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BASIC FONDANT-Heat water to boiling in 2- to 3-quart saucepan and remove from heat. Add sugar and cream of tartar. Stir with wooden spoon until all sugar dissolves, 6 to 8 minutes, taking care not to splash mixture on sides of pan. Place syrup mixture over medium-high heat. Heat almost to boiling. Cover pan tightly with lid and remove from heat. Let stand 3 minutes. Uncover, return to heat and boil briskly. Do not move pan or stir during this time. While syrup cooks, wash any crystals that form on sides of pan by wrapping damp cloth around tines of fork and wiping crystals out with upward motion so that no crystals fall back into syrup. Continue cooking until syrup reaches soft-ball stage, exactly 238~ on candy thermometer, about 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand very few minutes, or just until bubbles disappear. At once, pour onto marble slab or large, shallow platter. Do not scrape pan. Let cool undisturbed until slab or bottom of platter feels comfortably cool to palm of hand (about 105 degrees), about 50 minutes. Now start turning edges of candy in toward center, using spatula or wooden spoon. As candy turns creamy and crumbly, gather mixture up in your hands and knead as you would bread until you get a smooth, white ball of fondant. Wrap fondant in plastic and store in glass jar covered with tight lid. Let fondant mellow 24 hours to 3 days. Remove fondant ball from jar and form into small balls. Makes about 3/4 pound. CHOCOLATE-DIPPED FONDANT-Place chocolate in top part of double boiler. In lower part, place enough warm water (100 to 120~) to touch top pan. Keep water temperature constant. Melting chocolate takes time. Do not hurry. When chocolate is softened, remove top of double boiler from water and stir vigorously until smallest lumps are all worked out. This creaming develops chocolate texture; it must be repeated often throughout dipping. Exchange warm water for cooler water (85~) in bottom of double boiler. Make sure chocolate does not come in contact with steam or water, even trace can spoil it. Pour 1 c chocolate onto marble slab or into small bowl. Work back and forth with fingers until chocolate feels cool, 83~ is perfect. (Knowing when chocolate is cool comes with practice. To test, let it string from tip of hand into melted chocolate. If it holds ruffly appearance on surface for a few seconds, File ftp://ftp.idiscover.co.uk/pub/food/mealmaster/recipes/mmkah001.zip
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