Before you start – remove any bracelets and/or rings you may be wearing. Seriously, don’t skip doing this!
16 oz. mini marshmallows
2 Tablespoons water
2 pounds powdered sugar (also called icing sugar)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (most commonly known brand is Crisco)
Place marshmallows and water in a large, microwave safe bowl. Microwave on High power for 30 seconds. Stir. Continue microwaving for 30 seconds at a time and stirring until the marshmallows are melted and smooth.
Pour about 3/4 of the powdered sugar over the melted marshmallows. This is not part of the original recipe but at this point I gently stir the powdered sugar into the mixture as much as possible. Now, heavily grease your working surface with vegetable shortening and turn the powdered sugar-marshmallow mixture out onto your working surface. Heavily grease your hands – really be generous. Use your hands to knead the powdered sugar into the marshmallow. The mixture is extremely sticky at this point, but just keep kneading! Add the remaining powdered sugar and continue kneading. Re-grease the table and your hands as needed. (I usually wind up using more than the 1/2 cup called for – don’t worry if you need to use more than that too!) It usually takes about 8 to 10 minutes to get the fondant smooth and elastic and so that it isn’t sticky.
You can use your fondant immediately if needed. If you are not going to use it right away, shape it into a ball and grease it with vegetable shortening then wrap in plastic wrap. Wrap it in a second layer of plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out (popping the double-wrapped ball of fondant into a large storage bag will help too) and store in the refrigerator. To use fondant that has been refrigerated, let it sit out at room temperature long enough that it will be easy to work with. You can knead it to help warm it up so it is workable, but do leave ample time for it to sit at room temperature to warm up as much as possible before you will be using it to make working with it easier.
When working with the fondant, it should be smooth and elastic and easy to roll and shape. If it is cracking, it’s too dry. Knead in small amounts of water at a time (no more than one tablespoon at most!) until it is elastic and no longer cracking.
To cover a cake with fondant, you first need to fill your layers and apply a crumb coat of frosting as usual. If you’re not familiar with doing crumb coats it’s easy – you apply a thin layer of frosting to the top and sides of the cake, cleaning off your knife or spatula before getting more frosting, to seal in any loose crumbs. Let this thin coat of frosting set up for several minutes (the longer the better, but if you are like me and don’t have the time or patience to wait it out, 10-15 minutes will be fine!) and then move on to either finishing off with more frosting or covering with fondant.
Roll the fondant out on a surface dusted with powdered sugar to ensure the fondant doesn’t stick while rolling it out. I like to roll my fondant thin when covering cakes – about 1/8 of an inch or so at most. If you prefer a thicker layer of fondant by all means, do so! Once the fondant is rolled out to the desired thickness and a size that will cover your cake, gently lift it and place it on top of the cake. Here’s a trick to help – gently roll the fondant around your rolling pin, then transfer it to the cake. It’s MUCH easier this way than trying to lift a big, flat sheet of fondant! Smooth the fondant over the top of the cake first, then smooth the sides. Once the cake is covered and the edges of the fondant are all smooth, you can use a fondant cutter (or a pastry cutter or a knife, whatever you’ve got!) to trim the excess fondant away from the bottom of the cake.
To make shapes and decorations with the fondant – well… just let your imagination do the work. Remember, it’s like edible Play Doh! Just remember that fondant dries out so work with small amounts of it at a time and keep what you aren’t using in a storage bag so it will not dry out.
You can also roll the fondant out and use fondant cutting and shaping tools (or cookie cutters!) to make all kinds of fun shapes and decorations.
To dye/tint rolled fondant: Use gel food coloring to tint your rolled fondant. Use a tooth pick to pick up some gel from the jar, remembering that a little goes a long way. Simply “wipe” the gel onto the fondant to transfer the gel coloring, then discard the tooth pick and knead the color into your fondant. Knead for a couple minutes to make sure the color is evenly worked through the fondant, and then add more color if necessary. You may want to wear some disposable plastic gloves for this to prevent getting your hands stained!
I recently made some of this fondant to cover and decorate a birthday cake for my oldest niece. It didn’t quite turn out as planned, however this was my first venture into such cake decorating and this was my first tiered cake as well. This cake involved a lot of “firsts” for me… so it may not necessarily be the prettiest cake in the world, but I’m quite proud of it and my niece loved it! As they say, it’s the thought that counts! 😉
No, the little lizard on top isn’t fondant. (I wish!) It’s actually one of my niece’s toys – she wanted fondant lizards on the cake and that little guy on the bottom tier was my attempt. (You’ll have to excuse the awful eyes on the little guy – I forgot to buy more colors of gel food coloring so I had only pink and green to work with; obviously pink eyes on a pink lizard was not going to work so I painted some green food coloring on and hoped for the best. Kind of awful but I did my best!) Since it did not go well, I decided to top the cake with the toy lizard instead. The numbers on top are white chocolate lollipops dusted with some luster dust to make them pretty. The middle tier was decorated with some edible designer prints (which were not as easy to apply as I imagined they would be!) and the whole thing was showered with sparkle dust.