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What Is Marshmallow Frosting?

By Mark Wollacott
Updated May 16, 2024
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Marshmallow frosting is a sweet topping for cupcakes and cakes. Its base is sugar; some recipes use confectioner's sugar while others use cane sugar. The difference between marshmallow frosting and cake icing is the amount of liquid in the recipe. Marshmallow frosting contains almost no liquids while others contain greater amounts of milk or water. Bakers use marshmallow-based frosting when they need a stiffer, more pliable material, which will create specific designs and shapes.

The physical properties of marshmallow frosting come from the egg whites in the recipe. When egg whites stiffen, they create air pockets, which help mold the frosting into its stiffer form. As many bakers warn, it is easy to over-mix egg whites, so the recipe needs to be mixed just until the egg whites come to a peak in the mixture. Reaching this point of mixing egg whites often requires practice, but most professional cake decorators will be able to make and use a marshmallow-based frosting. It is best to ask someone experienced in mixing egg whites to demonstrate how the frosting looks when it is prepared correctly.

Once perfected, the marshmallow icing will easily sit on top of a cupcake when applied with a spoon. A few practice cupcakes are necessary for beginners, but many cupcake bakers use a toothpick and spatula to shape the frosting into curly patterns. A touch of food coloring or licorice is useful to add decoration to this frosting; small candies also work well to obtain the desired patterns. Alternatively, the mixture is placed inside a frosting bag and pushed through different-shaped tips to create a layered look.

An additional advantage to marshmallow frosting is its versatility with different types of decorating. This frosting will not melt when fire is gently applied to its surface, the surface will also slightly turn brown before beginning to succumb to the heat. Due to this versatility, marshmallow frosting is used when bakers are creating a burnt marshmallow look on cupcakes or cakes.

This pliability of form allows bakers and decorators to create a wide range of images. The size of the image depends on the size of the cake. Designs can range from simple one-color circles on a cupcake to designs that display the badges or colors of local sports teams, schools or organizations.

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Discussion Comments
By bluedolphin — On May 04, 2014

@SarahGen-- If you are planning to bake the goods in the oven to brown the marshmallow frosting, I think that marshmallow creme or fluff could be used. If I remember correctly, this is what my mom does when she makes marshmallow pie. She prepares marshmallow creme on the stove by melting marshmallow. I think she also adds egg whites. Then she pours it on the baked pie and puts it back in the oven for the marshmallow topping to stiffen and become golden brown. It works quite well.

If you are not going to be baking the frosting though, then you should follow the recipe described in the article.

By stoneMason — On May 03, 2014

@SarahGen-- You can make frosting from marshmallow fluff but it won't work if you use it as is from the container. You need a double boiler to make marshmallow frosting from fluff. The fluff is combined and beaten with egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and water in the double boiler. After it is removed from the boiler, you can add flavoring and coloring and it will become stiffer at room temperature.

This is probably the easiest way to make marshmallow frosting and it's the method I prefer. It is kind of difficult to make the frosting from scratch. I have trouble with the egg whites, they're never the right consistency for me.

By SarahGen — On May 03, 2014

Can I use ready made marshmallow fluff as frosting or does marshmallow frosting have to be made from scratch?

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