The first (and only) time I made fondant was when Rose's Heavenly Bakers made a Chocolate Pinecone Cake. It was extremely traumatic. Since that day, Jim and I have referred to fondant as "frickin' fondant." Putting together this cake was somewhat less traumatic, if only because I had a better idea what to expect, but the truth is that I really don't like the taste of fondant, and I don't think it's as lovely as a smooth, expertly swirled buttercream, and definitely not as tasty. But I loved the way the luster dust turned the "pearls" an iridescent pink, even though my pearls were rather lumpish looking.
Would I make it again? No. In fact, my biggest concern was that my daughter would decide that the cake would be perfect for my granddaughter's first birthday. A pink cake, topped with 12 pink pearls, one pearl for each of her first 12 months of life. No worries, as it turned out. When I showed her the cake, her reaction was, "Mom, that's hideous!" She's not one for artificially boosting one's self-esteem.
Why do I say I wouldn't make it again? Well, first there's the frickin fondant: a multi-step process fraught with possibilities of major errors. You can see that I waited to long to do the final mixing of the white chocolate plastique, and so there are still many bits of unmelted white chocolate. I was able to knead most, but not all, of these pieces out, and I carefully picked out other pieces, but the fondant never got perfectly smooth. And isn't that the whole point of fondant?
Second, it was a pain to acquire all the ingredients. I don't keep glucose or glycerine on hand, and I'd long since tossed out the stuff I bought for the pinecone cake. (Woody told me I needn't have thrown it out--it keeps forever, he says, but surely there's a time limit even for "forever.") And I forgot to get the strawberry butter, which I would have had to order for $10 a jar, plus shipping.
The cake itself was easy to make, and the only thing that you might not have on hand is red food coloring, but I had some left over from the last Red Velvet Rose Cake I made. As you can see, I baked it in a round pan instead of a heart pan because I foresaw difficulties shaping the fondant over the heart-shaped pan. I wish I were as good at cake decorating as I am at foreseeing difficulties in making cakes.
The mousseline was kind of touchy. Beating the high-fat butter? No problem.
Whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks? No problem.
The sugar syrup? Now that was a problem. Fortunately, Rose, in this nine-page recipe, foresees the possible difficulties as well as you do, and gives you the tools to solve them. My last pour of sugar syrup was rock-like when I tried to add it. I threw the rock into the egg whites, hoping that the problem would somehow right itself when I mixed the meringue into the butter. Not surprisingly, mousseline has no auto-correct. So I fished the sugar rock out, microwaved it, and then put the bowl of mousseline in an ice water bath, just as Rose told me to do in the first place.
It actually ended up to be pretty good, although there were small bits of jelly that weren't quite incorporated (no jars of tart strawberry butter to be had in any of the places I looked).
The moment of truth. Actually the second moment. It fell apart at the first one, leading Jim to remind me about frickin fondant. You can see how pock-marked the fondant looked.
How sad that my Pink Pearl Lady Cake is suffering from a bad case of acne! Oh well. I can always cover the worst pocks with the pink pearls.
Jim was reading the instructions. "How big are the pearls supposed to be?" "1/3 to 1/2-inch balls," he said. "No, no. How much should they weigh?" "It doesn't say." Doesn't say? How can they all be the same size if I can't weigh them? I decided on 3.5 grams, which, as I look at the cake, seem a little too large. I should have made them 3 grams.
I love how my fingers turned all sparkly and pink! There must be some occasion that would call for me to rub the luster dust onto my face so I'd have a pink and sparkly face. I can't think of what that occasion might be, but it must exist! The pearls stuck to the fondant pretty well, but they lost a little of their roundness as I attached them. Luckily for me, I knew before I started this cake that there was no hope of perfection.
Aargh! My words when I saw that I'd forgotten to use my fondant spreader. I was thrilled when I found this fondant spreader in a box of miscellaneous stuff that I'd never used. Woody must have given it to me because I'm positive that a fondant spreader is not something that I would 1) run into or 2) think that I needed. I was Jonesing to try my newly-discovered fondant spreader, and I had it on the counter, but then forgot to use it. Now I'll never know what it might have done.
This was the dessert for our makeshift family Super Bowl party. Can you think of a dessert that's less appropriate for the Super Bowl? I brought JJ a chocolate chip cookie because I figured he'd be suspicious of this cake. "It looks kinda weird, Lulu," was his reaction. Does no one care about my feelings? He did eat a pearl, though, and said it was pretty good.
The unanimous verdict was that the cake and the mousseline filling were very good. I took a bite of the fondant and decided that I'd rather have two slices of cake without fondant than one piece with fondant. The white chocolate gave it richness and flavor that a plain fondant wouldn't have, but it wasn't enough to turn me into a fondant fan. The luster dust, though--that's a different story.