What Is Fondant Icing and How Is it Made?

Fondant icing
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In the culinary arts, the word fondant can refer to one of two types of sugar-based pastes used in preparing and decorating cakes, pastries, and confections.

What Is Fondant Icing?

Poured fondant, or fondant icing, is a sweet, creamy paste that can be used as a filling or icing for pastries such as éclairs and Napoleons. Poured fondant can be made from simply combining sugar, shortening, and water. Do note that using high-ratio shortening imparts extra creaminess into the fondant icing.Some recipes also call for corn syrup or glucose.

How Fondant Is Made

First, the shortening is melted, which can be done in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl, along with any desired flavoring ingredients. Then confectioners sugar is stirred in, followed by however much water is needed to get the right consistency. Then it's merely a matter of heating it and stirring it repeatedly until the fondant icing is neither too runny nor too lumpy. Additional sugar can help thicken it, and water can help thin it until it's pourable.

Once cooked, cooled and stirred, fondant can be used for making candies, or it can be thinned out and either poured over cookies and other baked items, or the items may be dipped into the fondant. If you are dipping items in the fondant, be sure to let them fully dry on a wire-framed cooling rack prior to eating or packaging. This will allow the fondant to drip dry and will prevent any smearing.

What Is Rolled Fondant?

Rolled fondant is almost like a very sweet dough.

Like poured fondant, rolled fondant is made from confectioners sugar, corn syrup, and water. However, to make rolled fondant, you must also add glycerin, shortening, and some sort of gelatin. The gelatin is melted over a double-boiler and the corn syrup and glycerin are stirred in.If coloring is being added, it goes in here as well.

The liquid ingredients are then stirred into the confectioner's sugar, in much the same way that eggs are added to flour to make fresh pasta.

Once incorporated, the fondant is kneaded like bread dough and then rolled out flat into sheets which can then be colored and used to decorate cakes. Rolled fondant is not cooked, and in general is less palatable than poured fondant, although it does give cakes a nice, smooth look.

Getting Creative with Fondant

Once you feel comfortable with the basics of fondant making, there are a number of ways you can take your fondant work to the next level and get more creative with your baked goods. Some ideas include:

  • Coloring your fondant. It's best to use specialty gel colors to color your fondant. Gel colors can be found in craft and baking stores. Regular food coloring will make your fondant very sticky and difficult to work with
  • Make fondant petals. Fondant petals look like real flower petals and can be a beautiful addition to cakes and cupcakes. 
  • Use luster dust on your finished fondant to ​bring a glamour and sophistication to a homemade dessert. Luster dust, a shiny decorating powder, adds sparkle and shine to your dessert.