My love for baking actually began with a huge fascination with fondant. That was around 3 years back; a friend happened to show me a baking blog of sorts of another friend who made these unbelievable, amazingly intricate fondant cupcake toppers. I was intrigued – you mean these edible masterpieces could actually be made (theoretically at least) from the comforts of my own kitchen?? I remember heading home that night and googling – “How to make fondant”. Recipes with strange-sounding, foreign ingredients surfaced – Glycerine and Gelatine (ain’t that for making jellies?) and Glucose (I know this one! C6H12O6 and it’s got something to do with photosynthesis right?). There was Rolled Fondant and Poured Fondant and right when I was starting to think – ok, maybe it ain’t quite that easy after all, my eyes lit upon two words: Marshmallow Fondant. Just marshmallows and powdered sugar? Seriously?? Game on. A couple of days later, I tried my hand at it for the first time. Suffice to say, it was a rather valiant attempt, and afterall it’s the thought that counts, right? A dear friend was the [fortunate?] recipient of my first batch ever of decidedly homemade (some would call it quaint) fondant-topped cupcakes. I was really proud of that elephant btw.
Couple of days later, I got to decorate my 1st ever cake with fondant! Carrots for a carrot cake – how apt.
Of course, fondant can’t be served just like that (although some might argue it could!). It’s not exactly a dessert on it’s own; it needs a stage, a backdrop. And so began my love affair with cupcakes – it’s an obvious match, it’s a waste really if pretty fondant toppers are served on sad, un-scrummy cupcakes. But cupcakes were only the beginning. Googling cupcake recipes online brought me into the whole wide wonderful world of baking blogs and recipe sites, and way beyond the tiny realm of mere cupcakes. Cookies! Cakes! Bars! Pies! Tarts! Puddings! Baking bloggers became household names to me – so inspired was I by the talented ladies behind the likes of Annie’s Eats, The Pioneer Woman, Picky-Palate, I Am Baker, just to name a few, as well as local bloggers like Happy Home Baking and Bisousatoi. It’s impossible to just look at the recipes – pretty much every other recipe I saw made me go “I wanna make that!!11!!!1!!”. And so, I did. Of course, most of what came out of my oven never looked quite like what I saw in the amazing drool-worthy pictures online. But they did taste pretty good. And the more I baked, the more I wanted to bake. But that’s another story for another time.
I never quite forgot my roots though, and my initial love affair with fondant. A year back, I upped the ante with an entire fondant-covered cake, for my church youth group’s anniversary. It was a pretty epic affair, and I really couldn’t have pulled it off without the help of an incredibly talented artist friend (which made me kinda realise, every baker does need a certain level of aesthetic sense, or else a co-pilot to help out in that department!). The slightly marbled effect on the blue background was a result of me giving up after what felt like hours of kneading the blue colouring into that HUGE ball of fondant but on hindsight, it did kinda work with the whole ocean/rippled effect! Everything except for the gummy fishes were made from fondant – yes, even the sails which bear an uncanny resemblance to sliced cheese.
Fondant and me, we’ve come a long way. I guess I’ve progressed quite a bit, learnt quite a bit, explored and broadened my baking horizons quite a bit since that fateful day, some 3 years back. But there’s always been this special connection to fondant. A couple of months back, I did my first solo “catering” event for a friend’s wedding, and fondant monogrammed hearts made an appearance on the wedding cupcakes.
Most recently, in fact just a couple of days ago, my beloved niece celebrated her first month, and I was asked by my brother and sis-in-law to make a hundred cupcakes as favours for the guests. Challenge accepted! Thanks to a wonderful tutorial as well as a cookie cutter which I somehow had the foresight to stock up on a few months back, baby K managed to have a pretty swell first month celebration I’d say(:
It seems fitting, therefore, that the very first post here should be dedicated to that same root of my baking journey. I’ve tried several recipes over the years, but this is the one I finally settled on, simply because it never fails to produce fondant that is a dream to work with. And it’s tasty too! I can vouch for the fact that most choose to eat it rather than peel it off, unlike storebought fondant which tends to have a strange smell and aftertaste. Try it, and you’ll see(:
yield: ~750g fondant
250g mini marshmallows
20ml warm water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
500g powdered sugar (sieved)
In a large microwaveable mixing bowl greased thoroughly with shortening, place the marshmallows and water. Microwave at medium-high for 30-second intervals, stirring with a well-greased spatula in between, until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in salt, lemon juice, corn syrup and vanilla extract.
Add 1/3 of the powdered sugar into the marshmallow mixture and stir until combined. Repeat with second 1/3. Now pour the mixture onto a clean surface (also greased with shortening!), add remaining 1/3 powdered sugar and knead with your hands (greased!) until a smooth ball of fondant (similar to the consistency of play-doh or plasticine) is formed.
Form fondant into a smooth disc, coat thoroughly with a thin layer of shortening and cover with cling wrap. Store in a sealed refrigerator bag and let rest for at least 1-2 hours before using.
*The lemon juice might seem to be a strange ingredient, but the sourness of it really helps to cut the sweetness of the fondant and give it a pleasant taste.
*Corn syrup is a must for ensuring the fondant remains wonderfully pliable and easy to work with; I’ve found that recipes which omit this produce fondant that tends to crack and crumble more easily.
*The amount of powdered sugar you need might be slightly less or more – depending on things like temperature and humidity, you might need to vary the amount slightly to achieve the perfect consistency which is neither too sticky nor too dry.
*Grease, grease and grease some more! The mixture starts out incredibly sticky so if you don’t want melted marshmallows sticking to absolutely everything and anything, grease away! Don’t worry, the shortening will not affect the taste in any way.
*Colouring fondant: If you plan to colour an entire batch in just 1 colour, I’d recommend you add the colouring (gel colouring works best!) along with the lemon juice etc after you’re done nuking the marshmallows. But if you plan to tint it various shades, you’ll have to work the colouring in right at the end.
*Storage: Homemade marshmallow fondant typically keeps for a month or so. Store it well-wrapped and tightly sealed to prevent it drying out. But DON’T keep it in the fridge – chilled fondant brought back to room temperature will start to “sweat”, making it moist and unbearably sticky to worth with.