Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Best Buttercream Dream Icing

I'm making frosting from scratch, and researched all over the internet for the best buttercream icing recipe before even getting started (to get the most successful experience), and I'm really happy with this Buttercream Dream icing I found.

Mmmm creamy frosting ... so good...

This awesome no-fail Buttercream Dream Icing recipe was borrowed from The Repressed Pastry Chef, Marlena (pronounced marLAYna, btw), who is quite a funny gal, and posts some wicked cupcake/cake/dessert recipes on her Website. Go to her site to get this Buttercream Dream Icing recipe directly. She has posted incredibly easy to read instructions, and great step-by-step photos to accompany. I've made some small modifications to the recipe below if you'd like to take a look.

...Or you can watch me make the recipe when I get the video completed in about another week or so. :)

Ode to the Buttercream Dream Icing:

You are fluffy
and frosty white
I'm so excited
at your delight!

I know that was cheesy, but just thinking of this buttercream recipe, and how perfect it turned out broke me into poem. ;) The consistency was slightly stiff, creamy, and tasted sweet. When I added color and started decorating, it held up against the warmth of my hand and didn't melt on top of itself.

Since this is my first frosting/icing batch, I'm not completely sure how "bad" frosting looks/acts like (and not really wanting to know...fingers crossed). However, I did use the pre-fab frosting from Betty Crocker in my first cupcake bake, and thought it held up pretty well/ stayed stiff at first, and tasted pretty good, it started melting around 3/4 of the way through icing the batch. While piping some of the last cupcakes, the ends started melting, getting droopy, and the icing no longer held the piped ridges.

Anyways, back to Buttercream Dream Icing...

Here it is in a very pretty light lime green color (I ended up making it a darker green for leaves).

Changes I made to the recipe, and what I've learned about frosting in general:

- Less sugar - If you want to use less sugar, you can! I ended up using 3/4 of the bag of powdered (confectioner's) sugar, instead of the full 2 lb. bag that the recipe called for. And it turned out fantastic, it was still very sweet, and able to offset the not-very-sweet lemon cake that I made with it.

- Clear Vanilla extract - or Clear Almond extract even! Mmm... if you like the taste of almond, this is definitely a great substitute. Good with chocolate, vanilla, lemon cakes, and the list goes on...

- Coloring - Get concentrated gel coloring. I've been reading everywhere that you should NOT use liquid food coloring because it changes the consistency of whatever frosting/icing/fondant that you are putting it in. So as tempting as it was to just head to the local Safeway three blocks away and get the liquid food coloring, I decided again, to be very careful -- this being my first time making frosting and all -- and jumped in the car and hauled ass to the Michael's in Daly City, which is 10 miles away. I found a very nice set of 8 gelatin colors for not too expensive, I think it was like $7 or something. I also picked up a little treasure trove of baking goodies including mini cupcake trays, mini cupcake liners (both white and patterned), sprinkles, and a small assortment of pastry nozzles.

Oh, and those concentrated gels can get messy and quickly spread, so keep an eye on your work area when using the gels. Everyone on the internet uses toothpicks to dab and color the frosting, so just be sure to stack your used toothpicks on a napkin or in the trash can well away from where you are directly working... I ended up getting it all over the pastry bags, my fingers, the scissors, the mixing bowl, and transferred to the sink and fridge! And for the next week and half, since I put the unused colored frosting in the fridge, I was getting it on my hands whenever I grabbed something from the fridge and got near the pastry bags (it happened to smear onto other food bags). Oy!

- Blender - I used an electric hand blender, which worked well. Just be sure to add sugar slowly in segments, rather than dumping it all in. (The sugar flies everywhere too, so be sure to wear an apron). And no, a hand whisk just will not work here, unfortunately. I spent in total, about 15 minutes blending. With a hand-whisk, anyone's arm would fall off at that point, I don't care how much you workout.

- Storing - When the frosting was done, I separated out 2/3, scooped it into a plastic tupperware container, and put it in the fridge to store for future use. (I've stored this in the fridge for almost two weeks now, and have used it twice since it was made, and it still tastes great. I haven't seen any recipes online saying that you can store the frosting for more than two weeks, but would love to know if you can)

I made this frosting 2 weeks ago on July 19, 2009, and have used the same batch several times since. The next times I used the frosting, I took it out of the fridge and put it on the kitchen counter/near the stove for about a 1/2 hour to bring to room temp while I was baking other cupcakes. Then, just gave it a little mix, and it was ready to be piped.

Here are some of the buttercream lemon cupcakes I made:


  1. They're beautiful and you really did a FANTASTIC job in explaining everything!!!

    I have (shhhhh!) kept the icing in the fridge for 6 weeks and used it fine with no problem. Like you said... bring it to room temp and add a lil milk if you need/want to.

    I'm so glad this icing worked out for you!

  2. Hi Em, thank you so much for the recipe! So easy even a n00b can make it. But such good consistency, texture, and flavor that any cupcake aficionado would appreciate.