Sweet Lemon Frosting

white cake with lemonThe Sweet Lemon was, at one time, one of my preferred names for a bakery. Alas, there is already a Sweet Lemon Bakery in London, so I’ll just have to figure out another name for the bakery that I’ll open someday.

This frosting is a creation very similar to lemon cream cheese frosting, but with far more sweetness because of the ratio of lemon curd and powdered sugar to the cream cheese. You can certainly adjust based on your own taste preferences, adding more or less lemon curd to round out your flavors. I originally paired this with a white cake that was filled with lemon curd, but you could use it on lemon, strawberry, or raspberry cupcakes for delicious results. I hope to try out a raspberry cupcake with this frosting over the summer, when raspberries are in season.

The recipe below frosted the top of one 8-inch round cake; you could easily increase it to frost an entire two-layer cake, 24 cupcakes, or a sheet cake if necessary.


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon curd
  • About 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar


In a mixing bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until very well blended, about 3 minutes.

Add 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon curd; beat on low to begin, then increase speed and beat on medium until well-blended. Add additional cup powdered sugar and additional tablespoon lemon curd; beat on low to begin, then increase speed to medium and beat until very well-blended. Taste; add another 1/4 cup powdered sugar if desired.

Fresh Strawberry Buttercream

strawberry lemonade cupcakesThis is prize-winning frosting, my friends. Literally. I used it on strawberry lemonade cupcakes last summer and won first prize in the baking contest at the Soergel Orchards strawberry festival.

Unlike my raspberry buttercream, this recipe requires fresh strawberries that are pureed and incorporated into the mixture. Farmer’s market strawberries, which are usually small and more pink than red, are preferable to the super market kind that are vibrant red, large, and definitely not as flavorful.

Bring all of your ingredients to room temperature before preparing this frosting; it yields the best results. The recipe below frosted 24 cupcakes.


  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • Scant ¼ cup strawberry puree, at room temperature


In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and lemon juice on low speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.

Gradually add powdered sugar, in half-cup increments, beating until fully incorporated.

Add strawberry puree, mixing until completely incorporated, about 1-2 minutes.

Using a small cookie scoop, scoop frosting onto tops of cupcakes and spread with an offset spatula. Frosting can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days; refrigerate cupcakes after they are filled and frosted for up to 3 days.

Note: you can adjust the sweetness or tartness of this frosting very easily by adding more lemon juice or puree; you’ll just need to add more sifted powdered sugar so the frosting isn’t too runny.

Peppermint Buttercream

peppermint pattie cakeSo, it was Christmas, and I wanted to make a dark chocolate yule log with peppermint frosting. While the yule log didn’t quite work out, I did end up making a dark chocolate cake and frosting it with the recipe below…and it was delicious.

Peppermint buttercream could pair with vanilla, white, or peppermint cake or cupcakes, but my preference would certainly be dark chocolate cake or cupcakes, reminiscent of a York Peppermint Pattie.

The crushed-up peppermint candies are certainly optional; some peppermint buttercream recipes call for mixing crushed candies right into the frosting, rather than using them as a garnish, so you could do that if you prefer. Peppermint Patties might make a fun addition to this frosting if you cut them into wedges and placed them along the outside of your cake, or just on top of each cupcake.

This recipe yields enough for one 9 x 13 sheet cake.


  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • red and white peppermint candies, crushed (optional)


Place butter in a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed for 1 minute using a paddle attachment. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until the sugar is fully incorporated; this will take several minutes. I cover my mixer with a kitchen towel to prevent a powdered sugar storm.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and add peppermint extract, vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon heavy cream. Beat until well combined, scraping sides of the bowl frequently; beat in additional tablespoon of heavy cream and continue beating for 1-2 minutes for a smooth, even consistency.

Frost the cake and sprinkle the edges with crushed peppermint candies if desired.

Vegan Vanilla Frosting

mo cupcakesVegan frosting? Yes, it does exist. And this version is delicious.

Okay, so most folks who are vegan are probably more health-conscious than I am and might be appalled to see one full cup of vegetable shortening in this recipe, but trust me, it’s the only way to go. I got this recipe from my cousin Barb, who has a friend whose children have various food allergies, including dairy and egg allergies. The friend actually got this recipe from her grandmother, who called it something like “Depression frosting,” likely because during the Depression dairy and eggs were scarce. It remind me a great deal of my grandma Zella’s frosting, which includes egg whites.

Just a caveat: you really do need to take the full 10 minutes to whip this frosting, or the ingredients won’t come together properly. You could also certainly cut the recipe in half for a smaller yield; this frosted 36 cupcakes very generously, with just a bit left over.


  • 1 cup shortening
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 cups powdered sugar


In a mixing bowl, combine shortening, 1 teaspoon vanilla, water, and 4 cups powdered sugar. Mix on low speed, then increase to medium-high and beat for 10 minutes, until smooth. Add remaining powdered sugar and additional teaspoons of vanilla extract, beating until smooth.

Frost cupcakes as desired; you can add food coloring for tint if you like, once frosting is fully mixed.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

spice cupcakesThis frosting is one of my favorites ever. It has a smooth texture and delightful maple flavor that can, I promise, only be achieved if you’re using real maple syrup. Please, please, please don’t use maple flavoring or, heaven forbid, pancake syrup…it will just not be the same. Trust me.

I originally created this frosting based on a few other recipes that I saw online, then tweaked it reach the consistency and flavor that I wanted. It is an excellent complement to spice cupcakes, but could also pair well with pumpkin or cinnamon cake or cupcakes; I can also imagine it as a nice pairing with brown sugar bundt or pound cake.

The recipe below yields a fairly large quantity, enough for 24 regular-sized cupcakes and 16 miniature cupcakes.


