Foods | Cooking
Hints & Tips
How To Make Perfect
Marshmallow Fondant Icing
by Peggy Weaver
To many folks, even the pros, covering a cake in fondant icing is scary and avoided at all costs. It has a beautiful
satin like finish that is desired by many Brides, but it is extremely difficult to make the traditional fondant icing. So much so, that there are a few
companies that are willing to sell you their product for $6 per pound and up. That will cover an 8-inch two-layer cake. If you do the numbers, you
will quickly realize that a three-tier cake is going to be a big headache and costly. The worst thing about this problematic and expensive cake icing
is the fondant icing doesn’t taste good and is usually peeled off the slice of cake, like an orange rind, and left on the plate.
So - you have got to ask "Why bother." Well, this Marshmallow Fondant recipe that I’m sharing with you is easy-to-make,
very delicious, and great to work with - plus beautiful on the cake. That’s why you should bother. You will amaze the bride, guests, and family with
your skills in the kitchen. This recipe uses a commercial product as the base, so that is why it is a dream to make compared to the traditional recipe.
Advice from Peggy: One of the first things that I learned in cake decorating is to relax and have fun. Try to remember
that you are working in a medium that is meant to be eaten. It won’t be around 50 years from now. The memories and pictures might be
around, but I can promise you that the important part of all of this is that you went to the effort and everyone was delighted.
Lesson two is that no cake decorator creates a perfect cake; the pros just know how to correct the errors and go on. The cake
that I’m going to use today is a dense, moist cake that will hold its shape under the weight of what can be a heavy bit of icing and
MM (Marshmallow) Fondant Icing Recipe:
Yields: 1 batch fondant icing
Prep time: 60 min
16 ounces white mini-marshmallows (use a good quality brand)
2 to 5 tablespoons water
2 pounds icing sugar (please use C&H Cane Powdered Sugar for the best results)
1/2 cup Crisco shortening (you will be digging into it so place in a very easily accessed bowl)
NOTE: Please be careful, this first stage can get hot.
Melt marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave
or double boiler. To microwave, place the bowl in the microwave for 30
seconds, open microwave and stir, back in microwave for 30
seconds more, open microwave and stir again, and continue
doing this until melted. It usually takes about 2 1/2 minutes total.
Place 3/4 of the powdered sugar on the top of the melted marshmallow mix.
Now grease your hands GENEROUSLY (palms, backs, and in between fingers), then heavily grease the counter you will
be using and dump the bowl of marshmallow/sugar mixture in the middle. (By
the way, this recipe is also good for your hands. When I am done, they are baby soft.)
Start kneading like you would bread dough. You will immediately see why you have greased your hands. If you have
children in the room they will either laugh at you or look at you with a questioning expression. You might even hear a muttered,
What are you doing Keep kneading, this stuff is sticky at this stage! Add the rest of the powdered sugar and knead some more. Re-grease your hands
and counter when the fondant starts sticking.
If the mix is tearing easily, it is to dry, so add water (about 1/2 tablespoon at a time and then knead it in).
It usually takes me about 8 minutes to get a firm smooth elastic ball so that it will stretch without tearing when you apply it to
the cake. It is best if you can let it sit, double wrapped, overnight (but you can use it right away if
there are no tiny bits of dry powdered sugar). If you do see them, you will need to knead and maybe add a few more drops of water.
Prepare the fondant icing for storing by coating it with a good layer of Crisco shortening, wrap in a plastic-type wrap
product and then put it in a re-sealable or Ziploc bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible. MM Fondant icing will hold very well in the refrigerator for weeks.
If I know that I have a cake to decorate, I usually make two (2) batches on a free night during the week so it is ready when I need it. Take advantage of the
fact that this fondant icing can be prepared well in advance.
Now it’s time to start. Your cake should be baked, and completely cooled. If you have a shaped cake, you can trim
it now and then place the cake on a prepared cake board. In other words, you are assembling the cake puzzle on the board.
You can also place the cake on the board first and then trim
(you must be extra careful not to damage the covered board). I personally find that shaping first is the easiest and then transferring the cake.
Give the top and sides of the cake a nice thick 1/4-inch coating of
Buttercream Icing (click on the underlined for buttercream icing recipe).
NOTE: At first I was wondering why I needed to bother with this step. Well, there are a couple of reasons: The buttercream
icing helps the fondant icing to “stick” to the cake and this cushion of undercoating icing helps to give you the
beautiful smooth nearly perfect finish that you are looking for.
When you are ready to use the rested fondant icing, the first thing you need to do is decide what size you will need to roll your icing to.
Next, you need to sprinkle a bit of cornstarch on your counter to help prevent sticking (rub it in).
Crisco coating. It will be pretty stiff when you try to knead it again, but it can be micro waved for 10 to 20 seconds, if necessary.
Start off with 10 seconds (please be careful as items that have high sugar contents can get hot in the microwave very quickly). The fondant icing will soften right up and
be perfect for rolling out and playing with. You want the temperature to be close to your body temperature.
