Dreaming in Buttercream

Sometimes you just have to quickly bake a cake and frost it. Just because your best friend’s baby is turning a month old, or another best friend desperately needs chocolate, or because its a Wednesday. Simple buttercream (made with butter and not shortening) can make everything look and taste oh-so-pretty.


I’ve been using the same buttercream recipe for the past 5 years and its extremely fail-proof. And it comes together in a food processor in just a couple minutes! Sometimes in addition to (or instead of) the vanilla extract, I add other flavorings (such as Bailey’s Irish Cream, or Kahlua, or Grand Marnier, or the best of all – Frangelico – which is Hazelnut liqueur) depending on the type of cake/cupcake I’m frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream (Makes about 5 cups, or enough to frost a 2 layer 9-inch round or 8 inch square cake)
4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar, not granulated)
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4-6 tablespoons whole milk (depending on the desired consistency)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Blend the sugar and butter in the food processor until smooth. Add vanilla extract and/or flavorings and pulse a few times. Slowly add the whole milk (water or half-n-half will do as well) 1 tablespoon at a time, ensuring that the frosting doesn’t become too thin.

To make Chocolate Buttercream, add  6 ounces of unsweetened (melted and cooled) chocolate along with the sugar and butter, and proceed with the rest of the recipe.


If the frosting becomes too thin, add confectioners’ sugar 1/4 cup at a time till desired consistency is achieved. It will make the frosting sweeter than desired, but it will hold its form. Its always easier to thin out the frosting than to get it to thicken to a spreadable consistency.

Make sure the butter is at room temperature. It should be soft and pliable. If its a warm day and the butter is on the softer side, chill it for a few minutes before making the frosting, or the buttercream may become too thin.

Stay tuned for easy frosting tips (pun intended).

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