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Jan 15, 2011 11:25 AM

ISO frosting that's not too sweet and doesn't call for 4 cups of butter

Does it exist? My son has asked for a sinple yellow cake with vanilla frosting for his 14th birthday. I'm good on the cake, which uses lots of yolks, and I'd like to use the leftover whites in an italian buttercream, but every recipe I can find calls for tons of butter. I know I've made one that didn't have that much butter in the past, but have lost the recipe.

We're also a minimal frosting family--just a scrape thru the middle, around the sides and over the top does it, so would appreciate a recipe that can be frozen if we don't use all of it, or reduced without affecting quality.

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  1. Oh I see your problem--I just looked up "Italian Buttercream" and each one had more butter than the last! I'd just make a small amount and scrape it on as you like, and decorate nicely. The whites can be frozen, or add protein to any egg dish, or make meringue cookies, etc.

    2 Replies
    1. re: blue room

      Yep. I swear there is a recipe that doesn't use that much butter, with a similar technique (beat sugar and egg whites over boiling water), but it must have been called something else. Wish I could think of it!

    2. I always whip cream cheese (I use the lower fat variety) in my Kitchen Aid mixer with a little butter (half a stick to one package of cc) and powdered sugar (probably at least ~1 cup to 1 pkg cc) and whatever other flavoring I want (cocoa for chocolate, vanilla bean, extracts). You can pretty much make it as sweet as you want. It keeps well in the fridge. I usually use two bricks of cheese to frost one 2-layer cake.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Jen76

        I'd prefer a cream cheese frosting, but my MIL, who is coming to our little family party, says she can't eat it. Plus, I think my son likes the mellow taste of an italian buttercream

        1. re: Isolda

          How about a Mascarpone frosting? It won't have that tartness that cream cheese does.

      2. OK, my apologies, as this recipe doesn't call for egg whites, but I just had to share it, as it is so damn good. I recently made this vanilla buttercream from a couple of chowhounds' grandmothers' recipes (I believe axalady was one of the 'hounds. I can't recall the other). It is now my absolute favorite vanilla frosting. It's easy, creamy and delicious and has SO much less sugar than all the other recipes I've seen. The texture is wonderful and flavor is of sweet cream and vanilla, rather than just being sickly sweet.

        Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

        4 tablespoons flour
        1 cup whole milk
        1 cup butter
        1 cup sugar
        1 teaspoon vanilla

        Mix flour with milk. Cook over low heat until thick, whisking the entire time. Set aside to cool. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and cooked milk mixture slowly. Beat until it feels like whipped cream.

        14 Replies
          1. re: TorontoJo

            That sounds intriguing. I love the fact that it only has a cup of sugar in it. Can you taste the flour or is it cooked sufficiently to mask the taste? If I do this, I can easily freeze my leftover egg whites for another use.

            1. re: Isolda

              I promise that you can't taste the flour. Honestly, this frosting was a revelation for me. It boggles me that it uses regular granulated sugar and not powdered sugar and the texture is silky smooth.

              Make sure the flour and milk mixture gets nice and thick over a low heat (stir!), then make sure it's totally cool before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.

              Good luck and happy birthday to your son! :)

              1. re: TorontoJo

                Thank you! I am going to try this when I make his cake on Monday. I'll post back here or somewhere on CH and let you know how it went.

                1. re: TorontoJo

                  TorontoJo, with your endorsement I really do have to make this icing soon.

                  1. re: julesrules

                    Please do! And then thank axalady and all the other chowhounds that kept their grandmothers' recipes alive all these years and then passed them on to us. It's stuff like this that makes me love the home cooking board!

                  2. re: TorontoJo

                    This sounds amazing, and I will try it tomorrow, but I'm just wondering, has anyone tried making a chocolate version of this? Would it be better to throw some cocoa powder in it or some melted chocolate? Would really appreciate some advice.

                    1. re: chuang

                      Honestly, I don't know -- I've actually been wondering whether this could be adapted to a chocolate frosting. I think I would probably try the cocoa powder, as I would worry how the melted chocolate would affect the texture. If you try it, please report back.

                      Isolda did end up making the frosting and reported back on it in a separate thread:


                  3. re: Isolda

                    These cooked frostings are just amazing. I've made a recipe that is very similar -- the only difference is 5 Tbsp. of flour instead of 4.


                  4. re: TorontoJo

                    Do you know if this recipe pipes well?

                    1. re: raebmv

                      I don't know, sorry. I haven't tried piping it yet. The texture is quite light and fluffy -- it almost has the texture of whipped cream, so piping may be a little challenging. Maybe chilling for a little bit first would get it to a better consistency for piping.

                      1. re: TorontoJo

                        Thanks. I might give it a try. Will report back on how it goes.

                    2. re: TorontoJo

                      I have one question when whipping the frosting: in a kitchenaid blender, do you use the paddle to whip the frosting, or would the whisk attachment work better?

                      1. re: yfunk3

                        I use the paddle, as it's needed to cream the butter and sugar. I don't think the whisk attachment would be strong enough to deal with the butter/sugar mix.

                    3. i'm sure you're all settled, and hope it turns out well, but just in case... are you sure you weren't thinking of
                      Seven Minute Frosting
                      or possibly an Italian Meringue

                      happy birthday! please report back :)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Emme

                        Thank you! I love both of those recipes--if this were my cake, it would definitely have seven minute frosting, but my son doesn't like it. At least he thinks he doesn't...

                      2. I'm not vegan, but I've made this recipe for vegan friends and it's quite tasty. And it's not sickly sweet like grocery store-type cake frosting. I keep meaning to try it with actual butter instead of margarine to see if the recipe still works, but I haven't gotten around to it.