Monday, September 5, 2016

The Never Ending Fondant Comparison - Carma Massa Ticino

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Okay you guys…. Here is yet another fondant for my never ending fondant comparison.

This time it is Carma Massa Ticcino

I have read so many good things about Carma Massa Ticcino that I’m a little hesitant to say that I wasn’t that impressed with the fondant. It was easy to work with and tasted wonderful, but it had a few “issues” that made it less than perfect for me.

The biggest problem I had with the Carma was the way it reacted to any food dye that contained U.S. Certified Red #3 dye. I tried to color some Carma with AmeriColor Mauve #116, and I got a sickly brownish-green color instead of pink.

Next I tried Burgundy on the Carma and got purple instead of red wine.  At first I thought it might be a problem with the AmeriColor gels, but I also tried Wilton’s Burgundy and got the same purple result when mixed with the Carma fondant.

I contacted AmeriColor to find out what was going on and I was told that the very low pH of the Carma Massa was destroying the U.S. Certified Red #3 dye and leaving behind the other colors. The AmeriColor representative told be to add baking soda to the fondant which would raise the pH of the fondant and allow the reds in the dye to come through.

And you know what???    It worked!!

Below is a bit of Carma dyed with just AmeriColor Mauve #116 and another ball of Carma with #116 and a bunch of added baking soda. See how the one with the added baking soda actually looks pink. Weird the way chemistry works…

So enough about food dye and onto the rest of the review. In my original 7 fondant comparison I used 8 different criteria to judge and rank the various fondants.   After the first comparison of 7 I have also done other comparisons:  Via Roma Bakery fondant, Cake Craft fondant, Dream fondant, and Fat Daddio's Pro Series fondant.

So here are the criteria for judging:

Cost ---- This Carma is expensive stuff.  At the time of writing I paid $95 (with free shipping) for a 15.4 lb tub.  Well actually it is not that expensive if you break it down to a cost per pound, what makes it so expensive is that you need to buy it 15lbs at a time.  Sadly I couldn't find it sold in smaller quantities.  Another problem with having to buy such a large amount is that the fondant only has a 1 year shelf life.  When my tub arrived it was already 6 months into its shelf life so I have to use 15 lbs in 6 months.  Thankfully I have 3 more large cakes to do by November so I should be able to use it all before it goes bad.

Packaging --- The Carma comes in a nice sturdy tub.  The top of the tub is sealed in a blue film, and the fondant is wrap in a heavy plastic bag.

Taste ----The Carma Massa Ticcino was actually very tasty. The only other fondant I had on hand was the Via Roma, and the Carma tasted much, much better than the Via Roma. So high marks for taste.

Texture ---- When you knead the Carma Massa it feels just slightly moist but not sticky. It is very, very soft and does not need to be microwaved or heated to loosen it up. It is amazingly easy to work with, but it does start to get tacky if you work with it too much.  

Rolling ---- The Carma rolled very easily, and it doesn't have much elasticity so it doesn't snap back on you.  But oh my the bubbles.  I found the Carma produced a lot of large air bubbles when rolling. I don't remember any other fondant doing this to the same degree.  And the bubbles were large – too large to pop. I had to crumple up the fondant and roll it out again. I also had a little bit of trouble pulling the rolled fondant off of The Mat without stretching it, but once I got an edge released it fell off The Mat without any problems.

Coverage ---- In my fondant comparisons I use the same amount of fondant (5 ounces) rolled to the same thickness (1/8") to see how far each brand would spread. At a little less than 10 inches this fondant was in the middle of the pack. At 11+ inches round the Via Roma and Fondarific fondant were the best performers. The worst performers, at 9" round, were Duff & Satin Ice.

Draping/Smoothing --- Because the Carma fondant is so soft it created a lot of folds and drapes, but they were very easy to lift and smooth out. There was also no tearing as gravity pulled the fondant downward, so 1/8” is not too thin for this fondant.

Cutting/Trimming --- The fondant did create some pulls and ragged edges when I trimmed the fondant, but I did cut the fondant when it was freshly rolled.  If I had let it dry a bit before cutting it may not have created as many ragged edges.

Drying Time ---- The Carma fondant has a slow drying time. I was able to re-roll the fondant several times without noticing any stiffness or cracking in the fondant.

Final Look --- Well, honestly, I was not very impressed with the final appearance of the Carma Massa Ticino. Because the Carma fondant is so soft it tended to sink into the nooks and crannies of the test pan thus showing a lot of imperfections.

So all-in-all this Carma Massa Ticcino was a bit of a disappointment.

It was easy to knead, roll, drape, smooth and it tasted great, but it also had a lot of negatives. The biggest issue was the problem with the fondant’s low pH killing off the Red #3 dye. There was also the issue with air bubbles, the way it showed imperfections, and the high cost due to large size of the tub.

So Carma Massa Ticino has not ended my search for the perfect fondant. Sigh.

And sadly even once you find the perfect fondant something always happens to ruin the love affair.  A few months back I thought the Via Roma Bakery fondant was going to be my go-to fondant, but the last pail I bought was a little dry and the dreaded elephant skin formed on the finished cakes.  See the comparison below.  The Carma on the right half of the cake is smooth, but the Via Roma on the left has a pitted look.  I was so disappointed in my last purchase of Via Roma.

Another observation about the Carma ---  The Carma is a pure white color out of the pail and it is actually very similar in color to the Via Roma, but look at the picture above.  Both are rolled to 1/8.  Does the Carma on the right look slightly darker than the Via Roma on the left?    The cake underneath is chocolate and the Carma seems to be picking up a tint from the dark color underneath.  This is not a big deal if a multi-tiered cake is iced in all the same icing, but if one tier is chocolate ganache and the other is white chocolate then the two tiers will look slightly different.  If you look closely at my Flattened Carnation Cake you will see that the white Carma fondant on the two tiers are not exactly the same color.  

So my search for the perfect fondant continues...  any other suggestions on brands to try?

Happy Decorating,