"Hey, I can do that!"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Marshmallow Fondant (MMF): Tutorial

Marshmallow Fondant Tutorial

The following is how I make MMF, which I use to cover cakes, cookies, and make edible figures.  Making your own fondant is a tasty and economical solution for cake decorating, but keep in mind the pros and cons.  Here are the ingredients I use.  This makes enough for me to cover an 8" round (typically 3-4" high) with some left over.
  • 8 oz. miniature marshmallows (KRAFT)
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • 1 lb. (~4 c.) powdered sugar (HEB, a local grocery store brand)
  • a wad of shortening to grease the bowl and dough hook
  • CHEAP!  A bag of marshmallows and a bag of powdered sugar are under a couple bucks each.  The cheapest box of Wilton fondant is around $6 for 24 oz. Feel free to screw up batch after batch without hurting your wallet.
  • TASTE!  I've tasted Wilton and Satin Ice brand fondant ... they taste very chemically.  MMF tastes like ... well ... marshmallows with a bunch of powdered sugar.  I'm not going to just eat MMF all by itself like candy, but I certaintly don't mind eating it with a slice of cake.  If it were brand-name fondant, I'd peel it off completely before chowing down.
  • This recipe is really quick and easy.  You can whip up a batch in a pinch in the middle of the night when the nearest hobby store is closed.
  • It's homemade!  Everyone is instantly impressed when you say you made something from scratch.  The recipe is easy to tweak for whatever effect you want to achieve.  Add flavors and colors with ease.
  • It's homemade!  Which means the home you made it in gets dirty!  Your husband gets irritated at the fine layer of powdered sugar coating all our appliances in the kitchen.
  • It's not white white.  It's ivory at best.  Hope you don't need stark, virgin white.
  • Hope you didn't need red, green, or black either.  It's difficult to get a deep, rich color without dumping tons of food coloring into it, and then wrecking the whole batch into a sticky, gooey mess.  You're going to want to buy those aforementioned colors.
  • It's not as easy to work with.  Buy some Satin Ice and see the difference.  I now prefer making Toba Garrett's fondant recipe with gelatin.
Make MMF when appropriate.  Here's how.

Weigh 8 oz. of mini marshmallows into a microwaveable container.  I like this tall tupperware.  It holds all my marshmallows perfectly.  Poor the water into the container as well.

Nuke it in 30 second intervals, stirring each time until it's smooth.  It usually only takes a couple of passes.

I'm using a rubble spatula to stir.  Make sure you get at the bottom to help disperse the water.

If you're going to be adding coloring or flavoring, now's the time to do it.  Much easier now than later ... you'll see.

Grease up all your equipment with shortening.  I make my MMF in my trusty KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook.  Put a thin layer of shortening inside the bowl and on the hook (don't forget the top of the hook).

Dump your melted mallows into your bowl.

Now add about 3 cups of powdered sugar.  Do NOT add all of it.  Depending on weather, humidity, and the powers that be, fondant may or may not need exactly a whole pound of sugar.

Start your mixer on low speed.  The dough hook will fold the sugar into the melted mallows while you can sip a martini.  You can do this by hand too ... but I'm way too lazy for that.  Plus I don't have heavy duty silicon gloves that would protect my hands from the hot mallows.

Once most of the sugar is incorporated, you can slowly add more.  You're waiting until the fondant isn't too sticky if you touch it.


To check, stop the mixer and lift the head.  Gently touch the fondant on the hook with your finger tips.  If it sticks on to your fingers when you pull away, add more sugar.

When your happy with the consistency, grease up a flat surface.  I use a large cutting board.  Dump out your fondant on to this surface.  I like doing this with some vinyl or latex gloves on.  This prevents fondant from getting under my nails while I scrape it out of the bowl.

Knead the fondant for 5-10 minutes to incorporate any last bits of sugar.  The fondant should be slightly warm to the touch still, and elasticy.  I find this part slightly theuraputic.  It's like kneading very heavy bread dough.  Sweet, sweet dough.

Form a nice tight ball and wrap it up with cling wrap.  Stick it in an air-tight container and let is rest overnight.  Why?  I dunno ... that's what other people said to do ... and who am I to argue with "people"?  No need to refrigerate.  It will stay good for several weeks.  If you find your fondant rock-hard, nuke it for 10 seconds in the microwave.  That will help it loosen up enough for you to knead it, then it's good as new.  Be careful!  It can get hot.  Do very short bursts until it's loose enough for you to work with.

