If you’re wondering what the ideal icing sheet for a cake is, wonder no more. We’ve compared marzipan and fondant and figures the pros and cons of each. Both are popular cake covers, with marzipan being preferred in Europe and fondant in America.
Sill, you may be wondering which is better. Or what the main differences are between the two in terms of flavor, texture, and maneuverability. Read on to find out !
Marzipan vs fondant
Marzipan has a stronger flavor compared to fondant, and it may trigger those with nut allergies. If color is important for your cake, then fondant will show bring, smooth colors much better than marzipan, which comes in a creamy yellow base color because of the almonds.
In terms of texture, fondant is much smoother while fondant can be gritty in many recipes. IF you’re making a smooth finish cake and are looking for sharp corners than fondant is the way to go.
Marzipan is really a hit-or-miss since the version you get really affects how well it will behave on a cake, and how much it can stretch. There are more differences between marzipan and fondant, and we’ll discuss them in greater detail in the following section.
Keep in mind that this post focuses in fondant and marzipan for icing, not poured fondant for fillings or almond paste.
1. Marzipan is almond-based, fondant uses sugar
Ingredients are key when it comes to simple items, and for fondant and marzipan the ingredient list is very short.
Marzipan is made of crushed, blanched almonds that have been ground into almond flour, and mixed with corn sugar or sugar until a thick paste is formed. Traditionally egg whites are added to keep everything together, but different recipes use different binders. If you’re buying from the store, the binder is likely sorbitol (glucose derivate).
Read also: Ganache VS Frosting
There are different marzipan recipes, some swapping almonds for peanuts or peach stones or even soy paste. The bottom line is that marzipan is nut-based, usually almond, and this is definitely something to take into account if you’ve got a nut allergy.
Fondant on the other hand is made much like hard candy, by stretching and aerating a sugar and corn syrup mixture until it turns bright, opaque white. This makes the ingredient list amazingly short, but it also means it’s very sweet.
2. Fondant is plain but may please more people
Since fondant is made entirely of sugar and corn syrup it has no real flavor. It can be flavored, and this will give it a nice tinge that will take it from very sweet and flat to possibly great. Still, it’s the icing that will upset the least amount of people since it’s so neutral. It also means it can go with pretty much any flavor, since it won’t clash with anything.
Marzipan brings a noticeable nutty note, and in some cases may even bring a strong almond note that will influence the cake flavor. It all depends on how the marzipan is made and whether you’re into that or not. For example a marzipan cake with fruity flavor won’t work as well as a vanilla or chocolate one.
3. Marzipan is hard to get pure white
If color is really important for your cake, then you should know that marzipan is really hard to get to t bright, smooth, consistent color. The trouble is that the almond flour cannot soak color as well as fondant, so it will show muted colors.
Marzipan works great for earthy colors, or warm colors that don’t need to be very bright. It will show some really nice texture and slight color variation, since it’s not perfectly smooth.
Fondant is very different, as it’s smooth and soaks up color. Whatever color you want, it will give you. If you’re looking for bright white, it can get you there. This also means you should have a light hand when adding food coloring, since a little goes a long way.
4. Fondant can dry out faster than marzipan
Very important to remember: fondant dries out fast ! You really need to add a moist layer right under the fondant to keep it from getting dry and rubbery, which can completely ruin a cake.
It also means that when using fondant as an icing it shouldn’t be done too far in advance, otherwise it will draw moisture from the cake itself and you’re left with an odd texture in the layers.
Marzipan keeps moisture a little better, so remember that when you’re thinking about which to use.
5. Marzipan does not stretch as much as fondant
It’s very different to work with marzipan than with fondant. If all you’ve ever used was fondant, then you may be used to stretching and thinning it out and then draping it over the cake. Well unfortunately marzipan doesn’t work the exact same way, and it won’t really be stretchy.
It’s a lot more static and may break easier. Marzipan is easier to get onto a cake if you cut circles and sides and place them on the cake like that. This way you can even get the marzipan in a thin layer, if you or whomever is eating the cake don’t want an very strong nutty, almond flavor.
Marzipan is much better suited to sculpting and shaping, while fondant is much better as a sheet covering.
6. Fondant has a smooth texture, marzipan may be gritty
If texture is important then you should know that fondant tends to be very smooth and is much easier to smooth out any air bubbles. It can give you a sharp edge if that’s what you’re looking for. And if you paint it with edible gold sheen it will look bright and smooth.
Marzipan has a slightly gritty texture, because it’s made from ground almonds, No matter how much you grind and mix them, they will always be larger and grittier than the smooth sugar fondant.
But that’s okay, because a rustic cake or one that wants to step away from a classic cake look will definitely look great with a textured finish.
Both fondant and marzipan are good for shaping
In the end. both fondant and marzipan are great for covering a cake and making figurines out of them. They will hold whatever shape you give them fairly well.
You can make from both flowers, bows, shapes, braids, whatever you need to add onto a cake. They won’t dry out and be as sturdy as gum paste, but they can work in a pinch.
Both need something moist to keep it sticking to cake
Both of these will need something to stick to if you’re expecting them to sit on your cake. For fondant the most common layer is buttercream, as it’s the default filling for pretty much any cake.
For marzipan the default sticky layer is apricot jam, and this is where things get messy and different. You see, fondant gets that sharp edge from the firmed up buttercream. With marzipan, you’re left with whatever shape the cake leaves you with. Apricot jam is thin, and is only there to stick to the cake, not provide extra body.
Apricot jam substitutes in marzipan
There are substitutes to apricot jam if you dislike it. Apricots are traditional here, mostly because they’re in the same family and flavor range as almonds. So you could swap apricots for cherry, apple, peach, nectarine. Or you can go further and use a berry jam !
If you’re not looking for a fruity flavor, you can also try buttercream or a thick ganache. Both will be sticky enough for marzipan to stick, but we won’t guarantee it will work just as well as a jam spread.
The thing is that the jam provides a whole lot of moisture to the cake and the marzipan. Buttercream and ganache keep that moisture to themselves, and the marzipan may have trouble sticking properly.
Read Also: Butterscotch VS Toffee
You could try using a mix of fondant and marzipan
If you’re still not decide on which to use for your cakes, then we recommend using both in a trial cake. Cover one side with fondant, and another with marzipan. This way you can compare the two and get maybe get second opinion from having friends try the cake themselves.
Or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, you could try kneading marzipan and fondant together to form a sheet that’s easier to work with. The texture will be interesting, since it won’t be smooth but it don’t be very gritty either. It won’t be consistently almonds, but will have more than a few fleck of them.
Who knows, maybe such a combination would stick to the cake better ?