Honestly, folks. These are no walk in the park to make. Poured fondant has been my baking nemesis since I coated my entire kitchen and dining room in the stuff two years ago.
Fact: it is messy!
Recently I’ve been working my way through a host of poured fondant recipes in hopes of finding one that is easy and not so messy. What did I find? Most poured fondant recipes are easy to make and all are equally messy. The hardest part is getting a good even pour over the sides of the cakes without wasting all the fondant you’ve just made. I’ve tried every way under the sun to apply poured fondant to these cakes – piping, spooning and pouring – and I’ve found the “dip and spoon” method is best with this particular fondant. Since it is nearly impossible for me to document this process in pictures, I made a little video to show you my method.
The poured fondant recipe I’m sharing is my favorite because it tastes the best of all I’ve tried. When applied to the cakes, it is semi transparent but dries smooth and opaque; the color lightens slightly as it dries. I almost bought into a white chocolate version that I will most likely use again, and may even post in this blog, but to me it seemed like a substitution for the real thing. It didn’t have the classic look and taste I wanted it to have. The worst recipe I came across was made from a boxed rolled fondant that is softened in hot water for 15 minutes then melted in the microwave. It tasted like old perfume smells and had a slimy consistency that never fully dried. I almost gagged trying to get a single bite down.
So why go to all the trouble? When executed correctly, these cakes are incredibly delicious. When poured fondant hardens around a cake it seals in moisture and gives ordinary sponge cake a divine texture. There’s nothing quite like biting into one, and mastering the art of poured fondant petit fours is a true notch on the baking belt. Making them takes time, practice and sometimes, intuition. It is full of rules and takes patience and the willingness to try and try again.
In this video you will see somewhat-boring-but-informative footage of properly whisked eggs for the sponge cake, the correct consistency for poured fondant dipping (messy, though it may be), and gratuitous shots of Biscuit the Pug being cute at the end.
You’ve been warned.
(Email subscribers may need to click over to the Sprinkle Bakes site to view the video.)
One negative about this fondant – it hardens quickly. Work close to your microwave so you can nuke it at 20-30 second intervals to keep the consistency thin. In the video you’ll see how loose the consistency needs to be when I spoon it over the cake. It looks incredibly messy, but if you let gravity do its thing your cakes will even out and end up looking fab when they are dry.
Note: this recipe was adapted from the book “The New Pastry Cook” by Helen S. Fletcher.
Petit Fours with Poured Fondant
- Candy thermometer
- Food processor
- Small-grid wire rack – like this one
- parchment paper
- Pastry brush
- Decorative cupcake papers for display
- Ready-made rolled fondant *optional
- Jumbo nonpareils *optional
- Daisy fondant cutter *optional
- Pearlized luster dust and soft paintbrush *optional
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup seedless black raspberry jam
- 8 oz. marzipan canned almond paste will do in a pinch
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
- Shortening for greasing pan
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
- Liquid food coloring
- Clear vanilla extract or other clear extract such as almond, orange, or lemon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease an 11 x 17″ pan with shortening and line with parchment paper
- Using an electric hand mixer, beat eggs and sugar together at medium speed in a heat-proof bowl until thoroughly blended.
- Place bowl over a simmering saucepan of water and continue to beat with the hand mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick and pale.
- Remove bowl from the saucepan and add vanilla. Continue to beat with the hand mixer until mixture is cool and leaves a thick trail of batter on the surface when the beaters are lifted out.
- Sift flour over the 4 egg mixture and fold together with a rubber spatula until smooth.
- Pour batter into prepared jelly roll pan and spread evenly with an off-set spatula. Bake until cake springs back when pressed in the center, 7-10 minutes. Check at 7 minutes, this cake is thin and can burn easily.
- When cake is done, let rest in the pan for a few minutes before removing.
- Remove cake and cut into four even rectangles.
- Place raspberry jam in microwave for 20 seconds to loosen, then brush the tops of the cake rectangles with the jam and stack them, one on top of the other, jam side up. You may not have to use the entire 1/2 cup of jam.
- Lightly dust a work surface with confectioners’ sugar. Roll marzipan into one large flat piece, about 1/4″ thick, then place on top of cake. Trim marzipan evenly around the top of the cake using a small plain edge knife.
- Cut the marzipan-topped cake into 12-15 squares. Some people like to freeze the whole cake before slicing so the pieces cut evenly. I do not prefer this, but if you use this method, be sure to bring your cakes to room temperature before dipping them in the fondant. If you dip frozen cakes, it will quickly lower the temperature of the fondant and cause it to harden – worst case you’ll end up with a bowl of chunky fondant and at the very least it will ruin the evenness of the fondant coating.
- Set cakes aside and make the fondant.
- Combine the sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Stir well.
- Place candy thermometer into the mixture and place over medium-high heat.
- Let the mixture bubble until it reaches 238 degrees. This is soft-ball candy stage.
- When temperature is reached, remove from heat and transfer the hot liquid to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Do not process yet!
- Clean the candy thermometer and insert into the hot syrup. Let cool to 150 degrees, 35-40 minutes.
- Have a large bowl ready in which to pour the fondant. Also have ready a wire rack with a large jelly roll pan placed under it to catch the excess fondant that falls off of the cakes.
- When thermometer reads 150 degrees, add food coloring and flavoring, then process for 2-3 minutes until mixture has turned from a clear liquid to opaque.
- Immediately pour fondant into a bowl for dipping.
- Hold a cake square with your forefinger on top -the marzipan side – and your thumb on the bottom. Dip each side in the fondant and place marzipan-side-up on a wire rack. Spoon fondant over the top of the cake and allow the excess fondant to drip off.
- Give the fondant one quick stir, then repeat the process with another cake. Try to dip and spoon as quickly as possible. This fondant sets up quickly, so half-way through you may need to heat it in the microwave to loosen it up.
- Let fondant covered cakes stand until completely dry. The bottoms of the cakes will be glued to the wire rack with fondant, so you will need a sharp knife to cut around the bottoms to remove them. The bottoms of these cakes are rarely perfect, but no one will know when you place them in pretty cupcake papers.
- If desired, use a daisy fondant cutter to make decorative fondant embellishments for the petit fours. Press a jumbo nonpareil in the center of the daisy cut-outs. Apply a dot of corn syrup or piping gel to the top of each petit four and place fondant flower on top. Brush with luster dust or edible glitter if desired.
It is of paramount importance that this fondant stays thin when dipping the cakes. Be sure to work near the microwave so you can quickly heat the mixture during dipping. Alternatively, you may place fondant in a heat-proof bowl and have a simmering saucepan of water on the stove in which to place the fondant when it starts to thicken.
Do not add the food coloring and flavoring to the hot syrup before it has cooled. This will cause the fondant to be grainy.
Dip the imperfect cake cubes first. Every beginner batch has one or two that are lop-sided. These can be “test” pieces so you can learn to gauge the behavior of the fondant before dipping the more perfect cubes.
Have a wet dish towel handy to wipe fondant covered fingers between cake dippings.
Fondant can be cooled and refrigerated for 24 hours before using. It will completely harden, but can be re-heated in the microwave (or stove top – just don’t boil it) until thin and pourable.
Instead of dipping cakes in the warm fondant, you may choose to place it in a 4 cup glass measure and pour it over the cakes. If you have success with this method – God bless you. The dip/spoon method works best for me because I know the sides of the cakes will be evenly coated without wasting too much fondant – but if you find my method too messy or complicated, experiment and find what works best for you.
Don’t be discouraged if your first batches of cakes are messy and lumpy. This is a recipe that takes practice, so be patient with yourself.