Friday, February 12, 2010
My friend Candy made cute cupcake for her son Kyle's birthday- they were decorated like the Mario Bros. mushrooms. I knew my son would love them just as much since Mario Bros. is basically his first language. While I was searching for some character pictures to print, I stumbled upon some cupcakes that were decorated with fondant. They were from a bakery and the Mario Bros. fondant character cupcakes were available for purchase. Yeah.... I don't think so.
I found a great recipe for marshmallow fondant. It seriously couldn't be easier (although it'd be nice if it were a little less messier!). I used this receipe to make my own Mario Bros. cupcakes with fondant!
The site I found the original recipe at is here, but here is also the recipe:
16 ounces white mini-marshmallows (use a good quality brand)
2 to 5 tablespoons water
2 pounds icing sugar (please use C&H Cane Powdered Sugar for the best results)
1/2 cup Crisco shortening (you will be digging into it so place in a very easily accessed bowl)
Melt marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave or double boiler: Put the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, open microwave and stir, back in microwave for 30 seconds more, open microwave and stir again, and continue doing this until melted. It usually takes about 2 1/2 minutes total (mine literally took one minute) Place 3/4 of the powdered sugar on the top of the melted marshmallow mix.
Now grease your hands GENEROUSLY (palms, backs, and in between fingers), then heavily grease the counter you will be using and dump the bowl of marshmallow/sugar mixture in the middle.
Start kneading like you would bread dough.
Keep kneading, this stuff is sticky at this stage! Add the rest of the powdered sugar and knead some more. Re-grease your hands and counter when the fondant starts sticking. If the mix is tearing easily, it is to dry, so add water (about 1/2 tablespoon at a time and then knead it in). It usually takes me about 8 minutes to get a firm smooth elastic ball so that it will stretch without tearing when you apply it to the cake.
It is best if you can let it sit, double wrapped, overnight (but you can use it right away if there are no tiny bits of dry powdered sugar). If you do see them, you will need to knead and maybe add a few more drops of water. (I used it immediately)
Prepare the fondant icing for storing by coating it with a good layer of Crisco shortening, wrap in a plastic-type wrap product and then put it in a re-sealable or Ziploc bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible.
MM Fondant icing will hold very well in the refrigerator for weeks.
Now it’s time to start. Your cake should be baked, and completely cooled. If you have a shaped cake, you can trim it now and then place the cake on a prepared cake board. In other words, you are assembling the cake puzzle on the board. You can also place the cake on the board first and then trim (you must be extra careful not to damage the covered board). I personally find that shaping first is the easiest and then transferring the cake.
Give the top and sides of the cake a nice thick 1/4-inch coating of buttercream icing . The buttercream icing helps the fondant icing to “stick” to the cake and this cushion of undercoating icing helps to give you the beautiful smooth nearly perfect finish that you are looking for.
When you are ready to use the rested fondant icing, the first thing you need to do is decide what size you will need to roll your icing to.
Next, you need to sprinkle a bit of cornstarch on your counter to help prevent sticking (rub it in). Give the fondant icing a little kneading to incorporate the Crisco coating. It will be pretty stiff when you try to knead it again, but it can be microwaved for 10 to 20 seconds, if necessary. Start off with 10 seconds (please be careful as items that have high sugar contents can get hot in the microwave very quickly).
The fondant icing will soften right up and be perfect for rolling out and playing with. You want the temperature to be close to your body temperature.
Now is the best time to add your food coloring. I prefer to store my fondant icing in it’s natural color of white. Some colors can change the consistency of the icing. If you do need to store colored fondant icing, wrap each color very well in plastic wrap or Saran Wrap. Colors like red and burgundy are notorious for “bleeding” into other colors and ruining them. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Bag everything in Ziploc bags. Remember that food coloring can also stain your hands and nails. I have food-grade plastic gloves that I keep around. Add your food coloring, a little at a time, and knead it in. You can always go darker but it is difficult to go lighter. Red has a tendency to get darker as it sits and “ages”.
Pre-shape your icing into approximately the shape of your cake. For a round cake, make a disk shape. For a rectangular make a log shape.
OK, here is a point of controversy about the next step. Some instructors tell you to only sprinkle cornstarch on your counter before you put the fondant icing down, sprinkle with more corn starch, and then roll fondant icing out to desired shape. Some teachers advise that you grease the counter, put the fondant icing down, and lightly grease the top of the fondant icing as need to prevent sticking. (It worked way better for me to grease the counter-- I layed the fondant so the cornstarch made it too dry but the shortening helped adhere the layers)
I prefer the cornstarch myself, but during very dry atmospheric conditions, I have been known to use the shortening method. The grease will help to hold in the moisture and keeps the fondant icing pliable. If necessary, add drops of water and knead it in thoroughly before proceeding. You will need to try out both ways in the future and decide what you like the most.
