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What Kind of Milk Should I Use for Frosting?

by Tremaine Jackson

In frosting recipes, milk serves as the wet agent that balances out dry ingredients, such as confectioner's or granulated sugar. It also affects the texture, and the amount you add can make your frosting slightly easier to spread or pipe. Homemade frosting typically contains a few basic ingredients, milk usually being the least in amount among them. Use the type of milk you prefer, non-dairy alternatives or no milk at all.

Dairy Options

Feel free to use whole milk, 2 percent or skim when you make frosting. For a more decadent frosting, grab some buttermilk, half and half or heavy whipping cream. Ganache frosting, for example, calls for semisweet chocolate melted in simmering heavy cream. Professional and home chefs also occasionally use goat's milk, either for health-related or taste reasons.

The Alternatives

Non-dairy options are a tasty and simple way to accommodate vegans or those who are lactose-intolerant. Soy milk, almond milk and rice milk work just as well as cow's milk in frosting recipes. Depending on a recipe's ratio of dry-to-wet ingredients, the taste of almond or soy milk may yield a different -- but still pleasant -- icing flavor.

Skip Milk Entirely

There are scores of frosting recipes that don't include milk at all. Some of these contain merely sugar; butter; a creamy cheese or cream product, such as sour cream or yogurt; and a little water. Choose creamy cheeses such as goat cheese, mascarpone and Neufchatel, which is comparable to cream cheese but contains a third less fat. Neufchatel or mascarpone combined with confectioner's sugar makes for a sweet, creamy mousse-like frosting.

Ermine or Butter Roux Frosting

Ermine or butter roux frosting is a whipped frosting associated with traditional red velvet cake recipes. This frosting evokes Italian buttercream, the sort you might enjoy on a slice of wedding cake. It has volume and an air-light texture, spreads and pipes easily, and you can flavor or color it however you like. Central to ermine frosting is the roux, a mixture of flour and cold whole milk. After assembling and chilling the roux, combine it with creamed butter, sugar and flavor, and whip until fluffy. Vanilla-flavored ermine frosting pairs well any type of cake, elevating it from plain to elegant.

About the Author

Born in New York City, Tremaine Jackson has been in theater, dance and music since age 12, when he appeared in Liz Swados' "Swing" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He is also an award winning children's recording artist. He writes fiction and poetry in his spare time.

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