Frosting Basics

Frosting basics1A couple weeks ago I had a reader write in and request a recipe for a slightly less sweet butter cream frosting recipe. She had used some of our cupcake mixology recipes and she said they were great but she wondered if there was a way to make frosting that wasn't quite so sweet. And this got me thinking that perhaps it could be fun to share some of my favorite basic frosting recipes. Today we are going to learn to make: cream cheese frosting (great for Red Velvet cakes!), chocolate butter cream, and a (slightly less sweet) white butter cream frosting.

Creamcheese1Creamcheese2Cream Cheese frosting, makes 3-4 cups (enough for a dozen cupcakes).

Needed: two 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, 1/4 cup (half a stick) of butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 3-4 cups powder sugar.

You need the cream cheese and butter to be slightly softened, so you can either leave it out on the counter for a few hours or nuke it in the microwave for 20 seconds. Beat together the softened cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add in the vanilla extract and beat for another 30 seconds. Now start adding the powder sugar 1 cup at a time and beating in between each addition.

Chocolate1Chocolate2Chocolate Butter cream frosting, makes around 3 cups (enough for a dozen cupcakes)

Needed: 2 cups (4 sticks) softened butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 3-4 tablespoons cocoa (dutch processed is what I usually use) 3-4 cups powder sugar.

Again, you need the butter to be softened so either leave it out or nuke it. Cream the butter and vanilla together until smooth and creamy. Add in the cocoa and beat for 30 seconds, scrap down the sides of the bowl as you go so everything gets well mixed. Now add the powder sugar 1 cup at a time, beating in between each addition until you have a thick frosting.

Buttercream1Buttercream2Less sweet (but amazing) White Butter cream frosting, makes around 3 cups (enough for a dozen cupcakes). This recipe is slightly adapted from here

Needed: 1 cup milk, 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup (two sticks) softened butter, 1 cup (granulated) sugar and 1/4 cup powder sugar.

In a small sauce pan heat together the milk and flour, whisking as you go until you have a thick paste. Set this aside and let it cool. In a bowl cream together the softened butter, granulated sugar and vanilla for 2-3 minutes until the sugar is well incorporated and (almost) not grainy at all. Now add the flour paste to the bowl and beat for another 2-3 minutes until it begins to get fluffy like whipped cream. Add the powder sugar and beat until well incorporated. There's quite a bit of mixing for this recipe as the ingredients are quite nontraditional for a frosting-but it's totally worth it!

Happy baking! xo. emma and elsie

  • I will forever love cream cheese frosting with a hint of vanilla. Definitely my fave. This was great. Thanks for sharing =)

    – Sarah
    A Girl In Transit

  • Oh very nice, I do have to say I find frosting a little bit too sweet most of the time.
    But I do love a bit of cream cheese frosting, especially on carrot cake 😀

  • Excellent! I’ve heard about the cooked flour frosting before, but I was too skeptical to try it. Good to hear a real person’s endorsement!

    Any tips on the actual act of frosting? I am frosting-impaired: the stuff always sludges off the surface I’m attempting to frost, or lays in unhappy, unattractive little blobs.

  • I very frequently make the less-sweet vanilla frosting (got it from the same website) and it makes a simple chocolate cake mix really delish! I was skeptical before I tried it but it really is great and I get compliments on it all the time 🙂

  • Yay! Thank You for posting some that will be less sweet. I cannot wait to try some of these.

  • If you dissolve the sugar in the hot milk before adding the flour (last frosting recipe) you will end up with a smoother finished product. No grit! Oddly enough I made a very similar frosting last night to go on chocolate cupcakes. I ran out of flour making the cakes so substituted corn starch. Worked just the same, but didn’t have the paper mache taste it usually has (Although I usually like it).

  • We probably could have used this before our last ladies night in! Our frosting was wayyyy too runny. Still tasted good though 🙂 Will have to try some of these next time!

  • oooh, i’m definitely interested in the less sweet butter cream icing. i always end up scraping all of the icing off because it makes my eyes cross out of sweetness.

  • I love cream cheese frosting and I usually don’t like frosting at all. I think the tang of the cream cheese cuts the sweet a bit.

  • Nuking butter can lead to disaster in terms of icing – one trick that works a treat is grating the butter (if it’s hard, obviously) into your bowl. Gets it soft in no time! 🙂

    Thanks for the recipes, looking forward to trying them!

  • C’est très étonnant et blog de l’information fournie par l’article de ce blog est vraiment sympa et utile et je voudrais visiter le blog à nouveau.

  • Hello,
    IF you use a mixer, what attachment do you use to cream the ingredients together?
    Thank you!

  • Would love a post about how to frost them so they look as good as they taste!

  • I often add in just a bit of salt to counteract all the sweetness of the sugar. It really gives frosting a bit of complexity as well!

  • I made the flour-milk frosting this weekend, and it’s going to be my new go-to recipe! My friend definitely ate the leftover frosting straight out of the piping bag.

  • Looks delicious! It’s also nice to see that the best things in life, the items that make you smile, aren’t expensive. (That’s also the tpoic of the latest post on my own blog)

  • Oh thank you! making cupcakes for my kids’ birthday in two weeks and have been wondering what to do about the frosting. i’ll definitely check these out!

  • I am going to try out the chocolate buttercream for my nephews 15th birthday today, thanks for the easy to do recipe. I am a bit nervous though because I have never made frosting without a standing mixer. I have a hand mixer, hope this comes out!

  • For the cream cheese frosting, you can add just half a cup of powdered sugar and a dash of lemon juice. No butter needed as the cream cheese is soft and easy to spread at room temperature. The frosting will then tast tangy with a hint of sweetness. A little bit of sugar goes a long way and helps with heart health too. The sugar can also be halved (this is going to stir some people up!) in cucake recipes too-keeping the same amounts of all other ingredients. Try it 🙂

  • Just made the less sweet frosting and I am very amazed! It is sooooooo good! Very creamy and smooth!! Thank you!

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  • I’m not a “sweets” person at all but my daughter made these tiny cakes and I ate one to be polite as mothers do and then I found myself smuggling one into my bedroom and shoved the entire thing into my mouth before anyone could see me. Then later I had one while I was reading my book and I actually felt so sexy eating this decadent little cake…. I felt like I was comiting a sin haha THEY WERE OUTSTANDING! Thanks so much.

  • Prije svega želim reći sjajan blog! Morao sam brzo pitanje koje bih želio postaviti, ako vam ne smeta. Bio sam zainteresiran da sazna kako ste sami centar i jasno svoje misli prije pisanja. Ja sam imao teško isprazniti svoj um za dobivanje iz moje ideje. Sam doista uživati ​​ne piše ali to samo izgleda kao prvih 10 do 15 minuta uglavnom se izgubiti samo pokušava shvatiti kako započeti. Sve ideje i savjete? Hvala!

  • awesome, thanks for posting
    I tried the first one and it was soooooo goooooood!!!
    thanks again

  • Curious, does this frosting “crust”? I would need to put it under fondant…has anyone tried this?

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