I love cake—chocolate, white, carrot, red velvet, you name it. I love it so much that even one of my favorite bands is named Cake. As you may imagine, I have very stringent criteria for judging good cake: a certain level of denseness, moisture, flavor—and these factors often change based on the variety of cake. It’s all very scientific and detailed, of course. (Ha!)
But what I don’t love is frosting. Never really did. Every birthday I’d scrape the frosting off my cake and leave it in a big pile on the side of my plate. I never want the corner pieces, or the giant balloons or rosettes—someone who loves frosting can take those, please! I thought the artificial taste of store-bought frosting and the gritty, sugary texture of homemade buttercream turned me off to frosting forever.
That is, until I started making Magnolia Bakery frosting.
Never in your life will you taste such light, creamy, buttery, delicious goodness as Magnolia Bakery frosting. The silky texture, the dense-yet-lighter-than-air mouth feel, the fudgy flavor (if you make the chocolate variety as I do)—can you tell I’m swooning right now?
Although the Magnolia Bakery has been open only since 1996, you’d think it was a New York City landmark. Made famous by an appearance in Sex and the City, and further propelled to notoriety by a fortunate debut during America’s cupcake craze, the bakery actually makes a large assortment of vintage and classic desserts. I own two Magnolia cookbooks: the original Magnolia Bakery Cookbook and now the new Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. (Here’s a hint: If you want to purchase just one, go with the Complete version—it contains all of the recipes from the original plus many extras.) I was delighted by a chapter on “icebox desserts” in both cookbooks, as my grandmother used to make icebox cake when I was younger and I never heard the term used before or since, until now. Every recipe I’ve tried from either book has been a winner; these are well-designed and well-tested concoctions, and I don’t think you could go wrong making any of them.
Anyway, back to that frosting: Aside from making me swoon, there’s a reason it has that velvety texture. It’s Magnolia’s signature swirl. While most bakeries pipe their frosting on using giant icing bags with giant tips, Magnolia’s is applied by hand and stylized with the flick of a wrist and an artfully wielded frosting spatula. Want to try it? I don’t blame you. Here’s a great demonstration video.
You can’t get this look from store-bought frosting or even homemade Domino powdered sugar buttercream, folks.
The following recipe is from the Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. Although I said that it has all the recipes from the original, they actually changed the recipe for chocolate buttercream slightly between the two books. This one is awesome. (How could it not be, with all that butter?)
From the Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm (I just melt it slowly in the microwave)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2¼ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes or until creamy. Add the milk and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat for about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for 3 minutes. Add half of the sugar and beat on low speed until incorporated. Add the remaining sugar and beat until creamy and of a desired consistency.