I was recently asked to make a cupcake tower for a wedding where half of the cupcakes had to be suitable for vegans. After a few trial and errors, I figured out a recipe for vegan chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with frostings in the same flavors.
But the wedding cupcakes were supposed to be decorated as well, so I needed a vegan fondant recipe.
The main reason why most other home-made fondant recipes cannot be considered vegan is because they contain gelatin or marshmallows as thickeners. One vegan alternative is agar agar.
I bought this agar agar powder at the Asian food store. If all you can get are agar flakes use 1/2 tbsp and you will probably need less than 4 cups of icing sugar.
After doing a little bit of research, I found out that the (icing) sugar brands available to me at the major grocery stores use bone char (charcoal from animal bones) in the refining process. For this reason I buy organic icing sugar for vegan baking from Wholesome Sweeteners, which is also certified vegan.
UPDATE: I received comments/emails regarding the glycerin used in this recipe. I learnt that there are different types of glycerin, some of which are derived from animal fat. The type I am using (Wilton glycerin) is NOT animal-based and therefore suitable to use for vegans. So definitely do your research on the type of glycerin you are using.
- Start by sifting the icing sugar into a bowl through a large metal strainer. Stirring the icing sugar with a spoon is a lot less messy than shaking the strainer or tapping it against your hand. You can see how all the big lumps are broken up and the icing sugar is nice and airy. This will make kneading later on easier and you will avoid having icing sugar lumps in the fondant.
- Mix the agar powder with water in a small saucepan and let it soak for a while. It will become of a thicker, gelatinous consistency. After about 10 minutes place the saucepan on the stove top on low heat. The goal is to dissolve the agar mixture. This has to be done slowly. (Otherwise the water will simply evaporate and agar speckles are left in the bottom of the pan.) Stir constantly and add more water by the tablespoon as needed so the mixture doesn't dry out.
- When you see that all the agar powder is dissolved (it will take probably around 10 minutes) take the pan from the heat. Some grains that were stuck to the side of my pan didn't dissolve, but I didn't worry about those. Now, add the glucose/corn syrup and shortening. Stir the mixture until all of the shortening dissolves. Stir in glycerin and flavoring. I used some butter-vanilla emulsions and lemon extract to cut the sweetness of all the icing sugar.
- Put half of the sifted icing sugar into another bowl. Make a well and pour in the agar mixture. Stir together with a spatula as much as possible adding more icing sugar when needed. When you can't stir anymore start kneading in the icing sugar as needed by hand. It takes me usually almost 4.5 cups icing sugar to get the right fondant consistency. Form the fondant into a ball.
- If you are not using it right away wrap in plastic wrap and place in a ziploc bag. Refrigeration is not required and not recommended for this fondant.
- The finished fondant should be sufficient to cover a 8"x4" or a 10"x3" round cake.
You may have noticed that the fondant is not pure white. That is alright for me as I am going to color it anyway to make fondant animals.
I figured out that the reason for the off-white color is the organic icing sugar. When I made the same recipe substituting my regular icing sugar, then the fondant was white.
Therefore, if you need white vegan fondant, say for a wedding cake, knead in white food color into the finished batch or better yet, add it at the same time with the flavoring.
I hope you enjoyed this short tutorial. Drop me a line if you did or share your results via a comment below.
And – as I mentioned above already – if you are a vegan dessert lover or simply want more vegan cake recipes in your arsenal, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Claire’s vegan dessert cookbook.
Personal Note: What I love so much about it is that she developed vegan versions of many popular desserts like classic white layer cake, frosted chocolate cupcakes, to chocolate chip cookies, apple pie and even cheese cake.
It is an e-book in PDF format, so you can instantly read all of the mouth-watering recipes right from your computer, smartphone, iPad or any other reading device.