What Is Fondant?

Have you ever admired a wedding cake and thought, "How do they get it so smooth?" Well, the answer is fondant. This incredible sugar dough can be shaped, twisted, melted, and folded to create eye-catching decorations for any special confection.

Historically, fondant has been used alongside marzipan — both pastes have been used to decorate sugar creations since the 19th century. 

Recently, fondant has outshined marzipan because of its elegant finish and neutral flavor. Much like Play-Doh, it's easy to play around with fondant and change its shape, flavor, and color. Be careful though — just like the kids' toy, this stuff dries up. So make sure it's stored in something airtight. 

Made from boiling a sugary syrup mixture, once warm, it's kneaded to resemble a thick frosting. Those who don't have patience for using good old-fashioned elbow grease purchase it already prepared in dough or powdered form. Fondant needs to be gently warmed to achieve its elasticity before use. The most common ways to use this marshmallow-like dough are to roll or pour it.

It's highly likely you've eaten fondant in one of its forms without knowing it. Fondant as a liquid is poured over glossy petits fours, used as a dip for chocolate éclairs, and fills the center of chocolate-covered cherries that are popular around the holidays. Rolled fondants are commonly used to cut out shapes for decorating cupcakes or folded over elaborate cakes. Rolled thick or thin, once smoothed and dried, the cake's new surface is perfect to decorate with icing, paint, or whatever your heart desires. (Photo courtesy of Taste of Home)

Rolled fondant doesn't just look pretty; it has a purpose — to keep your cake moist. Acting as a shell to make your cake more delicious, it may be hard to believe the fondant is often picked off and ignored. Much like an orange peel, few people enjoy eating it. So before you devour the cake on your next big day, don't just push the fondant off to the side with a fork, think of how it was customized just for you!