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Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Marshmallow" Frosting

Frosting is so delicious and proof that vegan food is not always healthy. This recipe goes extremely well with my chocolate cupcake recipe.

Vegan frosting can be really tricky, as I found out for myself this morning. You need warm water to help break up the palm oil for mixing, but not so much you end up with a soup. Finding the right balance is key - if you slip with the hot water, the amount of powdered sugar needed goes up exponentially.

Marshmallow Frosting
3 oz Palm Oil (room temperature)
3 1/2 c sifted powdered sugar*
2 t vanilla bean powder
3 T agave
2-3 T very hot water
pinch salt

Put all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix with a stand mixer or hand mixer until the frosting is a blended, thick consistency with peaks forming as the mixer turns. You may need to add more sugar. This morning I slipped up and added more than a 1/4 cup of hot water and burned through 6 cups of sugar in no time. Not good.

The trick to the flavor of this frosting is really the dehydrated vanilla bean. I purchase mine through, which is fortunately located in my area so I can physically go to their store. The owners are really great and visit most of the farms they source from.

* Allergy and Vegan Note: I tend to use Wholesome Sweeteners brand because they have powdered sugar with tapioca flour instead of corn starch. Most readily available powdered sugars have corn starch and use bone char as a filter during processing. Wholesome Sweeteners sugars are also vegan; the company does not use the bone char filters.

A Note About Palm Oil

There is an environmental crisis going on in Indonesia because of the palm industry. Unconscientious farmers are destroying millions of acres of rain forests using uncontrolled fires to clear the land and proactively killing animals that wander onto the farm land. In '98, more than 8,000 Orangutans in Borneo burned to death because of this practice, not to mention the ongoing destruction of the population because their habitat is rapidly disappearing. Palm oil is a huge source of income for the population of Indonesia, so it has become increasingly important to reward the farmers that are farming in a sustainable manner. The Round Table of Sustainable Palm Oil is launching a logo in early 2011 to help consumers differentiate between the sustainable farmers and the farmers using practices destroying the environment. I tend to remain somewhat skeptical of associations run by companies in the industry, but I think this is a positive move by the industry. Right now I use Spectrum Palm Oil because it is farmed in Columbia and the manufacturer is fairly reliable in my limited experience.


  1. Do you have to use palm oil? Can you use any other oil like grape seed oil? That's the only one I have...

  2. You could use coconut oil if it isn't very warm out (under 70 degrees F), but grape seed oil doesn't solidify when cold. Palm oil stays solid until around 85 or 90 F.