Archive for August, 2015

Goodbye and Sugar-Free Celebration Cakes

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

So this is my final post. I’m hanging up my apron!

I have been making cakes for almost 20 years. My littlest boy is starting school in September so I’ve decided it’s time for a career change. This website will still be here but I am saying goodbye!

But before I go….

In the last few years I have received a lot of emails asking for advice about making sugar-free celebration cakes so I thought I would share some recipes and ideas with you.

This information is not about healthy eating. This is for people who want to cut or reduce sugar from their diet but still want to enjoy celebrations with everyone else or have a special treat now and again. Some people have been able to embrace a sugar free diet and adapt their life easily. Other people find it a bit of a struggle. Everyone wants something sweet to eat now and again. These recipes are not meant for everyday eating!

Some people prefer to use natural sugars instead of sucrose in their cooking. These do still contain a lot of sugar and will rot your teeth if eaten too much.

Honey, agave syrup, coconut sugar, date syrup and sweeteners made from fruit such as Sweet Freedom are all natural sugars which work well in baking recipes. Maple syrup is not very sweet when combined with other ingredients so you may use more than intended to sweeten a dish.

Some recipes call for concentrated fruit juice. I think this is expensive, can be difficult to find and I think one of the other natural sugars I have mentioned can be used just as successfully!

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I have been using Sweet Freedom sweeteners for baking and find they work really well in many recipes including sponges – the texture may be slightly different in some recipes.

I have been working with 2 natural sweeteners called xylitol and erythritol. These come in a granular form which looks identical to sugar and can be found in supermarkets and whole food stores. Sugar can be substituted like for like with xylitol or erythritol in many baking recipes.

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In the UK erythritol can be found as Sukrin. This is a sugar alcohol with 0 calories. More information about this product can be found here.

More information about xylitol can be found here. Xylitol is sold in most supermarkets in the UK as Total Sweet. Eating too much xylitol can give you a stomach upset. Some of the recipe’s require the xylitol to be finely ground. A high speed blender is the best tool for this, if you can beg, borrow or steal a Thermomix, this would be perfect!

If you are cutting sugar from your diet, you can gradually reduce the amount of sugar or natural sweetener in a recipe as your taste buds become accustomed to less sugar. Baking recipes can work with up to a third less sugar.

I have put together sugar-free recipes useful for making celebration cakes. They are on separate blogs which you can get to through the following links.

Sugar-free jam 

Sugar-free marzipan 

Healthier fruit cake

Sugar-free buttercream 

Sugar-free royal icing 

Sugar-free fondant icing 

Sugar-free marshmallow ice cream cone

Sugar-free celebration cake ideas

When making sugar-free celebration cakes, you could make the filling sugar-free and decorate this with normal fondant and take this off before eating the sponge.

Decoration on your cake could be made with sugar if this is not going to be eaten. Sugar decorations can keep for years. If you do not want to use sugar, there are non-toxic modelling clays available – porcelain modelling clay and Artista soft are two. Some modelling clays may not be able to sit directly on your cake. Artista soft will need to sit on a card or piece of rice paper.

Croquembouche – dip the choux buns in sugar-free chocolate before stacking.

I love this one found on www.blumenthalphotography.com.au

 

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Naked cakes have been really popular in the last couple of years. Substitute the sugar for xylitol in the sponge and buttercream.

This cake is from www.cakeandlaceweddings.co.uk

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Cakes covered with sugar-free chocolate ganache. Cover the cakes with a thin layer of sugar-free marzipan to give a smooth finish before pouring over the chocolate ganache. This is one of my cakes found in my book – Gluten-, Nut-, Egg- & Dairy-free Celebration Cakes.

cake

Buttercream cakes have also been popular in the last few years. Some amazing designs can be found at www.queenofheartscouturecakes.com  They also have a great book called The Contemporary Buttercream Bible.
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I really like this as a sugar-free cake idea. www.nouveauraw.com

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A homemade sugar-free Easter egg would make a really thoughtful present. Find out how to make this at www.bbcgoodfood.com

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No added Sugar Jam or Fruit Spread

Friday, August 14th, 2015

For your sugar-free cakes you will probably want sugar-free jam or technically lower-sugar jam. It couldn’t be sugar-free as fruit contains natural sugars!

