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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Monday, November 29

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Recipe Mon Oct 12 2015

How To Make a Halloween Fondant Cake

rsz_img_0501.jpgHalloween is a time to frighten colleagues and friends with not only your costume, but your pastry skills. For this year's Halloween bake-off at my work, I am determined to create a dessert monstrosity that will garner me a promotion and eternal reverence. Making an impressive cake typically requires the use of fondant, an edible icing with the consistency of play-dough and the taste of firm of marshmallows. Its sculpting features are fairly easy to master, but the results are (usually) visually astounding.

Why Not to Buy Fondant
Because that s*** will crack faster than a tectonic plate. And because fondant only requires two simple ingredients: marshmallows and powdered sugar.

Ingredients:
1) Shortening or butter
2) 1 bag of marshmallows
3) 1 bag (2 lbs) of powdered sugar
4) Cake (This recipe assumes you have already baked a cake and frosted the entire thing. It's important to cover the entire cake because your frosting is your glue.)

How to Make Fondant
1) Melt a bag of marshmallows in a pot over medium heat.
2) Pour about a quarter cup of water in there, just to make the marshmallow mixture a bit smoother.
3) Once its melted, pour 1 cup of powdered sugar and mix around.
4) While it's still hot, scrape the gooey mess onto parchment paper lightly greased with shortening. (Don't skip the parchment paper unless you want everything to stick on everything)
5) Grease your hands with shortening.
6) Pour another cup of powdered shortening onto your goo. Knead. It will be sticky, but persevere until the goo becomes more of a play-dough consistency.
7) Don't use too much powdered sugar because that will cause your fondant to crack later. Use shortening instead to un-stick things.

How to Color your Fondant
1) Pour a few drops of your favorite dye in.
2) Knead until color is incorporated into white fondant. Add more coloring for darker coloring (black will require a lot of drops).

How to Roll Fondant
1) Get your rolling pin and grease it.
2) Start rolling your fondant.
3) Just keep rolling until it's flat and wide enough that you can cover your cake with it. (If your fondant starts to break or crack, knead some shortening into it)
4) Drape your fondant over your rolling pin and carry it over to your cake.
5) Slowly lay the fondant over your cake and squeal in admiration.
6) Smooth out fondant (to get rid of the air bubbles trapped between the cake and fondant) by running the edge of a dinner plate along the surface of the cake.
7) Use a knife and trim off excess fondant.
8) Eat excess fondant.

How to Make Decorations
1) Plain Circle: Use a bottlecap or the lid of a sauce jar to cut out circles.
2) Pumpkin: Roll a ball of orange fondant. Using your sharp knife, cut slices into the side of the ball to imitate the side of a pumpkin. Get a piece of dark-colored fondant
3) Ghost: Roll three balls of small white fondant and stack them on top of each other like a snowman. Roll out another ball of white fondant into a flat circle and drape it over your three white balls. Use black fondant to make eyes.
4) Tombstone: Roll out a piece of black fondant and use your knife to cut out a tombstone shape. BOOM.
5) Spider: Roll out two small pieces of black fondant and lay them next to each other. Roll out eight tiny legs, and attach them to body. Attach white fondant eye-dots.
To attach your decorations, you can use leftover frosting or water mixed with some sugar.

How to Get Skills that Really Kill
1) Start with basics. Don't try to carve a skull out of cake and sculpt your fondant like they do at Charm City Cakes. Start with squares and circles.
2) If you're going to make a multi-layer cake, make sure your bottom layer is strong. This might sound obvious but a super heavy upper layer will sink into your bottom layer, causing your fondant to ripple and crack.
3) You can eventually decorate your cake with icing (for more intricate designs), edible paint (to create shadow effects), or edible glitter spray (to create shiny/metallic effects).
4) To create extensions (like three branches or octopus tentacles), try sculpting with rice krisipie treats, which are lighter and easy to mold when they're warm. Cover with icing and layer with fondant, as you would do with cake.
5) You will make mistakes. Your fondant will crack or slip off, your cake will crack, and your layers will slide around. It's okay! My infection cake (see above) was my first attempt at fondant, but see images below for what I may become if I practice:

corpse_bride_cake_by_pinkcakebox.jpg5121831140_e4e9f25a2e_b.jpg

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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