Fluffy White Icing-Marshmallow Frosting

by cakeduchess on April 25, 2012 · 65 comments


I can take or leave frosting. It’s not that I mind it. I just don’t crave it and really don’t dream about it. Homemade marshmallow frosting? Now we are approaching some very dangerous and dreamy frosting territory.

You may have noticed on my blog posts the last couple of years that I’m not a big frosting person. You really won’t find too much frosting here. I do like a buttercream frosting; I really prefer a marshmallow frosting/Italian meringue. This frosting has been around since I was kid. You may know it as boiled icing or as a seven minute frosting (or an Italian meringue-meringa all’Italiana). The Italian meringue version is slightly different and you could see an example here. It’s a good old-fashioned recipe glorious in all its white simplicity. It’s a frosting that is as light as air and reminds me of being a kid again.
This was the recipe my mom used for the countless cakes she used to bake for our birthdays. It’s perfect on a chocolate cake or yellow cake. My mom did bake plenty of Italian/Sicilian desserts for us, but when she made this frosting it was called Marshmallow Frosting;). It’s pretty much perfect on any cake, as long as I get a big slice.
My mom was so cool! She let us stand on the tables and chairs at birthday parties. That’s me on the right and my excited brother on the table. My mom’s cake with her marshmallow frosting.
birthday 001
I recently used it with Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake. Can’t wait to bake another one!


Fluffy White Icing-Marshmallow Frosting
mom’s recipe
yield: frosting for 2 nice-inch round cakes

1 cup of granulated  white sugar (not powdered sugar)
4 egg whites, room temperature
1/3 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium saucepan, bring the 1/3 cup of water, sugar, cream of tartar to a boil. Do not stir the sugar mixture as it will cause it to crystallize. Boil until you have thick clear bubbles ( should only take about 5 minutes and reads a temperature of 245 F). Be careful not to boil even 1 second longer. *(If a mistake happens and you do boil the sugar too long and end up with an amber colored sugar mixture, don’t throw it away. Add some heavy cream and you have an amazing caramel sauce.  soon as it comes to a rapid bubble, because it will turn amber, and than you would have to quickly make a different recipe, and add heavy cream, which would be “caramel sauce”).
In a metal bowl, add all the egg whites, and beat the egg whites until starts to get a little thick and forms soft peaks. Set your timer for 7 minutes. Now slowly (take care and do not let this boiling hot sugar syrup burn you) add the sugar syrup only a little at a time and beat on high speed for 7 minutes.
On the last minute, beat in the vanilla extract. The frosting will be fluffy and light. My mom recommends adding a drop of food coloring if you want to be daring.
Enjoy this fun, old-fashioned frosting on whatever sort of cake you love. It is guaranteed to be requested over and over again.;)
Julia April 25, 2012 at 7:46 pm

I’ve been DYING to try this kind of frosting… and for some reason I keep putting it off. Ok, you convinced me! Now I need an excuse to make a cake!

Mary Vanmeter December 28, 2012 at 12:24 am

OH MY GOD,I just made this recipe and I cant get my husband out of the stuff!

Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie April 25, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Yum yum yum! And here I was thinking you’d be using a jar of fluff.

Cake Duchess April 25, 2012 at 8:22 pm

This is so much better than the jarred, Erin;)

wilma August 24, 2012 at 12:09 am

In your steps ypu said to add sugar syrup “ONLY A LITTLE” do u mean just a little of the actual quantity of the syrup? Like not the whole saucepan of syrup? Or u actually mean to pour it very slow and thin flow?

Do u have to cool the syrup a bit or just as you let it boil you start whipping the eggwhites & just when the syrup boils you pour it in the eggwhites in the latters “soft peak” stage?

Cake Duchess August 25, 2012 at 12:08 am

Exactly, Wilma. Pour the syrup a little at a time (don’t pour the whole portion in as once)hot (not cooled at all)That’s why I warn to take care not to burn yourself. It ends up being where you are mixing it for a total of 7 minutes:)Enjoy!

El April 25, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Yum. It looks delicious!

Kristen Sampson April 25, 2012 at 8:11 pm

This is one of my favorite frostings! I make it often and use immediately, but I was wondering if you (or your mom) have ever made this a day in advance? I have about a bunch cupcakes to bake for a party this weekend and it would make my day run smoother if I could make this icing the day before and just have to worry about decorating the morning of. Bad idea??

Anyway, your icing looks divine!!!

Cake Duchess April 25, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Thank you:) It gets weepy sitting in the bowl. Mom said don’t let it sit for more than 30 minutes;) Happy baking!

