Fondant is basically frosting in a Play-Doh form! Very fun to use!
For general decorations, Wilton fondant is inexpensive and dries very hard. It comes in boxes in the cake aisle
While Wilton fondant is great for decorations (like the antennae on the Millennium Falcon), it is very stiff and hard when set, so you would not want to use it to cover cakes. See the post on rolled fondant. It is ideal for the little decorations, however. If the kids want to eat it, okay – it’s perfectly safe to eat – but I generally throw the decorations away when we cut the cake. It doesn't taste very good.
Here’s how to use fondant:
Knead the fondant to get it soft, working in a bit of Crisco to help. For eyes and teeth, just use it white, as it comes out of the box. You can also knead in a bit of paste food coloring as needed to dye the fondant, if you want other colors. Just keep kneading it until the color is consistent with no streaks.
· A Special Note about making Black Fondant. You can do this – and it looks great – but working with black food coloring is a beast, it will stain your hands and counter pink (yes, pink). You can knead in a zip top bag or use latex gloves. However, both make it harder to get the color in, so at some point just toss the bag and work the fondant. Your hands will clean. BUT do work on a cookie sheet or wax paper if you have white counters! They will not clean! (Alternative: you can find small boxes of colored fondants, primary colors, etc. Find one with black. More expensive but they simplify the process.)
Take a small lump of fondant – keep the rest wrapped carefully in a Ziploc, it dries out – and you can shape into eyes, teeth, claws, spheres, satellite dishes, vehicles, Taun Tauns, etc. You can literally shape the fondant into anything you can imagine – figures, animals, plants, things. Make bigger items in advance of your cake, if you want them to have time to harden. (It's also nice to be able to make these things in advance - you make make decorations a week or more in advance if you like.)
You can also roll your bit of fondant out with a rolling pin and cut shapes using a sharp paring knife, cookie cutters, pizza cutters, etc. The sky is the limit! Some craft stores have special fondant tools on the cake aisle, including small cutters, patterns, texture mats, etc. These generally work well. Rub cutters with a bit of Crisco if needed to keep the fondant from sticking when you cut.
I have several set of fondant cutters that I’ve gotten at bakery specialty stores. I have a set of cutters for marine animals/shells, you can see these on the scuba and octopus cakes. I also have cutters that let me do castle shapes, you can see the crenelations on the sand castle cake. If you have a specific cake in mind, do an online search and you can find all kinds of ideas and products!
If the fondant gets sticky, work in a bit of Crisco. You can also “flour” the board/your hands using powdered sugar. (Use cocoa powder if working with a dark color.)
My most favorite thing to do with fondant is eyes. Fondant makes the best eyes!
· Roll a ball, then slice in half to make the 2 whites. Pull a bit if you want ovals or cat eyes. Then take a smaller piece, either buy black fondant or else use paste food coloring and dye it black. (See the note above.) Use this to make the black part of the eyes. Don’t worry about shape – no eyes are perfectly round or oval, the variations give it character and cuteness. You can see example on my manatee cake. You can also use a bit of black frosting (from a tube) for the black part, or just use a candy nonpareil (as I did on the gator cake).
When placing fondant decorations, either place directly on the buttercream or on fondant. A tiny drop of water will help fondant stick to other fondant – but try to avoid this if you are using darker fondant on top of white/light, as the color may bleed. Just dampen a fingertip with 1 drop and rub the fondant.
Fondant X-Wing being chased by a TIE fighter. (Used a clear skewer from the floral department to hold these up.)
Fondant Taun Tauns having a snowball fight from my Holidays on Hoth cake. I added some gray icing to the Taun Tauns using open stars (Wilton No. 16 tip). The snowman is entirely fondant too.