Fondant icing covers cakes with a smooth surface, and it can also be molded to create 3-dimensional shapes. Fondant recipes typically list gelatin, which contains collagen from animals, as an ingredient. Vegetarian fondant contains agar-agar flakes instead of gelatin. Agar-agar is a thickener derived from seaweed and is also available in powder form. Make the fondant recipe ahead of time so that you can cover the cake soon after you prepare it.
Pour the cold water into a small saucepan. Carefully add the agar-agar flakes to the water, and set the mixture off to the side. The flakes need to soak in the water completely before they are dissolved over a heat source to create a gelatin substitute.
Separate the powdered sugar into 2 large mixing bowls. Create a small well or hole in the center of 1 of the bowls of powdered sugar to add the liquid ingredients to later.
Place the small saucepan with the agar-agar flakes onto the stovetop over medium heat. Stir until the flakes begin to dissolve. Reduce the heat to a simmer when the liquid boils.
Add 1 tbsp. of water at a time to the agar-agar mixture to dissolve any remaining flakes. The flakes will appear as small specks in the bottom of the pan. Add the water gradually until the flakes dissolve completely. Stir the ingredients constantly to help the flakes dissolve.
Add the corn syrup, glycerin, vanilla extract and non-hydrogenated shortening to the pan, stirring well. Pour the mixture into the well in the bowl that contains the powdered sugar and cocoa powder.
Stir the ingredients to mix the powdered sugar well. Add 1 to 2 tbsp. of the powdered sugar from the other bowl. Knead the fondant dough when you can no longer stir it with a spoon.
Add the powdered sugar until the fondant dough does not stick to your hands or the bowl. Continue to knead the dough until it appears soft and pliable.
Roll the fondant into a ball, and wrap it with plastic wrap. Store the fondant at room temperature.