If I was using this jam to fill a celebration cake, I would only fill and decorate the cake two days before eating at the most in case the fruit spread goes mouldy. I have kept a cake with fruit spread for over a week and it hasn’t gone mouldy but it could happen.

Store this fruit spread in a fridge for one week or it can be frozen in batches.

If your fruit spread has a high PH, it can be pausteurised or canned. You can test the PH with litmus paper. Sterilise your jars before filling with the fruit spread before canning.

For more information on canning, see here.

Adding sweet cicely to the fruit when boiling will reduce the acidity so you will not need to add as much sweetener to your recipe. Bring the fruit to the boil with the sweet cicely. When the fruit is soft, remove the sweet cicely before proceeding with the recipe.

Always make sugar free jam in small batches in a large saucepan for best results. These jam recipes work a little differently to traditional methods. They are more like a thick fruit spread. The flavour is amazing, you can really taste the fruit.

Raspberry Fruit Spread
Makes 1 jar

400g raspberries, fresh or frozen
100 – 200g xylitol (for refined sugar free I use Sweet freedom)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
60ml Certo pectin

Wash a jam jar in hot soapy water, rinse and dry. Place in an oven on a low heat for 10 minutes while making your jam.
Put a small plate in the freezer.
Place the raspberries in a large saucepan with the lemon juice.

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Bring the fruit to the boil.

Mash or liquidise the fruit. Strain for a smooth jam.

Sweeten to taste with xylitol or other sweetener of choice. Remember the jam will lose some sweetness when cold.

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Add the liquid pectin and stir to the boil.
Simmer until thick, stirring occasionally. It should be ready when you put the spoon through the mixture and it takes a couple of seconds for it to come back together. The temperature will not reach 104°c. Test by putting a spoonful onto your frozen plate. The jam should thicken more.

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Pour into a sterilised jar leaving a tiny space at the top. Too much space will allow mould to grow. Screw on the lid. Kept like this, use the jam within one week.

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To keep for up to one year, see instructions on pasteurising or canning.

Blackcurrant Fruit Spread
Makes 1 jar

400g blackcurrants
2 tablespoons lemon juice
75ml Certo pectin
100 – 200g xylitol (for refined sugar free I use Sweet freedom)

Wash a jam jar in hot soapy water, rinse and dry. Place in an oven on a low heat for 10 minutes while making your jam.
Put a plate in the freezer.
Place the blackcurrants in a large saucepan with a drop of water, sweet cicely and lemon juice.
Bring the fruit to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Mash or liquidise the fruit.
Sweeten to taste with xylitol. Remember the jam will lose some sweetness when cold.
Add the liquid pectin and stir to the boil.
Simmer until thick, stirring occasionally. It should be ready when you put the spoon through the mixture and it takes a couple of seconds for it to come back together. The temperature will not reach 104°c. Test by putting a spoonful onto your frozen plate. The jam should thicken more.
Pour into a sterilised jar leaving a tiny space at the top. Too much space will allow mould to grow. Screw on the lid. Kept like this, use the jam within one week.

To keep for up to one year, see instructions on pasteurising or canning.

Gooseberry fruit spread

The sweet cicely in this recipe will reduce the acidity of the fruit reducing the amount of sugar needed.

400g gooseberries, topped and tailed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 sprigs sweet cicely
40ml Certo pectin
100 – 200g xylitol (for refined sugar free I use Sweet freedom)
Wash a jam jar in hot soapy water, rinse and dry. Place in an oven on a low heat for 10 minutes while making your jam.
Put a plate in the freezer.
Place the gooseberries in a large saucepan with a drop of water, sweet cicely and lemon juice.
Bring the fruit to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Take out the sweet cicely and mash or liquidise the fruit.
Sweeten to taste with xylitol. Remember the jam will lose some sweetness when cold.
Add the liquid pectin and stir to the boil.
Simmer until thick, stirring occasionally. It should be ready when you put the spoon through the mixture and it takes a couple of seconds for it to come back together. The temperature will not reach 104°c. Test by putting a spoonful onto your frozen plate. The jam should thicken more.
Pour into a sterilised jar leaving a tiny space at the top. Too much space will allow mould to grow. Screw on the lid. Kept like this, use the jam within one week.

