It is with a sense of chagrin that I write this as I recently realized I never followed up on my Choco-Pan v. Satin Ice quandary. Not that I expect many of you were on the edge of your seat, anxiously awaiting my findings…but still. I shouldn’t leave loops open like this.
So here’s the background. When I first started baking anything close to fancy looking cakes (opposed to just fancy tasting), I experimented with fondant — primarily because my buttercream icing skills leave just about everything to be desired. Fondant is, first and foremost, sugar, water and corn syrup. It is a curious saccharine thing and hopelessly in-fashion among the cake world, initially popularized by the likes of Martha Stewart before spreading throughout the entire, predatory wedding industry. When most people taste it, it generally ranks up there with eating paste–assuming paste is still passé for those over 4. It’s all the more disappointing when you finally gnaw through the exquisitely decorated fondant to find, within, a sawdust cake-block smeared with a scant offering of flavored buttercream. But that’s a digression for another time.
First I tried, (and quickly abandoned) Wilton, as I dislike the taste of caulk. Sorry, Wilton. So, through recommendations and experimentation, I now toggle between Choco-Pan and Satin Ice. Let’s discuss:
It bills itself as a “white chocolate” fondant, and actually does taste a lot like white chocolate (which isn’t saying much in chocolate snobbery circles, but is worthwhile in this application). While the taste won’t eclipse what’s inside, it has a present taste. That is to say, it is not merely sweet, but also flavored and therefore has a stronger sweetness than other fondants. Put simply, it can set your teeth to rattling. But as a result, it happily lacks that chemical sweetener taste that accompanies other fondants, which I appreciate.
On the “white chocolate” front, a scan of the ingredients leaves me wondering where the “Choco” comes into the picture: sugar, corn syrup, vegetable shortening, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, nonfat milk powder, soy lecithin, monoglycerides, water, titanium dioxide and artificial flavor. I’m left with the impression that I could just flavor any fondant with white chocolate artificial flavor and get the same taste results, though I suppose the milk powder and shortening also plays into the milkfat flavor. It’s not so much made from white chocolate, as it’s made with things that also make white chocolate.
On the consistency front, it can be rolled out quite thin and, in able hands, transfers well to the cake without tears and stretch marks. Its mouth-feel is fairly smooth and it dissolves nicely without leaving much of a sweet coating behind. I find it dries rather quickly, which can work for you and against you. In terms of appearance, I’ve only used this fondant in Wedding White and then with my own coloring, but the end product has been a matte finish that looks very classy.
It’s decidedly (and perhaps refreshingly) less sweet than Choco-Pan, but the trade-off is that you can taste the starch. The ingredients are also more complex and alien: sugar, corn syrup, modified food starch, water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, artificial flavor, gum tragacanth, glycerine, acetic acid, potassium sorbate, titanium dioxide, cellulose gum, (and because I purchased red and black) food coloring. If you’re into organic, this will probably give you pause.
Much like Choco-Pan, the Satin Ice product is reflective of its name. Both in mouth-feel and in how it rolls out, this fondant has a slicker texture. Biting into it, it dissolves quickly from a fine grain to a slick paste that sticks with your teeth longer than Choco-Pan. Which sounds disgusting when I write it out, but it’s actaully a perfectly fine and edible process.
The rolled product also has a kind of sheen to it (although I was using intensely pre-colored versions, and therefore the comparison to my Choco-Pan experience is less reliable). It transfered easily to cover the cake, though I could not roll it out as thin without it stretching. The end product had a mostly matte finish, but there was a decidedly brighter look to the fondant and how it caught the light.
Which do I ultimately prefer? I’m still working on that one. The price has a small variable with a 2-lb. bucket of Choco-Pan costing about $2 more than with Satin Ice. But that’s less of a determinant for me than how the end product looks and tastes. When I settle on one (or if I unearth other favorites), I’ll be sure to let you know. Until then, I’ll be perusing Into The Oven for varieties (both in color and flavor) for the two fondants. Choco-Pan has a caramel flavor that I’m intrigued by, and the array of colors for satin Ice makes me want to do more kids’ birthday parties.
Until then, may your cake always rise and your soufflé never fall.