The Search for the Perfect Frosting Recipe

Make sure you get all the way to the bottom for a giveaway about your favorite cupcake and frosting flavors!

I take it for granted that everyone has a favorite type of cake. The kind they hope to see on their birthday, that they enjoy making themselves or wish someone would make for them for a special occasion. The kind of cake that you wish you could, but know you can’t, eat entirely by yourself.

I take it for granted, living in Italy, that everyone has a favorite type of cake that –I– grew up with. Light and fluffy yellow cake, or dark, moist chocolate cake covered with perhaps the most important part of the cake: the frosting.

But these types of (American) cakes don’t really exist here (they have tiramisu, so they’re not really missing out), but it’s something I still enjoy for birthdays. So when it was S’ birthday this month, I decided instead of making one big cake, I’d make 10 little cakes and decorate and frost them differently.

I agonized about the frosting. But it got me thinking: Is there a perfect frosting recipe? and What is the perfect cake / frosting combination?

10 Mini-Cakes for a Birthday

I gathered up some of the best frosting recipes from bloggers and some food sites and divided them into categories: Chocolate: Ganache, Buttercream and other variations; Buttercream and Swiss Buttercream, Meringue, Marshmallow, Whipped Cream, Special Combinations and even Vegan Frosting!

Then I thought I’d ask you for your help in finding the perfect frosting recipe and cake – frosting combo…will you help me find it? All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. Scroll down to the bottom for information about the giveaway. I’ll be adding more recipes to this post as I find them or you send them to me!

Chocolate: Ganache, Buttercream and other Frosting Recipes

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Besides layering chocolate bars directly onto your cake, chocolate frosting gives you so many ways to make it…chocolaty.

Buttercream & Swiss Buttercream Frosting Recipes

Probably the type that I’m most partial to, and (not-very-original) my mom’s is the best.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipes

By far the favorite it seems amongst the bloggers (what about you?), I am actually not a huge fan of cream cheese frosting, though maybe I’ll have to try all of these recipes to find one I truly enjoy.

Meringue Frosting Recipes

When I think of meringue, I usually think of pie, but there are some great meringue frosting recipes for cakes, too!

Marshmallow Frosting Recipes

Light, fluffy and sugary: frosting in marshmallow form? I am so there.

Whipped Cream Frosting Recipes

Most whipped cream recipes I found were infused with flavor or mixed with fresh fruit or other flavors.

Specialty Frosting Recipes

Not your traditional flavors, some of these combinations really caught my eye as something I’d like to try. Have another unusual combination you like?

Vegan Frosting Recipes

For something truly alternative – vegan frosting!

The Giveaway

All you have to do is comment below and tell me your favorite cake-cupcake and frosting combination – I need both flavors! And please send this to friends and family – Stumble it, Digg, Delicious! I’ll accept your comments until midnight, Thursday, April 2nd and I’ll post a winner Friday morning (Italy time)!

You could win (note to winners: you won’t be able to choose colors or scents, I already have them in my possession):

Disclosure: the bag and soap in this giveaway were purchased with my own money, the cloths were provided to me by the manufacturer. I am not being compensated by any of these companies.

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  1. says

    The best frosting recipe I’ve used is from the Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook (by the co-author of the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook), simple butter cream frosting.

    Also their milk chocolate frosting is delicious (it’s all about the chocolate you use).

    My favorite, comfort food combo is moist yellow cake with milk chocolate frosting.

    number two, lemon cake with buttercream frosting.

    number three, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I love cake.

    Okay I’ll stop now.

  2. Evelyn Scott says

    Espresso Truffle Cream Frosting


    1/4 cup heavy cream

    1 tablespoon corn syrup

    3 tablespoons butter

    1/4 cup freshly brewed espresso (or very stong hot coffee)

    8 ounces good semisweet chocolate (Half semisweet and half bittersweet chocolate is an excellent variation)


    Place cream, corn syrup and butter in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on med-high until hot but not boiling–about 1 minute.

    Stir in espresso and the chocolate and stir until melted.

    When cool to the touch, use a mixer and mix on medium, scraping down the bowl often, until the color lightens.