To keep for up to one year, see instructions on pasteurising or canning.

Sugar-free, Egg-free Marzipan

Friday, August 14th, 2015

Try marzipan as an alternative to fondant icing or buttercream to cover and decorate a celebration cake.

If you make your own marzipan, you could substitute the sugar in the recipe for xylitol or erythritol to make it sugar-free.

Why not use a layer of marzipan between the layers of a cake instead of buttercream.

This information is not about healthy eating. This is for people who want to cut or reduce sugar from their diet but still want to enjoy celebrations with everyone else or have a special treat now and again. Some people have been able to embrace a sugar free diet and adapt their life easily. Other people find it a bit of a struggle. Everyone wants something sweet to eat now and again. These recipes are not meant for everyday eating!

I have been working with 2 natural sweeteners called xylitol and erythritol. These come in a granular form which looks identical to sugar and can be found in supermarkets and whole food stores. Sugar can be substituted like for like with xylitol or erythritol in many baking recipes. If you are cutting sugar from your diet, you can gradually reduce the amount of sugar or sweetener in a recipe as your taste buds become accustomed to less sugar. Baking recipes can work with up to a third less sugar.

In the UK erythritol can be found as Sukrin. This is a sugar alcohol with 0 calories. More information about this product can be found here.

More information about xylitol can be found here. Xylitol is sold in most supermarkets in the UK as Total Sweet. Eating too much xylitol can give you a stomach upset. This recipe requires the xylitol to be finely ground. A high speed blender is the best tool for this, if you can beg, borrow or steal a Thermomix, this would be perfect!

Recipe – to cover an 8 inch round cake.

400g ground almonds
400g powdered xylitol or SukrinMelis
40ml glycerine
20ml lemon juice
almond extract, to taste
40ml cooled boiled water

Mix the ground almonds with the powdered xylitol.

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Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together.

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Knead together and place in an airtight freezer bag until required.

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This marzipan will not mould round shapes. To cover a cake – roll out the marzipan dusting the worktop with powdered xylitol as you go. Cut a piece slightly larger than the top. Lay on top and smooth over.

Cut strips and stick to the sides of the cake. Smooth the joins to blend together.

vegan cherry cake

 

Why not try this recipe using other nuts for a different flavour!

A quick and simple marzipan recipe using unrefined sugar.

400g ground almonds
400g agave syrup
almond extract, to taste

Mix the ingredients together in a large saucepan.
Place on a low heat and stir together until it forms a smooth shiny dough.

Agave syrup can be added to sugar-free chocolate to make a modelling chocolate too.

Healthier Fruit Cake

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

I am sure you know that dried fruit contains a lot of sugar!

I’ve adapted a fruit cake recipe to make it a little healthier. This uses natural sugars but you can substitute these with xylitol if you prefer. Some dried fruit contains more sugar than others so using fruit with less sugar would be better.

Adding seeds and nuts to the recipe will help slow down the rate that the sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream.

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Dried fruit and their sugars – amounts will vary between batches

Per 100g Calories Carbohydrates Sugars Fibre
Raisins 293 79g 69g 2g
Sultanas 310 79g 69g 2g
Currants 306 75g 67g 2g
Apricots 178 36g 31g 7.5g
Dates 295 68g 68g 4g
Apple 293 65g 55g 10g
Glace Cherries 308 75g 46g 1g
Dried Fig 249 47g 47g 3g
Blueberry 350 68g 68g 3.5g
Papaya 258 65g 40g 9g
Prunes 239 34g 34g 7g
Chopped mixed peel 303 73g 45g 4.5g
Pineapple (no added sugar) 305 67g 53g 5g
Mango 328 71g 48g 5g
Dried cherries 365 70g 45g 2.5g

 

Recipe 8 inch round cake

250g mixed dried vine fruit
250g dried apricots or prunes, chopped
50ml brandy, optional
225g butter or dairy free margarine, at room temperature
125g date syrup
100g honey
4 eggs, beaten
160g plain wholemeal spelt flour or gluten free plain flour
100g ground almonds
75g maize flour or cornflour
½ tsp gluten free baking powder
1 ½ tsp mixed spice
150g mixed seeds and nuts.