Now you have the materials to make a yummy blank canvas for your tasty creations.  Happy caking!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Penguin Christmas: Completed

Penguin Christmas
Merry Christmas, Hang and Sandi!
(+5 skill points -> 225/400)

Oh, what a fun cake!  This is for my co-worker and his wife for their family Christmas.  I'm glad it's done, though ... I've been working on it for a week.  It turned out even cuter than I planned.

  • 8" round
  • Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix
  • iced and filled with semi-sweet + milk chocolate ganache
  • covered in white MMF
  • border with royal icing
  • fondant accents
This was my first chance to work with Satin Ice (brand of manufactured fondant).  I ordered red, green, and black 2 lb. tubs from www.fondantsource.com.  The price, including shipping, was the cheapest I could find.  It shipped quickly and arrived on my doorstep last Thursday.  I was so excited I started making the bodies for the penguins right away.

These penguins were inspired by this etsy page: http://www.etsy.com/shop/fliepsiebieps?section_id=5990881.  The entire body is fondant except for the eyes and arms.  I was able to pipe on those using the royal icing I had made for decorating cookies.  I made the creases for the toes with the edge of an old clay tool.  The nostrils indentations were made with a toothpick.  These little guys ring out with personality that I didn't expect.

I also started the Christmas trees early.  The large Christmas tree got scrapped because I ended up making it look ugly and figured it was too heavy for the cake anyway.

I used scissors to snipe the branches ... it looked much better when I watched Buddy do it on Cake Boss.  Mine came out dry and rough looking.  Oh well.  I hope the decorations detract from that.

The cake baked up so nice ... this is the highest rising cake mix I've ever used.  I tried making ganache with 12 oz of semi-sweet morsels plus a handful of milk chocolate morsels.  When it came to icing the cake, I could see that the milk chocolate morsels didn't get incorporated into the rest of the chocolate.  They were still soft and spreadable, but it looked like light brown splotches all over the cake.  I let it chill in the fridge over night to set.  When I rolled the fondant on to it, I noticed the ganache might have been too hard.  I could smooth out a lot of the roughness.  You can see it along the edges in the picture below.


Otherwise, icing and covering the cake went really well.  I'm really getting the hang of eye-balling how I need my stuff to be.  I'm not even measuring the sugar when I make fondant or royal icing.

Typical bead border on the bottom.  But the fun part was the top.  All my little guys first got skewered with a toothpick.  This cake was making a 3 hour car drive, and I wanted to make sure there were no casualties.  Each got secured with some royal icing.  You can see it peaking out underneath them.

My previous cake proved I could make an icy/drippy border, which was perfect!  Again, using icing I had made for decorating my sugar cookies ...

This whole cake came together really well, and I was super-pleased.  It feels pretty good to be proud of a cake.  Oh and this was cool:  I was worried about the cake for the 3 hour drive.  I put it in a cake box with the top cut off (because the Christmas trees were too tall).  Then I put that box into this little wooden crate that I took from work.  The building management for our office had bought us a gift basket full of candy, nuts, etc.  They came in this simple wooden box/crate things.  The 10" cake box fit inside it PERFECTLY.  The cake was now snug, safe, and very portable.  I only have one more crate left ... I wonder if I can order them ...

  • I need to figure out how to mix semi-sweet and milk chocolate for ganache
  • ganache set too hard ... or maybe that wouldn't have been a problem if I iced it smooth to begin with
  • you know what?  Satin Ice doesn't taste awesome all by itself ... it tastes chemically ... I may have to try coloring my own MMF with Americolor gel paste to get a rich red, green, or black without sacrificing taste ... I hope no one eats a penguin
  • figures turned out super cute
  • Satin Ice fondant was very easy to work with
  • I really love that drippy snow border!!!
  • wooden crate held the cake box safe and snug
Merry Christmas, Hang and Sandi!
Now for more pics!










Monday, December 21, 2009

Texas Snowmen Cookies: Completed

Texas Snowmen Sugar Cookies

It's my first year addicted to cakecentral.com ... and I've learned at Christmas time, everyone makes "melted snowmen" sugar cookies.  They're all over the galleries ... grinning despite the horror of their predicament.  I've decided to make my own version ... and they have to be called Texas Snowmen!  Hahaha ... just kidding ... we don't get enough snow to make snowmen ...

  • No Fail Sugar Cookies (NFSC)
  • half-sphere of marshmallow fondant (MMF) for the partially melted head
  • MMF carrots
  • everything else is royal icing
 After rolling out the sugar cookie dough, I used my large biscuit cutter to make circles.  These cookies baked easily, and afterward I put them in the freezer until I was ready to decorate them (a few days later).  I had also made half-spheres of MMF days in advance.  The cookies thawed for an hour before this party got started.

