Icing/frosting is a necessity that can confound any recipe when you’re on a mission to make healthy, sugar-free sweets! But I'm going to let YOU in on a little secret… icing is EASY PEASY. The only thing complicated here is that there are SO MANY options. You simply must pick and choose what best suits YOU and your needs/taste preferences! Below you will find ingredient options and add ins :-)
Have fun with this process!!! No stress allowed, because trust me, you CANNOT mess this up!
*Dairy or Vegan. I prefer *soy-free Earth Balance
The creamier the better....
*Real deal if it’s your jam!
*Nut butter. Peanut, Cashew, Almond, Sunflower, etc. This lends a creamy texture & cuts the sweetness. Just add ½ - 1 cup per recipe
You have 2 options here!
If you’re looking for an easy peasy buttercream, cupcake/cake sort of icing, you will want option #1. Adding nut butter and/or cream cheese lends a wonderful texture and helps cut the sweetness of your sugar alternatives!
If you would like to use decorating tips for piping, I find replacing the 1-cup butter with ½ cup each, butter and shortening, lends better results.
For an easy and rustic look use a plastic baggie to pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Add frosting to the baggie and twist the top until the icing is gathered into one corner. Cut an opening into the corner and apply pressure to ice!
If you’re looking for an icing that will “softly” harden for cookies, go with option #2. This option is more of a dump and play, mix until it’s good, sort of recipe, BUT I promise you, it is NOT to be feared and VERY simple! This works GREAT for decorating cookies with sprinkles, etc.
Recipe Option #1
1 Cup Butter, softened
2-4 cups Powdered “Sugar” (go to taste)
½-1 TBSP Vanilla (and/or other extracts of choice)
1-3 TBSP “milk” of choice
*See “add-ins” above
1. In a large bowl, with a standing or hand mixer, heavily whisk your butter (and cream cheese or nut butters, if using) several minutes. The more you ensure it is heavily “creamed,” the fluffier your icing! If using shortening at all, WHISK IT BABY, and your icing will not be oily on your tongue!
2. Add vanilla, pinch of salt, and any additional extracts here. Whisk until incorporated.
3. Add your powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Feel free to add according to your taste preference.
4. WHISK! If using a stand mixer, I like to turn it on medium high and walk away for a few minutes. This will make your icing light and fluffy!
5. Add any coloring or zest last.
6. Decorate and ENJOY!
Recipe Option #2
Shortening (Butter will not work here. Again, go with healthy Nutiva or Spectrum brand)
Pinch of salt
*Optional- Any additional extract, zest, OR natural coloring
***Note, A 10-1 is a good gauge for sugar to shortening ratio, but seriously, go with the flow and don’t overthink this :-)
1. Place powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. The amount varies based on how much you need/how much you’re covering.
2. Place a plop of shortening in the center of your sugar… Yes, literally a plop, and nestle it right down into the sugar mound.
3. Pour super hot (boiling is good) over the plop of shortening. *I would caution you to eye-ball a TBSP. at a time if you’re only making a small serving of icing.
4. Using a whisk, smoosh the shortening and water together… You are essentially “melting” the fat. And begin whisking the surrounding powdered sugar into the wet. As you whisk, add water as needed to incorporate your sugar.
5. Add a pinch of salt and vanilla. If need be, add more powdered “sugar” to thicken it up, or water/milk to thin. You are looking for a very thick “drizzle.” This will firm up as it settles atop of your cookies. Decorate and ENJOY!