Ermine Frosting

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Ermine Frosting is an old-fashioned buttercream, also known as “boiled milk frosting” or “flour frosting.” It’s made with sugar, flour, milk and butter! It’s a great alternative for those who like a less-sweet frosting.

Vanilla cupcakes topped with ermine frosting.

Ermine frosting? Boiled milk? Flour? I know, I know. Everything about this buttercream frosting recipe – from the name to the ingredients – is just a little weird. But I’ll tell you what is not weird – the absolutely delicious taste!

This buttercream frosting is light and fluffy and creamy, almost like the filling of a Twinkie. Trust me on this one, it’s really good.

It’s somewhat similar in texture to my swiss meringue frosting, but there are no egg whites involved here. So no whipping egg whites to a stiff peak, no figuring out what to do with the yolks (creme brulee anyone?), and no worrying about serving this frosting to someone who can’t eat eggs.

The recipe also calls for less sugar than traditional buttercream frosting, so if you are a fan of a slightly less-sweet frosting, this one is for you. Don’t worry though, with a cup of sugar, it is still plenty sweet.

There is an unusual technique to making this recipe (I told you) but it works. Ermine frosting is also called boiled milk frosting or roux frosting, because, well, you first make a roux and then boil milk. So either name works.

Aside from the time in the fridge for the boiled milk to cool and set, this is a quick and easy recipe. If you haven’t made Ermine frosting before I urge you to try it.

The recipe starts with toasting the flour and sugar together (this helps get rid of the raw flavor that uncooked flour can sometimes have). Then milk is added and the whole mixture is boiled until it becomes almost pudding-like. It is strained to make sure it is perfectly smooth with no chunks before being chilled for at least two hours.

The chilling is necessary because the mixture is added to fluffed-up sweet cream butter, so if the mixture has any heat left, it will melt the butter. This would make for a very un-spreadable frosting! The butter and flour mixture combine to really make something special.

This frosting is great on cupcakes or cakes or in between two cookies for a cookie sandwich. Regardless of what you call it, I promise you will think it is delicious.


Recipe Snapshot

  • TASTE: Lightly sweetened buttercream frosting
  • TEXTURE: Fluffy and creamy
  • EASE: Easy
  • TIME: 15 minutes plus cooling time

What You’ll Need

This delicious version of buttercream frosting only needs a handful of ingredients.

Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour: Strange but true.
  • Granulated sugar: The sugar dissolves completely in the cooking so granulated white sugar works just fine.
  • Whole milk: The milk and flour combine to make a paste that is the base of the frosting.
  • Butter: Unsalted sweet cream butter, softened.
  • Vanilla extract: Make your own with this recipe or use a natural extract.
  • Salt: Just a pinch, to balance the flavors.

Recommended Tools

Close up of boiled frosting in glass bowl.

How to Make Ermine Frosting

This ermine frosting recipe, which is also known as a roux frosting or a boiled milk frosting, comes together pretty quickly. The chilling time is a must, however, so leave yourself plenty of time before you plan on using the frosting to allow it to set in the fridge.

Be sure to check out the full recipe and ingredient list below

  1. Toast the flour and sugar. Whisk the flour and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat for about 2 minutes to toast the flour.
  2. Add milk. Slowly whisk in the milk until well combined. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until very thick and almost pudding-like.
  3. Strain and chill. Press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve set over a heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap so that it is touching the surface to prevent a skin from forming on the top of the mixture. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight until completely cooled.
  4. Beat the butter. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Combine. With the mixer running, gradually drop spoonfuls of the chilled flour mixture into the bowl. Allow each addition to fully incorporate before adding the next.
  6. Add flavorings. Beat in the vanilla and salt.

Handy tip:

You can make flavored ermine frosting easily by adding in ¼ cup of cocoa powder (baking cocoa not hot chocolate powder) after you have added the flour mixture. You can make a strawberry ermine frosting by adding in strawberry powder (or make your own by blending dried strawberries in the blender or Cuisinart).

Tips For Success

  • Make sure the flour mixture is completely cooled before adding it to the butter.
  • Ermine frosting will set and not stay creamy so it’s best to use it right away.
  • You can easily double this recipe for more frosting.
Ermine frosting piped over vanilla cupcakes.

Storage & Freezing

This buttercream frosting sets quickly so it is best to use it right away – this is not a make-ahead frosting.

Ermine Frosting

4.50 from 4 votes
Vanilla cupcakes topped with ermine frosting.
Ermine Frosting is an old-fashioned buttercream, also known as “boiled milk frosting” or “flour frosting”. It's made with sugar, flour, milk and butter! It's a great alternative for those whole like a less sweet frosting.
Jen Sobjack
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Serving Size 12

Ingredients

  • cup (43 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  • Whisk the flour and sugar together in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat for about 2 minutes to toast the flour. Take care not to burn it.
  • Slowly whisk in the milk until well combined. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until very thick and almost pudding-like.
  • Press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve set over a heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap so that it is touching the surface to prevent a skin from forming on the top of the mixture.
  • Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. The mixture should be completely cool or it will melt the butter.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • With the mixer running, gradually drop spoonfuls of the flour mixture into the bowl. Allow each addition to fully incorporate before adding the next.
  • Beat in the vanilla and salt.
  • This buttercream sets quickly so it's best to use it right away.

Notes

  • Make sure the flour mixture is completely cooled before adding it to the butter.
  • Ermine frosting will set and not stay creamy so it’s best to use it right away.
  • Make it chocolate: You can beat in ¼ cup of cocoa powder after step 6.
  • You can easily double this recipe for more frosting.

Nutrition

Serving: 2teaspoons | Calories: 226kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 22mg | Sugar: 18g

The nutrition information provided is for convenience and as a courtesy only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate because nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator and input the exact ingredients and brands you used in the recipe.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

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2 Comments

  1. You say it’s best to use this frosting right away because it sets. If I frost the cake right away then it should be ok to store the whole cake afterwards, or should the cake be eaten right away and not stored? Also do you think this would be a good recipe to add pineapple powder to? Thank you

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      You can store a cake or cupcakes frosted with ermine frosting in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before serving. I’ve not tried adding fruit powder to this recipe so I can’t say for sure how it will turn out.