This is the frosting that I used for the Candy Corn Cupcakes from yesterday. I've been eyeing The Pioneer Woman's favorite frosting for a while and then I saw this recipe posted over on Mel's Kitchen Cafe. Mel said she didn't have much success with The Pioneer Woman's frosting, but that this version left her speechless. Speechless? How could I not give it a try?!
After looking over both recipes, the only real difference this recipe uses corn starch and The Pioneer Woman's uses all flour. I decided to give Mel's version a try first (it was the speechless comment that convinced me). It was really easy to make. It does take some prior planning since you have to let the icing base cool. The final result was nothing short of amazing. The icing is light and fluffy. It is similar to a whipped cream icing in texture. I took these to work and everyone loved them.
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1% with stellar results)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (or 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp almond extract)
24 tablespoons (3 sticks) butter, cut into 24 pieces and softened at room temperature
In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium saucepan and pour the milk mixture through the strainer into the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and is thick enough that it starts to become difficult to easily whisk. This could take anywhere between 5-10 minutes, depending on your stove, heat, etc. It should bubble quite a bit at the end (be careful of the splatters) and thicken considerably.
Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and cool to room temperature – this is extremely important! If it is even slightly warm, the frosting won’t beat up properly. I refrigerated my initial mixture overnight. If you do this, make sure to pull it out in time to let it warm back up to room temperature. If you try to proceed with the rest of the recipe and the mixture is too cold, the butter won’t absorb into the frosting like it should.
Once the frosting is completely cooled to room temperature (it should have no hint of warmth at all!), beat the mixture with the vanilla on low speed until it is well combined, about 30 seconds (a stand mixer will work best for this). Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat the frosting until all the butter has been incorporated fully, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and let the mixer work it’s magic. Beat the frosting for five minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Let the frosting sit at room temperature until it is a bit more stiff, about 1 hour. I suspect if you chill it for an hour or so, it would be stiff enough to actually pipe with instead of frosting with a rubber spatula.
Chocolate Version: Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder to the sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt mixture in the first step. Once the frosting has been mixed for five minutes and is light and fluffy, mix in 3 ounces of semisweet chocolate that has been melted and completely cooled to room temperature.