My royal icing was made with All Whites pasteurized egg whites, some vanilla, and enough powdered sugar until it was the consistency I wanted.  On the top of each cookie, I piped an outline of the puddle with some medium consistency icing (tip #2).  A half-sphere of MMF was placed inside the puddle to represent the partially melted head (glued one with a wad of royal icing).  Then the interior and all over the head was flooded with thin consistency icing (tip #4).  The carrot was orange MMF with little score marks by my xacto blade.  I piped on black coals and brown branches out of more royal icing.

These were super fun to make.  They've been a hit on cakecentral.com and my facebook post.  I'll be making more of these over the Christmas break!





Sunday, December 20, 2009

Texas Snowmen Cake: Completed

Texas Snowmen Cake
Merry Christmas, Emanuel!
(+5 skill points -> 220/400)

This cake is a Christmas gift for my friend and co-worker Emanuel.  If you look on cakecentral.com nowadays, there's a flood of "melted snowman" decorated sugar cookies.  I decided to make my own design for it ... and stick it on a cake.

  • 8" round
  • Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
  • semi-sweet chocolate ganache icing and filling
  • covered in MMF
  • snowy border in royal icing
This was my second cake using ganache ... hence the chocolate smudges in the picture.  It went pretty well.  Not much to say on the making of this cake except for the snow.

I've been practicing "flooding" for decorating Christmas cookies.  My royal icing was made with All Whites pasteurized egg whites, some vanilla, and enough powdered sugar until it was the consistency I wanted.  On the top of the cake, I piped (tip #2) an outline of the puddle with some medium consistency icing.  A half-sphere of MMF was placed inside the puddle to represent the partially melted head.  Then the interior and all over the MMF half-sphere was flooded (tip #4) with thin consistency icing.  The carrot was orange MMF with little score marks.  I piped on black coals and brown branches out of more royal icing.

For the border, I wanted it to look like more drippy snow.  The thin consistency royal icing was piped right on to the edge.  Moving the tip downward gave me some lovely drips.

I'm very pleased with how the border turned out.  I'm going to do this again for Sandi's Christmas cake (coming soon!).

Let the Christmas baking begin!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

No Fail Sugar Cookies (NFSC): Completed

No Fail Sugar Cookies (NFSC)
Trial Run
(+5 skill points -> 215/400)

This will be the only time I'll give myself points for sugar cookies, cuz hey!  This is a cake blog :b  Here are the No Fail Sugar Cookies (NFSC).  This recipe was from cakecentral.com (recipe here).  I can only assume the name is from the success rate for making these cookies.  Several people on cakecentral use this recipe ... it's super popular.  Taste-wise, it didn't exactly blow my mind.  They were basically regular sugar cookies, and I probably wouldn't be able to pick it out from several other recipes.

  • NFSC 
  • flooded royal icing
  • colored piping gel decorations
It's been a while since I've decorated sugar cookies.  Last time was a couple years ago with those big tubes of Wilton colored decorator's icing that taste awful.  These came out a'ight.

Cookie recipe was pretty basic.

I let the dough chill in the fridge for a couple hours.  When I took it out, it was pretty hard.  I sliced it with a large knife and worked with a little at a time.

Rolling the dough on to a flour covered cutting board was a easy-peasy.  I broke out some old and new Christmas cookie cutters.

The scrap dough was easy to re-work with for rolling out more.  It took a little over 15 minutes for them to bake.

This was my first attempt at using the flooding technique.  Here's a good tutorial on that from sweetopia.net.  I made some royal icing with my left over All Whites (pasteurized egg whites) carton.  The cookies were piped with tip #4.  After piping all of the cookies I thinned the icing down with water as per the "10 second rule".  Flooding the cookies was enjoyable ... almost therapeutic ... I used a wet paintbrush to help fill in any gaps.

On my last cake, I used the Wilton black piping gel and it looked great.  I went to Hobby Lobby yesterday and bought almost every color they had.

Unfortunately the other colors weren't as bold as the black.  Most were very clear looking.  Oh well, there'll be a time and place for those to come in handy.  For now, I'll have to stick to coloring royal icing if I want it to look right.

Afterward I still had a lot of royal icing left over ... so I just piped a bunch of stuff on to wax paper.


The little blogs are kinda neat ... perfect royal icing buttons.  I'll pop them off later and see what they're like.

  • the outlining is very noticeable ... I'm not sure if I need to flood it more or use a smaller tip ... probably need to use #2
  • Wilton decorating gel: only awesome in black
  • too lazy to color royal icing
  • flooding technique badge earned
  • tastes ok (but could be better)
  • now I have a bunch of buttons I can use ... for something ...
  • royal icing made with pasteurized egg whites was just fine ... cheaper than using meringue powder

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