Easy Tutorial: Homemade Rolled Marshmallow Fondant Icing

7 Jan

To read more about making your own marshmallow fondant, I recommend clicking here for Peggy Weaver’s informative site.

Space: The Fondant Frontier…

For years, I thought all smoothly rolled, fondant-iced cakes had to taste bad. That’s because the only fondant icing I’d ever encountered was that horribly expensive, boxed, pre-rolled stuff that Wilton makes out of glycerin. Technically edible, yes, but who on earth would want to?

This was before I discovered how easy it is to make your own rolled fondant icing using marshmallow creme as a base. And the best part is: it’s delicious. No more peeling the fondant off the cake slice before eating it. My world has officially been rocked!

In case you’re unfamiliar with rolled fondant icing, think of wedding cakes. Have you ever wondered how professional bakers achieve that impossibly smooth frosted surface? The answer is: they didn’t actually frost it. They used rolled fondant. And now you can, too! The idea behind fondant icing is that you make it up ahead of time, bake a cake, frost a base layer with regular  cake frosting to hold everything together (known as “dirty icing” the cake), and then roll out the fondant into a large, thin sheet to cover the cake with.

I used a combination of marbled fondant painted with edible petal dust (available in candy-making aisle of hobby stores) to create a smooth and sparkly surface for Baby Oliver's 1st birthday cake.

You can then add piped frosting or decoration to the finished surface. It just creates a really “put together” look for things that might not look so good frosted with a spatula and regular icing.

A brief note about Marshmallow Fondant…

While most people recommend making up your marshmallow fondant a day or more in advance, I’ve done it last-minute a couple of times and it worked out just fine. The idea behind doing it early is giving it plenty of time to soften and become pliable before working with it, but to be honest, I couldn’t tell any difference, other than that making it up in advance helps to create one less thing you have to do the night you’re running around baking and decorating the actual cake.

For example, I made up a big batch of fondant while Jamie’s preschool cupcakes (the ones below with a base layer of fondant and Starfleet Communicators iced in buttercream over the fondant layer) were in the oven. I covered them with fondant immediately when they had cooled and been dirty-iced, and there wasn’t a crack to be seen anywhere on them, even the next day!

No 4-year-old Trekkie's birthday is complete without Communicator cupcakes resplendent in Science Blue, Command Gold, and...er..."Sacrificial" Red. Haha.

It’s really up to you if you want to make it ahead of time or not. The only caveat I’ll provide is that kneading stiff fondant (particularly COLD fondant) can seriously wear out your wrists, so no matter what you do decide, make sure the fondant has had a chance to become room temperature before rolling it out.

Making up the batch…

Marshmallow fondant is easily made in batches consisting of 2.5 to 3 lbs. One of these batches provides more than enough fondant to cover a standard cake mix-sized cake AND make additional fondant decorations. Because you’ll be rolling the fondant out to about 1/8″ to 1/4″ thickness (or less) to cover the cake, it really does go a long way.

To make one batch, you need the following: 1 (13- to 16-oz.) container of marshmallow creme, 1 (2-lb.) bag of powdered confectioner’s sugar, about 1/2 cup or so of vegetable shortening (Crisco), and any extract flavoring you’d like to use (vanilla, almond, orange, etc.). And that’s it–pretty inexpensive to make it yourself, eh?

Simple ingredients you can purchase even at the most basic discount grocery store.

Start out by microwaving your jar of marshmallow creme for 20-30 seconds, or as long as necessary to loosen it up and help it easily come out of the jar, wasting as little as possible. (I *hate* scraping uber-sticky marshmallow creme out of jars, and I find that a little heating goes a long way in helping it come out on its own — just make sure it’s not bubbling out the top while you’re nuking it.)

Warm and gooey marshmallow creme.

Scoop the warm marshmallow creme into a shortening-greased bowl. (You can alternately use marshmallows instead of creme, and microwave them down until they’re creamy; I just find the creme works quite well and saves that step.)

If you’re using vanilla extract or other liquid flavoring, go ahead an stir that in before you add the sugar. I use a couple of teaspoons of flavoring per batch. Next, begin shaking in powdered sugar, stirring after the addition of each cup or two. (A wooden spoon greased with Crisco is a big help for stirring the fondant.)

Add several cups of powdered sugar and begin stirring.

If you like, you can divide the creme into a couple of bowls BEFORE adding the powdered sugar and tint separately with food coloring at this stage to avoid having to knead messy coloring later. Either way works, though, and you might want to keep it all white if you’re making it in advance and haven’t yet decided how much of each color you’ll need; just be prepared to have color-stained hands for a couple of days afterwards if you’ll be kneading the coloring into already-prepared fondant.