A day before – place the dried fruit into a bowl with the brandy.
Preheat oven to 160°c / 325°f / gas mark 3.
Line the cake tin with silicon paper or greased greaseproof paper.
Cream together the butter and honey until light and fluffy. Stir in the date syrup.
Beat in the eggs a little at a time.
Stir in the soaked fruit, seeds and nuts.
Sieve together the wholemeal spelt flour or gluten free flour with the ground almonds, maize flour, gluten free baking powder and mixed spice and fold into the creamed mixture.
Pour into the cake tin and level the top.
Bake for 75 – 90 minutes until firm to touch and a knife inserted comes out clean.
Wrap in greaseproof paper and store in a cake tin. I have kept a piece for 6 months and it still tastes good!

 

 

Sugar-free buttercream

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

I have been making a lot of sugar-free cakes lately and I thought I would share some recipes.

cooconut cakke

This information is not about healthy eating. This is for people who want to cut or reduce sugar from their diet but still want to enjoy celebrations with everyone else or have a special treat now and again. Some people have been able to embrace a sugar free diet and adapt their life easily. Other people find it a bit of a struggle. Everyone wants something sweet to eat now and again. These recipes are not meant for everyday eating!

I have been working with 2 natural sweeteners called xylitol and erythritol. These come in a granular form which looks identical to sugar and can be found in supermarkets and whole food stores. Sugar can be substituted like for like with xylitol or erythritol in many baking recipes. If you are cutting sugar from your diet, you can gradually reduce the amount of sugar or sweetener in a recipe as your taste buds become accustomed to less sugar. Baking recipes can work with up to a third less sugar.

In the UK erythritol can be found as Sukrin. This is a sugar alcohol with 0 calories. More information about this product can be found here.

More information about xylitol can be found here. Xylitol is sold in most supermarkets in the UK as Total Sweet. Eating too much xylitol can give you a stomach upset. This recipe requires the xylitol to be finely ground. A high speed blender is the best tool for this, if you can beg, borrow or steal a Thermomix, this would be perfect!

For buttercream cake ideas, have a look at – The Contemporary Buttercream Bible by the lovely ladies at Queen Of Hearts Couture Cakes. Website.

Swiss meringue buttercream is smooth and light. It contains less fat and sugar than usual buttercream so is a little healthier too!

2 x 5g sachets pasteurised free range egg powder
200g xylitol or erythritol
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature

In a large heatproof bowl, whisk the powdered egg white with 2 tablespoons of cooled, boiled water. Add another 2 tablespoons cooled, boiled water and whisk to dissolve. Mix in the xylitol.

Place the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water – ensure the water does not touch the bowl. Turn off the heat.

Stir to dissolve the xylitol. Test with your finger tips.

Once dissolved (You may need to return the water to a simmer) using an electric whisk, whisk until stiff peaks have formed. Continue whisking until the meringue has cooled.

Break off small pieces of butter and whisk into the meringue. It may split but continue whisking and it will come back together. Use as required.

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If you prefer an egg-free buttercream, try this:-

Sugar-free buttercream to fill and coat an 8 inch cake.

250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
375g powdered xylitol or SukrinMelis
Flavouring

Sieve the powdered xylitol into a mixer bowl. Stir in the powdered xylitol and flavouring and beat until white and fluffy.

Dairy-free, sugar-free buttercream.

200g dairy-free margarine
400g powdered xylitol or erythritol
flavouring

Mix the ingredients together and leave for a day. Some liquid will leak out of the buttercream. Pour this from the bowl and use the buttercream as needed.

