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What are your go-to frosting recipes?

I always struggle with frostings, and I never remember what I did the last time. When I lived with my parents, my dad always just made my frostings for me. His chocolate frosting, for instance, is very simple- just butter, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, a little hot water, and vanilla, and it always tastes amazing. I've been able to recreate it a few times, but some of the time, it hardens up more than I would like it to. Anyway, I would like some fool proof, concrete recipes that I can go to time and time again. At the moment, I'm looking for a chocolate frosting and a vanilla frosting. I don't really want to go the ganache route, but I'm not sure buttercream is the way to go either, but I don't know. Last time, I used the Betty Crocker recipe for a chocolate frosting and it turned out really good, but my book is packed away at the moment! What recipes do you turn to for your frostings?

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  1. I have to admit that lately I've just been making a bittersweet whipped ganache for all my chocolate frosting needs. I mean, two ingredients (that I generally have around) and your done - how can you beat that?

    But, I've won baking contests with a variation on this version of Hershey's Chocolate Frosting. It's a lot lighter on the palate than whipped ganache. It's very easy to make and has been a dependable recipe for years..

    Hershe's Chocolate Frosting
    6 tablespoons butter, softened
    6 tablespoons cocoa
    2 tablespoon light corn syrup
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 cups powdered sugar
    2 to 4 tablespoons milk

    Beat the butter, cocoa, corn syrup, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and the smaller amount of milk, and beat well. Add milk until a spreading consistency is attained.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jazzy77

      That sounds good, jazzy. Am I right in remembering that the corn syrup would make it glossy and "pretty"? I think I'll try this next time I need a chocolate frosting. Thanks for posting.

      1. re: Steady Habits

        The corn syrup does make it glossy and "show pretty" (read: baking contest pretty), but the frosting sets on the outside, yet keeps a pretty gooey consistency on the inside without slipping down the sides, which I've always attributed to the varying sugar molecules hanging out in this recipe (I've heard that corn syrup doesn't allow sugar molecules to cyrstallize normally). I'm no food chemist though, and I started using this recipe when I was a kid, and there was always a large bottle of Karo in the pantry next to the Mrs. Butterworth's (I grew up in the midwest), so it was more convenient then. I don't regularly keep Karo anymore, so it's not as convenient as the whipped ganache.

    2. Not what you're after at the moment, but sometime try this "crun-chewy" broiled frosting recipe for many flavors of 9x9 or 7x11 single-layer cake. One half stick butter, melted and cooled, 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup milk, 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts. Mix together and spread atop slightly cooled cake which is still in the pan. Broil 8-9 inches away from heating element for 2-3 minutes (check at 2 since it can easily burn).

      1. My go to chocolate frosting is ganache (whipped for filling) and my go to vanilla frosting is neoclassic buttercream (often made with egg whites instead of yolks, or whole eggs) from the Cake Bible -- not too sweet, pipes beautifully, very smooth and delicious.

        1. Maybe this is too simple to be chowish, but it always gets gobbled up around here - whole milk or 1/2 & 1/2, powdered sugar, softened butter & vanilla. Add cocoa powder when you want it to be chocolate. If there's extra you can slip it onto graham crackers for a treat . . . . that's what my mom did for us.

          1. For a quick easy chocolate one, I melt chocolate and mix w/ sour cream, beat. It's so easy and quick and tastes great. Nyleve posted it here a long time ago, just 2 cups chocolate chips (I use regular chocolate), 1 1/2 cups sour cream, 1 tsp vanilla.

            For something that's a little sweeter, I use RLB's milk chocolate buttercream as another quick go-to recipe. I can post the recipe if you'd like it. You melt butter, a mix of milk and dark chocolate, let cool somewhat and beat in confectioners sugar.

            For a pouring chocolate frosting (for cakes kept in a pan), I like Texas Sheet cake frosting. It's so easy and you pour it over a warm cake which makes it so easy to do. It's almost like fudge.

            For a quick white frosting, I use Restaurant Eve's not your birthday cake frosting, which is the same as Magnolia Bakery's cupcake frosting:


            And, then if I want to spend more time, anything I've made from Cake Bible has been great but you have to make meringue, heat whites, etc. I stay away from frostings with non-heated eggs.

            2 Replies
            1. re: chowser

              If you could post the chocolate buttercream recipe, that would be great. I went looking through my baking books last night (the ones that I wouldn't let my husband pack!) and I just got nervous about buttercreams, because all of the recipe directions said to use immediately. I'm making cupcakes Thursday night for my husband to take to work on Friday.

