Seven-Minute Frosting

Seven-minute frosting is named for the length of time it must be beaten in the final stage. Made with beaten egg whites, it’s similar to meringue, but is more stable and sturdy enough for piping yet still has a delicate flavor and lighter-than-air texture. The frosting will harden quickly, so have the cake you are going to frost already prepared before making the frosting and spread it on while the beaten egg whites and sugar are still pliable. Once frosted, the cake may sit out for several hours before being served.–Martha Stewart

LC Naming Conventions Note

Yes, technically speaking, this is Seven-Minute Frosting, although we prefer the more whimsical nickname of Marshmallow Frosting. It’s easy to understand how this came to be, given the luscious, billowy, lick-the-batter inducing photograph above from the indubitable Smitten Kitchen. And, of course, there’s always the recipe’s trademark sweet, sweet, sweetness. No matter what its name, though, you can rely on this frosting to lend a sophisticated edge to many a made-from-scratch baked good. It can even double as a pastry filling for–and we say this in all seriousness–homemade Twinkies.

Seven-Minute Frosting Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 10 M
  • Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  • 1. In the metal bowl of a standing mixer set over (but not touching) a saucepan of simmering water, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, egg whites, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar has completely dissolved, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • 2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the mixture on high speed until glossy, thick, and billowing peaks form, about, well, you know, 7 minutes. (Although truth be told, sometimes it doesn’t take quite that long. When in doubt, just look at the picture above; that’s what you want.) Beat in the vanilla. Use immediately.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Kim Venglar

Mar 12, 2011

The grandchildren asked me for cupcakes they could take to school in their lunches, so I decided to try this frosting recipe as a filling. I used my KitchenAid to mix this with and it didn't quite take the full 7 minutes. I put the frosting in a pastry bag and squirted a generous amount into each cupcake as a filling. Then I sealed each cupcakein a resealable plastic sandwich bag to make the cupcakes easy to pack in their lunches. They were a big hit.

Comments
Comments
  1. Jamie says:

    I’ve seen this recipe everywhere and it always looks good to me – but always comes with the warning that it should be used immediately and served the same day. Every cake I make is made the night before I serve it. Can a cake be frosted with this frosting the night before it’s served? If so, does the cake need to be refrigerated?

    Sorry if this is a dumb question.

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Hi Jamie, seven-minute frosting does not keep well- hence the warning. It tends to develop a thin crust as it air dries. Also, the frosting may develop a grainy texture after sitting. It is a wonderful frosting though and worth a little advance planning. My advice would be to make the cake layers the day before and tightly wrap them. Then frost the cake the day that you plan to serve it. Only takes seven minutes to make the frosting!

  2. liss mayer says:

    Can I make the frosting without corn syrup?

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Liss, the corn syrup is an invert sugar- which means that it stops the sugar from crystallizing. It also adds a bit of sheen to the finished product. I don’t think that you would have the same results without it.

  3. Becky Choo says:

    Can I use cornstarch instead corn syrup?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      No, Becky, please don’t try that swap. The corn syrup lends a sort of glossiness to the frosting. Trust me, cornstarch will not do the same.

  4. cassie says:

    I have mixed this for like 12 min and it is still not billowy? Why is it not becoming fluffy?

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Cassie, check to make sure that your bowl is not touching the simmering water. If it does, it will affect the texture of the frosting.

  5. Moriah says:

    Can you make this frosting chocolate by just adding cocoa?

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Moriah, you could try folding in some unsweetened cocoa or melted Baker’s chocolate. We didn’t try this variation so please let us know how it turns out. We’re curious!

  6. Shawna says:

    I think I messed it up. I mixed it for 10 min and it’s still a liquid. How can I get it thicken?

  7. maya says:

    can i make it with only 1 egg

    • David Leite says:

      maya, you wouldn’t get the same volume, moisture content, or consistency as you would by using all three egg whites.

  8. Rita says:

    I made this and it is delicious. The only problem is that 5 minutes after I iced it, the second layer began to slide off of the 1st layer. not sure what to do about this.

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Rita, wow, sounds like a real slippery situation. Did your cakes have a domed top? You might try leveling off your layers with a sharp knife so they rest evenly.

    • David Leite says:

      Rita, two things come to mind: 1.) You didn’t heat the eggs enough in the double boiler. 2.) You didn’t beat the whites long enough. I made a meringue frosting recently and found it needed to go an extra several minutes. Call it a 10 minute frosting. Also did you use a stand mixer?

  9. Nicole says:

    Can I add food coloring to this frosting to make it blue?

    • David Leite says:

      Nicole, yes, you can add food-safe color to any food product. Are you making something special?

      • Nicole says:

        Cookie Monster cupcakes for my son’s first birthday. He is allergic to dairy and soy, so this frosting looks like a delicious alternative to buttercream.

  10. clev says:

    The ingredients does not list water, but in the procedure, there is water…which is the right one?

  11. Hannah says:

    I have been mixing for ten minutes and its still liquify, can I fix it?

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Hannah, are you using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on high? You should be seeing some billowing peaks by now.

  12. Gina says:

    Hi, I made this and frosted my layer cake and put it in the fridge because the filling I used required refrigeration. Served it 3 hrs later and it looked and tasted awesome. I immediately put the cake back in fridge. 1 – 1 1/2 hrs later I took the cake back out (to get myself another piece:) and about all the frosting had slid down the back. Most 7 minute type frostings say to use immediately -I take that to mean put on the cake immediately and not let frosting sit in bowl. Not many recipes say how to store the frosted cake. Some say to refrigerate, some not to. Some say to cover, others say not to. Some recipes say it will keep a few days, some say a few hrs. What is the best way to store the frosted cake and about how long will it be able to keep its ‘appearance’? Is there a recipe for a similar marshmallow frosting (no butter) that is more stable- use more egg whites, add powdered meringue, use cream of tartar? Any help appreciated. Thanks

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Gina, this type of frosting does not require refrigeration and in the short term is quite stable. It must however be used within 24 hours as the egg whites revert to a liquid state and get absorbed into the cake. Hence why your frosting slid down the side. Still edible, just not pretty. A buttercream would be the more stable choice. Are you trying to avoid butter or fats in general?

  13. nadia blackmon says:

    how much water? you need more details.

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      nadia, the recipe calls for three tablespoons. The amount in the pot isn’t crucial. All that’s important is that it doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl with the egg whites.

  14. Hi. I’ve always followed this recipe and it’s always a success. I don’t add the 3 tbsps of water anymore because my sons (aged 23, 22, 21) like them really gooey-marshmallowy. Because of the warmth and humidity, i always immediately put it in the refrigerator after frosting.I still get the same consistency after a day or two. The important thing is not let the simmering water touch the bowl. Also make sure the sugar is completely dissolved before removing from the heat. Hope this helps.

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