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icing for icing lovers

I know that it's not very sophisticated to prefer the icing to the cake. But I do. I like it all--from the supermarket crap that's nothing but sugar and shortening to homemade buttercreams. Either way, we're talking the kind of stuff you can really layer on thickly (no elegant swipes of ganache for me).

For those of you with cravings like mine, what recipes fulfill it best?

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  1. White chocolate cream cheese frosting - find the Cake Bible by Rose Levy Berenbaum - its to die for!

    9 Replies
    1. re: AlaskaChick

      those sweet delicious 5 words that you just said has effectively ruined the rest of my day. Now I have to look up the recipe and make up an excuse to make it tonight!

      1. re: mac8111

        Then my work here is done! Put it on the white chocolate cheesecake and I'm in heaven!

        1. re: AlaskaChick

          Cheesecake huh? I don't know if I have ever put icing on a cheesecake.

          1. re: mac8111

            I'd not thought of it myself til I found the recipe in the Cake Bible. Since then, I've made it for more than a few weddings and anniversaries (professional amateur baker). And this is the one that gets requested by family over any other cake. Its baked in regular cake pans so its not a traditional in the crust type of cheesecake.

      2. re: AlaskaChick

        Is this the frosting you are talking about? I dont have the book, and was wondering if this could be the recipe?


        1. re: jennisad

          That's the one. Its a little soft when you first make it but sets up beautifully.

        2. re: AlaskaChick

          will this set well for cupcakes for piping?

          1. re: vanity021

            It's a bit soft for piping when first made so I usually put some in the fridge while I'm frosting the cake, then I use that for piping. Careful as it can get too firm if you chill too long but if that happens, just let it rest at room temp. I find it helps to have two bags, one thats chilling and one you're using or very small amounts in the bag so as to finish it before the heat of your hands warms it too much

        3. Magnolia Bakery's vanilla buttercream icing is pretty ridiculous; 6-8 cups of confectioner's sugar? CRAZY:


          1. I love cream cheese frosting, but there are very few flavors and textures that can balance the strong flavor.

            My usual a is a classic buttercream, http://www.pastrychef.com/Basic-Butte...

            1. My all time favourite is a classic french buttercream, where you whip egg whites, add a boiling water/sugar syrup whip and until cooled (you have to do this in a stand mixer with the whipping attachment) and once cooled add a ridiculous amount of butter (if I remember correctly it's 1 1/2 lbs). Then you can add whatever flavouring you want- vanilla (scraping out the seeds of a vanilla pod is my ultimate fave), coffee, melted bittersweet chocolate...

              drool drool drool...

              2 Replies
              1. re: maisonbistro

                Ah, well, I am definitely a fan of unusual flavors over the basics myself---so thanks, guys, keep 'em coming, and if you've got some thoughts on getting goodies like peanut butter, caramel etc. in there, all the better!

                1. re: maisonbistro

                  I love the classic buttercream, too. Such fabulous stuff, especially when a good quality dark chocolate is involved. Whenever I have this, though, I think of Paula Deen (all that butter) and an very amused.

                2. Brown butter icing/frosting. I could eat bowls of this.

                  1/2 c Butter
                  2 c Powdered sugar
                  Warm Cream, approx 2 Tb
                  1 ts Vanilla

                  Melt butter over a medium heat until golden nutty brown. Whisk in sugar, and add vanilla. Add warmed cream until desired consistency.

                  Dribble it down a butterscotch cake. Heaven.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: corgette

                    Ok I keep re-reading this thread. I bookmarked it because so far, there are quite a few good recipes.

                    I am butterscotch nut. Butterscotch cake? How is that done? Do you mind sharing?

                    1. re: chef chicklet

                      Ok, I read the terms of use, so I hope I'm ok posting this. I like the Butterscotch Cake recipe in Nigella Lawson's 'How to Be a Domestic Goddess,' copyright 2001, recipe on page 20. The ingredients are verbatim, but I'll paraphrase the instructions, which aren't diffucult at all.

                      The recipe is deceptively simple, but very rich and buttery, with a good dense crumb.

