1. In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients except flavoring and nuts. Stir until sugar is moistened. Place over high heat. Bring to a boil, then gradually lower thermometer into boiling syrup. Cook without stirring, lowering the heat slightly as the mixture thickens. Cook to 236º.
2. Pour fondant, without scraping pan, onto baking sheet or marble. If using a surface other than marble, cool surface with ice to chill quickly; then dry before pouring fondant. Do not move fondant while it is cooling.
3. When fondant is lukewarm, paddle it with a broad metal spatula or wooden paddle, moving forward under edges and backward over the surface, occasionally scraping off paddle. The fondant will become cloudy and thicken.
4. When fondant is thick, creamy and white, it is ready to be formed into balls for dipping. Add flavoring and nuts if desired. Fondant may be kept several weeks wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated or stored in a cool place. If during storage, it becomes too dry to use, cover with a damp cloth until you can knead it with your hands.
IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS FOR COOKED FONDANT
1. Fondant should be cooked without stirring. Stir only enough to dissolve sugar.
2. Even with the best thermometer, readings may vary from day to day, so test your thermometer each day you use it. Undercooked fondant will get creamy but will not thicken.
3. Do not scrape the pan when pouring fondant onto surface. Scraping the pan will cause a gritty, sugary texture.
4. Paddling while the fondant is still hot will cause it to become sugary. Wait until the fondant is lukewarm, then begin paddling.
Recipe and image taken with permission from Autumn Carpenter's Book, All About Candy Making. All rights reserved.