Fondant

Fondant is sugar syrup that is recrystallized to a creamy white paste. It is widely used in the pastry shop for glazing and decorating. If properly applied, fondant dries to a silky-smooth icing that not only enhances the appearance of a pastry, but preserves it as well by sealing it from the air. Glucose and cream of tartar are used to invert part of the sugar to achieve the proper amount of recrystallization. Without these ingredients, the cooked sugar will harden and be impossible to work with. Conversely, if too much glucose or cream of tartar is used, there will not be enough recrystallization, and the fondant will be soft and runny.

Although fondant is inexpensive and relatively easy to make (once you get the hang of it), it is almost always purchased in a professional kitchen either ready to use or as a powder to which you add water. To make your own fondant, you will need a precise sugar thermometer (test in boiling water to determine accuracy), a sugar pan or heavy saucepan, a wide spatula or bench scraper, a marble slab (2 × 2 feet/60 × 60 cm for this recipe), 4 steel or aluminum bars, and, as in all sugar work, quick reaction time when the sugar has reached the proper temperature.

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Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil for the equipment
  • 3 cups (720 ml) cold water
  • 4 pounds (1 kg 820 g) granulated sugar
  • cup (160 ml) glucose or light corn syrup, warmed
  • ½ teaspoon (1 g) cream of tartar

Method

  1. Clean, dry, and lightly oil the marble slab and metal bars with vegetable oil. Place the bars at the edge of the marble to make a frame to hold the hot syrup when it is poured on the slab. Oil a stainless-steel scraper and place 1 cup (240 ml) cold water close by.
  2. Combine 2 cups (480 ml) water and the granulated sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium, stop stirring, and brush the sides of the pan with additional water. Be sure to brush down all of the crystals. It takes only a few particles of sugar left on the sides to make the mixture recrystallize (before you want it to) when the sugar becomes hotter.
  3. When the temperature reaches 225°F (108°C), add the warm glucose or corn syrup and the cream of tartar dissolved in a little hot water. Continue boiling until the syrup reaches 238° to 240°F (114° to 115°C). Pay close attention; the syrup will reach this temperature quicker than you might think.
  4. Immediately pour the syrup onto the prepared surface and sprinkle about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the cold water on top. It is critical that the temperature not exceed 240°F (115°C), so if your marble is not right next to the stove, place the saucepan in a bowl of cold water for a few seconds first to prevent overcooking. Insert the sugar thermometer into the thickest part of the puddle and let the sugar cool to 110°F (43°C).
  5. Remove the metal bars and start to incorporate air into the sugar mixture: Using the oiled stainless-steel scraper, work the sugar by sliding the scraper under the edge of the puddle, lifting it, and folding in toward the center. After awhile, the sugar will start to turn white and become firmer. Continue to work the fondant slowly, either by hand or in a mixing bowl (see Note), until it has a smooth and creamy consistency.
  6. Pack the fondant against the bottom of a plastic container and pour the remaining cold water on top to prevent a crust from forming. Store at room temperature. The fondant must rest about 24 hours before it is soft enough to use. Fondant will keep for weeks if covered properly. Pour off the water before using and keep the bowl covered with plastic wrap while you are working. Add a new layer of water, then cover to store until the next use.