Allison outside of Coco's Cupcakes, Pittsburgh, PA
Originally uploaded by alizinha/CrossFitNYC.
Hey everybody, this is my first installment of "Ask Allison," a weekly column where I choose a reader-submitted question about cupcakes to answer. As the resident baker of the three of us cupcake bloggers, and as someone with way too many baking cookbooks on her bookshelf, I am hoping to be able to give our readers the answers they're looking for.
Please submit questions to me care of Allison AT crossfitnyc DOT com rather than submitting them to our general email address for the cupcake blog. Most importantly, please write "ASK ALLISON" in the title of your email in order to help me separate these emails from other email I receive.
And now on to our first question:
Q: This may seem odd, but I have a friend who was wondering how you get the icing on the cupcakes so smooth – like all of the ones with ‘applique’ looking designs. Would you please share? Thanks. --Mariah
A: Chances are, the type of frosting you're referring to is fondant. Fondant is a sugar-based frosting that is actually a soft "candy" that can be rolled out to a 1/4-inch thickness and they laid atop a cake or cupcake, where it then can be molded and shaped to fit just right. Fondant can come in any color (but people often love using it in a pristine, pure white--especially on wedding cakes--as there are no ingredients in it that give it any color besides food coloring). Making fondant from scratch requires major candy-making skills, so to the novice cupcake baker, I suggest purchasing pre-made fondant instead. Fondant can be layered for the appliqued look you speak of, and can bring a much more professional look to your cupcakes. (Personally I generally prefer a more homemade style cupcake, so I have little experience with working with fondant myself.)
To see a gallery of fondant photos, click here. Fondant can be a bit difficult to work with, so before you attempt it, be sure to read more on how to do so, such as at this link. If you want to purchase fondant and the necessary accessories to use it, here's an online resource.
We've featured fondant-decorated cupcakes here at Cupcakes Take the Cake. Click here for all mentions of it on this blog.
It's also possible, however, that you've seen cupcakes that have made use of marzipan. Marzipan is an almond and sugar paste that can be used to frost cakes or cupcakes. In addition, it can be sculpted into a variety of shapes to be eaten as candy or used as cake/cupcake decorations. Marzipan is simply a mixture of almond paste, powdered sugar, and a moistening agent such as water,corn syrup, glucose, fondant, or egg whites. After the ingredients are mixed, marzipan reaches a consistency of dough or soft rubber and can be rolled, shaped, cut, or molded.
We've featured marzipan-decorated cupcakes here at Cupcakes Take the Cake. Click here for all mentions of it on this blog.