When the mixture starts to thicken and is no longer manageable with a spoon, cover your clean hands with Crisco and begin kneading. It’s a good idea to put the remaining powdered sugar in a bowl or pitcher so you don’t have to keep touching the sugar bag with greasy/sticky hands. A terrific bonus from this process is that my hands are always super-smooth and moisturized after making a batch of fondant because of all the Crisco they absorbed during kneading. 🙂

Continue working in powdered sugar with hands until fondant is somewhat tacky, but no longer sticky or gooey. You’ll probably have a little bit of powdered sugar left from the 2 lbs. you started with, which is good because you’ll need a little bit when you roll it out later.

Stop kneading when fondant is stiff and tacky, but not actually sticky. You should be able to squeeze it and see all fingerprints in it afterwards without your fingers remaining actually stuck there.

If making in advance, this is the point at which you can form the fondant into one large blob, cover with as much Crisco as possible, and place it inside a sealed, gallon-sized ziploc bag, removing as much excess air as possible before sealing.

If making up fondant ahead of time, refrigerate greased fondant ball in an airtight zipper bag like this

Refrigerate overnight or until needed, being sure to remove bag from refrigeration at least 2 hours before using so it has a chance to return to room temperature for rolling. Cold rolled fondant will not roll thinly and evenly, and is also prone to cracking more once placed on the cake.

Alternately, if you’re making the fondant for immediate use, you’re ready to roll it out. Unless, of course, you still need to tint with food coloring, in which case you’ll separate it into the necessary number of bowls/amounts, and knead paste (not liquid) food coloring in with Crisco-covered hands until desired color is achieved. To achieve a marbled effect, twist a few pieces of desired colors together before rolling it out.

Rolling and Positioning Your Fondant…

I’ve found the best way to transfer fondant of all sizes from counter to cake is not rolling it around the pin, but rather rolling it flat onto a large waxed-paper surface and then flipping it over onto the cake in position.

To begin rolling, you’ll first want to secure a large piece of waxed paper over a clean counter surface and sprinkle (very) liberally with powdered sugar. If not using waxed paper technique, sprinkle powdered sugar directly onto clean countertop.

Grease hands and gently knead any stiff portions of fondant to soften just before rolling. Set the soft ball of fondant on top of the powdered-sugar-covered rolling surface and sprinkle additional powdered sugar all over the top of the ball. You may wish to also powder or grease your rolling pin, depending on the consistency of your fondant. Have both at the ready in case you need some once you get going.

The best way to start rolling out fondant (or anything, really) is by starting with your pin positioned in the center of the fondant lump. Begin making a brisk rolling motion from the center point outward, maybe 6 inches, and then returning pin to center position and making a quick motion outward to another point on the outside circumference of the ball. Continue with this quick, jerky motion in all directions over and over, being sure to reunite any cracked edges that occur as you go. This method will achieve the roundest, most well-distributed size and thickness to the fondant as a whole as you roll it flatter and wider. Once it’s appropriately flattened to about 1″, you can begin rolling with longer, slower, and more deliberate motions until fondant is between 1/8″ – 1/4″ thick all over and takes up most of the room on the waxed paper surface (if using this method). You’ll want enough overhang room to cover the sides of the cake as well as the top.

Carefully loosen edges of waxed paper and remove any torn edges before transferring. Have your “dirty-iced” cake nearby and ready to receive its fondant coating.

Slowly flip the waxed paper/fondant over onto the cake, lining up the center of the dirty-iced cake with center of fondant sheet as best you can. You can do some gentle repositioning if you need to once it’s flipped over; and if you accidentally wrinkle it up too badly on the cake, you can always peel it off and re-roll it out on a new surface to try again. No big deal.

Once fondant sheet is positioned across the cake and hanging off the edges, begin at one corner peeling the waxed paper off of the top surface of the fondant. If a small tear or crack occurs, it is easily mendable just after it happens by using shortening to “heal” the rip in the surface. Or, you can always just pipe a frosting decoration over that part later.

Use a sharp, thin knife to cut any excess length hanging down past the cake base and use fingers to smooth fondant evenly over the cake surface before tucking the ends under the edges of the cake. (For a more finished look, you can always come back later and pipe buttercream frosting in a thin line around the bottom border of the cake where you tucked the fondant underneath.)

If fondant appears too shiny or greasy once positioned on cake, you can always smooth the surface with a small amount of powdered sugar to take away excess grease. The powdered sugar may appear white at first but will turn translucent as it sits there on the greasy spots until it disappears for the most part.

Try sculpting and embossing your fondant details, like these solid-fondant nacelles.

