You can create just about any flavor under the sun and add it straight away into the base recipe of whatever buttercream recipe you love the most!
There is just one thing to keep in mind when you start experimenting with adding more ingredients to your buttercream.
DO NOT OVER SATURATE.
Buttercream is an oil based formula.
Oil and water do not typically mix well together.
Wait a minute, you must be saying “Why would I add water to my buttercream?”
When I say “water” I mean liquid and liquid can come in many different forms when it comes to flavorings.
From puree to extracts and even concentrated juices, champagne and wine are all options that I have used to flavor buttercream.
But too much will almost certainly break your silky smooth buttercream and turn it into a horrific mess!
If the mixture starts to separate or “break” this means over saturation and once you get to that point, there ain’t no going back!
Ok that’s a lie, Sometimes when this happens, a hefty amount of vigorous blending will do the trick to help it come back together to a smooth emulsion
But if you have stepped too far over the line to the land of over saturation, you will have to re balance, usually by adding more neutral buttercream.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH A VIDEO TUTORIAL ON HOW TO SAVE A FAILED BUTTERCREAM
THE BEST OPTIONS TO FLAVOR YOUR BUTTERCREAM
Obviously we all know that vanilla extract can transform our recipes with just a a few teaspoons
This is also true with many other extracts like lemon, almond, coconut etc…
But we also know that vanilla bean paste will do the job even better.
The difference between emulsions and extracts
Extracts are typically made with an alcohol base that is a great neutral carrier for flavorings, the problem is alcohol evaporates and dissipates especially upon heat/baking thus taking some of that luscious flavor oil with it.
Bakery Emulsions are water and vegetable gum based flavors that won’t bake out like traditional alcohol-based extracts.
That means you don’t have to add extra to get the flavor you are looking for
But what about when we want super intense fruit flavorings?
Jams and jellies are an option, but with an already super sweet recipe like buttercream, jams and jellies are literally just adding a huge amount of more sugar.
Purees are not the greatest to add either, since their concentration of flavor is not as pronounced so you will tend to add more, causing breakage.
Don’t get me wrong, I do it in certain instances like adding a really strong, super concentrated Strawberry Puree is great
But even better than purees would be to use freeze dried fruit powders
Literally just freeze dried fruit in little snack packs that you find at the supermarket can be ground down in a spice grinder to a powder for the most intense fruit flavors with no added liquid!
Just add the fruit powder to your buttercream at the last stage of mixing!
It is literally the best way to go, not only does it add intense flavor but it soaks up any excess moisture from the buttercream
Creating a more stable icing!
Oh yeah, and in the fall I do not hesitate to add pumpkin straight to it!
Just like I did here in my Pumpkin Velvet Cake with Spiced Pumpkin Buttercream!
HOW MUCH FLAVORING OR PUREE SHOULD I USE?
I have always flavored my buttercreams by “eye” simply by adding a little at a time of whatever I am adding to it and tasting it along the way.
Much of the flavorings are “to taste” and when I say this, it simply means, start with a teaspoon or two of extract or emulsion and then taste it.
Typically about a ¾ – 1 cup of super concentrated puree to an entire recipe of buttercream
I know many of you want a chart that says exactly how much of this to add to the buttercream, but not all BRANDS are crated equally!
I once purchased a mint extract from another source than what I was used to getting and wow!
It was like Listerine Mouthwash!
I talk all about that here in my recipe for Mint Chocolate Chip Layer Cake!
CLICK HERE TO READ ALL ABOUT MINT EXTRACTS!
I encourage you to play around with flavors whenever possible.
BE BRAVE GUYS! No recipes needed!
Start to rely on your taste buds to guide you to perfect balances.
Just remember anytime you add anything to an already soft base ~like buttercream~ it is going to get even SOFTER!
So be prepared to refrigerate many flavored buttercream recipes not because they will go bad (unless you are using curds or custard of course) but because they are going to be super soft!
With the exception of Peanut Butter Buttercream and Chocolate Buttercream!
The addition of peanut butter powder to buttercream has the same effect as the dried fruit powders!
it soaks up any excess moisture and tightens up your buttercream recipe for more stability!
Same goes for the cocoa powder paste addition and coffee granules to make chocolate and/or mocha buttercream!
CLICK HERE FOR PEANUT BUTTER BUTTERCREAM RECIPE
CLICK HERE FOR MOCHA BUTTERCREAM RECIPE
*Chocolate buttercream is the same as mocha only leave out the coffee!
Here are just a few suggestions off the top of my head that you can achieve simply by adding some liquors, flavor oils or emulsions, extracts or fruit purees.
Simply stir desired amount into the buttercream and off you go!!
