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Although fondant and marzipan are both used in cake decoration and candy making, they have distinct differences. Of the two types of fondant, rolled and poured, rolled is used in cake decorating for professional, sleek-looking cakes, whereas poured may be used as candy coatings or shaped into candies itself. Marzipan is versatile enough to be used for cake coating and candies. Fondant and marzipan both contain large amounts of confectioner's sugar, but marzipan's main base is almond paste, so it has a stronger flavor than fondant.
Both rolled and poured fondant use confectioner's sugar and light corn syrup, but poured uses a melted confectionery coating or white chocolate chips whereas rolled uses a gelatin or shortening. Rolled fondant results in a pliable substance that can be rolled out and placed over iced cakes for a sleek, even look or cut and shaped into decorations. Poured fondant is a thick, but quick-drying, liquid mixture which can be poured over candies or desserts or into molds to make candies.
To make rolled fondant, the shortening is mixed with the syrup, then the vanilla and salt are added. The fondant is mixed into a dough and then rolled into sheets to place over cakes. Poured fondant is created by stirring sugar and syrup together with water and then adding a melted coating or chocolate and other flavorings. The mixture then must be poured over candies or into forms before it hardens.
Marzipan is made with almond paste as well as confectioner's sugar and corn syrup. Since marzipan contains a large amount of almond paste, it has a stronger, nuttier flavor than fondant. It has a soft, clay-like texture and so can be rolled out or shaped into candies. There are two main difference between poured fondant and marzipan, however. Poured fondant needs a form to shape it into candies whereas marzipan can be worked into a shape like clay, and marzipan is too thick to be poured as a coating.
Despite the fact that both rolled fondant and marzipan can be rolled out to cover cakes, only marzipan can also be shaped into candies. Although both fondant and marzipan are naturally white, food coloring can be added to either. Overall, marzipan is more versatile, able to accomplish alone what two types of fondant can.