  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 5 tablespoons pure maple syrup


In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese for 2-3 minutes, until very smooth and well-blended.

Add one cup powdered sugar, beating until combined, followed by 2 tablespoons maple syrup, again beating until well-combined. Add additional cups powdered sugar and remaining tablespoons of maple syrup alternatively, beating until frosting is very smooth.

Transfer frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Store in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature before serving.

Raspberry Buttercream

dark choc with rasp buttercreamThere are many recipes out there for raspberry buttercream that require fresh raspberries. Since it’s winter and raspberries aren’t in season, I searched out a recipe that could use raspberry jam instead and found one very similar to the recipe below, which I adapted in quantities to reach both the consistency and flavor I wanted.

The great thing about this frosting is that it is so easy to make, with just three ingredients; just be sure you use seedless raspberry jam. Pairing-wise, this frosting is a great match for dark chocolate, but it would also complement regular chocolate, white, almond, or lemon cake or cupcakes very well.

If you’re after a more brilliant pink shade, just add a few drops of red food coloring or a bit of pink gel paste food coloring to help it along; just be careful not to thin the frosting too much with liquid food coloring or it’ll be too thin to pipe well.

The recipe below frosted 24 miniature and 10 regular-sized cupcakes, so it would probably be enough for 24 regular-sized cupcakes, depending on how much frosting you like per treat.


  • 8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted


In a mixing bowl, beat butter and jam until very well-combined, about two minutes; the mixture will be lumpy, but that’s okay.

Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating for about 2 minutes between each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl frequently. Continue to beat until frosting is very smooth.

Transfer frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe onto cupcakes. Store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature before serving.

Cocoa Frosting

vanilla with cocoa frostingRecently, I searched for a chocolate frosting that wasn’t buttercream, but rather a richer, more complex flavor. I found this recipe on the Hershey’s website and adapted it slightly to incorporate a greater amount of vanilla extract (as always) and a bit more powdered sugar for texture purposes.

This frosting smells delicious, very like a cup of hot cocoa. I paired it with vanilla cupcakes but I can see it as a good match for almond, white, chocolate, or strawberry cupcakes. It is very easy to pipe and has a smooth texture, so you can use star tips or plain tips, whatever your decorative sensibilities may be.

The recipe below yielded enough frosting for 12 miniature cupcakes and 11 regular-sized cupcakes, so I’d recommend increasing the ingredients by half to accommodate 24 cupcakes.


  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine melted butter and cocoa powder. Beat on low speed for about 1 minute, then increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more.

Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat on low speed, then add about half of the milk, continuing to beat on low speed, until combined. Follow with another cup powdered sugar and remainder of milk, beating on low until combined. Add remaining powdered sugar, then vanilla, beating until frosting is creamy and spreadable, but not too thin. You may need to add just a bit more powdered sugar if your frosting is too thin to be piped easily through a piping bag.

Fit a piping bag with a medium star tip and pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Store in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature before serving.

Cream Cheese Frosting II

red velvet iiThis is an updated version of cream cheese frosting that produces a very smooth texture ideal for piping.

Cream cheese frosting is a good complement to red velvet cake and carrot cake, but its possibilities are truly endless. Regular cream cheese frosting is great on its own, but it can be enhanced with a range of flavors to complement any number of cake or cupcake flavors.

Fruity flavors like raspberry or lemon are great for spring and summer cupcakes, or treats for bridal or baby showers or Mother’s Day. Maple, cinnamon, and orange are good for fall and winter in complement to spice cakes. Add in some cocoa powder for a chocolate cream cheese frosting or spike it up with some whiskey for a complementary frosting to stout cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, or spice cupcakes.

This recipe is also easy to adapt to smaller or larger batches. The ratios below are ideal for a batch of 24 cupcakes.


  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar


In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese for 1-2 minutes, until combined. Add vanilla and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes.

Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. If you’d like your frosting to be a bit sweeter, add the remaining 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.

Fit a piping bag with a large plain tip and pipe frosting onto cupcakes.

Store in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature before serving.

Caramel Frosting






Many amateur bakers are intimidated by caramel, but this recipe is very simple; it just requires paying close attention to the butter, brown sugar, and milk, and exhibiting some patience in waiting for the caramel mixture to cool slightly before the incorporation of the powdered sugar. It is an excellent choice for chocolate cake, but also pairs nicely with white cake or almond cake. This recipe yields enough for 24 cupcakes or one bundt cake; I have not tried to frost two-layer or sheet cakes with it yet.


  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar


Combine butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and slowly bring to a boil.

Boil for one minute, remove from heat, and stir in milk.

Return to heat and bring to a boil once again.

Pour mixture into mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Beat caramel mixture on medium speed for a few minutes to disperse heat; the mixing bowl should not be too hot for you to touch, but if it remains warm that is fine.

Add one cup powdered sugar and one teaspoon vanilla, beating until smooth.

Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth.

Frost cake or cupcakes quickly, as this will set very quickly.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting






According to Wikipedia (truly an informational authority), peanut butter-type pastes have been around since the Aztecs. Peanut butter as we know it today was pioneered separately by Canadian Marcellus Gilmore Edson, who experimented with milling roasted peanuts between two heated surfaces until they became semi-liquid, and by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the Michigan physician and cereal magnate.

However it came to be, peanut butter is possibly my favorite food. I’m a Jif loyalist, too, so you’ll never find a jar of Skippy or Peter Pan anywhere in my kitchen. Peanut butter is an amazing ingredient for baking, and when combined with cream cheese, powdered sugar, and a bit of vanilla, it creates a smooth, creamy frosting that pairs well with many cakes. This recipe yields enough for 24 cupcakes.


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a mixing bowl, cream together peanut butter and cream cheese.

Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Beat in vanilla until incorporated.