              1. re: Katie Nell

                Milk Chocolate Buttercream
                1 lb milk chocolate
                8 oz. dark (bittersweet or extra bittersweet, preferrably)
                1 1/2 c. butter

                Break chocolate in squares, put in double boiler. Stir until it begins to melt. ( Can also be done in microwave stirred every 15 seconds). Remove from heat before completely melted and stir until melted. Beat butter w/ electric mixer in separate bowl. Beat in cooled chocolate until uniform in color. They recommend Lindt chocolate for texture and caramel undertones. Let it sit until it's spreading consistency. This sets up well and firms up to make nice scrolls. I also add a little espresso powder to it.

            2. Thanks for all the recipes, everyone! I ended up using jazzy77's chocolate frosting and chowser's white frosting this time around. I'm definitely bookmarking this thread for future reference. I made chocolate cupcakes with the chocolate frosting and white cupcakes with the white frosting, and then I made white chocolate and dark chocolate baby booties to put on the contrasting cupcakes for a baby shower at my husband's work. They turned out pretty cute. I was going to take a picture but my husband left the camera at work. I used almond extract in the white frosting and in the white cake, and it actually is very tasty! I used a white cake recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours (the cake with the raspberry jam filling) but I omitted the lemon zest in favor of the almond extract. I really liked the end result- it's not an open crumb but very moist. I used sour cream instead of buttermilk. I'm now eating one for breakfast! :-)

              2 Replies
              1. re: Katie Nell

                I've had my eye on that cake for a while now. Maybe I should just do it this weekend. I'll bet the sour cream affected the crumb and moistness but sounds like a good substitution.

                1. re: chowser

                  Maybe. It looks a little dense in the picture too. I guess the soon-to-be mama was pretty excited about the cupcakes... she was going to have one before the shower started! I guess she's entitled!

              2. Gotta say that my go-to has always been softened cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar all whipped up. Now that I've discovered Chowhound's Salted Caramel Frosting, there is no turning back. Frosted a nice chocolate layer cake with it on Thanksgiving and it was a hit. Today, I brought in chocolate cupcakes frosted with the Salted Caramel Frosting and I sprinkled Heath Bar bits on top for our Christmas --oops I mean HOLIDAY party--and there are none left. Everyone has been coming over to my desk raving about the frosting! The recipe is on the site!

                6 Replies
                1. re: jarona

                  Salted caramel frosting? Can you post the recipe or link please? Thanks!

                  1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                    It is on THIS site. I'm still trying to figure out how to do links. Anyway, if you go to sweets and desserts and type in salted caramel frosting you will get it. BTW--it is Monday and I've had people STILL coming up to me raving about this frosting!

                      1. re: chowser

                        Thank you for posting the link Chowser!

                        1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                          I second that emulsion! Thanks for the link. Now I just have to figure out how you did that:)

                          1. re: jarona

                            To post a link, just cut and paste the URL from your browser window into the body of your post. Once you post your reply, it automatically becomes a clickable link. Even easier than frosting!

                  2. For vanilla frosting, I am a big fan of custard buttercream, a frosting that's made up of a cooled cooked milk and flour "custard," butter, and confectioners sugar. It's easy to whip up nd has a really nice fluffy texture. I have used the recipe Krissywats first posted here:


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                      I think I'll try that next... it looks really interesting. I like exact recipes when it comes to frosting- that way it's more consistent!

                    2. Chocolate ganache:

                      1 cup whipping cream
                      1 cup chocolate chips (I prefer ghiradelli bittersweet)

                      Bring whipping cream to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat as soon as it starts to boil. Add chocolate chips and let stand 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Let stand another 20 minutes. Spread over cake layers on a wire rack (icing will drip, so put something underneath the wire racks!). Let cake layers stand 15-20 minutes. Assemble cake on wire rack, coat with remaining ganache and spread smooth to cover sides of cake. Let cake stand about 5 minutes, then transfer to desired serving dish.

                      Very easy and very tasty - sometimes I add a couple tablespoons of orange zest or about 1/4 cup of crushed peppermint to switch things up a bit.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Antithesisofpop

                        Do you really bring the cream to a boil? You don't have to bring the temp up that much and risk scorching the cream.... I bring mine to the point where it looks like it might think about boiling and then put the chips in.

                      2. My go-to chocolate frosting recipe is the chocolate buttercream from the Barefoot Contessa. It's rich and creamy and always makes me want to dive in: http://areyouhungryyet.blogspot.com/2... Holler if you'd like the recipe.

                        2 Replies
                          1. re: chowser

                            You should! It's really good ... mmm!

                            Interestingly, the recipe I have is for about two-thirds all the amounts listed on that link (so 10 oz bittersweet, 8 oz semi, 1/2 c egg whites etc). It's from her first cookbook.

                        1. My favorite simple chocolate frosting is from The James Beard Cookbook, Helen Evans Brown chocolate frosting. It is semisweet chocolate (5 oz.) melted, 1/2 cup of sour cream and a little salt. It is impossible to mess up and tastes great. It is a real "go to" chocolate frosting.