 

Sugar-free Marshmallow cone

Friday, August 7th, 2015

Homemade marshmallow is so much nicer than shop bought and you can add any flavour you like. Making them sugar-free works just a well as with sugar.

sugar-free marshmallow

 

There are a lot of marshmallow recipes on the internet that will work by substituting the sugar and glucose syrup with xylitol or erythritol. I have tried lot’s of the vegetarian marshmallow recipes on the internet and not one of them has worked!

I wanted to show that marshmallow can be piped using a piping bag fitted with a large nozzle.

This information is not about healthy eating. This is for people who want to cut or reduce sugar from their diet but still want to enjoy celebrations with everyone else or have a special treat now and again. Some people have been able to embrace a sugar free diet and adapt their life easily. Other people find it a bit of a struggle. Everyone wants something sweet to eat now and again. These recipes are not meant for everyday eating!

I have been working with 2 natural sweeteners called xylitol and erythritol. These come in a granular form which looks identical to sugar and can be found in supermarkets and whole food stores. Sugar can be substituted like for like with xylitol or erythritol in many baking recipes. If you are cutting sugar from your diet, you can gradually reduce the amount of sugar or sweetener in a recipe as your taste buds become accustomed to less sugar. Baking recipes can work with up to a third less sugar.

In the UK erythritol can be found as Sukrin. This is a sugar alcohol with 0 calories. More information about this product can be found here.

More information about xylitol can be found here. Xylitol is sold in most supermarkets in the UK as Total Sweet. This comes in granular form.

You will need a food temperature probe for this recipe.

Recipe – makes 8 cones.

8 ice cream cones
unsweetened desiccated coconut
4 teaspoons powdered gelatine
150g xylitol or erythritol
1 teaspoon vanilla paste

Place 8 ice cream cones onto a tray. Fit a large piping bag with a plain nozzle. Place the desiccated coconut into a small bowl.

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Place the powdered gelatine into a mixer bowl with 50ml cooled, boiled water. Leave to sponge. Place on the mixer with a whisk attachment.

gelatine

Place the xylitol into a saucepan with 80ml water.

xylitol

Melt the xylitol over a low heat then boil to 121°c. Immediately pour onto the gelatine and whisk until thick. Whisk in the vanilla paste.

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Working quickly, spoon the marshmallow into the piping bag and pipe into the ice cream cones. Immediately dip the marshmallow into the desiccated coconut and leave to set.

My son loves these with Choc Shot chocolate sauce!

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Sugar-free Royal Icing

Friday, August 7th, 2015

Yes that’s right you can make sugar-free royal icing!

sugar-free royal icing

This recipe works just by replacing icing sugar with powdered xylitol or SukrinMelis.

I recommend using pasteurised egg white for this recipe.

Use the royal icing straight after mixing. It will pipe as well as usual royal icing but it will take longer to set and will not set as hard. It will crust over but will be quite soft underneath. It is quite fragile.

For a fondant icing recipe, see here.

This information is not about healthy eating. This is for people who want to cut or reduce sugar from their diet but still want to enjoy celebrations with everyone else or have a special treat now and again. Some people have been able to embrace a sugar free diet and adapt their life easily. Other people find it a bit of a struggle. Everyone wants something sweet to eat now and again. These recipes are not meant for everyday eating!

I have been working with 2 natural sweeteners – xylitol and erythritol. These come in a granular form which looks identical to sugar and can be found in supermarkets and whole food stores. Sugar can be substituted like for like with xylitol or erythritol in many baking recipes. If you are cutting sugar from your diet, you can gradually reduce the amount of sugar or sweetener in a recipe as your taste buds become accustomed to less sugar. Baking recipes can work with up to a third less sugar.

In the UK erythritol can be found as Sukrin. This is a sugar alcohol with 0 calories. More information about this product can be found here.

