Icing and frosting cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and everything else under the sun is a labor of love, especially with goopy canned frosting making the task that much harder. Let’s chat about how we can improve store-bought frosting.
So, when you first open your can of frosting to either steal a spoonful for yourself (I’ve eaten chocolate frosting by the spoonful out of the can–no shame, you’re safe here) or just frost something, it looks firm. Absolutely prime for plopping onto a sheet cake or loading into a piping bag, right? However, you and I both know it’s deceiving you. Straight out of the can, it loses its form and becomes a certified sugary mess, sliding off your cupcakes and unevenly spreading across your sheet cake or cookies. Here are some tips and tricks to avoiding the mess and getting arguably more delicious homemade-ish icing.
One way to salvage store-bought frosting is to break out the electric hand mixer and reintroduce air into the mixture. By whipping the frosting on a low to medium setting, you’ll notice the frosting becomes much fluffier right off the bat as it aerates. After about a minute or two, check and see if it’s a consistency that you like. Once satisfied, you can either load it into a piping bag or spoon it right onto your treats. If you worry you won’t have enough frosting to go around after aerating (and you probably won’t) go ahead and buy an extra can or two.
Make It Taste Better, Please
There are plenty of reasons why canned frosting might not be your favorite despite the convenience, but it doesn’t have to be that way forever. Luckily, there are many ways to make the frosting to your liking and solve common problems.
The frosting is too sweet!
Add a pinch of salt to balance it out.
It’s not sweet enough!
Confectioner’s sugar is the main ingredient of homemade frosting and can absolutely sweeten store-bought frosting as well.
There isn’t enough flavor or it tastes dull.
Add 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract to buttercream or vanilla frosting. For chocolate frosting, a teaspoon or two of coffee (or diluted instant coffee in a pinch) can deepen the flavor. For festive fall flavors, a ½ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, allspice, or cinnamon can brighten the taste.
For fruit frostings like strawberry or blueberry, purchase the freeze-dried fruit and break it down to a fine powder with a food processor or use a premade fruit powder instead. Mix in the power and you’ll have frosting with a more natural fruity flavor.
*Note: While your first thought may be to use a fruit puree or jelly, don’t let the intrusive thoughts win. Adding puree, jam, or jelly will add a lot of water to the frosting, making it virtually unusable as the existing ingredients can’t soak up the additional liquid. If you would like to incorporate fresh fruit, puree, or jam, either use it as a filling in the cake, pipe it in the middle of the cupcake, or decorate frosting with fresh fruit on top. This will save you heartache and a lesson!
It isn’t rich enough and it’s too sweet.
Cream cheese. Cream cheese solves most problems in the baking world. Let an 8-ounce package of cream cheese come to room temperature then thoroughly combine it with the frosting.
It’s too heavy and too sweet!
Heavy whipping cream is another holy grail of baking. To make frosting lighter for cakes and cupcakes, add equal parts cream to frosting until the consistency is perfect. If you add too much and the frosting becomes runny, you can save it by slowly adding a tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar until it’s back to normal.
All in all, baking is hard for beginners and even seasoned bakers. Sometimes, you’re going to mess up or not be able to find or make what you’re imagining and that’s okay. Don’t throw your apron and oven mitts away just yet–learning is all about failing and trying again until you master the technique. Keep at it and reap the sweet rewards of victory!