the patience of her mom!

So - that's what I know about fondant. Hope it was helpful and feel free to hit me with any questions. I might not know the "right" answer - but I'll be able to tell you what has worked for me! :)


Cassey said...

Oh my gosh Hollee... I don't make cakes, but I loved reading this. Too funny!

Kim said...

Thank you for this... I will be attempting. After my flop last year I haven't tried it again. :)