Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy Birthday Frosting

So you may remember that I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago.  Throughout most of my childhood, that occasion was marked by the presence of what my sister and I still call, quite simply, The Birthday Cake.  At our house, that meant a white cake (made from a mix) with lemon filling between the layers (the cooked version of Jell-o lemon pudding, not lemon curd), and Happy Birthday Frosting on top.   It’s not fancy, but it tastes like my childhood, and that makes it delicious.

This year, the birthday cake was gluten-free–courtesy of the forward-thinking Hubs, who ordered a vanilla cake mix from Bob’s Red Mill– but everything else followed tradition.  I asked my mom if she remembered where she’d found the frosting recipe originally.  As I suspected, that piece of memory has long since been lost–what she did remember is that I’d preferred chocolate cake when I was a teenager, so my birthday cakes had taken a swing toward the dark side for a few years.  (That bit of trivia is just a testament to changing tastes:  these days, I would never choose chocolate cake over vanilla.)  I have a vague memory of Happy Birthday Frosting flavored with peppermint extract, which probably topped those chocolate cakes.  One of the great things about this very basic recipe is that you can adjust the flavorings to match whatever sort of cake you’re making–rum extract with spice cake, orange extract with yellow cake, almond or lemon extract with white cake, or whatever sounds good to you.  Or, keep it simple and use all vanilla extract.

You’ll notice that this recipe does include one raw egg white.  The boiling water heats it up to a temperature I consider safe, and keep in mind that, according to the American Egg Board, the chance of contracting salmonella from a raw egg white is only .005%.  Salmonella is unlikely to grow in egg whites and more likely to grow in the yolk.  However, that very small possibility does exist. If you’re worried about it, you should use an equivalent amount of powdered egg white.  Just mix it with water according to the package directions and proceed as if you’re using a fresh egg.

Mix up this frosting just before you’re reading to frost and eat the cake.  Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator, but the frosting will begin to separate if it’s stored for more than one day.

For a few additional tips on working with egg whites, click here.


Happy Birthday Frosting


1 cup miniature marshmallows (or two huge spoonfuls of marshmallow creme)
1 c. sugar
1 egg white
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. other extract (almond, orange, peppermint, etc.)
1/2 c. boiling water


Melt marshmallows in a double boiler to soften them. If you're using marshmallow creme (which I usually do), just skip this step.

Beat the sugar, egg white, cream of tartar, and extracts in a deep mixing bowl on low speed until they're combined. Pour in the boiling water all at once and immediately turn the mixer to high speed for 8 minutes, until the mixture is very light and fluffy. Turn the mixer down again and add the melted marshmallows or marshmallow creme. Return to high speed and beat for 2 more minutes.

Frost your cake immediately. Store the frosted cake in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve it.

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2 Responses to “Happy Birthday Frosting”

  1. 1

    Erica — July 20, 2012 @ 12:16 am

    This looks amazing. I’m actually eating spoonfuls of marshmallow creme from the jar right now, so this is perfect.

    • familyfoodie replied: — July 20th, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

      And I thought I was the only person who did that! ;)

      The thing I love most about this frosting is that it’s basically like wrapping your cake in a marshmallow cloud.

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