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Why do people buy tubs of frosting that are full of icky chemicals?

I was watching the Food Network the other day and saw LOTS of ads for a new Duncan Hines product, Frosting Creations.  Basically, it is a tub of white unflavored frosting to which youDuncan Hines Flavor Creations add an artificially flavored and colored powder to make a flavored frosting.  The powders have things in them like: Red #40  Blue #2, Yellow #5, and lots of what they themselves call “artificial flavor”.

Why buy tub frostings at all?  Buttercream frosting is one of easiest, most foolproof things you can make.  At its most basic, it has only three ingredients:  butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.  Here is an oh, so, simple recipe.

Simple Homemade Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 stick butter (1/4 pound)
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
  1. Leave butter on counter for at least 30 minutes so it will soften.
  2. Put soft butter in mixing bowl.  Put bowl on mixer and put beaters on the mixer.
  3. Turn on the mixer and run it on medium to cream butter until light and fluffy.
  4. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and beat in until thoroughly mixed.  The exact amount of sugar is dependent on the consistency you want.  If you screw up and put too much, no problem, just add a tablespoon or two of milk.
  5. Add vanilla. You now have frosting. If not using right away, refrigerate in a closed container until ready to use and then just fluff it a bit with a spoon.

If you want LOTS of frosting, then double the recipe.  If you do not have a mixer, use a whisk or even just a spoon.  Should still work if the butter is soft.   If you want to get fancier and make cream cheese frosting, then substitute some cream cheese for some of the butter.  If you want a different flavor than vanilla, then use almond, mint, lemon, or orange extract instead of the vanilla.  If you want chocolate frosting, add about 1/4 cup of cocoa powder.  Here are several variations from Taste of Home.

So, you really still think buying the tub is easier?  Well, lets look at what is in the tub.  These are the ingredients in the Betty Crocker Vanilla Frosting: 

Betty Crocker Rich and Cream Frosting Ingredients

My Stars!  They actually still have and are willing to admit that they have TRANS FATS in their product.  2 g of trans fats per serving!  Trans fats are the worst fat you can eat and they are a man-made concoction.  That is the “partially hydrogenated” oils in the ingredient list.

Read what the Mayo Clinic has to say about trans fats here.  Be sure to read the part where it says ” in the United States if a food has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, the food label can read 0 grams trans fat.”  So, lots of products that say 0g of trans fats, actually have 0.5g in them.  So, even if the container says 0g trans fats, if any of the ingredients are “partially hydrogenated”, the amount is not REALLY zero.

There is also artificial coloring in this frosting…isn’t vanilla supposed to be white?  So, why do you even need artificial color here? 

Okay, I am not saying that frosting is ever a “health food”.  But, if you are going to indulge, at least use a frosting made from real food ingredients.  It is so easy to make, I am not sure why they ever started selling it in a tub to begin with.  The tub stuff has such crappy ingredients, please just mix some powdered sugar into some real butter yourself instead.

Off my soapbox.  Sorry, “convenience foods” made of crappy ingredients that are actually no more convenient than making something from scratch are a pet peeve of mine.  If you are going to indulge in cake, at least make it a quality cake made from real ingredients.

– Stacey

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