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help with vegan chocolate frosting

My vegan recipe for chocolate frosting just doesn't make it for me, mainly, because I don't like the taste of vegan "butters". They're a tad too salty for me in cake frostings. Also, every time I make chocolate frosting, the finished product looks whipped as opposed to creamy. Perhaps I'm beating it too long (5-7 minutes with my KA mixer, paddle attachment). I have tried Spectrum Naturals Organic Shortening in place of EB, but find the texture is a bit too soft. I'm beginning to think my recipe is just not that good. This is the one I use:
4 oz. EB in the tub (the sticks are a little waxy)
1/2 c. cocoa powder
3 cups confectioners sugar
3 tbs. almond milk
1 ts. vanilla.

I sift sugar and coco powder together and add to already beaten EB. Add remaining ingredients and beat for 5-7 minutes.

If any one has a better recipe (family doesn't like it too chocolate-y, that's why I use cocoa powder), please share. Wish I could find a vegan butter sub that doesn't have salt, but haven't been successful. Coconut oil has too strong a flavor, unless some one could suggest a brand that is very very mild. I know I could use Fleishman's unsalted sticks, but don't want the transfats. Butter and lard are just not options. Tall order, here, I know. Thanks for any help with the recipe or products.

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  1. Addicted, did you know there is a new board for vegans and vegetarians? Click up above on View all Boards and you'll find it. You might get faster answers there. Maybe the mods can switch your post for you.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nemo

      Thank you, nemo. Didn't know about the vegan/veg board as I always come here. I'll check it out.

    2. Sadly, your problem has nothing to do with the recipe. Butter fat has unique properties that cannot be duplicated from vegetable oils that are hydrogenated. If you use vegan butter substitutes, the problems you mention are par for the course.
      The only solution I can think of is to avoid frosting completely. Using nouvelle-cuisine techniques, figure out how to serve wonderful cake desserts w/o frosting.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jerry i h

        I love frosting and I've actually had some good non-dairy ones, but since they were commercially prepared, my guess is that there was a healthy dose of transfats to go along with the good texture and taste. I wish I could forgo frosting, but when I make layer cakes, I so crave a really good icing. Thanks for your reply, jerry.

      2. I have made icing for my dairy allergic nephew with a bit of success. If you live in Canada I know of 3 options for the fat, if you live in the US then maybe 2. EB I assume is Earth Balance, that is one of the options, though I've never tried it. The two I have tried are becel vegan margarine, and presidents choice vegan margarine. I have made chocolate icing with just the margarine, icing sugar and cocoa powder and it was ok, to make it 'cream cheese icing' I added tofutti which simulates cream cheese, and worked very well in the icing.

        1 Reply
        1. re: TeRReT

          Just today, I found a blog that mentioned Becel margarine, but they don't sell it in the States nor do they ship. Haven't heard of President's Choice. I'll google it. Thanks!

        2. I like cooked vegan frostings using coconut oil. nutiva is pretty neutral tasting. But my favorite also has coconut milk, Everyone ( not just vegans) rave about it. http://grist.org/food/my-vegan-valent...

          1 Reply
          1. re: magiesmom

            Thanks, magiesmom. I'll check out the link.

          2. I had some fantastic desserts made with cashew cream at a vegan restaurant recently -- it's similar to a rich whipped cream, and I bet could make a good frosting. It wouldn't work in that recipe -- it's way too wet, but a quick google is turning up lots of recipes.

            In general, recipes like the one you've been using are dependent on butter's butter taste to drive a bunch of the flavor -- as well as textural issues. I'm not surprised it's not turning out well. Look for recipes designed around whatever fat you're using, and you may be better off with a ganache-style recipe rather than a buttercream style.

            1 Reply
            1. re: antimony

              What you say makes sense. I'll check out some recipes that use different fats. I know I can always make ganache or a glaze, but I really prefer a thicker, more substantial frosting for my layer cakes. Thanks for the feedback!

            2. this is a link to a discussion on vegan ganache that was on the home cooking board a couple of months ago.


              1 Reply
              1. re: wonderwoman

                Thanks, wonderwoman. I actually replied to this thread a while back as I really like ganache, but I'm looking for a more substantial frosting for my layer cake. I appreciate your taking the time to reply.

              2. Based on the frosting I make, I would leave out the 3T. almond milk, and just trickle in the smallest amount you need to bring the frosting to the consistency you want. I make the recipe in this link: (http://www.chow.com/recipes/10856-veg...), but as I commented in the comments section there, I never, ever need any type of milk. The only liquid I use is the vanilla (or other flavor) extract, and it's always the perfect, buttercream consistency. I only use the Earth Balance in the tub, not the sticks, and not the shortening. I have not made chocolate frosting though, so I can't speak to that. However, I use 3 1/2 cups of sugar, so if your recipe calls for 3 cups sugar and 1/2 cocoa, that should work out to the same consistency. Good luck.

                1 Reply
                1. re: queenscook

                  Thanks, queenscook. I'll try my recipe again and trickle in the almond milk. Still wish I could find a non-hydrogenated butter sub that isn't salted and isn't coconut oil. Thanks for the link to your comments. I appreciated reading them.

                2. Have you tried organic palm shortening?

                  1. This is not a creamy vegan icing recipe but a good chocolate icing for cakes.

                    Vegan Jam and melted vegan chocolate chips in a 1:1 ratio.

                    It's delicious and satisfying and super easy.

                    1. I absolutely love the cream cheese frosting (even though it's not very tangy) from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. You can find it on the internet with a google search. It's my go to icing, and I've never had an omnivore complain - in fact they usually rave about how great it is! It only uses 1/4 cup of margarine (and you can use trans-fat free EB/nuttelex).

                      I also do love Bryanna Clark Grogan's "cooked frosting" from her book World Vegan Feast. This includes some agar to set it.

                      If you're willing to go *really* out there - Dreena Burton has some fantastic frostings with some improbable ingredients - a silken tofu base that doesn't taste like silken tofu, coconut oil, etc.

                      Don't be afraid to consult the experts - vegan cookbook authors. Let me know if I can help.

                      1. If your addicted to cake I would suggest getting the SINFULLY VEGAN book by Lois Dieterly.. It's made by this elementary teacher who after so many years just up and changed everything about herself and loved it so much. She wrote a vegan cookbook in desserts and opened a restaurant, it sounds right up your alley and there are a things like Mocha Goober Cake.. and New Fangled Minced Meat Pie.. Which isn't actually meat at all but teaches ways to incorporate vegan ideas with the old ones. It helped me fit vegetarianism into my life even when I don't feel like going to the trouble.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: PeppyKitchen

                          I have to say - I've had absolutely no luck with that book, and have heard nothing but awful things about it!

                          1. re: mattheworbit

                            Wow.. How did you not get what I wrote about it.. She is an excellent teacher when you teach for a certain amount of years your always going to be a teacher. It's a great learning book, to each their own I guess.

                        2. My preference for vegan frostings is usually to make ganache - basically, chocolate melted with coconut, almond or soy milk (sometimes some extra oil added for extra fat), and then allowed to come back to room temp / spreadable consistency.