A third alternative is a large-sized Roulpat Mat (31 x 23 inches). It really does work well and it can also help you with moving a large piece of rolled out fondant. I’ve never done it, but I was told that you just gently bend the mat edges downward with the icing still on it. Place the edge of mat and the icing next to the edge of the butter-creamed cake and flip the fondant icing over the cake. What was the top of the fondant icing that you rolled out, is now touching the buttercream and what was the bottom side is now the topside that you see.
Most folks do not have a nonstick rolling pin, but if you do, now is the time to use it. If not, lightly rub cornstarch on the surface of the rolling pin and roll out to the desired size.
I like to roll my icing at least 1/8-inch thick. It’s thick enough for ease of handling and strength integrity. I wouldn’t go any thinner than 1/8-inch for the cake covering. When I’m making decorations with the fondant icing, I will sometimes roll it thinner. The MM Fondant icing is very forgiving and rarely tears but everything has it limits.
The technique that I use is to gently roll the icing on the nonstick rolling pin like a piece of fabric. DO NOT FOLD! An edge will be hanging down.
Quickly place the fondant icing at one bottom edge of the cake and unroll the rolling pin, holding it about 2 inches over the cake. Your fondant icing will then “fall” into place. You should also have a bit of overhang over the edges.
You might need a little cornstarch at this stage, but only use it very sparingly if you have a dark colored icing. I very lightly sprinkle the cornstarch over the surface and use a buffing motion with my hand to move it around and to level the surface. This motion seals the fondant icing to the buttercream, works out the bumps in the icing below the surface, and removes flaws from the joined areas in the cakes surface below. Please use a VERY gentle pressure to rub the surface of the icing. I often have a little pile of the cornstarch on the counter and dip my hands in it as needed. Here is an important tip: Watch out for your fingernails as long nails can mark up your surface quickly and it is very difficult to smooth them back out.
If you notice a bubble in the surface, take a thin sharp needle and poke a tiny hole, at an angle, in the bubble. If you poke straight down, you can almost always see the hole even after the most careful smoothing. The angled hole lets the air out of the bubble, and with a tiny bit of rubbing you can reseal the hole.
I keep a clean, soft pastry brush close by, to move the cornstarch around. Do this lightly or you can leave brush marks on the surface that are almost impossible to remove. A number of companies make fondant smoothers for around $10. I have one, but I’ve used it only once and I’ve used my hands ever since. For me, it is easier and quicker. If you don’t handle the smoother correctly, you can damage the fondant’s finish.
Gently, with the side of your hand, push the fondant into the sides of the cake against the cake board.
To trim the excess fondant icing, you can use a sharp knife. I find that the easiest and neatest way is to use a Pizza Cutter. Hold it at a 45 degree angle from the cake board and the side of the cake. Go slow and follow the shape of the cake. If you hold the cutter at the correct angle, you will have an almost perfect bottom edge. Gently, with your finger tips, push any little leftovers in against the cake for the neatest appearance. If the edge isn’t as nice as you want, you can always add a fondant rope or pearls. Buttercream shells, stars, or flowers look wonderful also.
If your cake needs a bit of shaping, do it now. I used the outside edge of my hand to make the indents to define certain areas of the cake.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Just in time for Valentine's Day! How pretty are these coconut candies? They taste like a Mounds Bar or an Almond Joy, minus the joy of the almond! They are extremely sweet, so I cut them to be bite-sized. I'm sure you could cut them into more of a candy-bar size if you really want the full effect of a candy bar.
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons butter (18 tablespoons)
3 cups shredded coconut
4 oz dark chocolate (I actually used semi-sweet)
2 Tbsp oil
Dice butter; put cream, sugar and butter in a medium saucepan and heat until it boils, stirring almost constantly. Boil for another 5 minutes, while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
Remove from heat and stir in coconut.
Line an 8x8 baking pan with waxed paper and pour the mixture into pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, turn it out onto a cutting board and remove the paper.
Cut it into cubes or into shape of a rectangular cuboid (which is the original shape of a Bounty candy bar).
Combine chocolate and oil in the top portion of a double boiler. Heat until melted. Dip each coconut cube in the melted chocolate to coat.
Allow to dry on waxed paper. I put it in the fridge to speed up the process.
Serve at room temperature (or cold.... whatever!).