Less-Sugar Cooked Buttercream Frosting Recipe

How time flies! 9 years ago, my daughter Ruby was born. Today, she’s baking her own birthday cakes. She loves cooking shows like Masterchef Junior and has been inspired to do her own cooking and baking. After watching the show, I realized how capable children can be at cooking, so I started letting her do everything herself, and I just supervise (and help out when she asks for it). Sometimes she cooks dinner and sometimes dessert. She even piped the frosting and decorated this cake ALL by herself!

We’ve tried all different types of frosting over the years. She felt buttercream was too sweet, but stabilized whipped cream (what we used for her 6th birthday) was “too weird.” So we were on a hunt for a “less sweet” buttercream. And we found it! It’s a cooked buttercream.

You heard that right… “cooked” buttercream. It’s normally made with flour, but we figured out how to make it gluten-free. Interestingly, it uses granulated sugar not powdered sugar, but it’s NOT gritty. I know it sounds strange but it’s absolutely delicious. Light and fluffy. Not too sweet. And pipes and holds its shape really well!!

We had to adapt the recipe to make it gluten-free, and it worked! We are gluten-free, but we can tolerate dairy so we made this with butter and milk, but next we plan to try it with coconut oil and non-dairy milk for my dairy-free clients. Since the sweetener is dissolved in the milk and flour, I also wonder if I can make it GAPS/SCD with honey… and a different flour, maybe coconut flour. We are going to continue to play with this recipe. It’s so versatile. We are also going to try even less sugar next time.

Here’s our Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake recipe and our frosting recipe…

Less-Sugar Buttercream Frosting

  • ½ cup tapioca
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 ½ cups milk (or non-dairy milk)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 sticks/1 ½ cups butter (other substitute like coconut oil to be dairy-free)

Prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl and set aside.

Make sure your butter is room temperature.

Mix tapioca, salt, sugar in pot with milk, stir and begin to dissolve.

Cook on low heat until it begins to thicken, stirring continuously with a whisk. (It turns thick quickly, so watch closely, around 4 minutes). As soon as it begins to leave a trail with the whisk, pull off the heat. Quickly transfer to a bowl and place the bowl inside the ice water bath. If it’s pretty thick like glue, don’t worry it will still work.

Once the frosting reaches room temperature, transfer the mixture into a stand mixer, add the vanilla, and mix on medium while slowing adding the butter. Once the butter has been blended, put the speed to high and blend for 3 minutes. (Add any natural food coloring, as desired) Then transfer to the whisk attachment and whip for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Once your cake is cool, you’re ready to frost. Watch the video below to watch Ruby practice decorating with rosettes.

Hi, I’m Julie Matthews, a Certified Nutrition Consultant, Author, and Published Researcher. I teach parents and practitioners that children with autism, ADHD, and related disorders can improve and heal, and that there’s hope for their children. Then I educate and empower them to make strategic dietary changes that positively affect children’s health, which in turn helps their learning and behavior. With 17 years of experience and my unique range of knowledge, from nutrition research and clinical experience to cooking in the kitchen for my own family, I’ve created a much-needed community for parents and practitioners looking to help children with autism live happy, healthy lives. Join us.

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