Suzi's Blog

Fudgy Frosting



This post is the first of two. I had to flip a coin to see which would come first.

No, that’s not true. Look at that picture. The brownie is very good, made with cocoa and very cakey. But it is this frosting that literally tops this treat. This frosting, also made with cocoa, is universal. It adorns brownies here, but is excellent for other cookies or cakes.

The technique for this recipe lets you control the viscosity of the frosting. You start in a saucepan using 4 cups of powdered sugar. Still warm, that mixture can be easily poured over a cake, but it will definitely run. Adding more powdered sugar will gradually stiffen the frosting and I suggest doing that step by first pouring mixture out of the sauce pan and into a stand mixer. Beating with the mixer will make the incorporation of additional powdered sugar easier and will increase the rate of cooling. As the mixture cools, it stiffens, so you will more readily approach a stiffness needed to frost a cake top without having the frosting “drool” over the sides.

Remember though: having the frosting loose and flowing is a natural way to achieve a perfectly smooth surface, one that is “bakery perfect.”

The stiffening power of the powdered sugar depends on whether it is sifted and the day’s humidity. Getting to the consistency you want all depends on your frosting tasks. Add additional sugar slowly and remember: you can always add a little milk to loosen up frosting that has become too stiff for your task at hand.

Fudgy Frosting

Yield: 2+ cups


  • ½ cup butter, cut into ¼-inch chunks
  • ⅓ cup whole milk or heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided 4 cups and 1 cup


In a medium saucepan, place the butter, milk and cocoa. Over medium heat, melt the butter and combine the mixture while constantly whisking. Do not bring to a boil. When the butter has melted and mixture is uniform, add the vanilla.

Lower the heat to simmer and gradually add the 4 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Whisk continuously to achieve uniformity as quickly as possible.

Remove from the heat and pour mixture into a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to medium and beat the mixture to being cooling and stiffening. Occasionally reduce the beater speed and add portions of the remaining cup of sugar. When the frosting has reached the consistency and temperature you need, stop the mixer and use immediately.

As the frosting cools further to room temperature it will set and resemble fudge. It will taste like it, too.

Source: Brian O’Rourke

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/25th second at ISO‑3200


Fudge Icing from Seattle Circa 1960


This is a two part blog: cake and frosting. Of course, frosting comes first and tomorrow you’ll have the cake. Frosting deserves to be first. Well, icing should come first. Icing, frosting, which is it? Even in the recipe from The Great American Cookbook by Clementine Paddleford the two terms are confused. She calls this a Fudge Icing but refers to the mixture as a frosting. Oh, and it’s not fudge. It’s Mocha.

What is going on here? In mid-century, Clementine Paddleford toured America, writing for magazines and cataloging the “best” in local recipes. Those recipes were collected into her book How America Eats, which has now been republished as The Great American Cookbook. The book provides “typical but great” recipes region by region, state by state.

It is assuredly American. And it is great. Most importantly, this book captures how Americans cooked over 50 years ago. That was a different America. The terminology was different: hence using “icing” and “frosting” interchangeably. The styles of cooking were different. There is a recipe here for Hungarian Meatballs, something you’d expect to come from Pennsylvania or Ohio. No, it’s from Florida, which had a much smaller population in the 1950’s with a radically different ethnic mix.

There are recipes here with terms you’ve never heard of: Montauk Berry Duff from New York.

Today, the hottest restaurant in New York City is just two block from where I live on Worth Street. The chef is from Portland, Oregon, now listed as one of the food centers of America if not the world. I grew up in Portland. In the 1950’s the hottest restaurant in Portland was Manning’s Cafeteria where you pushed along a tray to get salmon croquettes and meatloaf and blue berry pie. For me, the close connections and yet the enormous increase in culinary complexity, well, it makes me shake my head and smile and the same time.

Ah, if you want to smile, then make this icing. It is an icing, thin and shining, not deep and thick like a frosting. But you won’t care. You can use this icing on cakes, on cookies, or even on your fingertips.

Tomorrow comes the cake that Clementine recommended.

Fudge Icing from Seattle Circa 1960

Servings: covers one 9 X 13” sheet cake


  • 2 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons [¾ stick] unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons hot coffee
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract


Sift the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa into a medium bowl. Stir in the butter, then the coffee, followed by the vanilla, mixing well with a wooden spoon after each addition, until the frosting is smooth. Ice the top and sides of your cake with frosting.

Source: The Great American Cookbook by Clementine Paddleford