Nowadays, everything baked as cute-potential to me. Years of obligatory Christmas cookie baking have pushed me into mastering the shortbread cookie, but I was always a little sad that mine didn’t look cute. Certainly not Amy Atlas-cute. On the plus side, people who got my cookies knew they were definitely homemade.
One thing that has always fascinated/terrified me is fondant. On the one hand, it tastes gross. On the other hand, it looks amazing. Since it looks amazing, I always assumed that I, She Who Was Cursed With Inability to Make Frosting, would never be able to do it. Well, turning 40 has emboldened me and now that I have also successfully made frosting, I decided to give it a whirl. Note: if you do not want to spend a couple of hours scrubbing fondant scraps off the floor after you make it, I recommend that you don’t do this with your kids the first time. Nobody told me that. If I wrote a cookbook I would tell you these things.
First, the fondant-decorated cookies!
I started by baking up a batch of shortbread cookies. I felt a little guilty about all the butter that goes into shortbread, so I modified the recipe a tiny bit by subbing the last tablespoon of butter with a tablespoon of NUTIVA Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, which is the coconut oil that I think tastes the best. I’ll paste in the cookie recipe below too. So you end up with a cookie that looks like this:
Now, the fondant prep was so messy and I did it with my kids that I would have required 8 more hands in order to have photographed it. But I will refer you to a great video tutorial (made by someone who apparently does have 8 more hands) on how to make marshmallow fondant. In my research the marshmallow fondant was easier and tastier than traditional fondant. And I have to say, it was pretty tasty for fondant.
Once the fondant is ready, you just roll it out — I used parchment paper sprinkled with cornstarch, both under and over the fondant (so I used my rolling pin over the top piece of parchment) and rolled out til it was about 1/8 inch. After this it’s pretty much like working with Play-Doh. You can color the fondant with a gel paste food coloring — you’ll need to knead it for a while to distribute the color (I recommend wearing plastic gloves for this if you’re not dressing up as Lady Macbeth in the near future). You can cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a knife and then make it stick to the cookie by wetting the back of the fondant like we used to do with postage stamps before sticking it onto the cookie.
I also did a few with royal icing that looked so bad that I’m telling people that my kids made them.
And just when you thought you’d be safe from sports on this decidedly unathletic blog, I just have share my favorite internet activity around Jeremy Lin and the ensuing Linsanity. I love Cinderella and underdog stories about Chinese /Taiwanese-American third-string NBA players from Harvard (so apparently do Rainn Wilson and Spike Lee), and this is one of the best. His quiet demeanor and humility just add to the charm:
- From Phil Taylor @SI_PhilTaylor (Sports illustrated columnist): I know there are other things going on in the sports world besides Jeremy Lin. But I don’t care about any of them. #nyk #linsanity
- Nerd Handshake
- Even Kobe Impressed by Lin-Sational Knicks
- Lin’s High School Coach Bought Linsanity.com Two Years Ago
Ok, back to the baking. I don’t recall the source of this recipe, which I’ve modified, except that it came from a Christmas cookie exchange years ago and I’ve used it ever since.
- 1 1/3 cups (2 sticks + 5 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp coconut oil (Nutiva preferred)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Use an electric mixer with paddle attachment, and cream butter and sugar on medium speed til light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add salt and vanilla and beat to combine. Add flour one cup at a time, beating on low speed until just combined.
Roll out dough between two sheets of floured wax or parchment paper using a rolling pin. Bake until pale golden, but not browned, about 13-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Cool completely before decorating.
I got this recipe off of About.com and it’s pretty much perfect.
- 8 ounces miniature marshmallows (4 cups not packed, or half of a 16-ounce bag)
- 1 pound powdered sugar (4 cups), plus extra for dusting
- 2 tbsp water
- Food coloring or flavored extracts, optional
Dust your counter or a large cutting board with powdered sugar. Place the marshmallows and the water in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute, until the marshmallows are puffy and expanded.
Stir the marshmallows with a rubber spatula until they are melted and smooth. If some unmelted marshmallow pieces remain, return to the microwave for 30-45 seconds, until the marshmallow mixture is entirely smooth and free of lumps. If you want colored or flavored fondant, you can add several drops of food coloring or extracts at this point and stir until incorporated. If you want to create multiple colors or flavors from one batch of fondant, do not add the colors or flavors now. Instead, refer to step 6 below for instructions.
Add the powdered sugar and begin to stir with the spatula. Stir until the sugar begins to incorporate and it becomes impossible to stir anymore.
Scrape the marshmallow-sugar mixture out onto the prepared work surface. It will be sticky and lumpy, with lots of sugar that has not been incorporated yet–this is normal. Dust your hands with powdered sugar, and begin to knead the fondant mixture like bread dough, working the sugar into the marshmallow with your hands.
Continue to knead the fondant until it smoothes out and loses its stickiness. Add more sugar if necessary, but stop adding sugar once it is smooth–too much sugar will make it stiff and difficult to work with. Once the fondant is a smooth ball, it is ready to be used. You can now roll it out, shape it, or wrap it in cling wrap to use later. Well-wrapped fondant can be stored in a cool room or in the refrigerator, and needs to be kneaded until supple before later use.
If you want to add coloring or flavoring to your fondant, flatten it into a round disc. You might want to wear gloves to avoid getting food coloring on your hands during this step. Add your desired amount of coloring or flavoring to the center of the disc, and fold the disc over on itself so that the color or flavor is enclosed in the center of the fondant ball.
Begin to knead the ball of fondant just like you did before. As you work it, you will begin to see streaks of color coming through from the center. Continue to knead until the streaks are gone and the fondant is a uniform color. Your fondant is now ready to be used or stored as outlined above.