Both marzipan and fondant have been the tools of confectionery artists for more than two centuries, but the sugary creations differ in their ingredients and the way in which they are used.
Marzipan is made primarily from ground almonds and sugar. Although similar to almond paste, it has a higher sugar content. It is naturally cream colored.
Fondant is made with sugar, water and a stabilizer such as gelatin or cream of tartar. It is cooked to the soft ball stage in candy processing, then kneaded to a smooth and pliable consistency. Initially white, it is often tinted with food coloring for various decorating purposes.
Both marzipan and fondant are easily shaped and rolled, so both are used to create three-dimensional cake decorations. However, fondant is frequently used in place of icing to completely drape a cake with a smooth shell. Lisa Smith, owner of Ann's Cake Pan in Horsham, Pennsylvania, uses fondant to create ribbons, flowers and unique decorations for her cakes because the mild flavor complements the cake. Because of the intense almond flavor of marzipan, it is eaten most often as a candy. Especially popular in Europe, it is molded into decorative fruit, animals or people and colorfully painted.
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