This homemade vegan fondant recipe includes agar-agar powder rather than traditional gelatin. It is wonderful to make fondant decorations or to cover vegan cakes. Try this version of fondant icing whenever you have a need to prepare desserts for a crowd or someone who leads a vegan lifestyle.
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Is Fondant Vegan Friendly?
Traditionally, fondant is not appropriate for vegans. However, THIS vegan fondant IS. The reason that vegans cannot usually have fondant is that it contains gelatin, which includes collagen from animal bones. The replacement for gelatin in this recipe is agar-agar powder, which results in something equally as good as the original but appropriate for both vegans and vegetarians.
Agar-agar powder is a powder that comes from red algae. As a result, it is perfectly appropriate for vegans or vegetarians to consume. Some believe that it may have originated in Japan, although several Asian cuisines use it in the present. Moreover, it has become a favourite tool for pastry chefs to create vegan-friendly desserts, such as mousse cakes.
Agar-agar powder isn’t as easy to find as powdered gelatin, but more and more stores are starting to carry it. While your local grocery store may not have it in stock, you should be able to find it at any natural food store or even online (agar agar on Amazon). I have managed to find it at Asian food stores. If all you can get are agar flakes, you can use a 1/2 tbsp rather than a 3/4 tsp of agar-agar powder.
Another reason that vegans can’t usually eat fondant is because of the powdered sugar – also called confectioners sugar or icing sugar. After doing a little bit of research, I found out that the 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.
After I received comments/emails regarding the glycerin in this recipe, I also learned that there are different types of glycerin, some of which come from animal fat. For this vegan fondant recipe be sure to use glycerin that is NOT animal-based and therefore suitable to use for vegans. Look for food grade vegetable glycerin.
How to Make Vegan Fondant
While you may think that making vegan fondant is complicated, it really isn’t. To start, you should sift your powdered sugar through a fine-mesh metal strainer into a bowl. This helps remove any clumps so that the icing sugar incorporates with the other ingredients easily.
Dissolving the Agar-agar Powder
Next, in a saucepan, stir the agar-agar powder with the cold water until it is dissolved, and allow to sit for about 10 minutes. During this time, the mixture will thicken and become a gelatinous consistency.
The next step is to heat the mixture over low heat to dissolve it back to a fluid consistency. You should heat the mixture slowly so that you don’t evaporate all of the water. It should take a total of 10 minutes or so for the agar-agar to completely dissolve, but don’t worry if there are still a few undissolved flakes around the edges.
Adding Glucose, Shortening, Glycerin, and Flavourings
At this point, you stir in your glucose and shortening until dissolved followed by the glycerin and your choice of flavouring. Most traditionally, you might want to add vanilla extract (use clear vanilla if you don’t want it to tint the fondant). These can help reduce the sweetness from the icing sugar.
Adding the Powdered Sugar
To complete the fondant, you place half of the powdered sugar in a separate bowl and make a well in its center. You don’t want to start with the full quantity of confectioners sugar as you may find that you won’t need all of it. Next, you pour the agar mixture into the well and stir the mixture to combine, adding more powdered sugar as needed.
You will know when you don’t need to add any more powdered sugar because the mixture will become quite stiff and difficult to stir. I find that 4 1/2 cups is the perfect amount usually, but quantities may vary depending on humidity levels, evaporation or measuring. At this point, you can remove the fondant to a clean surface and knead it until it reaches a smooth consistency before shaping it into a ball.
Storing Your Vegan Fondant
You can use the fondant straight away or store it for later use. If storing, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in a sealable bag to protect it from air that will dry out the fondant. Properly wrapped you can keep the fondant at room temperature for at least 1 month.
If you want to refrigerated it, be sure it also is wrapped completely airtight. Once you want to use it, the refrigerated fondant will have to come to room temperature and be kneaded well again to return to its soft and pliable consistency.
The Colour of Vegan Fondant
You may have noticed that the fondant is not pure white. That is alright for me as I like to colour it whenever I make fondant animals for cupcake toppers or cover my cakes.
The reason for the colour is organic icing sugar. As a result, if you can get away with traditional powdered sugar, you can use that and end up with pure white fondant. However, if you choose to use organic and need white fondant, you can add some white food colouring at the point that you add the flavourings or knead it in at the end.
Original Photos from 2011
More Vegan Dessert Recipes
- Easy Chocolate Mousse
- Coconut Flour Cookies (they work great with flax egg substitute)
- Vegan Coconut Caramel Sauce
Vegan Fondant Recipe
- 3/4 tsp agar agar powder
- 1/8 cup cold water
- 1/4 cup glucose I use light corn syrup
- 1 tbsp vegetable shortening
- 1/2 tablespoon glycerin vegetable-based
- 1 lb (4 cups) vegan powdered sugar + a little extra
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or other flavoring extracts (use clear extracts if you need white fondant)
Start by sifting the powdered sugar into a bowl through a large metal strainer. Stirring the confectioners sugar with a spoon is a lot less messy than shaking the strainer or tapping it against your hand. This breaks up any lumps and the icing sugar is nice and airy. This will make kneading later on easier and you will avoid having 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 off 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.
Put half of the sifted powdered 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 powdered 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.