Ever noticed how being a parent makes you a kind of Jack-of-all-trades? Kids will have you trying to do things you would have scoffed at in a previous life. I think it comes from their misled believe that their parents can do anything. Nothing gets you trying new things like someone who looks up to you telling you that you can. That’s pretty much how I started making homemade marshmallow fondant.
My cake making days started with my son’s second birthday. He was all about Thomas the Train, so I use some of the wooden tracks from the trainset we’d gotten him for his birthday and made a mountain out of chocolate cake with hot fudge running down it and green icing for the grassy area. I realized then that icing wasn’t my forte.
Now, I could spread frosting. That was easy enough, but anything that required technique was fruitless. So, I thought about practicing. Everyone gets better with practice, right? I can frost cupcakes using a piping bag, and that is about the extent of my piping abilities.
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And then I found a YouTube video about making fondant. I don’t particularly like the taste of fondant, although this recipe does taste way better than a lot of them. But I love working with fondant. It’s very much like working with playdoh, and as a kid, it didn’t get any better than that.
The only thing I don’t like about store-bought fondant is the price, and it’s probably some of the worst as far as taste. That’s why I started making my own. I’ll admit that my first few attempts didn’t taste that great, kind of like chewy, overly-sweet marshmallows. But with the addition of a few extra ingredients, I have to say that this fondant recipe tastes pretty good.
The difference between my recipe and most marshmallow fondant recipes is that I add butter (real butter, not spread), light Karo syrup, and extract. Unless your five you probably don’t like eating marshmallows. Unless they’re roasted over a fire. That’s totally different. Regular old marshmallows aren’t that great, though. That’s why I use this more flavorful recipe so that it doesn’t detract from the flavor of my cake.
Before I get into the how of making fondant, I want to share a few tips that I’ve learning on my cake-making journey.
As for the extract, the sky’s the limit. There are a bunch of different options of extract and flavor emulsions at most grocery stores these days. Just remember that the base of the fondant will be marshmallows. But, if the various flavors I’ve seen come from Jet-Puffed are any indication, there are tons of combinations that work well with basic marshmallow flavor. Just make sure it also works with your cake flavor.
Another option is that you could use flavored marshmallows from the beginning. Just keep in mind your colors. Most flavored marshmallows are a coordination color to that flavor. (i.e., green=lime, pink=strawberry, etc.) If you use green marshmallows and try to dye them baby pink, you might end up with a brown color.
Don’t Skimp on the Crisco
Grease everything with shortening to prevent sticking. I grease the bowl before melting the marshmallows and the spoon that I stir it with. Then when I begin the kneading stage, I’ll grease my hands.
Sift Like You’ve Never Sifted Before
Sift, sift, sift your confectioner sugar. I can’t stress this enough. If you don’t, you’ll end up with lumps in your fondant. I don’t care if you buy the most expensive brand of powdered sugar it’s almost guaranteed that there will be at least a few lumps in it.
Cornstarch Isn’t Just For Thickening Stews
Use Cornstarch instead of confectioner sugar to flour your surface. You could use a combination of the two, but cornstarch is your best bet. When I first started making fondant, I thought it made more sense to use powdered sugar, but after using cornstarch, I learned my lesson. Cornstarch cuts down on the stickiness, allowing you to work with the fondant easier.
Now that I’ve given you a few options and warnings let’s get to making this goodness.
You’ll start by sifting a full bag of confectioner sugar and have it ready to add to your marshmallows as soon as they are melted. Next, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Put a bag of miniature marshmallows in a large greased bowl and add the melted butter and 2 tablespoons of Karo syrup. I use the Karo because it adds more flavor, but you can skip it if you’d like. Instead of Karo, add 2 tablespoons of water. Give it a good stir to coat as many marshmallows as possible.
Melt the marshmallows at 30-second intervals, stopping to stir them before putting them on for another 30 seconds. As soon as they are fully melted add your extract and stir it in. Then immediately start adding the sugar, a couple of cups at a time. You don’t have to be precise, just don’t pour all the powdered sugar in at once.
Keep adding sugar until you’ve gotten it all worked in. At this point, the fondant should be forming a gooey ball. If it’s too hard to stir, but not all the sugar is mixed in, forgo the spoon and break out the hands. Don’t forget to add a nice layer of shortening to your hands before you dig in. Mmm…nothing like hands covered in Crisco. Try not to gag.
(Sorry. I forgot to get a picture before I started coloring it.)
Once the sugar is worked in, dump the fondant out onto a clean surface coated with cornstarch and begin kneading. You shouldn’t have to work with it too much more unless there is still some sugar to work in.
Now, you should have a nice ball of white fondant (unless you used colored marshmallows.) Here’s the recipe.
I’ll be writing a post about how to color your fondant soon so check back for more tips. Or, even better, sign up for my newsletter, so you never miss a post. Here are some pictures of cakes I’ve made with this fondant recipe. Please remember that I’m an amateur baker who just makes cakes for her kids.