If you ask some people, a cake isn’t truly finished without frosting or icing on top. That being said, it isn’t always top of the mind. Very often, baking can mean such attention to detail focused elsewhere, that the finishing touches are something of an afterthought. But that’s OK. Usually.
Of course, there are other times when you need to make a last-minute frosting or icing but upon exploring your baking cupboard realise you don’t have the ingredients. But fear not, all is not lost. Here we’ll look at how you can still make icing when you’ve run out of powdered sugar. And then, as an added bonus, how to make frosting even when you’re out of milk or butter as well.
How to make icing without powdered sugar
We’d like to draw your attention to an Ermine icing recipe from Bebs at the Foxy Folksy good food blog. This isn’t just a fallback for when you’re out of powdered sugar, but is bound to become some people’s go-to icing recipe.
Despite the name, this is more of a buttercream frosting with a mousse-like texture than an icing. Now, buttercream frosting tends to fall into two categories: the simple to make but incredibly sweet classic American buttercream and the less sweet but hard to make Swiss buttercream. Ermine icing is a perfect combination of the two. It’s less sweet than the American version but much easier to make than the Swiss.
Oh, plus it has the added bonus of being chocolate flavour.
You can find all the ingredients, steps, and even nutritional information at the Foxy Folksy blog, but here we’ll give you an overview of the method just to demonstrate how easy it is. This may also serve as an inspiration to those who prefer to find their own way in the kitchen rather than follow recipes exactly. Here’s an abbreviated guide to the five steps for making this icing, followed by a more detailed description of each step:
Mix the dry ingredients and whisk in the milk.
Boil on low heat, stirring, until thickened. Add vanilla.
Cover and let cool.
Beat for a couple of minutes.
Add chocolate mixture to butter beaten until fluffy.
Combine flour, sugar, salt and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl, then transfer it into a saucepan. Pour in milk while whisking thoroughly until all the dry ingredients have dissolved and no lumps remain.
Over a low heat, bring the pan to boil. Stir continuously to ensure you don’t burn the bottom. Once bubbling, let the mixture cook until it thickens to the consistency of pudding. Then turn off the heat, add vanilla extract, and whisk thoroughly for another minute or so.
Pour the mixture into a shallow bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Ensure the plastic wrap touches the surface of the mixture so that it doesn’t form a skin, then allow to cool. (You can do this in the fridge or on your kitchen counter, depending on how much time you have.)
Once cooled, beat it for a couple of minutes. You can skip this step if you want a harder frosting more similar to icing.
Beat your softened butter until it goes fluffy and then start adding the chocolate mixture one tablespoon at a time. Mix well after each spoonful of chocolate mixture. The end result should be thick and creamy.
The buttercream will now be ready to use immediately or store covered in the fridge for up to seven days.
How to make chocolate frosting without powdered sugar and milk
If you don’t have milk or powdered sugar, then Detoxinista has a fantastic chocolate frosting recipe you can turn to hereinstead. It’s completely vegan and uses coconut cream instead of milk. If you can’t find coconut cream itself, you can simply scoop out the thick stuff from a can of coconut milk. Just be sure not to absent-mindedly shake it before opening.
How to make white frosting without powdered sugar
If you’re not going for chocolate, you can also make an ermine (buttercream) frosting that is white or just straight vanilla flavoured. Essentially all you need to do is cut the cocoa power and voilà, you’ll have white frosting for your cake instead of chocolate.
Another good reason to recommend this simple and relatively healthy recipe is its use of soft dates to complement the chocolate flavour. Even if you’re not vegan or short of powdered sugar and milk, that alone might make this your first choice of frosting for certain things. Why not try it as a topping for your favourite fruit cake?
How to make frosting without butter and powdered sugar
Here’s another vegan frosting recipe – and also paleo – to turn to in your sweet-tooth’s time of need. This one’s from self-proclaimed nutrition nerd Lindsay Cotter at her gluten-free food blog, Cotter Crunch. The great thing about this recipe is that Lindsay only gives you the steps you need to create the base of your frosting, allowing room to add your own sweet flavours, such as chocolate or maple syrup. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
Yet again, this recipe relies on coconut cream to replace the usual dairy. But worth noting is that it’s much better after 24 hours in the fridge to chill and thicken. If you can, try to leave yourself plenty of time before frosting your cakes.
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