5 Basic Frosting Recipes

As all of you start preparing for Christmas, cookies, cakes and holiday treats become common in every kitchen, and what makes most of these foods really attractive is the icing or frosting that goes on these cakes and cookies to deck them up! I'm not so much of a Frosting person, as I find it really sweet, but festive times call for festive efforts, and I give myself some leeway to dabble with some frosting recipes, trying to create artwork on my holiday desserts! So, to add more color and sweet flavor to your holiday cooking, I thought I'd share with you some Basic Frosting recipes that can be easily modified to suit your style!

Pictured above is one of my first fully-frosted cakes that I decorated in my cake-decorating class. As you can see, it is pretty primitive - it uses Buttercream Frosting in different consistencies. This works best for cakes, along with Chocolate frosting. The Cream cheese frosting is greta for cheese-cakes, cupcakes or smaller desserts, while the Royal icing is preferred for decorating cookies. And now, off to the Frosting Recipes!

Buttercream Frosting
(recipe source - Wilton; Yield - 3 cups)
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

For thin (spreading) consistency icing, add 2 tablespoons light corn syrup, water or milk. For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

Chocolate Frosting (Eggless)
(recipe source - Epicurious; Yield - 2 cups)
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a work bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter. Sift the sugar and cocoa powder together and gradually add to the butter, beating well after each addition. Add the cream and vanilla and beat until well blended and fluffy.

Cream Cheese Frosting
(recipe source - Kraft Foods; Yield - 2-1/2 cups)
8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups (about 16 oz.) powdered sugar, sifted

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add sugar gradually, beating until well blended after each addition. Adjust sugar quantity to your liking, and beat until light and fluffy.

Royal Icing
(recipe source - Joy of Baking; Yield - 3 cups)
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups (330 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg whites with the lemon juice. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.
Note: This is the best icing for decorating cookies

Vegan Chocolate Frosting
(recipe source - About.com; Yield - 2 cups)
2 cups organic powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) dairy-free soy margarine, softened
1/4 cup plain unsweetened almond milk or soymilk
3/4 cup unsweetened pure cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium-large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, cream the powdered sugar with the soy margarine until mixture is thick but well combined. Add the almond milk, cocoa powder and vanilla, and continue to mix until smooth.

These basic frosting recipes can be modified to suit your style and flavor - most of them can be adapted to incorporate your choice of flavor by adding a teaspoonful of essence - coconut, orange, mint, almond are a few nice suggestions, but you can customize these recipes as you choose. Add a tinge of food coloring to make colored frosting, and celebrate the festive holiday season in style! For more tips, here's an article on How to Frost a Cake in 5 Easy Steps!

Related Recipes
Layered chocolate Cake with Fluffy White Frosting
Upside Down Cranberry Cake
Best Banana Cake Recipe

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Sukanya Ramkumar said...

This is a very useful post for me.... I always stick into Wilton butter cream icing as i did my 4 courses there, never tried decorating with other type of icing. Will try it soon.

Thank u....

Tina said...

Yummy Yummy!

Manggy said...

Good job with the cake! You are far too modest :) I'd like to try the original colorless frosting but shortening is not that easy to find here (though I'll have to check if it's still cheaper than butter :)

Divya Kudua said...

Great recipes for frosting-bookmarked!!

anudivya said...

Lovely, useful post... do you have any recipes for low fat frosting too? That would be awesome if you can share...

And that cake is just B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L! Very professional.

arundati said...

this is a wonderfully useful post and very well timed....thanks for sharing this!!

Vaidehi said...

very helpful recipes.. thanks for sharing :)


Mansi said...

sukanya - cream cheese frosting is really easy to make, and works pretty well! you should try it sometime:)

Anu - unfortunately, its hard to make low-fat for something that has butter and sugar as prime ingredients:)

but, shortening is half the fat and cholesterol than regular butter; also use low-fat margarine and non-fat milk or water for the recipe, and it'll be as low-fat as a frosting can be:) however, be prepared for the icing to be a bit on the "hard and crusty" side:)

Manggy - just use regular butter or margarine instead of shortening - it'll actually give better results! the latter is good if you want a low-cholesterol version and if u need a thicker consistency for making decorations like roses, etc.

I'm glad everyone else found this post useful!:)

Curry Leaf said...

Useful Post,I am lazy and confused most of the time,that I avoid it.The CAKE IS PERFECT & PROFESSIONAL

Soma said...

That cake looks incredible. I cannot do that even in my dreams!! to tell the truth, i am pretty bad at frosting. This is a great post. Thanks.

Priya said...

Cake looks lovely..i bookmarked this page, as am quite interested about frosting, so nice of u Mansi..

Namratha said...

Good job on the cake Mansi, it looks primitive in the least!! :) Wilton classes are fun aren't they?

Foodista said...

Very useful post! Thanks for sharing! I like your blog and you can expect me to drop by here more often :)and oh, if you have time will you drop by at Foodista ? We are building an online food and cooking encyclopedia ala wikipedia and you can also check out our simple recipes there :) Cheers!

Mansi said...

Nams - yes, Wilton classes are indeed fun, but its a lot of hard work too:)

but I think I'm done with frosted cakes, at least for some time now:)

Aparna said...

Perfect for the season and very timely.
I wouldn't say your cake decorating is primitive. You must be joking! It looks so good.

farida said...

This is such a useful post. I lack cake decorating skills and frosting recipes, so this will come in handy:)

yagisan said...

The cake is very beautiful.
I also want to make Christmas cake.
I will ask my mother to make cake.

Swapnil said...

Hi Manasi,

Usually they say we should use paddle attachment of electric mixer to make frostings,I dont have one.Does a simple hand held mixer works?