Sunday, August 19, 2018

How to Make the Best Chocolate Icing

Review By Funkthishouse.com
Photos: Via Pixabay
My parents moved away from their home town in Manitoba, Canada when I was about five years old. We lived in many places throughout our country, but no matter where we lived, my dad would fly his mother out (our Memere) for visits. Oh wait a minute! She would take the train, she was terrified of flying!

I sure hope Memere knew how much I loved it when she would visit.

On one visit, while sitting in the kitchen doing homework, Memere had just finished making a cake. She was about to make the icing, when I decided I had to know how she made such delicious chocolate icing. So being an inquisitive 15 year old, I stood beside her while she explained her secrets.

"What this recipe is about, isn't the ingredients, it's in the mixing, texture and general understanding of what to add and not to add to get the best chocolate icing."

Lets start with the ingredients - They're fairly standard and well known:
Added Note: 

Below 'Sylvestermouse Cynthia' asked what Icing Sugar was. In Canada we (most everyone I know) call Powdered Sugar, 'Icing Sugar'. The only brand I use is Redpath Icing Sugar.

Turns out, Redpath Sugar is a Canadian Company as well. According to it's website it's been a part of Canadian kitchens since 1854.

Being Canadian I admit I should have known that, however in my defense Redpath Sugar and Fry's Cocoa have been a part of my family's kitchen since before I was born. That's a long time ago!

Redpath Sugar carries many sugar products, including Icing Sugar. You can find Redpath Icing Sugar at Amazon.ca (not .com), and of course, learn about their products via their website.

What makes chocolate icing awesome:

To no surprise, Memere never measured any ingredients, and to this day, neither do I. 

I learned to make chocolate icing just the way she taught me; by understanding how to get the right texture.

Here's the most important tip from my Memere:
When you need to thin out the icing, do it by adding more softened butter, not more milk
She explained this further: "Because adding too much milk will quickly make the icing mixture too runny, then to fix it you'll have to add more icing sugar to recover the texture from liquid mud to icing. So to avoid this, add more butter first, not more milk"

Putting the Ingredients Together:

Although I never measure, I'll try to put some measurements to the above ingredients
  • In a deeper mixing bowl, put in about two cups of icing sugar
  • Add about half a cup of Fry's Cocoa (add more for a richer chocolate taste)
  • Butter .. hmmm.. I can't give you a measurement - maybe start with 1/4 cup of softened butter, that's 'softened', not melted, not runny, not too soft either. Ensure it maintains it's thick butter texture.
  • Add a teaspoon of pure Vanilla Extract
  • Add a teaspoon of milk, or two teaspoons if the icing is too thick to mix
  • How to know when you've nailed it - For me, I like it when the Icing is spreadable but can hold swirl peaks on the cake, in other words, not too hard, not too soft, just right. 
With a hand-mixer, mix the ingredients together. It won't be the right texture for spreading yet.

This is where the Grandma touch comes in:

If your mixture is too thin and runny, add more Icing Sugar to correct the texture. Keep mixing it with the hand mixer. If you've had to add more icing sugar, you'll need more Cocoa so add a couple of tablespoons at a time. More icing sugar dilutes the chocolate, that's the reason for adding more cocoa.

However, it's more likely the texture will be too thick.

To thin out the texture, add another heaping tablespoon of butter, a couple of drops of milk, a half teaspoon at the most! Then stop completely with adding milk.

At this point, it should be getting to the right texture. If it happens to become too runny again, then add more icing sugar. Sorry I can't give you a measurement for that, just add a tablespoon at a time.

However if it's too THICK, then keep adding softened butter, one tablespoon at a time.

Thanks to Memere, I've never used store bought icing. I always make it from scratch.

If I had to choose the key ingredient (other than butter) it would be Fry's Cocoa. That's also the cocoa we use to make the chocolate cake recipe passed down from my grandmother on my mother's side.

My kids have grown up on our homemade chocolate cake and homemade icing thanks to our grandmas on both sides - and it's the only birthday cake they want. Store bought is a no-no.

Added Tip: You CANNOT put icing on a cake until the cake is COMPLETELY cooled. I'll usually put the cake in the fridge to fully cool it off if time is an issue.

Happy Baking!



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

9 comments:

  1. Oh, I love a good chocolate icing.....not too sweet and not too bitter either. I guess I could experiment right along with you. I am getting the baking itch....

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    1. Olivia, lol, if you can get Frys Cocoa that's a good start too - I've used other Cocoas but were so used to the taste of this one.

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  2. I have never heard of Frys Cocoa, but see it is a Canadian product. Have to give it a try sometime. I make my fudge from a recipe that uses cocoa, so I bet Frys would be really good in that. Isn't it wonderful the knowledge and memories we get from our grandmamas. :)

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    1. it really is wonderful to keep the memories of our grandparents - I've held onto all the good that this mind can recall lol :)

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  3. You do realize the key ingredient is love, right? Yes, I know you already know that, but that is the secret ingredient grandmothers (and mothers) use when cooking. Barbara, what is icing sugar? I have only ever used granulated sugar or powdered sugar, but I am guessing icing sugar is finer. Can I get it online? Does brand matter? Thank you for sharing your homemade Chocolate icing recipe. I definitely want to try your recipe myself soon.

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  4. Cynthia, you’re absolutely correct the secret ingredient is love. It’s a memory that has stayed with me for my entire life. Icing sugar is powdered sugar. But here in Canada the brand I usually use is Redpath Icing Sugar. I see it’s only avaialable on amazon.ca. But I honestly don’t think a different type of powdered sugar matters? But I don’t know for sure either as I’ve only made it with Redpath Icing Sugar.

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  5. Cynthia, me again. I had to do more investigating on your Icing Sugar question. I won't go into all the details of what I found out, but thank you for asking, as I updated the article above to give more information on what kind of Icing Sugar we use.

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    1. Most Excellent! Thank you Barbara, and thank you for the links!

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  6. This looks and sounds absolutely yummy. I haven't made a cake in ages since we are trying to stay off sweets and cut pounds, but I'll remember this recipe if I bake a chocolate cake again.

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