How to Make Fondant Seashells Without a Mold
Decorate Your Cake With Sugary Shells Handmade With Fondant or Gum Paste
These sweet seashells are easy to make and serve as great cake decorations. With simple tools and a little creativity, you can make realistic looking shells from fondant or gum paste.
This tutorial gives instructions on how to make four different kinds of seashells for cake or cupcake decoration or for use as novelty candy. They are tasty and can be made and dried for storage weeks ahead of time.
What You Will Need for This Project
- Fondant in the desired colors*
- A sharp knife or a craft knife
- A paring knife
- Waxed paper
- Cooking oil
*To decide which colors of fondant to use, consider what colors you wish to see in the finished decorations. For wedding cake decoration, white or off-white may be good choices whereas earth tones and colors seen in natural seashells may be better for other applications. It's entirely a matter of personal taste.
Cockle Shells Instructions
Cockle Shells: Step One
Roll out cake fondant onto lightly oiled waxed paper and cut out a wedge shape as pictured using a sharp craft knife coated in cooking oil. It may help to wipe the blade clean on a tea towel or paper towel between major cuts to keep sugar from clinging to and blunting the effect of the blade.
Cockle Shells: Step Two
Score the top of the wedge as pictured using the length of a paring knife generously coated with vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray. Don't press too hard or it will cut all of the way through. The intention is just to give the shell texture. These are one of the easier varieties to make and, with a bit of practice, the finished product is fairly realistic-looking.
Cockle Shells: Step Three
Pinch the narrow end of the scored wedge and tuck it under the main body of the shell.
Cockle Shells: Finishing Touches
Set the finished shell on top of a rolled up ball of waxed paper to dry. The balled up waxed paper will keep the curved shape as the seashell dries.
Vanilla bean specks kneaded into fondant create great flavor as well as texture.
Egg Cockles Instructions
These are probably the easiest to make and I think they look quite a bit like the real thing.
Egg Cockles: Step One
Cut a rounded shape from rolled fondant using an oiled craft knife as shown in the picture.
To create marbled fondant lightly knead in a small amount of another color, twisting the fondant together before rolling it out.
Egg Cockle: Finishing Steps
Press slowly into the center of the fondant egg cockle shape with a well oiled thumb until it bulges. Then set it on top of a rolled up ball of waxed paper to keep the bulged shape as the fondant dries.
These are the easiest to make and, in my opinion, look the most realistic of all of them.
Worm Shells Instructions
I think this is a fun type to involve children in making. There's a bunch of hand modeling and no knife use involved. They come in all sorts of variations in nature so there's no need for careful control or perfection for them to look good.
Worm Shells: Step One
Roll out a tapered piece of fondant on waxed paper with well oiled fingers to achieve a thin, elongated cone as pictured.
Worm Shells: Step Two
Coil the fondant tightly as shown, starting at the small end in tight coils and working out to the large end in larger coils.
Stretch Out the Worm Shell for a Natural Look
Pull the coil of fondant gently until the loops are slightly separated and set aside on waxed paper to dry. Try not to make them too identical or too regular in shape because it will look unnatural. The real ones display a lot of variation.
Tools to Make This Project Easier
If you plan to make fondant or gumpaste cake decorations frequently it might be a good idea to invest in some basic food-grade shaping tools.
This inexpensive set of basic fondant tools is ideal for projects such as shaping seashells. I own and use an earlier version made by Wilton and they have served me well.
This is another project appropriate for children as no knife use is involved.
Sea Snails: Step One
Roll out a long, tapered, cone-like piece of fondant on waxed paper and dent in the wide end with well oiled fingers.
Sea Snails: Step Two
Coil the fondant into a tight, flat coil starting at the small end. Set aside on waxed paper to dry.
Knead a drop or two of candy flavoring or mint, cinnamon, almond, or vanilla extract into the fondant or gumpaste before working with it to make flavored seashells.
The Finished Fondant Seashells
I used these particular seashells to decorate a sandy beach cake for a summer party. The cake and frosting had so much vanilla extract in it that it was almost alcoholic. Fortunately, by the time we cut into it, most of the alcohol had evaporated. My sweetie likes his sweets with lots of vanilla! He really liked the shells with vanilla bean specks in them.
© 2009 Kylyssa Shay