    Frost your cake immediately since this frosting sets up quickly; if needed, you can mix in more cream, a teaspoon at a time for an easier spreading consistency.

    Keep the cake refrigerated or frozen until ready to serve.

  3. says

    I have been having the same issues with frosting. Trying to find one that isn’t too sweet hasn’t been easy and I still haven’t found it. My son doesn’t like any type of buttercream (and I’ve tried all kinds) so I leave his cakes and cupcakes frosting free, my husband only likes coffee flavour and I’m a chocolate fan. I’ve been meaning to experiment with a Nutella buttercream, but haven’t got round to it yet!

  4. says

    I’m very hungry from reading your post today…does anyone have any “FILLING” recipes for cupcakes???I would love some recipes. Thank U!

  5. says

    Sugar high time. My teeth hurt just from looking at all these frostings and cakes. Fabulous round-up. And thank you for the inclusion! :-) (Don’t include me in the contest, just wanted to say Ciao, Bella!)

  6. Doreen says

    My favorite cake – which really isn’t a cake is cheesecake ! My sister makes awesome cheesecakes…

    I also love carrot cake with cream cheese frosting – or german chocolate cake with that gooey coconut frosting . yumm…

    Check out for some absolutely beautiful cakes with fondant. Those would be truly special for a birthday cake … wonderful inspiration.

  7. ikkinlala says

    I have to admit that I’m not really a frosting person, although I don’t think of ganache or whipped cream as frostings (and I love those). I’m more likely to use a glaze, or just a dusting with powdered sugar or cocoa.

    My favourite combination, though, is poppy seed cake with whipped cream filling and ganache frosting.

  8. says

    These cakes are making me drool! I don’t like overly sweet cakes so I would definitely go for the carrot cake with cream cheese frosting or the g/f pumpkin cake with maple frosting. Both of these look delicious!!

  9. says

    Wow! I love Tiramisu and my son makes the world’s best, but for my birthday I almost always make Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Chestnut cake made with chestnut flour, large and dense and moist layers with an unusual flavor and use my favorite simple chocolate buttercream (found on my blog). It is fast to make and goes down jusr as fast :

    6 ounces (175 grams) powdered/confectioner’s sugar
    3 1/2 tablespoons (50 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
    2 tablespoons (25 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
    2 tablespoons very hot water
    all whipped together.

    Or try my brother’s incredible and dark Chocolate Ganache, also on my blog.

    And Happy Birthday!

  10. says

    I don’t have a favourite cake..and I don’t really like icing……But I would eat Carrot cake without icing and I do like Banana cake…I was just commenting on your lovely little cakes…That is such a great idea…

  11. says

    Right now I am really into a caramel meringue buttercream that I’ve been working on (search my site for ‘salted caramel buttercream’) which goes great on my fave Droste chocolate cake (yum, caramel and chocolate)

  12. says

    My utmost favorite cake and the cake my mom (not my husband!) remembers to special order for my birthday every year is a Zuppa Inglese from our favorite french bakery here in Astoria, NY.
    What I love to make myself however, and for the cake orders I’ve been receiving lately, is plain buttercake with silky meringue buttercream frosting–I’ve had friends and relatives ask for just vats of that frosting instead of a cake frosted with it!!!

  13. Ariana from Chicago says

    Recently, I tried to make the chocolate cake on the cover of Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan (fab book btw!). Anyway, the chocolate cake part was AWESOME, the marshallow frosting, not so much.

    So I decided to make it like a Tuxedo cake from The Pastry Queen cookbook. I covered my “Dorie” cake with PQ’s recipe for whipped cream frosting and then chocolate ganache on top. I swear to you it tasted like a Ding Dong (or Hostess Ho Ho or whatever one your remember)!

    In my family, there are lots of buttercream haters so from now on it’s whipped cream frosting for us.

  14. Debbie says

    This is tough to choose just one. Probably my favorite cake would be either a carrot cake (with pastachios instead of walnuts) and it has pineapple in it as well. Frosting is a cream cheese frosting.

    My other favorite is what we call here, an Italian Wedding Cake. You can order it from the Italian deli. It has several layers of cake–in vanilla and chocolate (sponge). They are soaked in rum. There are the fillings (which are the best part!) a chocolate pudding type filling with chocolate chips and a vanilla pudding/cream recipe. There is also a cannoli filling in the cake. The outside frosting is a white Italian meringue.