Chrysti May 19, 2012 at 11:53 am

I also had a question about storage — how does it keep if you frost the cake the day before and serve the next day? I saw another recipe for this kind of frosting (not as good as yours!) that said to serve within 3 hours.

Cake Duchess May 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm

I made this cake late morning and had it in the refrigerator frosted for about 5 hours. My mom used to make our cakes sometimes night before and leave in refrigerator until the next day when ready to serve and it was fine:)

Chrysti May 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Thank you, Cake Duchess! I can’t wait to give this a try :o)

S.V. April 25, 2012 at 8:14 pm

I’ve never made this type of frosting which literally makes no sense as I love marshmallow everything lol. I’m totally going to have to make some as the filling for my sons cake!

Rachel @ Baked by Rachel April 25, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Just pass me a spoon :) This would make my hubs SO happy because he prefers lighter frostings.

Bananamondaes April 25, 2012 at 8:44 pm

I love that picture – I have a similar picture over a marshmallow frosting cake covered with jelly sweets. Lovely post.

Shawn April 25, 2012 at 8:47 pm

My absolute favorite…the only frosting my mom makes! It’s complete happiness :)

Lo-mo April 25, 2012 at 9:42 pm

I make frosting all the time but have never tried this one!! It is officially on my to try list! Looks so fluffy and awesome!!

Reeni April 26, 2012 at 12:12 am

We are big frosting lovers over here and this is one of our favorites! My Mom’s been making it since I was a kid too! xoxo

Nisrine April 26, 2012 at 12:26 am

Delightful frosting, Lora. I will remember it for my next birthday baking project.

Kiri W. April 26, 2012 at 2:10 am

Awwww that picture is so cute! :)
I don’t like marshmallows/marshmallow fluff (in truth it scares me) but my wife would eat this straight out of the bowl!

Roxana {A little bit of everything} April 26, 2012 at 3:13 am

i recently bought a candy thermometer and made meringue frosting for the first time. Now I have to make some marshmallow fluff as well.

love the photo of you and your brother :)

Jamie April 26, 2012 at 9:21 am

As I said in my comment on my previous post, I’ve tried a 7-minute frosting before and it came out slightly less than fluffy so I am now going to try your mom’s! Looks fantastic! And LOVE the picture of you…you do know you look just the same?

Lizzy April 26, 2012 at 11:38 am

You have one COOL mom for sure!!! And my mom used to make this frosting, too!!! So darn yummy!

A Thought For Food April 26, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Such torture! I’m not a huge frosting person… well, not unless it’s sitting right in front of me. Then I can’t stop eating it.

Claudia April 26, 2012 at 12:53 pm

People on Weight Watchers should not be exposed to your opening photo! I’m not a frosting person but this beckons. Awwww….. look at you two on the table – beautiful!

bunkycooks April 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm

I’m with you on the frosting, except for maybe cream cheese frosting. However, this beautiful marshmallow fluffiness has my attention! BTW, too funny that your mom allowed you on the tables! ;-)

Mr B April 26, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I’ve seen cakes with a bride and groom statue but never have i seen one with a kid planted on it llike the one in that old picture.

Cake Duchess April 27, 2012 at 1:25 am

Mr B-Pretty amazing what they had back in those days for cake decorating;) You crack me up, Roger!

Paula April 27, 2012 at 3:01 am

My Mom used to make this and I honestly don’t think I ever have. Time to change that!! Your chocolate cake in the photo looks great as does this frosting. I wonder if anyone has ever coloured it when decorating a cake.

Shabs April 27, 2012 at 4:40 am

Oooooh , this looks heavenly, I gotta try this . The pic of you and you brother looks so cute :) .

Maggie @MaggieCooks April 27, 2012 at 6:23 pm

this frosting looks great! I am always doubting on frostings that use egg whites I gotta try it someday! :)

CJ - Food Stories April 27, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Congratulations on your foodbuzz top 9, today!

Emily @ She Makes and Bakes April 28, 2012 at 2:28 am

I love this frosting…it’s so good and easy to make!

Magic of Spice April 29, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I love marshmallow frosting…looks amazing!

Barbara | Creative Culinary April 30, 2012 at 12:40 am

I could do this with chocolate cake too. Or with a spoon. Very nice my dear…and great advice on the sugar syrup. I messed up today making caramel and I could tell the bubbles were way too crystallized and ‘sugary’ looking. I would much rather pitch some sugar water then keep going and realize I’ve also wasted cream and/or butter. If they’re not clear; they need to go bye bye. :)

Yuri - Chef Pandita May 5, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Just passing by to say hi, Lora! xox

Unknown May 21, 2012 at 4:51 am

Ahhh! I haven’t had this frosting in years. Thanks so much for posting it. My great-grandma used to make it and I loved it as a child, but mostly I just do buttercream frosting. My son made (happy coinky-dink here!) the Hershey’s Perfect Chocolate cake – he did cupcakes – and we are out of confectioner’s sugar. I googled 7-minute icing and came to your page. It tasted even better than I remember it … and I also got to use my brand-spankin’-new candy thermometer. Foodie heaven, fer sher!

