Jun 10, 2010

The Great Fondant Debate

By: Amy Atlas, in Ask Amy

{All cupcakes above are from Amy Atlas’s dessert bars.}

Everytime I meet with a client, I hold my breath because I know the discussion is coming. Usually it’s a battle rather than a discussion. The debate of buttercream vs. fondant. Every client wants buttercream because they have all had a bad experience with the tasteless and often rubbery texture of fondant. We’ve all had that experience, right? Having styled both buttercream and fondant cakes and cupcakes more times than I can count, I always breathe a sigh of relief when my client picks fondant. I know I’ll gain some criticism for this, but I’m sticking to it. Many don’t realize it, but good bakers will use better tasting fondant like Fondarific, a company that makes vanilla, chocolate, and fruit flavored fondant. Now don’t misunderstand me…I adore buttercream. I make buttercream cupcakes all the time with my kids. I’ll serve buttercream cakes when I’m entertaining in my home. I’m also not saying that fondant tastes better than buttercream. But if the cakes are being transported in any way, you can bet I’m going to lobby for fondant.

Here’s a few reasons why…
(1) Buttercream in the summer is a nightmare. I mean a real nightmare. No matter how much the buttercream is set, it instantly loses it’s shape when exposed to heat. If you are transporting anything with buttercream, it makes it that much worse.
(2) Everything sticks to buttercream. Once, we were serving buttercream cupcakes and somehow black sweater hair made its way onto the precious vanilla buttercream cupcakes we were serving. That was an interesting lesson in troubleshooting. Thankfully, we had lots of other treats to serve.
(3) As I discussed here, all of the adorable cupcake wrappers that are on the market now are better suited for fondant cupcakes. Often buttercream will leave cupcake wrappers looking greasy and messy.
(4) We have more flexibility in incorporating our design onto fondant. Take a look above at a few examples of designed fondant cupcakes we’ve used on our dessert bars {I limited it to cupcakes for this post, I’ll save the pictures of fondant cakes for another post}.

If you’re a huge buttercream lover and can’t be convinced to go with fondant, then try these tips…
(1) Refrigerate your cake/cupcakes so the buttercream is very cold.
(2) Limit the amount of time your buttercream is exposed to heat. Time it very carefully.
(3) Stay away from the dressing up buttercream with cupcake wrappers until lined wrappers hit the market (hint, hint to my cupcake wrapper manufacturer friends).
(4) Use fondant sparingly and incorporate buttercream in places where it won’t get messy or melt. For example, place a fondant chip over a small dollop of buttercream on your cupcakes. Alternatively, infuse buttercream into the center of your cake/cupcakes with a bismarck tip.
(5) Ice the cake or cupcakes on site, if possible.

I hope this insight is helpful for all of you bakers, stylists, and planners!

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