This light as a feather sugar-free buttercream frosting will become a favorite for birthdays and other low carb celebrations.
I love cakes and cupcakes. There is nothing more beautiful than a layer cake decked-out in fluffy white frosting or a cupcake with that beautiful, mounded swirl, of sweet-velvety-goodness on top. We’ve all heard the phrase “frosting makes the cake”, and it is oh-so-true.
Over the years, I have created many low-carb frostings. The best low carb version I came up with was about half butter and half Greek yogurt. It was very fiddly. If the ingredients weren’t the exact temperature, it would break, leaving a watery mess that had to be gently heated and re-mixed. Xanthan gum helped a bit to keep the mixture emulsified, but sometimes the low carb sweeteners wouldn’t completely dissolve and the frosting would be a little grainy. It tasted great though.
Other sugar-free frostings I tried, were coconut cream based or coconut oil based and just never turned out well because they melted very quickly. Non-hydrogenated palm oil shortening was a good choice, but again, I ran into the problem of the low-carb sweeteners not dissolving completely, leaving a sweet tasting but gritty product. Depressing.
I am happy to announce that I have finally had total success!
This is the most beautiful low carb, sugar-free, dairy-free buttercream frosting I have ever made. With all of the ingredient constraints I face in daily cooking, due to food allergies and dietary concerns, I thought a fantastic frosting would never be possible.
This frosting is silky, fluffy, lightly sweet, and substantial enough for the middle layer of a layer cake. And although the completely dairy free version doesn’t hold up to heat as well as a real-butter frosting, it is considerably more tolerant than most Paleo or Vegan concoctions made from whipped coconut milk or coconut oil.
The process begins with a sturdy vanilla custard (pudding) that is slowly whipped with air. I used xylitol for the sweetener here because it resists re-crystallization upon cooling. (note: if you have dogs make sure they do not eat any product made with xylitol! Use an erythritol based 1:1 sugar replacement like Sukrin :1, Swerve Granulated, Lakanto or Besti.)
Then, butter (I use a combination of shortening and butter) is slowly incorporated and the amount of frosting balloons to a voluminous to 5 cups! That’s enough to frost a 3 tiered layer cake or to frost 72 cupcakes! Since the process is a little time consuming, I make double the batch and keep the extra in the freezer because it freezes beautifully.
German Buttercream Frosting
- small pot or sauce pan
- Medium heat proof bowl
- Larger bowl to fill with ice and water for an ice bath
- Medium mesh sieve
- Whisk, rubber spatulas, spoons
- Measuring cups and measuring spoons
- Stand mixer
- 1 cup heavy cream (or full-fat coconut milk from a can)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups xylitol
- 2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder (necessary to provide structure for the frosting)
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla (for custard)
- 1 1/2 cup Spectrum All Vegetable Shortening non-hydrogenated
- 6 ounces very soft butter (vegan butter or more shortening)*
- 1/2 cup Swerve Confectioner's Style
- 2 tsp vanilla (for frosting)
- 1/4 tsp Stevia Glycerite
- Gather ingredients and equipment. Fill the larger bowl (big enough to fit the custard bowl inside) half way with ice and add enough water to make an ice bath. Place the smaller bowl and sieve by the stove.
- Cook the coconut milk in a small sauce pan over medium heat until simmering.
- Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch (or arrowroot powder), salt and xylitol together in the medium bowl. Add the whole egg and egg yolks whisking thoroughly together. When the coconut mixture is hot and steaming, pour it slowly into the egg mixture, whisking all the while. Because the xylitol gets cold as it melts, don't be too concerned about scrambling your eggs at this time. Pour the mixture back into the sauce pan. Place the mesh sieve over the bowl to use shortly.
- Whisk the custard mixture continuously over medium-low to medium heat. Because the xylitol is still melting, it takes the mixture several minutes to get hot. DO NOT STEP AWAY FROM THE STOVE. Be patient and whisk the custard the whole time until it becomes very thick like a pudding. Continue cooking for one minute more to cook out the taste of the starch. (Be ready to take the pot off the heat if it looks like the eggs might scramble. This step takes concentration and at times, furious whisking.)
- Pour the custard into the sieve and work it through with a rubber spatula to remove any bits of cooked egg. Place the custard bowl into the ice bath and hold it carefully so as not to get any water in it. Stir the custard until COMPLETELY COOL. Stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Set aside.
- Measure the palm oil shortening into a medium mixing bowl and mix it with a hand mixer until soft. Add the butter and mix until completely incorporated. Set aside. (If using ghee: Warm the ghee or vegan butter gently. Add the ghee to the shortening and mix completely.) NOTE: The shortening must be soft to incorporate into the custard. * if using all shortening, add butter flavoring extract to taste.
Whipping the frosting
- Scrape the cold custard into the bowl of the stand mixer, and using the whip attachment, mix on medium for several minutes to incorporate air into the custard. Slowly add the shortening mixture to the custard 2 tablespoons at a time, waiting until each addition is completely incorporated before adding more. When half of the shortening is incorporated, start alternating adding in the Swerve sweetener. Continue until all of the shortening is incorporated. It takes quite some time.
- Begin adjusting the flavor of the buttercream frosting by adding the vanilla 1/2 teaspoon at a time. This is also the time to adjust the sweetness. I use stevia glycerite to add additional sweetness to avoid the pronounced cooling sensation one gets from sugar alcohols.
- Use right away, refrigerate up to a week or freeze. It keeps forever in the freezer. Just put it in the refrigerator the night before to thaw and leave it on the counter 30 minutes before use. Whip it before using.
Makes 5 cups of frosting. NUTRITION PROVIDED IS PER 1/4 CUP SERVING and is 1.4 CARBS.
- Two 8 or 9-inch layers need 4 cups of frosting. (1.8 carbs per person assuming 12 servings.)
- Three 8 or 9-inch layers need 5 cups of frosting. (2.3 carbs per person assuming 12 servings.)
- Use 1.5 cups of frosting per 12 cupcakes. (2 tbsp per cupcake or .7 carbs)
- Use 3 cups of frosting per 24 cupcakes. (2 tbsp per cupcake or .7 carbs)