Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How-Tuesday: How to Make Marshmallow Fondant

Trust me, I hear you. "I don't liiiiiiiiiike fondant. I had it once and it was so nasty!" Give me a chance and hear me out. While it's true that fondant will never approach the same level of yumminess as frosting, it does have a time and a place. While it takes a little while to get the hang of it, I find it waaaaaaaaay easier for decorating most kids' cake. And this one is made of marshmallows, powdered sugar, and water, so really - how nasty could it be?

For those who are fondant newbies, fondant has a texture very similar Play-Doh, making it easy to use to decorate cakes. It is what most professional cake decorators use to make the amazing creations you see on TV. For years my husband, who was formally a pastry chef, refused to use fondant because of the taste, but once I found this recipe online and he tried it, even he relented.

Here are a few of the cakes we've made using fondant:
 Lego Birthday Party
Disney Princess Birthday Party

The bottom one is one of the first ones we ever did. Now it makes me cringe to look at it, but I wanted to put it on there just to show that even if they don't look that great at first, the more you do it, the more you improve!

So, onto the tutorial.

Easy Marshmallow Fondant
(originally from What's Cooking America)

1 16-oz. bag of mini-marshmallows
1 2-lb. bag of powdered sugar (note: the original recipe says to use name-brand powdered sugar and marshmallows)
2-4 T. water
scoop of Crisco (set aside in a bowl - you will be using this on your hand and the surface, so you don't want to be putting your goopy hands into your tub of Crisco

First, put the marshmallows and 2 T. in a large bowl, and microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring each time, until it is melted (usually 2-3 minutes total). It'll look like this at first:
 Then it'll be melted completely, like this (no, I did not microwave in this metal bowl):
 Dump about 3/4 of the bag of powdered sugar on top
At this point, TAKE OFF ANY JEWELRY, put it in a safe place, and slather your hands with Crisco. As if it were lotion. This is unpleasant, but having sticky marshmallow hands is worse. Mix it up a little until in starts to come together.

 Then grease your countertops with the Crisco, and dump out your fondant. Start kneading, and keep going until it looks smooth. If it starts to get dry and difficult to work with, add a little water. If it feels sticky, add a little more powdered sugar. If the mixture start to stick to your hands or the counter, add a little more Crisco. Keep kneading it for about 5-10 minutes. By the end, you want it to be the consistency of Play-Doh.

If you need to store it for a few days at this point, coat it in Crisco and wrap it up really well with Saran Wrap. Leave it out on the counter - do not refrigerate! When you're ready to use it, you may want to stick it back in the microwave for 10 seconds to make it pliable again. If you're ready to use the fondant right away, let's move on to the next step!

 Now you can add in some color. We use the liquid food color gels that you can pick up at Michael's and even Wal-Mart, I think. I apologize in advance for this picture. It looks like vampire action gone wrong! We are doing red here, and it needed to be red red, not pinkish, so we ended up using almost the whole bottle of gel coloring. Really try to stay away from red and black if at all possible - way more hassle.

So, using a toothpick or fork tines, put some gel on the fondant.

 And then start kneading again to mix it all through.
I did this for approximately 1.5 minutes before I got bored and let my husband finish up this job. When I came back downstairs, it looked like this!
 Note: you can see here that we are using a cutting board to knead the fondant with the dye. We were just nervous because we're in a rental, and we were using red. If you have light countertops, you may want to consider doing the same, especially if you're using reds or pinks, as you don't want it to stain.

To apply it to the cake:
First, you're going to want to make sure your cake is frosted with some buttercream. This is actually a vanilla cake, with chocolate frosting. A few reasons for this. First, most kids will peel off the fondant (ingrates!), and then they still have some yummy frosting underneath. But more importantly, it helps the fondant lay smoother and stick on better when it's going onto a layer of frosting. Make sure the frosting has "crusted" and it's not wet and sticky. So here's the cake. I wouldn't recommend a shape like this for your first try - a basic round is actually easiest.
 Roll out your fondant. You'll want it to be about 1/4" thick. Take some measurements of your cake so that you can be sure your fondant is going to cover the top and sides. You can't really take it off and try it again. Sorry for the blurry "action shot" - I didn't want to ask my husband for the thousandth time to move/stop/slow down so I could take another picture. We sprinkle some powdered sugar down on the counter at this point. You can see it's getting all over the red fondant, but it brushes right off.
 After you have your fondant all rolled out, transfer it to the cake. You can either lift it up with your hands, or roll it around a rolling pin, and then unroll it over the cake. Do not fold it, as it cracks and leaves a crease. There are more pictures of the transferring step on the "What's Cooking America" link above if you need more of a visual.

