I’ve never made fondant before. Let’s just get that out in the open. Honestly, even though I am a “food professional,” the thought of making fondant seems overly complicated and time-consuming. Plus, when I think of fondant, I think of the stuff you can buy in craft stores. Let’s face it, that stuff doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor. So when this Carrot Cake was developed in the Test Kitchens, I was a bit reluctant to try it. “But it’s made with butter!” said the recipe developer. That sounds better than the shelf-stable fondant, but I still wasn’t convinced. “It’s made with marshmallows, too!” she said. Okay, I like marshmallows. A lot. “It has cream cheese frosting underneath!” she continued. Alright, I was going to try it. And to my surprise? Wow! It tasted great. But then came even more skepticism from the back of my brain.
“It must be hard to make,” I said. Then she went on to explain that all you do is microwave marshmallows and water, add butter and powdered sugar, and that’s it. I was completely taken aback. Everything I had assumed about fondant was wrong. Plus, this cake is too adorable not to make. I decided I’d give it a whirl to see if it really was as easy as she said.
Let’s start with the simple ingredients you’ll need for the fondant.
Combine the marshmallows with 1 tablespoon of water, and microwave. Stir the marshmallow mixture every 30 seconds (roughly 1 ½ minutes) or until it’s melted and smooth. Add the powdered sugar to the melted marshmallows…
…and then butter your hands. It’s like a spa treatment…or something.
Work a half stick of softened butter into the marshmallow and powdered sugar using your buttered hands.
This is what you’ll end up with. Magic!
Now, remove 1/3 of the fondant and tint it with green food color gel.
Work it in gently. I found it was best to use gloves while doing this so my hands didn’t turn a shade of alien green.
This will make the stems of your carrot cakes.
Do the same with the remaining fondant, only using orange food color.
Now, break off a small piece of the green fondant and place it into a garlic press. This will make the “fronds” of the carrots.
The trick is to keep feeding small pieces through the press to make one long strand.
Now, onto the cake. Mix the dry ingredients together, then stir in the shredded carrots. You want to use fresh carrots for the best flavor – none of the pre-shredded matchstick kind.
Combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl and mix.
Then, stir the wet ingredients into the dry and add the pecans.
Pour the cake batter into a greased 9x5-inch loaf pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely. While it’s cooling, make the cream cheese frosting.
When completely cooled, place the cake on a cutting board and put a toothpick at the very top, center point on the cake. Make a cut diagonally from the top of the cake to the bottom corner, like this:
Then do the same on the other side. You’ll end up with three pieces like this:
The two outer pieces will go together to form a carrot shape, so you’ll have two cakes. (I’ll just be showing how to decorate one).
Place the cake on a platter and frost it with half of the prepared frosting:
Now it’s the orange fondant’s time to shine. Roll half of the fondant out to a trapezoid measuring 11 inches long, 9 inches wide at the bottom, and 5 inches wide at the top:
Drape the rolled fondant over one of the cakes…
…and gently press around the edges to adhere.
Use a sharp knife or pastry cutter to trim the edges.
And there you have it! Almost done.
Now it’s time to attach the greenery on top. Press the fronds into the top of the carrot firmly.
Use either a butter knife or the fluted pastry tool to create ridges in the carrot.
How adorable is that? This Carrot Cake is sure to be a hit at your next spring celebration.
Give it a try and let us know what you think!