Making buttercream can be a daunting idea for many home bakers. Getting it just right takes practice, skill, and to be honest…a bit of instinct. On top of that, when one sees how much butter is required one’s pants seem to instantly feel a bit tighter around the waist! Don’t believe me? Try it. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of buttercream, especially if I’m not the one making it. Too many people just don’t get it right and its either gritty, or has the mouth-feel like you just bit into a melting bar of butter.
That’s why my Lighter Ermine Frosting recipe is the remedy to all your buttercream problems. (Don’t we all have problems that involve buttercream? I thought so.) There is ridiculously less guilt involved than fatty traditional buttercream recipes, way more ease in method, and a flavor that is less intense than the usual buttery topping.
Don’t get me wrong though. This isn’t some washed out “low cal=low flavor” recipe. I could eat this frosting with a spoon or on a shoe, its so good! Ermine frosting is often cast aside as an old school Red Velvet Cake companion that is out dated. It is definitely 180 degrees away from cream cheese frosting, being fluffy, light, and not at all tart. But it has its own place in any good baker’s repertoire. What is it like? Well, its similar to a stable whipped cream, but a bit more dense. Its creamy, fluffy, and satisfying. Ugh, just make it and you’ll see what I mean!
How do I keep it light? Making a simple roux adds structure and volume, while also cutting down on the butter needed. My version also has less sugar with just as much flavor. You can mix in whatever flavorings you like to make it your own. Try it with coconut extract for my Light Candied Pineapple & Coconut Cupcakes, around 300 Calories each!
Makes 10 light servings
- 2.5 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1/2 of 1/8 tsp salt (or just a pinch)
- 3 oz fat free half & half
- 1 oz cold water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or coconut extract for my Light Candied Pineapple & Coconut Cupcakes, around 300 Calories each!)
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
To make the roux:
- Combine the fat free 1/2 & 1/2 and water in a measuring cup.
- In a small saucepan (not yet on the stove), sift in flour and salt. Then slowly whisk in about an ounce of the FF 1/2 & 1/2 mixture. Whisk well to avoid lumps. Once smooth, whisk in rest of the 1/2 & 1/2 mixture and the sugar.
- Place the pan over medium low heat and whisk constantly, making sure to scrape the entire bottom of the pan, not just the center like so many people do. Continue cooking for 3-5 minutes until the flour is cooked and it’s nice and thick. Remove from stove top and the whisk in the vanilla or coconut extract.
- Immediately scrape the roux into a bowl and using a piece of plastic wrap, press down gently against the roux so that there is no air between the roux and the plastic wrap. It will keep it from getting a gross skin on top that will make your frosting chunky. Let it cool completely.
If you are a gypsy traveler like me, and have your TWO KitchenAid mixers in storage, use a pack-able hand mixer like the KitchenAid 9-Speed Digital Hand Mixer that I can’t live without. Beat the frosting in a silicone/plastic bowl like the collapsible ones I travel with.
If you are NOT a nomad and have your stand mixer on your counter like a normal person, use the paddle attachment to make this frosting.
- Once your roux is cooled and your butter is room temp, soft but not melting, cream butter 3-5 minutes on medium-high speed. You want it to whiten up and incorporate some air into it. Don’t forget to scrape down the sides.
- Once your butter is “whipped”, add in the roux mixture about a tablespoon at a time, fully incorporating/fluffing it into the butter before adding the next scoop. If it curdles, don’t panic! That just means you maybe added too much roux at a time. Just keep whipping it until it comes back together, then resume adding 1tbsp at a time. Once the roux has all been added and your frosting looks a bit like whipped cream, you can fold in whatever goodies you like, such as coconut for my Light Candied Pineapple & Coconut Cupcakes.