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