Be sure to refrigerate accordingly if you are using an addition of fruit curds
- Amaretto – add liquor
- Vegan Bailey’s Irish Cream- Add liquor
- Peanut Butter – add peanut butter
- Nutella – add nutella
- Lemon Buttercream -add lemon Curd and lemon zest
- Coconut – add toasted coconut and coconut extract
- Key Lime – add key lime juice and grated lime zest
- Cinnamon- Duh!
- Kahlua- add instant coffee and Kahlua liquor
- Pineapple- add canned pineapple (drained first and patted dry) & some freeze dried pineapple powder
- Marachino Cherry – add the Juice from the canned cherries and even some pureed cherries too
Coco powder for chocolate?
Yes you can use cocoa, but I always make it into a paste first. Add about 4 Tbs of cocoa : 3 Tbs of hot water, whisk smooth then add it COOLED to the buttercream
Can an essential oil (like Doterra peppermint or lemon, etc.) be used?
It is generally not recommended to ingest essential oils. They should definitely be marked as food grade, for example LorAnn oils is the most well known brand of oils specifically for candy making. I am not familiar with Doterra so you should definitely check with them before you add it to food.
Hello Gretchen, Its first time on your website and I like how it break it down in such a practical way to understand the basics of vegan baking and frosting. I am curious to know how the vegan bakeries I visit make butter beer frosting. I would like to give it a shot. Could you help me with that? Thanks!
HI Nami thanks! I am not familiar with that icing, but from what it sounds like, is it just buttercream with beer added?? LOL
As you probably read from this post, it is difficult (especially more with vegan buttercream) to add liquids to this already delicate emulsion.
Butterbeer is a made-up drink in the Harry Potter books. I’ve seen it interpreted as a caramel ice cream blended with soda or ginger ale in real life, although there isn’t a definitive recipe. It is supposed to be creamy, frothy, and warming (in the books, it’s the students’ favorite drink to order during their winter trips to the nearby town). So you can go with your imagination. 🙂
Hi Gretchen, I just watched your video on YouTube and left you a comment.
I am so sorry those people wrote such horrible things. You are one of the BEST teachers who took your own time to teach us. I have benefitted from you a lot over the years. I just wish I had saved your recipes. Whenever I needed something I would just go to your page. I know in the video you said you no longer have your old recipes. I was just wondering if there is any way you have the strawberry and vanilla chiffon cake recipes. I LOVED your chiffon cake. I wish I had save them. If you do, please can you send them to me. Much appreciate it. Love everything you do. ❤️
Hi Thank you. I no longer have any of the old recipes
I would like to create a less sweet, fresher taste of this creme for a naked wedding cake and thought about adding vegan cream cheese. Do you think that is possible or do you have any suggestions?
Yes you can do that, you make 1 recipe CREAM CHEESE ICING and 1 Recipe of BUTTERCREAM then combine them together
Hi Gretchen! Thanks for all your help. Do you have any tips on adding coloring to frosting? (Like, any favorite brands of gel coloring, or which buttercream frosting takes on color the best, or which ones pipe the smoothest and most stable for things like flowers?) <3
Best buttercream for decor would be the American style BC (*with the shortening addition) Same goers for best to take color, the swiss & italian not so friendly for color because the moisture content is so high, making those harder to work with all the way around
I think I have americolor food colors right now, I don’;t use food color much anymore
Doesn’t your Buttercream frosting taste like apples?
Hi John! I should probably address that in the beginning since I’ve rudely made everyone wait until the end of the video to say “And it doesn’t taste like apples!” LOL
This article has been very helpful, but I am a person that needs confirmation! I am trying to make a black raspberry buttercream (with a vanilla cake) I really want to be able to taste the black raspberry (making the cake for my daughter, who is a HUGE black raspberry ice cream fan)..should I be using a black raspberry flavor oil or should I try the to find freeze dried black raspberries? Thanks for the advice!
Hey there! No problem I understand! I would bet you will have a very hard time finding black raspberry freeze dried, or even fresh for that matter! They are unique and exclusive. Regular raspberry everything would be easier.
That said the true black raspberry is going to be sweeter than a blackberry or even a raspberry (in my experience! I have not had a sweet delicious fresh raspberry in what seems like decades!!)
With all that being said the power of suggestion when it comes to food & flavor profiles will be surprising! I would probably use a raspberry flavor oil in combination with a concentrated OR preferably freeze dried raspberry powder
I’ve linked to OliveNation for the flavor oil~ I really like their products and they offer a 20% discount of you use my discount code GVB20 at checkout **NOTE:: I get no monetary compensation for recommending them!
Anywho….. back to the black raspberry since the biggest difference between black raspberry & raspberry is the sweet level~ since we are making dessert the sugar is already taken care of! LOL
I will bet if you make the raspberry buttercream with the color that is more associated with black raspberry~ everyone will rave about what a delicious BLACK RASPBERRY cake this is! 🙂
Click here for how I made the color of black raspberry for my recent cake icing