Creating the Perfect Icing for Your Cupcakes
Is the icing your favorite part of a cupcake? Does a mere glimpse of the perfect light and fluffy swirl through a dessert case window make your eyes dilate, your mouth water, your taste buds scream: We want i-cing! We want i-cing!
Just as the old adage suggests, when done properly ‘the icing on the cake’ can be the sweet finishing touch that enhances the flavour of a cupcake. On the flipside, when incorrectly executed it also has the power to ruin. We’ve all been subjected to inedible icing that’s either too hard, too runny, too sugary, to lumpy, too bland—too neon pink. Gulp. And we all know where it ends up—scraped off into little mounds of disappointment on the side of the plate. Tragic.
Icing-lovers, take heart! In this post, I’ve provided some tips that will help to get your icing preparation technique to the next level of yum.
- Measure up! Baking is as much a science as it is an art and craft. Following a recipe exactly will help to ensure your success. It seems like a no-brainer, but when we’re under time constraints, shortcuts can be all too tempting. I’d encourage you to channel your inner chemist and follow that recipe like it’s the procedure to an experiment.
- Temperature. Working with solid fats (e.g. butter, cream cheese) at room temperature will make it easier to incorporate air and sugar into your icing, making it light and fluffy.
- Consistency is key. Icing is best when it is smooth and creamy. As mentioned above, working with fats that are at the correct temperature will help the overall consistency. Also, if you find that your icing is on the runny side, this can be corrected by adding a bit more icing sugar. Many recipes provide a range when it comes to the amount of icing sugar (e.g. 3-4 cups, 6-8 cups, etc). Conversely, if your icing is on the lumpy and dry side, adding moisture (e.g. milk, other liquid flavorings) one tablespoon at a time can help to loosen things up a bit.
- Whip it good. Whip it real good. One of the key attributes of fabulous icing is its light and fluffy texture. So, take the time to beat in lots of air. The bonus is that this will also help with the overall consistency of your icing.
- Scrape. Then scrape some more. By scraping down the sides of your bowl, right to the bottom, you will ensure that all of the ingredients in your recipe actually get incorporated into the icing.
- Melt in your mouth, not on your cupcake. Make sure your cupcakes are completely cool before you apply the icing. Otherwise, all of your hard work will simply melt and slip off. In a crunch for time? Pop the cupcakes in the fridge to speed up the cooling process.
- Fridge to set. After decorating your cupcakes, place them into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. This will help the butter in the icing firm up and set.
Wishing you sweet satisfaction,