vanilla fondant

So fondant: what’s your opinion?

Kids seem to love it, adults not so much. I don’t particularly care for it — too much sweet and too little flavor — but as long as it’s eaten in small doses, and consumed with higher percentages of buttercream and cake, it isn’t terrible.

Taste aside, though, fondant is a marvel. There’s something magical about the way it elevates a cake, transforming a humdrum homemade confection into something nearly professional-looking. Plus, it’s fun to make and a delight to play with. Adult playdough, I call it.

I’ve settled on a recipe that calls for cooking a little plain gelatin in water and then adding corn syrup, glycerin (for pliability), a little butter, and vanilla before stirring in a bunch of powdered sugar. It’s a breeze to make, and it holds up well to coloring (use gels, not liquid), rolling, shaping, cutting, painting, etc.

(I hear marshmallow fondant is a big hit with a lot of people — they say it tastes better — but I’ve never made it, mostly because of its reputation for growing sticky, though I should probably experiment for myself before I rule it out entirely.)

If you want to turn the fondant into gum paste (for sturdier creations, like human snowboarders), just add some tylose powder. And if it ever gets too stiff, work in a little vegetable shortening, and there you are! 

Vanilla Fondant
Adapted from Gemma’s Bigger Bolder Baking blog.

2 teaspoons plain gelatin
¼ cup cool water
½ cup corn syrup
1 tablespoon glycerin
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 cups powdered sugar, sifted

In the top part of a double boiler, off heat, sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let it rest for ten minutes before setting it over the simmer pot of water and adding the corn syrup and glycerine. Once everything is heated through, add the butter. Remove from the heat and, once the butter is completely melted, add the vanilla.

Pour the warm mixture into the powdered sugar and stir well. When the mixture becomes too stiff to stir, dump it out onto your counter and knead in the rest of the sugar by hand. Add more sugar, if needed, but take care not to add too much or else you’ll run the risk of making the fondant too stiff. If kneading becomes too tricky-sticky, wash your hands and transfer the fondant to a clean bowl — it often seems to come together better that way.

Wrap the fondant in plastic (if you wish, lightly coat the outside with vegetable shortening first) and store at room temperature for up to two months. The fondant will harden a bit as it sits, so knead it prior to using — as it warm up, it will become pliable again.

To color fondant: use gel colors. It’s always best to add a bit of color to a smaller amount of fondant and then incorporate the colored amount into a larger ball of white. Here’s an excellent video on how to blend, mix, and create colors.

This same time, years previous: the young adult child, cilantro lime rice, the quotidian (10.26.15), sweet potato pie, tales of terror and woe, homemade pancake syrup.

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