Don't Buy Can Frosting, Instead Try...

by - Monday, February 06, 2017

Funfetti Pillsbury Frosting

In college (and grad school), when things were particularly stressful, I would head to the baking aisle and buy one of those little frosting jars. My flavor was rainbow chip, and it tasted like a slight numbing of my academic pains. I loved that frosting, and I had so much trouble stopping when I opened it up.

Now, my feelings have changed. When I have opened one of those cans recently, I smell the chemicals. Also, if frosting is basically butter with some sugar in it, why would it not decompose?

It is not like me to turn on anything cake-related, but those cans of frosting are more chemical than they are food. It takes 4 ingredients to make vanilla frosting- powdered sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla. Let's look on the back of this Pillsbury frosting, shall we?

can frosting ingredients list

So I count 17 ingredients. Maybe it would be slightly less if it weren't pink.

But before we get any further, let's all read that last line-


What?!? I mean, wait, what?!?!?!?!?!? What in frosting could POSSIBLY require genetic engineering? What kind of crazy radioactive spider bit this pink frosting? What did they do to those poor frosting cows?

Part of it probably has to do with making this stuff last. Because frosting should not be good for so long. It should go bad sitting in a cupboard with no refrigeration (try leaving a stick of butter just out- things go badly pretty quickly. As it should. You will notice none of the food God made stays all that long.

So the frosting people hire somebody to figure out what to put in their sugar goop so it tastes and feels like real frosting, but is unnaturally long-lived, so we can have backup frosting in our fridge and so on. Plus, it's easy to do in a way that people are still psyched about, because no matter what, you are mostly eating sugar.

Want more substantive information than my general shock and disgust? Check here.

This kind of thing bugs me more and more. I look at the rising numbers of diseases like Alzheimer's and cancer, and it's hard not to feel like the chemicals we ingest out of toxic chemical containers are related. None of us are perfect (myself included, I will throw a homemade frosting on a box cake if we are in a rush), but it is worth it to replace the synthetic with something natural (water instead of pop, etc) anywhere we can.

And for frosting, we so can. It is easy enough that you can have it done and in the fridge way before that box cake comes out of the oven. No more can frosting, let's do this:

anniversary cake, frosting recipe

1. Make it yourself!

There are lots of things that buying it tastes about the same and works just as well than the homemade stuff (looking at you, pie crust), but once you are used to frosting you made, those jars do taste kind of gross, like there is just a touch of nail polish remover in them. Homemade frosting is freaking delicious in all of its horribleness for you.

As long as you have a mixer (hand, counter, any mixer will do) you can make frosting in about the same amount of time it takes to open the can and mix those little sprinkles in top in. Look up recipes, you can find so many good ideas, but they are basically all soft butter and powdered sugar (I do not love the crisco ones nearly as well, but as always, do you). I use the same vanilla recipe for most everything, and it generally is well-loved. This is my vanilla frosting recipe:

Put a cup of unsalted stick butter, softened and 4 cups of powdered sugar into the mixer.
 Mix it up.
Add about a teaspoon of vanilla and a half cup of milk. Mix it up.
Add some more sugar. Mix it. Taste it. Repeat this step until you like where it is at (I usually only add another cup, so about 5 in all)

That's it! I am no master baker, but that recipe works every time, and I can always find variations when I need another flavor.

Mine usually comes out pretty stiff, and I like to put it back in the fridge to make it even more so. If you like that, cool. If not, you can always leave it out for the butter to melt OR add more milk. At no point should you need to call a genetic engineer.  It takes 0 skill and it uses mostly things you already have in your kitchen. This business is so easy.

2. Make a glaze instead

Ok, maybe you don't want to make frosting, you just want a little bit of moisture on top, you could make a glaze instead. For this, I usually use a fork to mix. Here's the recipe:

Vanilla Glaze

Put a bunch of powdered sugar in a bowl. Drop a little vanilla in. Pour in some milk. Mix and add more milk or sugar until it gloopy drips off the fork. It takes like 30 seconds.

Again, very scientific.

3. Melt some chocolate or peanut butter

I cannot vouch for the goodness of this, but a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter on it makes a lot of sense. And melted chocolate on top of cake also sounds delicious and awesome.

4. Powdered Sugar Designs

 I love this idea, so I am going to try it this week. What if you cut something out on a piece of paper and then decorated with simple powdered sugar? You could throw in cinnamon to be fancy, depending on the flavor of the cake. But even if all you do is cut out a heart, set the piece of paper on the cake, and sprinkle sugar on top, it will look pretty.

Plus, again, way less genetic engineering in your dessert.

So, this is such a simple one that hardly anyone does. Consider saying goodbye to that can and just trying a cake with your own frosting when you are making treats in the next few weeks. You won't be disappointed!

Don't Buy Can Frosting

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