What Is Low-Fat Frosting?

Cynde Gregory

Low-fat frosting gives dieters the chance to have their cake and eat it too. No one can deny that fat-drenched icings and glazes that scream of butter, whipped cream, and full-fat cream cheese are to die for. In fact, there’s the risk of actually dying for them from all that artery-clogging fat. The solution is low-fat frosting that substitutes reduced-fat cream cheese, milk, or sour cream in addition to butter alternatives.

Sour cream or low-fat cream cheese can be used instead of butter in frosting.
Sour cream or low-fat cream cheese can be used instead of butter in frosting.

Most cooks realize that a little fat helps frosting’s mouth feel and ups the flavor. Trading off traditional, higher-fat ingredients and using a little butter or butter substitute might not be all that bad, but adding bright or deep flavorings such as banana, lemon, or almond extract can distract the diner’s tongue from missing fat as well. Some cooks like to sprinkle a cake or brownie that has been iced with low-fat frosting with a handful of bright red raspberries or sliced strawberries for eye and taste appeal.

One very popular frosting that is super easy to create requires only three ingredients. Low-fat or fat-free cream cheese beaten with confectioner’s sugar and flavored with a few drops of vanilla extract is literally the icing on the cake. The creative cook can experiment with other extract flavors but will likely find that imitation extracts just don’t work as well. In addition to more common extracts, a quick trip through the Internet reveals dozens of more exotic ones like white cherry, pear, and even champagne. For those watching calories as well as fat, some of the confectioner’s sugar can be banished in favor of a sugar substitute.

Another clever low-fat frosting that’s a piece of cake to make combines pudding with a little skim milk and a package of powdered dessert topping. Kids love this one and are likely to want to pitch in, especially if they can experiment with pudding flavors. The old standbys — chocolate, lemon, and vanilla — are true friends, but a trip to the wild side of pistachio, pumpkin spice, or even peanut butter can produce fantastic results.

A fun and fluffy buttercream frosting that is deceptively low in fat is easy to whip together. This one requires an egg white in addition to powdered sugar, a splash of water, and just three tablespoons (45 grams) of butter. As with other low-fat frosting recipes, a couple of drops of pure-flavored extract ratchets the flavor from darn good to heavenly.

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