To make the chocolate cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the shortening and sugar, scrape sides of bowl and then beat in egg and vanilla.
2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix. Add all at once to the sugar/shortening/egg mixture.
3. Boil the water. At the same time, beat in the milk and boiling water.
4. Pour into greased and floured 8-by-8-inch pan or 18-cupcake pan.
5. Bake 30-40 minutes or until wood pick comes out clean. Let cook in pan for 10 minutes, then remove completely to cool.
To make the Italian meringue buttercream frosting:
Note: egg whites and butter should be taken out ahead of time, several hours, to allow them to naturally reach room temperature.
1. Heat the water and 1 1/4 cup sugar over medium high heat until it reaches about 250 degrees F. Stir occasionally.
2. While that is heating, place all egg whites in a large mixer and beat on high speed (about level 6-8) until foamy. Add in cream of tartar and beat to soft peaks. At soft peak stage add in the superfine sugar. Beat to stiff peaks.
3. Add in the 250-degree water/sugar mixture to the egg white mix while the mixer is on low speed. Try not to let it touch too much metal.
4. Beat at high speed until the mixture has reached room temperature (by feel of the bowl).
5. While that is beating, cut up your butter in tablespoon sizes.
6. Once egg whites in large bowl are at room temperature (which take a considerable amount of time), add in the butter about 3-4 tablespoons at a time, being conscious to scrape the sides of the bowl once in a while. For this, beat on medium-high speed (about level 5-6).
7. Once all the butter is incorporated, beat at high speed until smooth. Then add vanilla and beat again till smooth.
Note: You can add in espresso powder or cocoa powder to add additional flavors to this icing.
To make the decorator's icing:
1. Place shortening in a large mixing bowl. Mix on slow speed (2-3) until smooth. (You can also use half butter and half shortening depending on humidity.)
2. Add the sugar 2 cups at a time mixing at low speed (mixing at high speed will create more air bubbles and a harder-to-work-with frosting).
3. Add vanilla and glycerin (if using) and mix on low speed. Add more or less milk, mixing on low speed to get the desired consistency.
This frosting does well with cocoa added in as well for a chocolate frosting.
To make the marshmallow fondant:
1. Sift 8 cups of confectioners' sugar.
2. In a large glass bowl (about 8 cups) place the bag and a half of marshmallows and 1/4 cup of water (the water is very important).
3. Heat the marshmallows in a microwave until melted (heat 1 minute, stir, 30 seconds, stir, 15 seconds, stir, etc.).
4. Mix about half of the confectioners' sugar in the bowl with the marshmallows and stir. It will get stiff and appear to not all mix in.
5. Mix in another quarter or so if possible, if nothing more seems to mix in dump out the rest of your powdered sugar on a table that is lightly coated in shortening.
6. Dump the marshmallow mix on top of that confectioners' sugar. It may seem a bit sticky but should not be too bad and should start to clump together.
7. As it seems to stick together, start to knead the clump together, gradually mixing in the remainder of the confectioners' sugar. You may not get all the confectioners’ sugar to mix in; that is OK as long as when you break a piece off it is not sticky.
8. Form the fondant into a ball and wrap tightly and securely in cling wrap making sure that it is adequately protected from air.
9. Allow the fondant to sit for 24 hours. If at the end of this it is stiff you can microwave it to make it slightly easier to work with, but be careful not to make it too warm as it will become sticky.