                      Butterscotch Cake

                      1 cup unsalted butter, very soft
                      7 TB softened brown sugar
                      1/2 cup sugar
                      4 large eggs
                      1 1/2 cups self-rising cake flour
                      2-4 TB heavy cream

                      2 8"x2" round cake pans, greased and lined with parchment

                      Preheat oven to 375.

                      Nigella recommends putting all ingredients into the food processor until smooth, adding cream until desired consistency.

                      I do it by hand, and cream the butter and sugars until light and airy. Then add the eggs, one at at time, with a spoonful of flour between each addition. Blend until smooth, then add the rest of the flour, being careful not to overmix. Finally, add the cream until the batter's on the runny side, but not too liquidy.

                      Divide the batter between the two pans and bake until done, about 25 minutes. Cool in their pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out to cool on a rack completely.

                      When I ice them, I make the brown butter icing above, and when I worked in a bakery, a little butterscotch schnapps too.

                      Nigella in her recipe suggests making a coffee-butterscotch cake by adding a tablespoon of espresso powder to the mix, or do what I like to do and slice bananas into the center frosting layer. Almonds go beautifully as well.

                      1. re: corgette

                        Ah thank you! Another great cake for the Fall Season and holidays!!
                        Oh I can't believe you mentioned Butterscotch Schnapps, I'm ashamed to admit I like that stuff! Not to drink, but great flavor.

                        Sound pretty yummy!!!

                        1. re: corgette

                          corgette- I just tried Nigella's butterscotch cake this week, and I was really disappointed. But then, I tried her icing too, which was all too sweet for me, and just tasted off (caramel-cream cheese blend). I mixed my cake batter in the processor - maybe that made a difference? I didn't get much of a butterscotch flavor, really - I was disappointed, and the cake tasted heavy and blah. Hmm.

                    2. Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
                      Awesome on a banana cake...or a spoon!

                      1. Roger that - I believe that as with mashed potatoes to gravy, the cake is a vehicle for the icing! For me the best is the old-school Seven Minute Vanilla Frosting, best with a Devil's Food Cake - have you ever? Soooooooo good! I don't have my mom's recipe but this one looks similar:


                        PS: I notice that you post in the Eastern USA region boards but your name intrigues me.....are you FROM Tatamougouche? I'm from Lower Sackville, NS :)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: eastcoastgirl_westcoastlife

                          No, I'm not--but some of the oysters I love most are! (Although, since I actually just left Boston after 10 years for Denver, I won't be eating many of those again soon...)

                          Yes, and I'd add to the gravy/potatoes and icing/cake dichotomies the claim that good maple syrup, mixed with melted butter, is the reason for pancakes...but I'm funny that way.

                          Anyway these recs sound great so far.

                        2. You're definitely not the only icing lover! But it does have to be homemade--ever since I found out that commercial bakeries tend to use shortening in their frosting, I've been grossed out by it!

                          I'm a buttercream purist--good unsalted butter, confectioners sugar, cream or half and half, and flavoring. My mom would make graham cracker "sandwiches" with leftover frosting, but I'll make frosting just for that!

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: coney with everything

                            My mom did the same thing! Chocolate frosting on graham crackers normally while sitting on the sofa engrossed in HGTV, haha.

                            1. re: ArikaDawn

                              Mine three! But it was my dad who did it. He's the dessert baker in the family.

                            2. re: coney with everything

                              Mine, um, FOUR! My Mom decorated cakes for our Bdays, and we would eat the leftover, multicolored frosting sandwiched in graham crackers. I though it was very cool because the different colors all swirled together looked like tie-dye. My Mom made what she called "decorator's frosting": crisco, powdered sugar, a little milk and vanilla and almond extracts. That stuff rocks on graham crackers! I think I liked that better than the cake she slaved over!

                              1. re: coney with everything

                                Do you have the ratio's or the recipe for this frostig? i am looking for a to die for buttercream.

                                1. re: vanity021

                                  You should really look for a french meringue buttercream - they are the best- rich, creamy ooooh so yummy. You will need a stand mixer (whipping attacment) and a candy thermometer - but man, is it worth it.

