Saturday, February 12, 2011

Exterior Design

When it comes down to it, baking isn't that difficult.  Once you get a handle on the basic ingredients and how they will behave together, you can make nearly anything.  The difficult part, at least for me, comes when you attempt to make your confection look decent.

I've never been a form over function kind of girl (Unless we're talking about shoes.  Obviously, shoes are always an exception).  I believe that the flavor and the texture of a dessert are more important than how it looks.  Buttercream or cream-cheese frosting just tastes better than fondant, no matter how beautiful a nicely fondant-ed cake may look.

About a year ago, I was baking a cake for a friend who adores chocolate.  I made him a flourless chocolate cake with a ganache poured on top. 

But wait, there's more. 

I wanted this dessert to be lovely and whimsical as well as delicious.  I decided to make a fondant iPad to decorate my cake.  The first challenge was creating a fondant that didn't taste like it had been dumped in confectioners sugar and chalk.  Most recipes that I found required glycerin.  Sadly, with none available, I resorted to a recipe that included marshmallows. 
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 (16 ounce) package miniature marshmallows
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds confectioners' sugar 
While I was kneading the incredibly sticky fondant, my cat decided to get into the mix by leaping onto the counter (where she is not allowed).  After a fair amount of cat wrestling, hand washing and rekneading, I rolled out the fondant to a sheet and cut multiple ap-shaped squares.  I individually dyed each square and meticulously placed them on top of my fondant iPad.  As I was nearing completion, the cat again made her presence known, leaping on to the only clear part of the counter...the part where the fondant was arranged.  With little cat foot-prints all over the "screen," I was forced to get rid of the whole thing.  I used the remaining scraps to decorate the cake as well as I could.

The cat spent the rest of the evening trying to get fondant scraps off of her paws and now avoids the counter when cooking occurs.  Even if the fondant wasn't a success, at least it was a good feline-trainer. 

The recipe made adequate flavored fondant...without the chalky aspect that I usually have problems with.  However, I'm fairly certain that it was not a real rolled fondant due to the lack of glycerin.  Marshmallows have gelatin, so that ingredient was covered. 

My fake-dant didn't taste good enough to merit a second attempt.  Give me a cream-cheese or a chocolate frosting any day.  Hell, give me a glaze and I'll be a happy camper.  Fondant may look lovely but it's all hollow and empty on the inside.  I'll stick with my flavorful-on-the-inside recipes. 

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