And that’s all there is to it! Your beautiful, smooth, fondant-covered cake is now ready to decorate in any way you see fit. When it’s finished, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until shortly before serving it, if possible. The refrigerator’s humidity level will help prevent future cracking.

And while you’re at it, you can always try sculpting additional small decorations out of solid fondant. (Those nacelle cylinders on my Starship Enterprise cake are solid fondant covered with silver shimmer dust for shading.

Or, if you’re covering cupcakes, give them an ultra-smooth finish by covering them with fondant after frosting them.

Look at the smooth color base under each buttercream Starfleet emblem. That's the fondant doing it's job. You could easily make some rockin' Pokemon ball cupcakes with this method using red and white fondant. The possibilities are endless!

A handy trick I’ve found that works for making cupcakes look bakery-perfect is by rolling the fondant to about 1/8″ thick, and then using a medium-sized biscuit cutter (or round cookie cutter in appropriate size) to cut a perfect fondant circle. Position fondant circle on top of lightly frosted cupcake, and then gently use finger tips while slowly turning the base of the cupcake to tuck edge perfectly in line with the paper cupcake liner. Decorate tops as desired. They come out looking smooth and gorgeous, even close-up! (Just click on this close-up of the cupcakes to see a full-screen zoom. Smoooooth!)

I know this seems like a lot to take in, but after you do it once or twice, the whole process will seem very intuitive and you’ll think, “Why did I never realize how easy this actually is?” 🙂

Good thing my kids are as dorky as their mom... 🙂

Happy baking, everyone! Please let me know if you give this a try — I’d love to see how your projects turn out! 🙂




8 Responses to “Easy Tutorial: Homemade Rolled Marshmallow Fondant Icing”

  1. Rheannon January 7, 2011 at 10:31 AM #

    At a cooking class the teacher said “give a lazy man the hardest job and he’ll find the easiest way to do it”. I’m the lazy one, I have found that you can also use a Crisco covered bread hook in the stand mixer to do the kneading for you 🙂

  2. Gracie January 7, 2011 at 11:06 AM #

    Excellent call, Rheannon! (And kudos on having the energy to read -and even comment on!- blog posts during your maternity leave with that sweet baby Jack! Hugs!) I am definitely going to try that out next time — fondant always wears my hands out something awful. Never would have occurred to me to use the dough hook – guess i figured it would be too stiff. Thank you for the tip! I’ll be putting it to use in the near future!

  3. Lynda Callahan January 7, 2011 at 2:51 PM #

    Also, adding cocoa to the creme prior to sugar makes a great chocolate fondant that tastes just like a tootsie roll. I used it on a wedding cake a while back and it went over great.

    • Gracie January 14, 2011 at 11:23 AM #

      Excellent point I completely forgot to mention, Lynda! Well done! 🙂 (I forgot you do quite a bit of caking these days, too!)

  4. Susan Seebacher January 14, 2011 at 11:20 AM #

    Oh I cannot wait to try this! I live ina rural area and I have to drive 45 minutes to a store that carries ready-made fondant! I have been looking for a simple make-it-myself recipe! ( I didn’t use fondant for years because it tasted so bad, then Duff Goldman put out his own!) I do have a question…the icing I use to “dirty ice” the cake is shortening based. Do you know how this will effect this fondant?

  5. Gracie January 14, 2011 at 11:22 AM #

    Susan, shortening-based frosting will work just fine underneath. Just fine. 🙂 I use the term interchangeably with “buttercream” but perhaps I should’ve been more specific. I mostly just meant “not royal icing.” 🙂 Do share how yours comes out!

  6. Stephanie January 16, 2011 at 3:36 PM #

    Thanks so much for posting how to use marshmallow cream to make fondant. I made seven colors of it in the last 24 hours to make a ‘Toodles’ cake for my daughter’s 4th birthday. I wanted to share something that I learned today with you and your readers: I wanted to make fondant in lavender and peach after using all of my red food coloring to make a big batch of red last night. Running to the store quickly just wasn’t an option, so, I tried some unsweetened strawberry Kool Aid drink mix. It worked and the lavendar colored MMF actually tastes like strawberry!

    • Gracie January 16, 2011 at 4:18 PM #

      Rock on, Stephanie! Seven colors–i am bowing to you in an epic “Wayne’s World” fashion from my living room right now! That is awesome. I hope you’ll send me a photo of your cake to post on the site! (redkitchenproject@gmail.com) And thank you for posting that great Kool-Aid tip as well–I love using Kool-Aid for purposes it wasn’t designed for! How fun!

      You are most excellent, Stephanie, and worthy of our envy. 🙂

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