                                  1. re: vanity021

                                    Standard buttercream proportions for decorating are 1c butter to 4c sugar with 2-4 teaspoons flavoring and enough milk/cream to give the consistency you want.

                                2. I am also more about the frosting...My two favorites are cream cheese and I really love a "cooked" fudge frosting... The Magnolia buttercream is tasty as well...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: jinet12

                                    Can you elaborate on or perhaps post a recipe for your cooked fudge frosting? Thanks!

                                  2. I can't do the supermarket stuff, but this is what I crave: The Barefoot Contessa's chocolate buttercream. http://areyouhungryyet.blogspot.com/2...

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                      oh goodness. any recipe that can be paraphrased? I love the blog too by the way!

                                      1. re: chef chicklet

                                        Thanks! I can paraphrase the recipe here ... or you can email me at yahoo and I'll send it back to you. :)

                                        1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                          Whatever you want, maybe other would like to have it too? My Gooooodness It looks decadent!!! Would love to serve it for the holidays on a tall chocolate cake.
                                          Does the icing set up nicely? I realize it is butter cream based?

                                          1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                            It would be great if you could post it here. It looks great!

                                            1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                              I third the recipe request..looks dreamy!

                                              1. re: jennisad

                                                Here you go! It really is good ... mmm!

                                                Chocolate Buttercream (a la Barefoot Contessa but in my words with my comments)

                                                10 oz bittersweet chocolate (the Ghirardelli double choc. chips work well, IMO)
                                                8 oz semisweet chocolate (I use Ghir. reg. chips)
                                                3 egg whites (extra-large pref.), room temp.
                                                1 c sugar
                                                pinch of cream of tartar
                                                1/2 tsp salt
                                                1 lb uns. butter, room temp.
                                                2 tsp vanilla
                                                2 tsp instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tsp hot water
                                                2 Tbs dark rum, optional (but really good)

                                                If not using chips, chop the chocolate and put it in a metal bowl over simmering water. Let melt until smooth, then allow to cool.

                                                Place the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk briefly, then heat in the bowl over simmering water til they are warm to the touch, about 5 min. Then beat at high speed for 5 min, til the meringue mixture is cool and forms a stiff peak.

                                                Then add the butter, 1 Tbs or so at a time, while beating at medium. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then add the flavorings--the chocolate, vanilla, espresso, and rum if using--and mix til everything is completely blended in. If the mixture looks too soft, allow it to cool for a little bit, and then beat again. Enjoy!

                                          2. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                            go to www.hersheys.com and look at the recipe for "Heritage Chocolate Cake"...the cooked fudge frosting on that recipe is the one that I have used...delicious....

                                          3. HAs anyone tried a yogurt chocolate frosting? I had it in one my of cookbooks that got lost along the way. I really loved it. It was made using balkan style yogurt. Tangier than sour cream frosting.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: alex8alot

                                              I have searched for the yougurt recipe today in some of my cookbooks. I haven't found it yet, still looking though. I have a small library believe me. Do you recall the cookbook you got it from?

                                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                                hi cc! how nice of you to look. unforuntaely, all I remember is that the spine of the cookbook was silver. Clearly this is an indication that I have too many books to properly manage!

                                              2. re: alex8alot

                                                I haven't tried it, no, but here's another yoghurt frosting which intrigues me:


                                                I imagine you could use yoghurt cheese (creamy yoghurt, strained in a damp kitchen towel overnight) in a frosting; good creamy, thick consistency.

                                              3. oh thank you for starting this thread. New to baking cakes I know how to make only a few icings. Great recipes in here!

                                                1. That episode of Good Eats in which he makes the avocado frosting was on again this week. I have to admit that I am always fascinated. It's definitely going on the next cake. Has anyone made this?

                                                  6 Replies
                                                    1. re: heatherkay

                                                      When I first saw the avocado frosting even I (an avocado glutten) was skeptical. Cake you say? I had a hard time finding the right cake partner for it. Then...I read about a savory onion cake served with roasted peppers and shredded beef. The avocado icing went perfectly with it. I cut the sugar back from AB's original, but it was heavenly.

