A lot. And, almost infinite variations thereof.
I created a list of the types of frosting. Some categories overlap, or some frostings can be considered in multiple sections. Butter means real butter, but in many instances, you can substitute Shortening.
Buttercream: Made with Butter without Powdered Sugar
There are many types of buttercream. For me, the best ones include butter and granulated sugar, with something to make it fluffy. (Scientific, right?)
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Egg Whites are heated with sugar, then beaten until fluffy, then have butter added. (Such as my Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue)
- Italian Meringue Buttercream: A sugar syrup is heated until it reaches 240 degrees, and then the syrup is added to beaten egg whites, and then butter is added.
- French Meringue Buttercream: Instead of egg whites, whole eggs are used. I have not made these yet, but the Robicellisuse French Buttercream almost exclusively, which is one of the reasons their cupcakes are awesome.
- Pastry Cream Buttercream. I found this in CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch. it involves making a pastry cream with egg yolks and milk, and then whipping it and adding butter.
- Heirloom Frosting (Often called a cooked flour frosting): A roux is made with milk and flour, and allowed to cool. Sugar and Butter are creamed together, and then the roux is added.
(You can make Swiss Meringue and Italian Meringue by not adding the butter. Or, rather, make the meringue into buttercream by adding the butter.)
Other Cooked frostings
- 7 Minute frosting Kinda like a swiss meringue, in which sugar and eggs are heated over the stove, but the mixture is beaten while cooking. This creates an almost marshmallow like consistency.
- Marshmallow frosting: like a 7 minute frosting, but with additional ingredients to make it more like a marshmallow.
- Fondant: Technically, Fondant is a candy. It can be made to be rolled out, or liquid to pour over cakes.
Powdered Sugar Based Frostings
These frostings contain powdered sugar.
- Glaze: Powdered sugar is mixed with a tiny amount of milk, to create a glaze like substance.
- Royal Icing: Powdered sugar is mixed with Egg Whites, to create a very hard setting frosting.
- Powdered Sugar Buttercream: Solid Butter and Powdered Sugar are mixed together. You can add infinite flavors and other foods, such as Chocolate and Orange Marmalade
- Cream Cheese Frosting: Cream cheese and powdered sugar are mixed together. Sometimes this includes butter.
- Brown Sugar Frosting: Butter and Brown Sugar are cooked together, allowed to cool, the mixed with powdered sugar.
Cream Based Frostings
Frostings made with cream.
- Ganache: cream and chocolate mixed together. Depending on the proportions, ganache can be poured over (or inside) a cake, or cooled and whipped.
- Whipped Cream: Cream is whipped, usually with sugar, and often with gelatin or other stabilizers.
Am I missing types of frostings? Please let me know in the comments!