Until recently, I had two opinions of fondant: 1) It’s only for pros. 2) It tastes terrible.
Over the summer, I asked cake designer Samantha Kestin, owner of Sweet Samantha, to share a recipe with Jersey Bites. When she suggested a Halloween-How-To for ghosts made with fondant, I realized that my glass-half-empty yin had met its can-do yang. As someone who does not have the best dessert-prep track record, I was nervous and skeptical.
A few weeks later, I visited Samantha at her home, where she welcomed me with homemade cupcakes (mini and regular-sized) and contagious enthusiasm. Sensing my trepidation, she patiently walked me through the steps of transforming these bare treats into almost-too-cute-to-eat ghosts, insisting that I make at least one completely on my own.
I ended up with an adorable, tasty, and festive family of three ghosts that came home with me in their very own bakery box. I thought about naming them Blinky, Pinky, and Inky, but they were gone before I had the chance. Sweet Samantha sure proved me wrong.
Please note: Exact amounts will vary based on cupcake sizes, heights, and how drapey you want your ghosts to be. These ghosts were fairly small (but very threatening!).
For a half-dozen ghost cupcakes, here’s what you’ll need:
* 6 already-prepared cupcakes (bake or buy them in advance)
* 6 mini cupcakes (for stacking, you can add more if you want even taller ghosts)
* big marshmallows (optional, for increased height)
* a sticky and tasty ingredient that does not require immediate refrigeration: butter cream, icing, jam. This is to make the fondant stick to the cupcakes and to add flavor.
* ½ bag of mini marshmallows (10.5 oz bag)
* 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
* glycerin (optional)
Other items you’ll need:
* corn starch
* rolling pin
* edible marker (Available at most craft stores. A paintbrush and food coloring also work fine.)
* plastic wrap
* clean counter space
* clean hands
1. Put 2 tablespoons of water and the mini marshmallows into a microwaveable bowl. Heat at full power for 30-35 seconds. (Exact time will vary depending on your microwave, but you want the mixture to be pretty much melted.)
2. Mix until completely blended.
3. Mix in a large drop of glycerin. It’s not completely necessary here, but for bigger fondant projects, don’t leave it out. (We included it for the ghosts in these photos.)
4. Little by little, add in 1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar to the mixture before it cools.
5. Mix it all together, adding sugar as you go. It will look kind of dry. That’s OK. Once it cools a bit, start kneading with your clean, bare hands. Samantha explained, “I prefer to do this by hand, but you could use a dough hook attachment on a mixer.”
6. Mix in more confectioners’ sugar as needed, a little bit at a time. Knead the mixture to a point where it’s not terribly sticky, but not terribly dry. It should feel like Play-Doh. (The texture/consistency is more important than the exact amount of sugar you use.)
7. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
Round 2: Prepare Your Cupcakes For Their Ghostly Transformation
Using one of the sticky ingredients listed above, stack at least one mini cupcake on a regular-sized cupcake. You can add cupcakes or large marshmallows for height and width, just be sure to allow for additional fondant to cover these larger spectres. And don’t worry about it if your ghosts aren’t stacking up in an incredibly even fashion. Samantha reveals, “With the ghosts, it’s almost better if they’re a little lumpy and all over the place.” I think she might have just been sparing my feelings, but we’ll go with it.
Round 3: Ghost Time!
1. Unwrap the fondant.
2. Sprinkle a generous amount of corn starch on the counter. Be sure to also cover your hands with it so the fondant doesn’t stick to you.
3. Start with a small piece of fondant, about the size of an egg. (Remember to adjust the size accordingly if you’re making much larger or smaller ghosts.)
4. Flatten the “egg” with your fist, and drop it into the corn-starched counter. Flip it once so both sides are corn starchy.
5. Roll it out so the diameter of the fondant is at least double the height of the cupcake it’s intended for. To avoid tearing, be careful not to roll it too thin—the fondant should never be thinner than a crepe.
6. Carefully place the fondant over the cupcake stack. Don’t get caught up in how precisely the fondant drapes. Samantha suggests, “Just let it fall where it falls.”
7. Using an edible marker or paintbrush and food coloring, draw on whatever facial features you’d like your ghost to have.
Ghosts will last for a few days without refrigeration. However, stick them in the fridge if you use cream cheese or any other additional ingredients that require cooler temps. Enjoy!
Samantha’s specialty is custom cake decorating, and she offers private baking classes as well as parties covering everything from muffins to fondant to pretzels. Check out Sweet Samantha’s website for information on ordering a cake or arranging an event: www.sweet-samantha.com
Cake photo provided by Sweet Samantha.
Rachel Bozek is a freelance writer and editor based in suburban Essex County. She grew up in Bergen County, and has lost track of how much time she’s spent on LBI and in the Wildwoods. Her search for the perfect pancake continues. www.rachelbozek.com