More information about xylitol can be found here. Xylitol is sold in most supermarkets in the UK as Total Sweet. Eating too much xylitol can give you a stomach upset. This recipe requires the xylitol to be finely ground. A high speed blender is the best tool for this, if you can beg, borrow or steal a Thermomix, this would be perfect!

 

Recipe

2 x 5g sachets free range egg white powder
4 tablespoons cooled, boiled water
330g powdered xylitol or erythritol

Place the egg white powder into a large mixer bowl with 2 tablespoons cooled, boiled water and whisk together. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons water and whisk to dissolve the powdered egg white.

Sieve the powdered xylitol into a bowl and mix into the egg white ensuring not to leave any powdered sugar on the sides of the bowl.

Beat together until the icing forms thick peaks. When you lift the beater, the icing should stay stiff. Place a wet clean tea towel over the bowl to prevent the icing drying. Use as needed.

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If the powdered xylitol is quite grainy, it may not push through certain piping nozzles. You could try passing it through a clean, unused nylon stocking into your piping bag.

 

Sugar-free Marshmallow Fondant (Ready to roll) Icing

Friday, August 7th, 2015

I receive lot’s of emails about sugar-free cakes. I will write another post with low-sugar or sugar-free celebration cake ideas. For now here is a recipe for fondant icing / sugarpaste / ready to roll icing.

birthday cake

I have tested all the natural sugars and sweeteners and these two are my favourite – Xylitol and Erythritol.

This information is not about healthy eating. This is for people who want to cut or reduce sugar from their diet but still want to enjoy celebrations with everyone else or have a special treat now and again. Some people have been able to embrace a sugar free diet and adapt their life easily. Other people find it a bit of a struggle. Everyone wants something sweet to eat now and again. These recipes are not meant for everyday eating!

I have been working with xylitol and erythritol. These come in a granular form which looks identical to sugar and can be found in supermarkets and whole food stores. Sugar can be substituted like for like with xylitol or erythritol in many baking recipes. If you are cutting sugar from your diet, you can gradually reduce the amount of sugar or sweetener in a recipe as your taste buds become accustomed to less sugar. Baking recipes can work with up to a third less sugar.

For this recipe you can use xylitol or Erythritol.

In the UK erythritol can be found as SukrinMelis. This is a sugar alcohol with 0 calories. More information about this product can be found here.

More information about xylitol can be found here. Xylitol is sold in most supermarkets in the UK as Total Sweet. This comes in granular form. This recipe requires it to be finely ground. A high speed blender is the best tool for this, if you can beg, borrow or steal a Thermomix, this would be perfect!

This recipe does work out quite expensive. You could make a sugar-free cake and cover it with normal fondant icing and peel this off before eating but if you really want to eat the icing then try this.

I have found shop bought marshmallows give a better result for this icing. Homemade marshmallow does not stretch as much and can crumble. I find Sainsburys sugar-free marshmallows work really well.

For a vegetarian or vegan icing, I can’t find sugar-free vegetarian marshmallows so I use Freedom Mallows and add SukrinMelis or xylitol to this for a low-sugar icing.

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 Recipe – To cover an 8 inch cake and board.

450g sugar free marshmallows
900g powdered xylitol or SukrinMelis
A few drops of vanilla (optional)

Place the xylitol into a food processor and blitz until powdered.

Sieve the xylitol into a large mixing bowl. A food mixer would be ideal.

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Place the marshmallows into a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of water. Ensure the water does not touch the bowl.

melted marshmallow

Heat the water then turn down the heat. Stir the marshmallows until melted.

Once melted, scrape the marshmallow into the xylitol and stir together with 1 tablespoon of cooled, boiled water. This can be done in a food mixer. Once combined, place in an airtight freezer bag and leave for a few hours to set.

marshmallow fondant

Prepare your cake ready for covering with fondant. Lightly knead your icing.

Dust your worktop with powdered xylitol and roll out your icing.

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Cover your cake with the icing, first smooth over the top before smoothing the icing to the sides of your cake. Trim the icing around the bottom of the cake. If your xylitol is quite grainy it will show in the finished icing as shown here.

sugar-free fondant