“I don’t like buttercream” Glace Icing

I had a request to make birthday cupcakes, but the birthday girl doesn’t like thick frosting, such as buttercream or similar. I wanted to make icing that could be colored and also looked nice for presentation purposes, particularly on cupcakes.

I found a recipe for something called Glace Icing, but I, in true Drunken Cookie fashion, had to modify it for my needs.

You’ll need either a double boiler or a similar bowl / sauce pan setup to make this icing.

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons of hot water
  • food coloring and/or flavoring, if desired

Bring an inch or two of water to a simmer on the stove top. Combine the sugar and butter in the heat-proof bowl, and add 2 tablespoons of hot water to the bowl. (I simply took the water from the simmering pot for convenience). Set the bowl on top of the pot of simmering water to heat gently (the water shouldn’t touch the bottom of the bowl). Mix carefully while the icing is heating.

It will look like a hot mess. As the sugar heats and the butter melts, the icing will slowly start to take shape. Keep mixing. Add more hot water, a tablespoon at a time, until the icing is a smooth, spreadable consistency.

It’s tricky mixing this on top of a pot of extremely hot water, so be careful. Soon you’ll have a smooth, silky icing that looks like this:GlaceIcing20150327_194931

Add food coloring and flavoring as you wish. You don’t need much, as this batch of icing frosts approximately 8-12 cupcakes, depending on how thick the icing is when you use it.

Here’s the key to making this icing work, at least in my experience:

Don’t spread this with your typical spatula or knife. The frosting cools quickly and it will end up choppy, bumpy, and not attractive. Work quickly and stir the icing as you work so it doesn’t set in the bowl. If you need to, place it back over the simmering water and heat again.

You can either thin the icing so you can essentially dip the cupcakes in, like a glaze, or experiment further and do this:

Dollop a tablespoon or two of icing on the cupcake, and use your finger to pat the icing down, working from the middle out toward the edges. The heat from your finger smooths the icing to a fondant-like texture.

I confess I was making this technique up as I went along, since spreading in traditional fashion was a disaster. But, it worked great. The icing sets just enough so that the cupcakes can be covered, but won’t be hard when you bite into it.

I made white and pink frosting using this recipe, as seen in the soon-to-be-posted Birthday Baking Extravaganza post. The best part was, of course, these cupcakes received complements from the Birthday Girl!


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