Pat and smooth the fondant down over the sides of your cake. If you have a little tear, you can use a little bit of water to try and smooth it out, but be really careful you don't gouge the cake with your fingernails - that's a hard repair. See the yellow scraper thing off to the side? That's what we use for smoothing and cutting. If you don't have one, your hands are fine for smoothing, and you can use a knife or pizza cutter for cutting it.
 Here's me cutting off the excess and then sort of tucking the edges under the cake. This is my shot proving I contributed at least a little to the cake construction!

 If you are putting fondant decorations on a fondant cake, like all this stuff on the Pixie Hollow cake, just dip your finger in some water and put a tiny dab on the decoration, then put it on the cake. The water reacts with the sugar to make a bond, and they stick right on.
 Finally, add whatever else you'd like to your cake! When finished, store out on your countertop, or in a baking box. Do NOT refrigerate, as the moisture can ruin the fondant.

We usually do not attempt to create any character figurines out of frosting or fondant. We create a background and then add the toys to the cake (see the Lego minifigures, pixies, and princesses above).

We also try to let our kids add a little something to the cake. In the Lego cake, my son built the "dump truck" bringing over more blocks, and my daughter made the fondant heart in the Pixie Hollow cake and the doorknob(s) for the castle on the princess cake. Sometimes it's hard for me to relinquish control to their vision, but if they have something they'd like to add, I try to always say yes. Since, you know, it is their cake, after all!

Here is the finished product of this Lego cake:
So, give it a try! Make a batch just for fun one day, play with it, let your kids play with it! Roll it out, fashion some shapes, try draping it over a cake pan or shoe box and see how it goes. What you definitely DON'T want to do is to wait until it's party day and you're working with fondant for the first time. Practice, practice, practice, and you'll be creating masterpiece cakes in no time!

I link up here.

Pin It!


kaylynnczy said...

This recipe is too great - I've tried it and loved it.

I love serving it at parties because all of my family members are in awe, "What IS this stuff?" Heathens, right?

Thanks for sharing some tips on cutting the excess fondant off - great idea!

Totally stalking your blog. Hope you'll check mine out so we can get to know each other better!

Katie said...

Thanks, I'll come stop by!

Alexis @ we like to learn as we go said...

What a great tutorial and recipe! I've always wanted to try fondant and a marshmallow one seems perfect. I'm pinning this and featuring it tonight at my link party!

Katie said...

Great - thanks, Alexis! When you use the tutorial, let me know if you have any questions I didn't address. When it's something you've made a whole bunch of times, sometimes it's hard to include everything a beginner needs to know!

Amy CookingAdventures said...

Love your lego cake! It's super cute!

Katie said...

Thank you, Amy!

Ruthie Knudsen said...

That is super cool... I must try. Thanks so much for sharing at Super Saturday Show & Tell… I’m SO glad you came to (link) party with me! http://www.whatscookingwithruthie.com Come back again tomorrow to share! xoxo~ Ruthie

Katie said...

Thanks Ruthie!

Karen Willis said...

The problem I have with my fondant is not being able to get the powdered sugar off the fondant. What do you brush yours off with?

Katie said...

Karen, my husband was a pastry chef so he is the main problem-solver in our kitchen. I asked him your question and he said a natural bristle pastry brush is your best bet. You should be able to get one at Michael's (or online, obviously), but he also said restaurant supply stores would have them. You could also try a basting brush from the grocery store.

As far as technique goes, if you don't have a special brush, he says that sometimes he lightly rubs the heel of his palm against the fondant. Hope that helps!

Punsisi N Darshana Upasena said...

Hello Katie... I am a fresher for fondant and wanted to do a cake for your wedding anniversary. I am just being concerned whether the fondant will turn out alright without Crisco. Can I use butter instead? Please do answer me.

Thanks a lot!