Nothing transforms the way your cake or cupcake looks and tastes like the frosting you add to the top, but with all the different types of frosting, finding the right one might not be that easy.
Piping the frosting is the last step you need to do before your dessert is ready, but you need to pick a frosting type that pairs well with your recipe to complement the taste. Keep on reading to learn more about the different types of frosting.
The Difference Between Frosting and Icing
Both frosting and icing are used to cover cakes and transform their look and taste.
Icing is a thin glaze that can be used to coat cookies or donuts.
Frosting has a thicker texture and can be used to cover a whole cake or to create decorative patterns to transform its look. The taste, consistency, and texture of the frosting depends on the ingredients you’re using.
Types of Frosting
There are several types of frosting that can be used to coat and decorate your baked goodies and cakes. As a matter of fact, you can create a unique cake without changing the main recipe by simply switching between different types of frosting.
1. Buttercream Frosting
Also known as the American Buttercream, this is one of the most common types of frostings and the easiest to prepare, even if you’re still working on improving your culinary skills. You need two ingredients to prepare it, sugar and butter. This means that you can prepare it fast, and the results are guaranteed even if you’re not that experienced.
Without adding any colors or flavors, it has an ivory color and pairs well with most recipes of sponge cakes and cupcakes. It’s easy to pipe but should be added to cool cakes as it tends to melt in warm temperatures.
This frosting has a smooth, creamy, and buttery texture and tastes sweeter than other types of frostings. It doesn’t work well for decorations.
- Start by beating butter and icing sugar using a whisker at room temperature until the mixture is thick.
- Use it as it is or add a flavor to make it more unique.
2. Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting is white, so it’s usually used to coat wedding cakes. It has a mild buttery taste, so you can add any flavor to make it more special.
It’s a soft frosting and is slightly more difficult to prepare than the American buttercream. When it gets warm, bubbles start to form, but this can be fixed by whisking it one more time.
- Mix egg whites with sugar at room temperature.
- The mixture should then be cooked in a double boiler and whisked until all the sugar has dissolved, giving the buttercream frosting its airy texture.
- Let the mixture cool.
- Add the butter, one spoon at a time. Keep on adding butter until it forms stiff peaks.
3. Italian Meringue Buttercream
Italian Meringue Buttercream is one of the most challenging buttercream variations, but it’s also more stable. It has a smooth finish and a buttery texture, so it can be used to decorate cakes, especially the ones used in outdoor events.
- Mix egg whites with cream of tartar and a pinch of salt at low speed, gradually increasing the speed to medium.
- Add the sugar slowly until the soft peaks of meringue are formed.
- In a separate bowl, you should heat water and sugar until the temperature is between 230- and 240-degrees Fahrenheit. This sugary syrup is then slowly added to the mixer, and you should increase the speed until peaks are formed.
- Leave the mixture to cool off, or place ice cubes around the bowl.
- Add cubes of butter and mix slowly until the mixture has hardened and hard peaks are formed.
4. German Buttercream
Unlike other types of buttercream frostings, German Buttercream uses custard to add texture. It has a rich, creamy flavor and looks pale yellow because egg yolks are used instead of egg whites.
However, it’s less stable than other types of frostings and will melt in warm temperatures. It’s best used as a cupcake frosting or as a filling, but it won’t work for decorations.
- Bring milk to a simmer.
- In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks at medium speed in the mixer.
- Add half of the simmered milk while mixing, then add the mixture to the remaining milk while whisking as you bring the mixture to a boil.
- After turning off the heat, the mixture should be whisked for two more minutes.
- In a separate bowl, beat the butter until it’s fluffy.
- Add one tablespoon of the custard to the beaten butter gradually, until the mixture is perfectly mixed.
5. Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream Cheese Frosting is easy to prepare and has a sweet, yet tangy, flavor because the main ingredient is cream cheese. It’s smooth and creamy and works best with moist sponge cakes.
However, this frosting becomes runny in warm temperatures and should be refrigerated if it’s not used. It’s very similar to the American buttercream frosting because it’s made using butter and sugar.
- Start by beating the butter and brick-style cream cheese at room temperature until fluffy and clump-free.
- Add the vanilla extract and a pinch of salt while still mixing.
- Lower the mixing speed and add icing or powdered sugar until the frosting is smooth and clump-free.
6. Whipped Cream Frosting
The Whipped Cream Frosting is also known as the chantilly cream frosting. It has a light flavor and might look white, ivory, or pale yellow, depending on what you choose to add to the mixture.
It pairs well with fruit cakes, and you can easily add different flavors and colors to complement its taste. The two main ingredients in this frosting are whipped cream and sugar.
You can use this frosting as it is or adds mascarpone cheese to firm it up. This frosting loses its consistency over time and should be used immediately or refrigerated if it’s not going to be used.
- Start by mixing heavy whipped cream with powdered sugar. Powdered sugar contains cornstarch, so it will make the frosting more stable.
- Mix at low speed while covering the bowl with a kitchen towel.
- Keep mixing until it’s fluffy and airy, as overmixing can cause the frosting to curdle.
- Add the vanilla extract or any other flavor and mix for a few seconds.
- Spread creamy mascarpone cheese in a separate bowl and then add it to the whipped cream while mixing at low speed.
7. Seven Minute Frosting
Seven Minute Frosting is a type of cooked frosting that gives a marshmallow-like texture that melts in your mouth. You won’t use butter as the main ingredients of this recipe are sugar and cream of tartar.
Due to its pure white color, it can be paired with shaved coconut or fruit for decorations. It gives cakes a fluffy look and hardens over time. It’s slightly more difficult than other types of frosting as it takes time to prepare and requires careful monitoring.
- Mix sugar with the cream of tartar until the mixture is even.
- Add the sugar and cream of tartar mixture to the egg whites and water and whisk.
- In a double boiler, whisk periodically until the mixture looks frothy.
- Beat using a hand mixture for seven minutes, or until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
Ganache is a versatile frosting that can be dribbled over cakes or as a dipping for fruit. The ganache will not stiffen unless it’s chilled and is quite easy to prepare.
It has a glossy brown look and a rich, silky texture. It’s also quite easy to prepare because only two ingredients are needed. You can choose dark, milk, or white chocolate, and your ganache will look and taste different.
- Chop chocolate bars in a heat-safe bowl.
- Heat heavy cream or whipped cream on medium heat until it’s hot but not boiling.
- Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit for a couple of minutes.
- Whisk the mixture for a few minutes until it’s fluffy.
- Let the mixture sit until it’s cool and cover the bowl with a transparent film to prevent a crust from forming on top of it. When it’s time to use the ganache, beat it for a few minutes until it’s light.
9. Fudge Frosting
Fudge Frosting is a rich and sweet frosting that pairs well with mildly-flavored cakes. It’s soft and easy to spread but stiffens over time. It’s easy to prepare and can be used as a filling as well as a frosting for cakes and cupcakes.
- Melt butter on low heat and mix it with cocoa powder.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl and mix sugar and milk at low speed.
- Add vanilla extract and mix at high speed for 5 minutes.
There are many types of frosting available for when you want to prepare a delicious topping for your cake. Some of these frostings are quite easy that even a beginner can pull the recipe off successfully. Regardless of the cake you’re baking, the frosting you pick will completely change the way it tastes and looks.