Oh yeah — the best part: Since the frosting doesn’t keep and we didn’t use it all, we get to just eat it with a spoon. Waste not, want not!

Jessie July 28, 2012 at 10:53 pm

So I’m trying to make a s’more cupcake and I was wondering if I took a torch to this frosting would it brown like a marshmellow

Anonymous November 30, 2012 at 3:54 am

It does, we tried it – looks and tastes awesome!

Anonymous August 26, 2012 at 2:29 am

compared to other recipes that i have search..this one is the easiest.. the directions is easy to follow.. :) i’ll make this..

anora September 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous September 29, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Just made and tried this for the first time and have only one word for it… AWESOME!

Thank you so much for a fab recipe, will be using again! =oD

Londa October 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm

can you decorate on this frosting? like adding flowers,butter cream transfers? or will it all just slide down the cake, or sink in?

Troy October 11, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Made this for my wifes birthday cake. Yes I’m laid off and like to cook. Everyone totally loved it. Made 4hrs early and stuck it in the fridge. The chocolate cake had absorbed the layer between the 2 cakes by the time we ate it. Everyone didn’t mind though, because they said the middle of the cake tasted like fudge. I thought it did to. So if you want that middle layer icing look when you cut it, make it closer to the time you serve it.

Natalie October 14, 2012 at 10:44 am

Thank you so much for this post, it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. Can I make this chocolate flavoured by adding cocoa powder? And, if so, at what stage should I add the cocoa? Many thanks

Monica November 11, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Pretty sure you just saved my life—I was in a pinch! Thanks for the recipe, it came out great!

Anonymous November 30, 2012 at 3:55 am

Love this frosting – easy to make and you can toast it like a marshmallow on the cupcakes!

Amber December 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I don’t know if I did the frosting right. My frosting didn’t feel as stiff as yours looked in the picture. It held its shape when I decorated but it was more like a cool whip texture. Did I do something wrong or is that how it is supposed to be?

Anonymous March 25, 2013 at 1:09 am

I requested this frosting every birthday as a child. Chocolate cake with what I called “sticky white” frosting! Labor of love indeed. Thanks Mom and thank you Cake Duchess for the recipe and easy to follow directions.

Spanky April 16, 2013 at 2:23 am

This looks beautiful! I can’t wait to try it. Do you know how long it will stay “out” after the cake is decorated? I’m making an igloo cake for my son’s birthday, and I want to make sure the frosting doesn’t melt or run since we are taking the cake to a venue away from home. Thanks!!!!

Ianessa May 29, 2013 at 9:18 pm

This frosting is soooo good made it lastweek it turned out perfect but im making it again and i thought instead of using vanilla i would try bubblegum essense but the mixture turned to goo . my question is can you use another flavour instead of vanilla??

amanda June 20, 2013 at 11:09 pm

hi cake duchess i think this recipe is delicious and i love baking and as soon as i finished making it and tried it, holy smokes i had fire works in my mouth hahaha it reminded me of a bon fire where u roast marshmallows and when u eat the inside of the marshmallow, thats exactly what it reminds me of, the best frosting recipe i have had thank you very much and do u have a website ith other recipes?

Sarah@WholeandHeavenlyOven August 4, 2013 at 5:52 pm

I can’t believe how amazing this frosting turned out!! It took me less than ten minutes total and the results were incredible! Thank you so much.

Merrin August 25, 2013 at 11:00 pm

It looks fantastic! Does this hold its shape enough to pipe onto cupcakes? Or will it sink and flop a bit?

cakeduchess October 3, 2013 at 11:37 am

I think this would hold its shape fine for piping. :)

Desley October 29, 2013 at 10:51 pm

We very rarely used this type of frosting in Australia. So I am unfamiliar with the reparation methods. When is the Vanilla added? Do I added it to the Sugar, Cream of Tartar & water before boiling. Or during the 7 minutes of beating?

cakeduchess November 1, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Hi-I mention in the recipe to add the vanilla during the last minute it is beating (during the 7 minutes). Enjoy! It’s wonderful:)

Desley November 4, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Hi Lora, Thanks for your reply. I’ve now tried this & love it. But standing with a hand held mixer for 7 minutes has convinced me it’s time to buy myself another bench top mixer.

Siobhain November 16, 2013 at 11:43 am

Thanks so much! This recipe rocks! Way less sugar than traditional icings too.

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