The Good, the Bad and the Tasty: A Comparison of Fondant Brands
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The opinions expressed here are those of the writer, and may not reflect the views of Craftsy or Sympoz, Inc.
It's a question I get asked every day, "What brand of fondant do you use?" And the answer is quite simply: all of them. But I use different brands for specific tasks and sometimes what I use depends on something as simple as the color I need, or what's available in the timeframe I have.
I've created the following comparison to give you my opinions on the pros and cons of each of the most popular brands, which I hope will allow you to make an informed choice when it comes to choosing fondant for your next project.
This is probably the most commonly used brand of fondant on the market in the United States. Endorsed by celebrity bakers and readily available, Satin Ice has earned its place in the cupboards of most cake decorators.
- Wide range of colors available.
- Available from Sur La Table stores (limited colors), Amazon (with free Prime shipping), and some independent cake decorating stores.
- Competitive price point, depending on where you buy. A 2lb pail is $11.95 from Sur La Table, $17.99 from Amazon, but can be as expensive as $25 if purchased locally.
- Available in small and large quantities (2lb to 20lb pails).
- Dries to a crisp, smooth shell on the outside of a cake.
- The novice decorator is more likely to experience tearing at the edges of a cake, especially if ganache is used. Very quick kneading, rolling and smoothing can lessen this likelihood.
- "Elephant skin" (wrinkled surface) may be experienced if you do not work quickly.
- Artificial chemical taste and smell.
- Tears more easily once kneaded with lots of food coloring.
Wilton fondant generally gets a bad rap, but I believe it's misunderstood. Wilton is seen as the "cheap and cheerful" cake decorating brand, and so the efficacy of its fondant is overlooked. I would never cover a cake in Wilton fondant, but I would not be without a box of every color in my pantry.
- Inexpensive. A 5lb box of white fondant can cost as little as $14 with a hobby store coupon.
- Wide range of colors available including smaller multi-packs, perfect for the hobby decorator.
- Perfect for figure modeling with no need to add stiffening products like Tylose powder.
- Rolls smoothly with few air bubbles, cuts without dragging and dries quickly making it the best choice for accents like bows, stripes, polka dots and lettering, and for use in molds.
- Readily available in all large hobby stores, at Amazon with free Prime shipping, and even in some local grocery stores like Safeway.
- Not really effective for covering cakes. Disintegrating and cracking can occur as the fondant dries so quickly.
- Artificial chemical taste.
Fondarific is a great choice for the novice baker. Its elasticity and softness makes it very forgiving for those still perfecting their cake-covering skills. Fondarific comes in many flavors and is definitely one of the tastiest fondants out there. Duff's fondant is actually Fondarific rebranded.
- Extremely soft and stretchy making it one of the easiest fondants to use to cover a cake for the novice.
- Very wide range of colors.
- Delicious fruit flavors, plus vanilla, chocolate and even cinnamon bun!
- Available in the major hobby stores rebranded as Duff, albeit with a premium price tag and fewer color options. Available from Amazon with free Prime shipping, and from some local independent outlets.
- Price point comparable with Satin Ice depending on retailer. A 2lb pail costs around $12 from Amazon, $25 as Duff brand.
- 8oz pails available in limited colour range if larger quantities are not needed.
- The soft fondant makes the finished cake very easy to damage.
- Fondarific can turn oily if is exposed to the sun when on the cake.
- Not really suitable for creating accents like bows, stripes, lettering etc, due to its softness.
- Develops an unpleasant taste if kept for too long.
For me, FondX is a step up from Fondarific in that it is quite easy to use but gives a more reliable, crisper finish. It is my colored fondant of choice. The difference between the standard FondX, the Elite and Elite Plus are ease of use, taste and, of course, price!
- Rolls thinly and rarely tears, even when used to cover a sharp-edged ganached cake.
- Widest color range of all fondant brands.
- Elite has delicious white chocolate flavor with hint of raspberry.
- Dries to a perfect crisp shell.
- Not available in nationwide hobby stores or from Amazon. Not readily available in local, independent cake decorating stores.
- More expensive than Satin Ice and Fondarific at $16 per 2lb pail and $18 for Elite. Shipping charges must be added. Some 'elephant skin' wrinkling may occur.
I am prepared to say that this is the best fondant you'll ever use. Even though the cons appear to outweigh the pros, that first pro is big enough to have me hooked on this brand.
- Incredibly easy to use. Rolls thinly and does not tear, pleat or wrinkle.
- Smooths to a perfect finish and dries to a crisp shell.
- Delicious, natural-tasting citrus flavor.
- Competitively priced, even with shipping costs added. You will pay anywhere between $4.30 and $7.50 per pound depending on whether you buy locally or have it shipped.
- Natural ingredients and does not include white dyes.
- Only available in white.
- Only available in 15lb pails.
- Not easy to find. Buy online or from wholesale-type outlets like Pacific Gourmet in San Francisco.
- I have experienced issues coloring this fondant with gel colors. It often does not yield the same results as you would expect when coloring a different brand. I now mix in other brands of ready-colored fondant to achieve the color I need and will only color to a pastel shade.
- The absence of the white dye means that dark chocolate ganache might show through if the fondant is too thinly rolled.
There is much to merit all five brands of fondant that I have compared here and decorators will swear by their own personal favorites. Craftsy instructor Marina Sousa uses Fondarific in her Advanced Fondant Techniques class, whereas Jessica Harris prefers a homemade recipe and uses this in her class Clean and Simple Cake Design.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do is try what's available and see what works for you, but I will say this: covering a cake is hard. If you're a novice, buying the most expensive and most elusive fondant won't suddenly turn you into a master cake decorator. It takes time, patience and practice. It took me well over a year to become confident in my cake-covering skills and even now you will still find strategically placed clouds and flowers disguising a less than perfect job.
I'd love to hear what's available in the country where you live, and if you have a favorite brand, let us know why you love it!
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