A Bit on Buttercream

Buttercream is the go-to-frosting for so many baked creations. It is perfect for frosting a cake, cupcakes and even the filling of a layer cake. But did you know that the basic recipe can be varied in many different ways? There are so many variations on this frosting.
 
Buttercream is a relatively modern recipe, that became popular after World War II. Makes sense, butter was very hard to get at that time (or so I'm told). Despite the name, buttercream recipes don't have to use butter. But "margarinecream" sounds silly. Buttercream can use use stick margarine or shortening (vegetable-oil spreads or tub margarine aren't recommended as they make the frosting too soft to work with). Buttercream is also one of the first frosting recipes that didn't require cooking or binding with a raw egg.
 
Buttercream Basics
Buttercream is easy to work with, fast to make and very versatile. Here are two basic buttercream recipes that can be varied dozens of ways.
 
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Prep: 15 min, Yields about 2 cups frosting
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 tsp vanilla
3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
3-4 tbs milk
  1. In medium bowl, beat powdered sugar and butter with spoon or electric mixer on low speed until blended. Stir in vanilla and chocolate.
     
  2. Gradually beat in just enough milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable. If frosting is too thick, beat in more milk, a few drops at a time. If frosting is too thin, beat in a small amount of powdered sugar.
     
  3. Creamy Cocoa Frosting~substitute 1/3 cup baking cocoa for the chocolate.
Mocha Frosting~add 2 1/2 tsp instant coffee with the powdered sugar.
 
White Chocolate Frosting~substitute 3/4 cup (3 oz) white chocolate baking chips, melted and cooled, for the chocolate.
 
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Prep: 10 min, Yields about 1 3/4 cups frosting
 
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1-2 Tbs milk
  1. In medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and butter with spoon or electric mixer on low speed until blended. Stir in vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk.
  2. Gradually beat in just enough remaining milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable. If frosting is too thick, beat in more milk, a few drops at a time. If frosting is too thin, beat in a small amount of powdered sugar.
     
Browned Butter Buttercream Frosting~In 1 qt saucepan, heat 1/3 cup butter over medium heat until light brown. Watch carefully because butter can brown and then burn quickly. Cool butter. Use browned butter instead of softened butter in recipe above.
 
Lemon Buttercream Frosting~Omit vanilla. Substitute lemon juice for the milk. Stir in 1/2 tsp grated lemon peel.
 
Maple-Nut Buttercream Frosting~Omit vanilla. Substitute 1/2 c maple-flavored syrup for the milk. Stir in 1/4 c finely chopped nuts.
 
Orange Buttercream Frosting~Omit vanilla. Substitute orange juice for milk. Stir in 2 tsp grated orange peel.
 
Peanut Butter Butter Cream Frosting~Substitute peanut butter for the butter. Increase milk to 1/4 c, adding more if necessary, a few drops at a time.
 
Recipes courtesy of Betty Crocker Cookbook, new edition
 
QUICK TIP: Don't beat the frosting too fast. If you do, you'll get more volume but you'll also aerate it and have a lot of air bubbles to deal with.
 
For more inspiration visit our Frosted board on Pinterest.