Seven-Minute Frosting

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 up to several hours before being served, but no longer than that.–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

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 10 M
  • Makes about 4 cups
4.8/5 - 4 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook cookbook

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Ingredients

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  • 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 to frost a cake or cupcakes immediately. Best when consumed within several hours.

Recipe Testers Reviews

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.

This is a lovely frosting. I used it on Coconut Cake , and it was perfect in combination with the rich and coconut-y cake and as the base for the sprinkling of coconut atop and all the way around the cake. There was more than enough frosting for the pair of 2-layer, 4-1/2-inch cakes the recipe yielded. I cannot stress enough the seriousness of the sentence in the instructions that reads, “Use immediately.” We baked the first two layers of the cake, cooled the cake, frosted it, and then baked the second two layers of the cake because we had two, not four, 4 1/2-inch cake pans. By the time the second two layers had cooled and were ready to be frosted, the frosting was not in the optimal state for spreading that it had been when first made. Next time, we would make all of the cakes first, cool them, and then frost both at the same time.

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Comments

  1. My mother made this several times when I was growiing up. It is absolutely the most beautiful cake frosting there is.

    1. Hi Sandra, the recipe doesn’t call for cream of tarter. You can replace the corn syrup with 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar, but you need one or the other for the consistency and stability of the frosting.

  2. Turned out perfectly. I make this frosting for my father-in-law for special occasions. Just made it for his 90th Birthday.

    1. Love this, Julie! There’s nothing as comforting as food traditions such as this. Your father-in-law is fortunate to have you so thoughtfully looking out for him. And of course we love that it turned out perfectly. We so appreciate you letting us know…

  3. Just a tip to those wondering if they are doing it wrong because it isn’t fluffy after 7 or even 10 minutes: “Seven-minute Frosting” ALWAYS takes 13 minutes for me. Always. So, don’t lose heart, just keep whipping!!

    I have not made this particular recipe, but all seven-minute frosting recipes are the same basic thing. And it pretty much is the same as a recipe for marshmallow fluff (which is to say, almost the same as for making homemade marshmallows but with egg white instead of gelatin as the stabilizer.)

    If you want something similar but that won’t get dried out overnight, you can start with seven-minute frosting and then whip butter into it for Swedish Buttercream. (I have not yet tried this myself. You can find tons of recipes out there. You could probably use shortening instead of butter if you have allergies.)

    1. Magnificent advice, JenP! You just never know exactly how long it may take. Greatly appreciate your reminder to understand it’s not the home cook doing something wrong, sometimes it’s just the variables involved! Thanks for taking the time to share your advice. As with most things in life, don’t lose heart, just keep going!

  4. I have yet to make this, but as I cannot eat corn syrup what can I substitute? Also is the frosting firm enough to use in a pastry injector or will if deflate under pressure?

    1. Corn syrup is called for in many baking and candy recipes as it is an invert sugar that prevents crystallization and adds a glossy finish. Probably the closest substitute would be Lyle’s Golden Syrup. As we didn’t test this variation, you might have to give it a trial run to see how it behaves in a pastry bag.

  5. Hi David, I made this icing last night and after 7 minutes it looked beautiful. However when I started spreading and frosting the cake the texture seemed off? It didn’t seem smooth as I when I was whipping it. I was also wondering if there’s a way to keep it’s texture whilst I’m still filling the cake. After whipping it, do I immediately put it in a piping bag and seal with a rubber band? I was hoping to use the rest of the icing for decoration and piping. :)

    Last question! I kept the cake in the fridge for 7 hours served it after and the icing had a clear pool of water at the bottom of my cake. Is it possible that I overbeat the icing?

    Over-all, my brother, who is a marshmallow fanatic, liked this icing! Also my co-teachers appreciated the authentic marshmallow taste. :)

    Thanks in advance.
    With love from the Philippines.

    1. Hi Mariella, so glad that you like the frosting. Several things come to mind, it is very important that the simmering water not touch the bottom of the bowl and make sure that the sugar is completely dissolved. Both of those could impact the texture and weeping of the frosting. Also, this frosting is at its best when used right away so I would pipe the decorations as soon as the cake is iced.

  6. Is this frosting stable enough for mix-ins, like Oreo cookie crumbs for a cookies and cream type frosting? Or would the mix-in need to be fat-free to hold its consistency?

    1. Erin, we haven’t tried doctoring up this frosting with mix ins, so I can’t say from experience that it will work, but I think that if you add the mix ins and frost the cake as close to serving as possible, it should be fine.

  7. Came together super easy and looked beautiful. Definitely need to frost right after. I left for ~15 minutes and it started to lose its smooth texture so I whipped it for another few seconds and went back to icing- worked like a charm and was beautiful and light. I didn’t love the flavor, it was a little too obviously egg-y for me.

    1. Hi Noelle, I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy the frosting. It is a very meringue-y flavor. I wonder if a dash more vanilla might help it be a bit more palatable to you?

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

  9. 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

    1. 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?

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

      1. 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. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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?

    1. 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!

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

  11. 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.

    1. 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!

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