Fondant has been around for hundreds of years. In fact, we can trace its origins back to the 1500s.
Since then, chefs all over the globe have used the icing to create stunning works of edible art. From massive sculptures to delicate flowers, the decorating options are limitless.
Although, not all people are fans of fondant. It’s a bit chewy and overly sweet.
Because of that, the icing isn’t ideal for every situation. Luckily, there are quite a few substitutes you can use.
So, if you’re looking for fondant alternatives, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’ll walk you through what makes this icing special.
Plus, I’ll go over some of the other toppers you can use instead.
Before I dive into the alternatives to fondant, there are a few factors that you should be aware of. First up, let’s talk about the texture of the icing.
Fondant consists of confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup, vanilla extract, gelatin, and water. When you mix all of these ingredients together, you get a malleable paste.
With that, you can cover cakes and create all sorts of delicate sculptures. Because of this, the icing is the ideal way to decorate pastries.
Moving on, the fondant’s flavor profile is quite subtle. There’s a hint of vanilla, but for the most part, all you’ll taste is sugar.
That’s why many people have issues with fondant. They feel like it’s too sickly sweet, without any flavor payoff.
Thankfully, there are several alternatives to the icing.
While fondant is well-liked, there’s no shortage of creative ways to decorate cakes. In this section, I’ll cover some of the most popular substitutes for the icing.
Most people who complain about fondant have an issue with the flavor. So, my first alternative addresses the lackluster taste of the icing.
Modeling chocolate is a paste that consists of melted chocolate and corn syrup. The resulting mixture is smooth, shiny, and incredibly delicious.
This icing has a similar consistency to fondant. So, you’ll be able to shape and mold it in the same way.
Moving on, modeling chocolate dries much firmer than fondant. Because of that, any sculptures you make will be a lot more durable.
For that reason, if you plan on moving the cake after you decorate it, modeling chocolate is the best way to go.
If you’re looking for a fast way to cover a cake, there’s no better option than buttercream. It’s smooth, easy to work with, and simple to make.
The main ingredients of this topper are butter and sugar. All you have to do is whip the components together for a few minutes.
The result is creamy, soft, and, most importantly, tasty. You can spread this icing on a cake effortlessly.
Yet, buttercream is a lot softer than fondant. Because of that, you won’t be able to create sculptures or intricate shapes.
On top of that, the icing melts at room temperature. That means you have to serve your cake as soon as it comes out of the fridge.
Even though fondant is exceptionally versatile, it’s still fragile. If you roll it out too thin, the icing will crack and tear.
Ideally, it should be between ¼ and ⅛ of an inch thick. Because of that, you won’t be able to create all design elements out of fondant.
So, if you want to make thin decorations with plenty of detail, gum paste is the way to go. To make this topper, we use egg whites, powdered sugar, and shortening.
This creates icing that’s a combination of fondant and buttercream frosting. It’s soft and malleable, yet dries hard.
For that reason, it’s the best choice for creating sculptures and figurines. Although, it’ll be challenging to cover an entire cake using gum paste.
That’s because this topper dries much faster than fondant.
Besides that, gum paste doesn’t pack a powerful flavor punch.
If you’re trying to decorate a cookie or a cupcake, royal icing can make your life easier. This is another version of gum paste, but it’s a lot more liquid.
The chief ingredients are the same: egg whites and sugar. Yet, the final texture is runny, almost like honey.
Besides that, with fondant, you need to spend a little time rolling it out to the correct size and shape. Luckily, this isn’t an issue with royal icing.
That’s because you’ll be able to pour the topper over your pastries. This will make covering them much faster.
Finally, once royal icing hardens, it’s not going anywhere. So, you’ll be able to place your cupcakes and cookies in containers to store them away.
Sugar is a star component of all the previous icings I’ve mentioned. So, if you don’t particularly like overly sweet desserts, they’re not ideal.
Yet, there are a few toppers that aren’t all that sugary. A great example of that is ganache.
The components of this icing are chocolate and heavy cream. This makes for an indulgent, buttery topper.
Depending on the ratio of cream to chocolate, you can adjust the consistency of the ganache. Because of that, you’ll have complete control over the texture.
Other than that, you can use all sorts of chocolate for the icing. That includes dark, semi-sweet, and white.
You can even mix two or more of these together.
The only issue with ganache is that it doesn’t set as firmly as fondant does. For that reason, it’s not as versatile.
Marzipan is another type of sugar paste that you can use to decorate cakes. It has a similar consistency to fondant, but it’s more malleable.
That means it’s less likely to crack if you drape it over a cake.
To make this icing, you’ll need almond meal, powdered sugar, and egg whites. These will combine into a mixture with the consistency of clay.
Because of that, you can use marzipan just like fondant. For instance, you’ll be able to sculpt various shapes out of the icing.
Plus, you can bake them to set the design in place and ensure they won’t deform.
Moving on, marzipan packs a lot of flavor. The almond meal will give the topper a nice, nutty aftertaste.
This can perfectly complement any sugary dessert. Although if you’re not a huge fan of almonds, you can use any other nut meal instead.
When you google easy recipes for fondant, you’ll find that most of them use marshmallows. That’s because the fluffy treats consist of similar ingredients.
Their main components are corn syrup, water, and gelatin. So, as an alternative to fondant, you can use marshmallow frosting.
All you have to do is melt the marshmallows and whip butter into them. This will create a cross between fondant and buttercream.
It’s pliable like frosting, but it firms up as it dries.
If you’re looking for fondant alternatives, I have many options for you to try. One of the most popular choices is molding chocolate.
It has a similar consistency to fondant, but it tastes much better.
Other than that, you can use buttercream frosting, gum paste, or royal icing. Finally, ganache, marzipan, and marshmallow frosting are all excellent options.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.