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Frosting that is light and not too sweet?

I'm looking for something to top a almond-coconut cake that I'm making. I do not like things that are too sweet, and the frosting cannot be butter based (or shortening, margarine, etc). What do you suggest? I was thinking a 7minute frosting but am worried that it'll be too sweet. can I decrease the sugar in that or will it mess up the structure? I was also considering an Italian meringue frosting. Also, deep deep down, I was thinking about....cool whip....

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  1. Whipped cream frosting is my favorite because it's not too sweet; you could use cool whip, but it's so easy to whip up a batch from scratch, which can be flavored with any variety of extracts, etc,

    1. i'm very anti-Cool Whip, but lightly sweetened fresh whipped cream would be lovely, and you can add as little or as much sugar as you want to.

      1. There are a couple of suggestions:
        1. mix a box of vanilla instant pudding and a package of dream whip. Now add in 1/2 of the milk that would normally be required (if you need 1 c for the pudding + 1 c for the dream whip, use only 1 cup for the icing). Beat until thick and use as frosting.
        2. Use a standard commercial frosting that you buy in the store-- take it out of the container and whip it. It will almost double in volume and become less sweet. I've also added this frosting to dream whip.
        Hope this helps

        1. Being in Australia, I have no idea what cool whip is, but I'd whip some cream cheese until very light and fluffy and add a little toasted coconut to it for texture. Toasting the coconut would meld the cake coconut and almond flavours together nicely.

          1. You could also make a mascarpone, sour cream, or a creme fraiche frosting. Add less sugar than the recipe calls for and then add to taste.

            1. I kept meaning to reply re: you almond cocnut cake. Sounds like you have a cake recipe, but a frosting that works is whipped coconut cream. Skim off the thick layer in an unshaken can of full fat good quality coconut milk, or in some Asian groceries I have seen cans of coconut cream (not to be confused with cream of coconut which is a sweetened product). It whips like cream, but a bit heavier, but it must be cold with cold bowl and whisk. You can split with whip cream if you like, and you can adjust sugar as you like. Finally, you can stabilize with gelatin or agar agar if you are not serving right away.

              1. Delia Smith has a great and delicious recipie for marscapone/fromage frais frosting from an awesome carrot cake recipie: (english measurements)

                1 250g tub marscapone cheese
                1 250g tub fromage frais (you can use low fat)
                1 tbs sugar.

                Whip together. It's so good!


                1. You're right, 7 minute will be sweet, and if you reduce the amount of sugar...well, you're basically reducing the amount of frosting. And Italian meringue frosting has butter in it.

                  Why would you use cool whip and not whipped cream? I would put a touch of almond flavoring and a little sugar in the cream. Buy some commercial stabilizer or do the gelatin thing if you have to make the cake hold for a length of time.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: danna

                    I should clarify: Italian meringue buttercreams have butter (I suppose that's pretty obvious). I'm not sure what else you might mean...I think of 7 minute frosting and merigue frosting as being the same thing.

                    1. re: danna

                      To make the italian meringue buttercream you add boiling hot sugar syrup (248 degrees or so) into beaten egg whites, then beat in butter. Very fluffy, stable, rich but not too sweet.

                      Another possibility would be a marscapone whipped cream combination. You can sweeten to your taste. I think the marscapone might help stabilize the whipped mixture for a while (not real long but longer than the whipped cream alone.)

                      1. re: karykat

                        Dear Karykat,

                        Hi. I am reading your post nearly a year later, so I hope that you see my inquiry. Can you please provide the entire recipe for your version of an Italian Meringue Buttercream? Thanks so much!

                        1. re: KitchenRose

                          I think I've usually used the one in The Cake Bible. Which I have in my storage area right now. (All books don't fit here at once!)

                          Here's the method with pictures:


                          You heat a sugar syrup to 248 degrees, then beat in softened butter. Makes a nice glossy stable frosting that has less sugar than a powdered sugar type frosting. And still tastes nice and buttery.

                          Just be careful with the superhot sugar syrup when transferring it.

                          Some of the recipes don't bother measuring the temp but give you some guidelines for what the sugar syrup should look like when it's ready to add the butter.

                          You can see proportions and some of the recipes that don't use a thermometer here:


                          (Question for others: I think swiss meringue is supposed to be easier. I've just done italian. Any advantages and disadvantages?)

                          1. re: karykat

                            Dear Karykat,

                            Thank you so much for your reply. I made a Swiss Meringue yesterday for a bday cake. It turned out beautifully but it was way too sweet for my taste and marshmellow-like (although soft and very spreadable-easy to frost with). I will try the Italian Buttercream because I think they addition of the butter will resolve the issues I have with the Swiss style.

                            1. re: KitchenRose

                              Didn't the swiss meringue icing have butter? Maybe there's a difference between swiss meringue and swiss meringue buttercream?

                              Well, do let me know how you like the italian meringue bcrm!

                      2. re: danna

                        Well, the recipes that I saw for 7 minute frosting have much more sugar (twice as much) than the meringue ones I saw. Honestly, I don't like the flavor of whipped cream by itself (and not in mousse or something), its too rich for my tastes and tastes too much like butter.

                        1. re: lyntc10

                          If whipped cream seems too rich then I don't think you'd like the italian meringue which seems very rich to me (probably why I like it!) or the marscapone whipped cream mix (the marscapone makes it seem richer than just whipped cream to me -- again, probably why I like it, along with the greater stability.)

                          1. re: karykat

                            Oh, the italian meringue I'm referring to is just the meringue, not the buttercream. Like the one in this recipe
                            # 3/4 cup sugar
                            # 1/4 cup light corn syrup
                            # 1/4 cup water
                            # 4 egg whites
                            # 1/8 teaspoon salt
                            # 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

                            1. re: lyntc10

                              well, it's worth a try. you're right, that's less sugar than mine, and more egg, but you have 1/4 cup corn syrup to add to the sweetness. I assume the recipe calls for pouring sugar syrup into the beaten eggs?

                              If you have a kitchen torch, you might try pulling the frosting into peaks, and then torching them. I do that on the top of my banana pudding and it looks pretty good I think. Might give you a more dimensional flavor than just sugar, as well.

                    2. Maybe you could try just dusting it with a light dusting of powdered sugar

                      1. Let me chime in with the whipped cream people- please go with whipped cream! It's easy to make and easy to decorate- press toasted sliced (not slivered) almonds or even coconut (toasted or not) into sides of frosted cake for a pretty result.

                        1. Why not try a bitter chocolate glaze? It's not really light, but you could use a sparing amount, and it wouldn't be too sweet.

                          Or you could just spread a thinned fruit jam or fruit butter over the top, or make a fruit glaze.

                          I think, if you dislike whipped cream, there really aren't too many frostings out there that are light and have no butter and are not too sweet. Frosting almost always is very sweet and full of fat, usually dairy fat.

                          1. Blend marshmallow fluff with whipped cream cheese - start with 1:1 by volume and adjust according to sweetness preference. Add almond, coconut, and/or vanilla extracts if desired.

                            1. I've found that adding some extra salt to taste cuts the tooth aching sweetness of icing and rounds out the flavour nicely.