Fondant is a confection used as a filling or coating for cakes, pastries and candies or sweets. In its simplest form, it is sugar and water cooked to a point, specifically the soft-ball, cooled slightly, and stirred or beaten until it is an opaque mass of creamy consistency.
Fondant is commonly used to decorate wedding cakes. This gives the cakes a smooth appearance. Ref: Wikipedia.
I've recently begun making fondant. I had NO idea how easy it was until Teenie, cake artist from my cake supply store, suggested I try making it when they didn't have what I needed in stock. Had I known it was this simple, I might have tried it from the beginning. No, I take that back. Making a bad batch of fondant in the beginning may have ruined me on cake decorating forever.
I, like many others, started using store-bought fondant and there are such things as good and bad fondant. In my personal experience, these are my findings.
Wilton fondant, which can be found at Joann's, Michaels and seemingly every Walmart tastes HORRIBLE! But, it's not very expensive either, so I guess you get what you pay for. I made my very first cake using this brand, so for a starter, it's probably the safest route. They have a wide assortment of colors, but they come in very small packages, so it's near impossible to buy larger quantities in colors other than white. It's probably best used for figurines or small accents you wouldn't eat.
I purchased Satin Ice fondant after reading several threads on Cake Central (the BEST on-line cake community) about its quality. But, I lived in Colorado at the time and had to order it on-line. I first bought a 5 lb bucket for about $20, but it didn't last me very long. I then bought a 20 lb bucket and that cost me $95, including shipping. That stuff is pricey, but it's good! It's marshmellow-based and is the perfect consistency.
I've largely bought the SI in white, but since moving to Arizona, was able to find it in several different colors at my local cake supply store. My eyes were opened to the creative possibilities that didn't require a lot of elbow grease.
You see, using white and kneading in gel paste to color fondant is the common practice. But talk about carpal tunnel! Not to mention the mess. And kneading doesn't guarantee you'll get the color you want. It's near impossible to mix and get a true red, hot pink, black or brown. Those colors are best bought. Oooh, and for brown, SI makes a delicious chocolate fondant.
There are other brands of fondant, to include Fondx and Choco-pan, but I've yet to try them, and it's not likely that I ever will. For one, I've heard that they're that much more expensive than SI, and well, I've since started making my own.
Making this sugarpaste conconction can easily go downhill if not done properly. But all you need are three ingredients: 1-16oz bag of mini marshmellows, 2lbs (or one bag) of powdered sugar and 2 Tbsps water. It yields about 2 lbs. Yep, that's it. I couldn't believe it either. And it tastes soOOoo good. More often than not, people who eat fondant-decorated cakes peel off the fondant and enjoy the cake and generous layer of buttercream frosting, but this stuff is good enough to eat. Well, it's still fondant and I don't think anyone wants to eat that much sugar in one sitting, but it's damn good.
So, this ALL being said, making homemade marshmellow fondant (mmf) is my thing now when making me cakes.
Oh, and yes, I have ruined a batch. I think I overmelted my marshmellows and when I added the powdered sugar, it got super-crumbly and difficult to manage, so that got trashed, but hey, it only cost me $5.