Serious question: Are you ready to be amazed? Because this maple fudge frosting will knock your socks RIGHT. OFF.
It starts with a bit of melted butter and a splash of maple extract. Add plenty of powdered sugar, a pinch of salt, and bring it all together with (drumrolllllllll, please): HOT WATER.
YUP. The most important ingredient in this recipe: Hot (nearly boiling!) H2O.
Using hot water here helps us build a decadent, fudge-y consistency, but it also takes out some of the richness that you typically find in dairy-heavy icing (buttercream, for example, involves a lot more butter and cream or milk than this recipe) so it doesn’t feel as heavy as other frostings.
How to make maple fudge frosting:
First, stir the melted butter and maple extract into your powdered sugar with a pinch of salt.
The confectioners’ sugar will glob onto the liquid almost immediately and leave you with a rough, sandy-looking mixture:
From there, stir in a Tablespoon or so of hot water at a time until the frosting smooths out and feels thick and silky. It doesn’t take much water – you’ll be surprised at how fast the frosting comes together!
When it’s ready to use on a cake or cupcakes, the frosting should be smooth, but not runny: almost the consistency of cake batter or a thick milkshake.
If you’re frosting something where you want a lighter layer of icing – like a donut, scones, or cinnamon rolls – you may want to add a bit of extra hot water so the frosting is thinner and easier to dip or drizzle. You can always add more powdered sugar and/or hot water to adjust the consistency as you go!
As the frosting cools, the melted butter in this recipe will start to seize back up. The hot water keeps that butter soft – and therefore keeps our icing smooth and spread-able – long enough to frost a cake or cupcakes.
Let your frosted cake sit for an hour or two at room temperature, and voilà: the butter solidifies, the icing sets, and you’re left with a thick, fudge-y layer of frosting with a slight bite to it – kind of like a thick ganache or a soft maple fudge.
Work quickly: This frosting will get harder and harder to spread as it cools.
For best results, mix this frosting right before you’re ready to use it. It will start to set right away once it’s mixed, and it gets harder to spread as it seizes up.
Because of its unusual texture, this frosting works best with cupcakes and sheet cakes that don’t need much finessing (it’s possible to use this to frost a layer cake, but it takes some practice and can get frustrating: too-cold frosting can tear the cake as you spread it).
Sheet cakes are especially good candidates for this recipe: just pour the fresh frosting over the cake and use a spatula to spread it towards the edges, then let it set.
If you’re frosting cupcakes, let the frosting set for a few minutes until it’s soft enough to spread but firm enough to mostly hold its shape, then use the back of a spoon to swirl it onto the top of each cupcake (see the video below for how to do this!)
Because this frosting is relatively thin when mixed, we don’t recommend piping it with a pastry bag. If you’re looking for a good frosting to pipe onto cupcakes (we love a good frosting swirl!) check out our chocolate buttercream recipe.
Which maple extract should I use?
We call for maple extract (or imitation extract) in this recipe for maximum maple flavor.
You can use real maple syrup instead of extract if you like, but it’s not as concentrated – so you’ll need to use quite a bit more syrup than extract to get the same level of flavor. Too much maple syrup here can prevent the frosting from setting properly, so we recommend using maple extract or imitation maple flavor if you can.
One note: The color of this frosting can vary quite a bit depending on the brand of maple flavor you choose. We’ve tested this recipe with a few different maple extract/maple flavor brands, and while the flavor is pretty consistent, the color can change quite a bit:
So don’t be worried if your frosting is a little lighter or darker than these photos! We promise it’ll still taste great.
A few final notes:
- If your frosting seizes up before you’re done frosting your cake or cupcakes, you can microwave it (as long as it’s in a microwave-safe container) in 5 second intervals or heat it briefly over a double boiler to loosen it back up.
- Use melted coconut oil instead of butter if you’d like a dairy-free/vegan frosting! Coconut oil, like butter, is easy to melt and will solidify as it cools for the perfect fudge-y texture.
- This frosting method works with lots of different flavorings! Swap the maple for vanilla, lemon, or mint extracts to mix things up a bit. We also have a chocolate version with cocoa powder!
- How to use this maple frosting: We love using this frosting on our Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes and Apple Butter Spice Cake!
VIDEO: HOW TO MAKE MAPLE FUDGE FROSTING
This easy maple frosting has a rich, fudge-y texture – perfect for spice cake and pumpkin cake! A single recipe makes enough frosting for an 8-inch square sheet cake or 10-15 cupcakes. For a large sheet cake, you may want to double the recipe.
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon maple extract (or imitation maple flavor)
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup hot water (nearly boiling. You may not need it all)
- Stir melted butter, maple extract, powdered sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. The sugar will absorb the liquid and begin to clump – that’s ok!
- Add one Tablespoon of hot water at a time, stirring between each addition, until frosting reaches a thick, smooth consistency (almost like thick cake batter).
- Spread frosting onto cooled cake or cupcakes. Work quickly here – the frosting will set and harden as it cools. Let sit for an hour or so until the frosting sets, then serve and enjoy!
The water here should be quite hot – nearly boiling – for best results. We usually heat water to the highest setting in an electric tea kettle, but you can also heat it in a small saucepan on the stovetop or (carefully) in the microwave.
This frosting will thicken as it cools. If your frosting thickens too much before you’re done frosting, zap it in the microwave (in a microwave-safe bowl) for a few seconds at a time, or stir in an extra splash of hot water to bring it back to a spreadable consistency.
This frosting works best on cupcakes and sheet cakes. As it cools, the frosting will become more difficult to spread, so use it on low-maintenance cake styles like a sheet cake or cupcakes (rather than a layer cake) for best results. Because the consistency changes as it cools, we don’t recommend piping this frosting with a pastry bag.
The color of this frosting will vary depending on the brand of your maple extract. Don’t worry if it looks a little lighter or darker than the photos here – it will still taste great!
For an easy (vegan) substitution, use melted coconut oil in place of the butter in this recipe.
Can I use pure maple syrup instead? Yes, but the frosting will have a much less pronounced maple flavor. Maple extract (or imitation maple) are much more concentrated than maple syrup, which is why we recommend them here! You can add an extra teaspoon or two of real maple syrup for more flavor, but avoid adding too much because it can alter the texture of the frosting and prevent it from setting.
For a thinner frosting, add a little more water to make it easier to dip and drizzle! We like to use a thinner consistency for donuts, scones, and cinnamon rolls.
Keywords: cake, autumn, fall