Creamy Caramel Icing makes spice cake sing, chocolate cake a dream and cupcakes do the happy dance. It's a vintage recipe that should become one of your new classics.
The first thing you need to know about this glorious frosting is that it is vintage. It is! That doesn't mean it's old and moldy, it simply means that it's made using a technique you might not be familiar with...from olden times.
The technique of cooked frosting, sometimes called a boiled icing, has been around for ages, but was quite popular in the early and mid 1900s. These classic icing recipes have just a few more steps than mixing butter with confectioners' sugar.
These types of icing recipes are simple and straightforward, but it must be spread while still warm. Then they set on the cake and become the consistency of smooth fudge!
Quick-click table of contents:
How to make caramel icing:
You will need a candy thermometer along with your mixer to make creamy caramel icing. (Get my favorite candy thermometer here). I love this recipe because it's heavy on the brown sugar, which creates a lovely caramel flavor and color. It's genius with this light Spice Cake.
You will need to cook a sugar mixture to 235ºF on a candy thermometer. This creates a soft-ball textured caramel that is stirred into the confectioners' sugar mixture. The frosting is warm and smooth and should be spread on cakes and cupcakes pretty quickly. If the icing cools it becomes more candy, or fudge-like, and won't spread smoothly.
Where does this vintage recipe come from?
The recipe came from Susan LaRosa, one of my favorite bloggers, who writes about collected classic and vintage recipes. Her blog, A Cake Bakes In Brooklyn, came about when Susan found a box of old recipes at an antique store. She began collecting vintage cookbooks and boxes of old, often handwritten recipes. She bakes them one by one and blogs about her favorites!
Here's cute Susan cooking this awesome frosting!
The Spice Cake I talked about above, along with this boiled caramel icing, is one of the recipes she found in her collection. I love that it stands the test of time. It has a nostalgic flavor and texture, while still being a dessert that could trend on any social media channel!
Plus this icing is versatile! It doesn't just have to go with the Spice Cake; use it on a chocolate cake or cupcakes. (If you're using it on a chocolate cake, try sprinkling the top with a little flaked sea salt just to be super trendy. Salted Caramel Icing y'all!)
This vintage recipe stands the test of time!
Speaking of salted caramel, give these Vanilla Salted Caramels a try. I make big batches and give them as gifts at the holidays. They are usually devoured instantly!
Creamy Caramel Icing
- ⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp shortening
- ¼ cup hot milk plus ½ cup cold milk
- 2½ cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp light corn syrup
- 2 cups light brown sugar
- In a bowl, combine ⅓ cup shortening, ¼ cup hot milk, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla and beat until smooth, about 2 min. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, boil together 1 tbsp shortening, ½ cup cold milk, corn syrup and brown sugar until temperature reaches 235°F (soft-ball stage) on a candy thermometer, about 10 min. Pour over shortening mixture and beat until smooth and creamy, about 2 min. If icing isn't smooth enough, add 1 tbsp hot water.
Recipe courtesy of Susan LaRosa at acakebakesinbrooklyn.com. Originally published in LHJ 03/12. Photography Seth Smoot