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By Sheri Castle
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Sometimes the shortest path between making cake and eating cake is opening a can of ready-made frosting. Canned frosting is quick and easy, but most can benefit from additions that bring them closer to homemade. Here are a few tricks to make canned frosting taste better than ever.

Always begin by scraping the frosting into a mixing bowl and stirring vigorously until smooth and creamy. Add in the mix-ins a little at a time (you can always add more) and taste as you go.

These additions might change the frosting’s consistency. To thicken the doctored frosting, beat in sifted powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time. If the doctored frosting is too thick or stiff to spread, start by beating with a mixer on high speed to incorporate air, and if that isn’t sufficient, beat in milk or cream 1 tablespoon at a time. If a spatula can stand upright in the frosting with falling to the side of the bowl, it’s probably a good consistency for spreading.

Microwaving canned frosting to turn it into a pourable glaze is a clever technique, but less successful with doctored frosting because the additions don’t necessarily melt in the same amount of time or in the same way.

Each of these additions is for one tub of frosting.

Smooth Additions

Cream cheese. Beat in 8 ounces of room temperature plain or flavored cream cheese.

Whipped cream. Mix equal parts freshly whipped cream and frosting. You can substitute thawed whipped topping, but don’t try this trick with canned whipped cream that will quickly deflate and turn into liquid. Unsweetened whipped cream can tone down overly sweet frosting.

Butter. This makes a buttercream more buttery. Beat in 2 tablespoons room temperature butter, or more to taste. Add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter.

Peanut butter or other nut butter. Beat in 1/2 cup, or more to taste.

Nutella. Beat in 1/2 cup, or more to taste.

Cookie Butter. Beat in 1/2 cup, or more to taste.

Jam, preserves, or marmalade. Beat in 1/2 cup, or more to taste.

Lemon Curd. Beat in 1/2 cup, or more to taste.

Mix-Ins for Texture

Note: These tasty mix-ins might make the frosting too thick and chunky to spread without tearing or ripping the cake, so beat the frosting with a mixer until light and fluffy, and then fold in the additions with a spatula.

Chopped Nuts. Stir in 1/2 to 1 cup                                                                                               

Chocolate chips or other flavored baking chips. Stir in 1/2 to 1 cup

Toffee Bits. Stir in 1/2 to 1 cup

Sweetened Flaked Coconut. Stir in 1/2 to 1 cup

Sprinkles. Stir 1/4 cup. These can

Quick and Easy Flavor Boosts

Extract. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract works any flavor and will turn up the volume on any other addition. Other options include lemon, almond, orange, peppermint, or any extract that goes with the frosting or the cake.

Flavored Coffee Syrups. 2 tablespoons, or more to taste.

Bourbon, Kahlua, Chambord, Grand Marnier, or other liqueur. 2 tablespoon, or more to taste.

Strong Coffee or Espresso. 1/4 cup, or more to taste.

Dry Jell-O powder. 2 teaspoons, or more to taste. This is also a good way to tint white frosting.