January 19, 2019
Sweets/Baked Goods

Seven-Minute Frosting

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This old-fashioned frosting is worth reviving. With its satiny, marshmallowy swirls, it looks almost too pretty to eat. It contains not a speck of fat. It is airy and sweet – but not over-the-top sweet. And it can be browned with a kitchen torch. Seven-Minute Frosting got its name from the whipping time (sorta). It is also known as boiled icing, white mountain frosting, meringue frosting or marshmallow frosting. Since it’s made on the stovetop, you will need an electric hand-held mixer.

     Old-fashioned, satiny, swirly, marshmallowy frosting. Credit: Susan Sampson

3 large egg whites
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar (7 oz/200 g)
1 tbsp (15 mL) white corn syrup
1/4 cup (60 mL) lukewarm water
1/4 tsp (1 mL) white vinegar
Pinch table salt
1 tsp (5 mL) clear vanilla extract

Add egg whites, sugar, corn syrup, water, vinegar and salt to large heatproof mixing bowl. Beat with electric hand-held mixer on low speed 30 seconds, or until combined. Let sit 5 minutes. Beat 30 seconds, or until less opaque and slightly frothy. Let sit 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill medium pan with 1 inch (2.5 cm) water. Bring to boil on high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain simmer.

Place bowl with egg white mixture in pan over simmering water. Beat with electric mixer on high speed 7 minutes, or until thick, shiny, voluminous, fluffy and smooth. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, or until slightly cooled. Let sit 15 to 30 minutes, until cooled to room temperature. Use immediately.  

Makes 4 cups (2 L).

Shopping Cart: Some supermarkets sell white corn syrup. It is actually clear, not white.

C is for Clear Vanilla Extract: This type of vanilla extract will keep your frosting snowy white. Alas, it is always artificial vanilla.

How-To: Test frosting. Before you remove frosting from the heat, make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Rub some frosting between your fingers. There should be no gritty sugar crystals. 

Bright Ideas: You may substitute almond or other flavour extracts for the vanilla.

Oh No: Do not use a metal bowl; it heats up too much and too unevenly. Also, make sure the simmering water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Don’t let Seven-Minute Frosting sit more than 30 minutes before using. It will set slightly and become less spreadable. This frosting does not require refrigeration (sugar is a powerful preservative). Once refrigerated, it develops a firm marshmallow texture and is no longer spreadable.

Kitchen Secrets: Grittiness and a tendency to develop a hard crust are the biggest potential problems with Seven-Minute Frosting. You will encounter neither problem with this recipe. Some secrets: Use lukewarm water in the egg mixture, then let it sit before heating, to give the sugar a head start in dissolving. Add corn syrup to prevent crystallization (and thus eliminate the need to use a damp pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals stuck to the bowl). Don’t scrape up any finished hardened icing sticking to the bowl.