Buttercream Frosting

A deep, chocolatey modern take on an old-school recipe
What could be more delicious than butter, sugar and vanilla?

As promised, here is my recipe for vanilla frosting.  This is the “Buttercream” frosting I grew up with.  I put it in quotes, because a true Buttercream involves a huge amount of butter and a small amount of sugar.  To be sure, true Buttercream is a luxurious treat, but it is also heavy as all get out and expensive to make!  I have made a true Chocolate Buttercream a few times, which is basically just butter and melted chocolate, and while delicious, I can’t get over the feeling that I am eating a chocolate-flavored stick of butter.  And thus, I always return to the frosting of my youth.  I’ve also included below some ideas for flavor variations.

  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 lb sifted powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp half and half or milk

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl with whisk attachment and beat on low till almost combined.  You may need to add a bit more powdered sugar or milk to reach the consistency you desire.  Add any necessary liquid just ½ tsp. at a time to avoid accidentally adding too much.  Increase speed to high and whip 2 minutes or until frosting is nice and fluffy.  This makes enough frosting for 1 layer cake or a 13″ x 9″ cake.

Here are a few ideas for variations – replace the vanilla and half and half listed above with:

  • 2 Tbsp. orange juice, ½ tsp. orange extract, ½ tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. orange zest (optional – will alter the look of the frosting)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, ½ tsp. lemon extract, ½ tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. lemon zest (optional – will alter the look of the frosting)
  • 2 Tbsp. brewed espresso (or ½ tsp espresso powder and 2 Tbsp water), 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. half and half and ½ to 1 tsp. peppermint extract (and a few drops red food coloring if desired)
  • 2 Tbsp. half and half, ½ tsp. maple flavoring, ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. half and half, 1 Tbsp cherry juice concentrate, 1 tsp. vanilla
  • For a cocoa based Chocolate Buttercream, add ¼ cup regular cocoa, 2 Tbsp. Dutch process cocoa (do NOT use all Dutch process cocoa or the frosting will have a weird grey color – you can also just use ⅓ cup regular cocoa), ¼ tsp. coffee extract, ½ tsp. chocolate extract (optional), ½ tsp. vanilla, and 3 Tbsp. half and half.  Keep adding more cocoa and a bit more half and half until frosting is as “chocolatey” as you want.


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