Now is the best time to add your food coloring. I prefer to store my fondant icing in it’s natural color of
white. Some colors can change the consistency of the icing. If you do need to store colored fondant icing, wrap each color very well in plastic wrap or Saran Wrap.
Colors like red and burgundy are notorious for “bleeding” into other colors and ruining them. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Bag everything in Ziploc bags. Remember that food coloring can also stain your hands and nails.
I have food-grade plastic gloves that I keep around. Add your food coloring, a little at a time, and knead it in. You can always go darker but it is
difficult to go lighter. Red has a tendency to get darker as it sits and “ages”.
Pre-shape your icing into approximately the shape of your cake. For a round cake,
make a disk shape. For a rectangular make a log shape.
OK, here is a point of controversy about the next step.
Some instructors tell you to only sprinkle cornstarch on your counter before you put the fondant icing down,
sprinkle with more corn starch, and then roll fondant icing out to desired shape. Some teachers advise that you grease the counter, put
the fondant icing down, and lightly grease the top of the fondant icing as need to prevent sticking.
I prefer the cornstarch myself, but during very dry atmospheric conditions, I have been known to use the shortening method. The grease will help to hold in the
moisture and keeps the fondant icing pliable. If necessary, add drops of water and knead it in thoroughly before proceeding. You will need to try out both ways
in the future and decide what you like the most. A third alternative is a large-sized Roulpat Mat (31 x 23 inches). It really does work
well and it can also help you with moving a large piece of rolled out fondant. I’ve never done it, but I was told that
you just gently bend the mat edges downward with the icing still on it. Place the edge of mat and the icing next to the edge of the butter-creamed cake and flip
the fondant icing over the cake. What was the top of the fondant icing that you rolled out, is now touching the buttercream and what was the bottom side
is now the topside that you see.
Most folks do not have a nonstick rolling pin, but if you do, now is the time to use it. If not, lightly rub cornstarch
on the surface of the rolling pin and roll out to the desired size. I like to roll my icing at least 1/8-inch thick. It is thick
enough for ease of handling and strength integrity. I wouldn’t go any thinner than 1/8-inch for the cake covering.
When I’m making decorations with the fondant icing, I will sometimes roll it thinner. The MM Fondant icing is very forgiving
and rarely tears but everything has it limits.
The technique that I use is to gently roll the icing on the nonstick rolling pin like a piece of fabric.
DO NOT FOLD! An edge will be hanging down.
Quickly place the fondant icing at one bottom edge of the cake and unroll the rolling pin, holding
it about 2 inches over the cake. Your fondant icing will then “fall” into place. You should also have a bit of overhang
over the edges. You might need a little cornstarch at this stage, but only use it very sparingly if you have a dark colored icing. I
very lightly sprinkle the cornstarch over the surface and use a buffing motion with my hand to move it around and to level
the surface. This motion seals the fondant icing to the buttercream, works out the bumps in the icing below the surface, and removes flaws from
the joined areas in the cakes surface below. Please use a VERY gentle pressure to rub the surface of the icing. I often have a little pile of the cornstarch on
the counter and dip my hands in it as needed.
Here is an important tip: Watch out for your fingernails as long nails
can mark up your surface quickly and it is very difficult to smooth them back out.
If you notice a bubble in the surface, take a thin sharp
needle and poke a tiny hole, at an angle, in the bubble. If
you poke straight down, you can almost always see the hole
even after the most careful smoothing. The angled hole lets
the air out of the bubble, and with a tiny bit of rubbing you
can reseal the hole.
I keep a clean, soft pastry brush close by, to move the cornstarch around. Do this lightly or you can leave brush marks on the surface that are almost
impossible to remove. A number of companies make Fondant Smoothers for around $10. I have one, but I’ve used it
only once and I’ve used my hands ever since. For me, it is easier
and quicker. If you don’t handle the smoother correctly, you can damage the fondant’s finish.
Gently, with the side of your hand, push the fondant into the sides of the cake against the cake board.
To trim the excess fondant icing, you can use a sharp knife.
I find that the easiest and neatest way is to use a pizza Cutter. Hold it at a 45 degree angle from the cake board and the side of the cake. Go slow and follow the shape of
the cake. If you hold the cutter at the correct angle, you will have an almost perfect bottom edge. Gently, with your
finger tips, push any little leftovers in against the cake for the neatest appearance. If the edge isn’t as nice
as you want, you can always add a fondant rope or pearls. Buttercream shells, stars, or flowers look wonderful also.
If your cake needs a bit of shaping, do it now. I used the outside edge of my hand to make the indents to define certain areas of the cake.
Well, you have finished the covering of your cake.
Many professional decorators feel that a fondant covered cake will hold the moisture in the cake for 3 to
5 days, depending on your atmosphere. I personally don’t want to go beyond 3 days. I like the cake to have a fresh taste.
Do not refrigerate your covered cake!
When you take the cake
out of the refrigerator, moisture will condense and destroy your beautiful surface.
Your best option is to store the
cake in a sealed bakery box. The cardboard sides of a box will keep the dust in the air off the cake, but allows the
Fondant to breath.