    Of course, let us not forget my aunt’s recipe for poppyseed cake with pineapple and a vanilla buttercream frosting….yum! But I would be happy with a Sfogliatelle Ricce (which I can’t get here–no one has ever heard of them) or some toasted Pannettone with melted butter on it..mmmmmmmm!

  15. Heather says

    The favorite frosting around our house is cream cheese frosting… We even make a chocolate cream cheese frosting. I would love to make other delcious frostings, but haven’t found any that my family likes quite as much.
    As far as my favorite cake/frosting combo… I like carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

  16. says

    It’s so hard to decide so here are my top three – all involve chocolate chips:
    pumpkin chocolate chip cupcake with cream cheese frosting or …
    sour cream chocolate chocolate chip cupcake with marshmellow frosting or…
    banana chocolate chip cupcakes with butterscotch frosting

    Fun to think about! Thanks!!

  17. Valerie says

    The cake I make over and over again is “Death by Chocolate”. It’s a recipe byDom DeLuise (can be found online). Everyone loves it and asks for the recipe. I love chocolate frosting on top of it (or just powdered sugar sprinkled on top). Divine!

  18. Megan says

    My favorite cake of all time is still red velvet cake.. i think it’s usually made with a cream cheese frosting. yumm :)

  19. Ross says

    I love whipped cream frosting — not too heavy, not too sweet, yet perfectly rich. I just HATE buttercream frosting and icing recipes — my teeth HURT from eating so much pure sugar.

  20. says

    This stovetop frosting is my favorite frosting ever, hands down [which is saying a lot since I’m a chocoholic]!
    1 cup milk
    5 tablespoons flour
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup butter, softened
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    In a saucepan, combine the milk and flour. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Set aside to cool completely. Cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, then stir in cooled milk mixture. Beat until icing reaches a nice spreading consistency.

    I like this frosting on everything, but my favorite would be Billy’s Vanilla Vanilla cupcakes [again, strange for a chocoholic].

  21. says

    I personally love an Orange Chiffon Cake with orange buttercream frosting, or a good carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, but I have any number of favorite cakes. This weekend I made an almond banana cake with caramel buttercream which was pretty fantastic. I glazed the top with the Pioneer Woman’s Chocolate Sheet cake icing for extra oomph.

  22. says

    I love a coconut cupcake-yellow cupcake with a little bit of coconut in it topped with cream cheese frosting and coconut. And just a basic yellow cake with chocolate buttercream is right up there too!

  23. says

    My favorite cake/frosting of all time has to be my Nonna’s Red Velvet Cake with a cream cheese frosting. No one makes it like Nonna did. :)

  24. says

    Hi Sara,

    I love chocolate cake, with chocolate ganache and raspberry filling. OH. MY. GOD. I’d kill for a piece.

    And runner up- Carrot Cake with REAL cream cheese frosting!

  25. says

    Gosh, such a difficult question. I love mint chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, which are topped with both chocolate ganache and mint frosting (I think it’s buttercream), vegan of course. On the other hand, the dulce sin leche cupcakes (coconut milk cupcakes with brown rice syrup caramel) are also heavenly.

    And tomorrow I’m planning to make caramel apple cupcakes with penuche frosting (a type of fudge) from Veganomicon. Who knows, maybe they’ll be my new favorite.

    Still trying to come up with the ultimate frosting myself. Very likely to include either cashew butter or almond butter and perhaps brown rice syrup.

  26. Laura says


    My favorite is coconut cake and for hanukah I will toss the coconut with some blue food coloring. The recipe is from Namoi Judd’s Home Companion.

    My favorite combo is chocolate on chocolate. Yep, the Pioneer Woman has the best sheet cake recipe – ever.


  27. Colin says

    Looks like I’m way too late. Regardless, my favourite is probably cinnamon buttercream with rum raisin yam cake (think punpkin pie… but a cake). And that’s Italian buttercream, naturally. I’ve got a picture, but I can’t post links, so you’ll just have to imagine it. :)

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