My Mom's Butterscotch Frosting

        From the blog For Love of the Table

1 stick butter (4 oz.)

1 c. packed dark brown sugar (200 g.)

1/4 c. milk (60 g.)

1 3/4 to 2 c. (170 to 225 g.) sifted powdered sugar


Place the butter in a medium sauce pan and melt over moderate heat.  Add the brown sugar.  Bring the mixture to a boil over moderate to moderately high heat, stirring to make sure it doesn't scorch.  Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the milk and return the mixture to the boil.  Remove from the heat; cool to room temperature. 


Scrape the cooled syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add 1 3/4 c./170 g. of the powdered sugar and mix using the paddle attachment until the sugar is absorbed.  Beat briefly.  If the mixture isn't thick enough to spread, add the remaining powdered sugar a spoonful at a time, beating until thick enough to spread.  Use immediately—the frosting will continue to set up as it sits.



  • You must sift the powdered sugar or you will have lumps in the finished frosting.
  • The syrup must be cool or you will end up adding too much powdered sugar and the frosting will suddenly set up like cement (much swearing will ensue). 
  • You must use the frosting immediately when it is ready. It should be soft and spreadable when you start. DO NOT LET IT SIT FOR ANY LENGTH OF TIME once it is ready. Get it on the cake as quickly as you are able (have everything ready to go...cake on the platter, spatulas/palette knifes/etc.). Put it where you want it...swirling it attractively as you go. It is unlikely you will be able to go back over frosted areas and add decorative swirls (unless you are experienced and fast). This frosting crystallizes and sets up into a (delicious) brown sugar fudge very quickly...failure to get it out of the bowl and onto the cake quickly will result in much frustration/bad language/etc.

(Recipe adapted from "Quick Caramel Frosting" in Good Housekeeping Cookbook edited by Dorothy B. Marsh, copyright 1955)