                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                        OMG! Can you post the recipe for the cake?

                                                        1. re: tatamagouche

                                                          i'll put it together and post the recipe later tonight.
                                                          question: should I post it on this thread about icing
                                                          or create a new thread?

                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                            I always have a dilemma about this issue - but I'd suggest posting a new thread - that way it doesn't get buried.

                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                              thanks MMRuth, off to do that now....

                                                    2. Great topic! I'm going to give the white choc cream cheese icing a try on our next raspberry cheesecake.

                                                      My go to frosting for strawberry cakes or summer fresh-fruit cakes.

                                                      2 (8 ounce) packages cream
                                                      cheese, at room temperature
                                                      1/2 cup white sugar
                                                      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                                                      1 Tablespoon orange juice
                                                      1/2 tsp. grated orange peel
                                                      1/8 teaspoon salt

                                                      whipped together in a large bowl.
                                                      2 cups heavy cream

                                                      1. CANNOLI CREAM FILLING makes a deliciously light alternative to icing too. We enjoy it frosted on chocolate almond cupcakes.

                                                        3 lbs. ricotta cheeseCC
                                                        3/4 c. confectioners' sugar
                                                        1/4 c. creme de cacao or other sweet liqueur
                                                        3 tbsp. grated bittersweet chocolate
                                                        2 tbsp. finely minced, candied orange peel
                                                        1/2 c. chopped almonds for garnish

                                                        Beat ricotta vigorously for 2 minutes. Add sugar and liqueur and continue beating for 5 minutes longer, or until smooth. Mix in chocolate and orange and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

                                                        1. http://www.leitesculinaria.com/recipe...

                                                          Last night I gave this recipe a try. As decadent the cake, the icing w/out question makes this yummy!

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                            Hi HillJ,
                                                            Can you clarify something about this recipe...are the eggs in the icing whole eggs or egg whites? It states "eggs" in the ingredients, yet the directions seems to suggest it is only egg whites that are being used. Also, do you know anything about the cookbook this recipe came from...the title suggests a lot of divine recipes! Thanks!

                                                            1. re: Laura D.

                                                              Laura D. it calls for whole eggs in the icing. Rich and a lovely caramel color.
                                                              Link to cookbook is above. Judging by this recipe and those featured on the amazon link, I'm intrigued. But I'll hop over to B&N Booksellers for a real peek first.

                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                Thanks for the clarification. I think that the word "peaks" along with the fact that I've only made buttercreams with egg whites and not whole eggs really threw me...I'll have to give this a try, and check out the cookbook!

                                                          2. Without a doubt, the cream cheese frosting that goes on top of the carrot cake in Maida Heatter's book called Great American Desserts. The book was published in the mid-80's and I think it is long out of print. This frosting is much more full of creamcheese in proportion to other ingredients, in comparison to other recipes. The carrot cake is also excellent. I usually make 1 1/2 recipes of the frosting, so I can be really generous when I frost the cake and have a few spoonsful left over!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Shayna Madel


                                                              Shayna that cream cheese frosting AND carrot cake recipe are a keeper. For 1.99 a gently used copy can be yours!

                                                            2. I'm on the lookout for an orange buttercream or a lemon buttercream. PLEASE. I'm in the mood to make either a lemon or orange cake tonight but sweety insists on buttercream and I really would like a recipe that someone can vouch for... thanks :) I do have orange blossom water, but I'm not sure what I'd use for the lemon -- I guess I could buy some lemon extract? Probably not lemon juice, right? Maybe lemon zest?

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                I love the Wilton buttercream recipe as a base to flavor. I use all shortening and water instead of milk, then add the flavorings. Lemon zest and a tsp of lemon extract is tasty.

                                                                And since this is an icing thread, I'm going to complain about Wilton taking the "all Crisco" recipe off their boards. The site says "NOTE: Changes in Wilton's traditional recipes have been made due to Trans Fat Free Shortening replacing Hydrogenated Shortening." I liked the Crisco recipe. Buttercream icing is not supposed to be healthy, it's fat and sugar.