Colonnade Frosting

This was my grandmother’s secret weapon frosting. It’s very similar to a seven-minute frosting save for the fact that it doesn’t harden. It stays supple under a thin crust. It’s a great combo with her gold cake. How could I resist posting this? This recipe makes enough for one two-layer cake.

16 ounces (2 1/4 cups) sugar
4 ounces (1/2 cup) water
2.12 ounces (3 tablespoons) corn or glucose syrup
3 egg whites
0.6 ounces (1/3 cup) powdered sugar

Combine the sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Cook to the soft ball stage (238 degrees Fahrenheit on a thermometer). Meanwhile whip the whites to stiff peaks. When the syrup is ready, pour some into the mixer, whip for about 10 seconds. Turn off the mixer, add more, whip for another ten seconds and so on until the all the syrup is incorporated. Lastly whip in the powdered sugar. This frosting can be customized with a variety of flavor extracts.

28 thoughts on “Colonnade Frosting”

    1. Weird…I lost a line and a half of copy when I published it…thanks Jenn!

      – Joe

  1. So … wait … we’re making the gold cake to use up the dozen egg yolks left over from making the angel food cake, and now we’re icing the gold cake with a frosting that orphans a half dozen more yolks? Is there another recipe following this that uses up these six new yolks? It seems we’ve entered into a sort of viscous circle here. Or perhaps more of a viscous oval/ovate form.

    But I’m just being silly. I’m not one to worry about using every bit of an egg if the rest of it has served a purpose.

    1. That’s the genius of baking, Tom…one project gives you an excuse for another. I’ll worry when my fridge runs out of them. 😉

      – Joe

      1. I think someone mentioned ice cream in a previous comment….sounds like a good cause for some orphan yolks…

  2. Hello Joe

    Please, I just want to know, for how long will this frosting last.


    1. Hi Wale!

      I haven’t eaten it in many years, so I’m not sure. Several days I believe, but I will find out soon when I make it again!

      – Joe

  3. So the main difference between this and seven minute frosting – it’s just the powdered sugar, right? I wonder why that makes such a difference consistency-wise. And what about taste -do the two taste similar?

    1. Hey Nicole!

      The main difference is the corn syrup which is what’s primarily responsible for inhibiting crystallization and keep it flowing — even when it’s chilled. They do taste similar, however. Both really depend on flavorings of some sort to give them character. Try it and let me know what you think. I rarely use 7-minute frosting when I can do this one. It’s much more versatile.

      – Joe

  4. You mentioned a small amount of cornstarch. Should it be added along with the powdered sugar and how much?

    1. Hello LaRae, the amount is listed in the recipe, you just beat it in as a last step.


      – Joe

  5. Hi, Joe! Love your site!

    LaRae asked about cornstarch and you answered that the amount’s listed in the recipe but I don’t see it. Also, I have an old cookbook that came out in 1950 that requires corn syrup for 7 minute frosting but says to beat with a hand mixer (or egg beaters, lol!) over a double boiler.

    Anyway, can’t wait to try this frosting — I could never actually get my recipe for 7 minute frosting to turn out. My grandma could though and I love that marshmallow goodness.

    1. Hi Peggy!

      I didn’t answer that question very well, did I? What I meant to say was that the cornstarch is already in the powdered sugar, so you don’t need to worry about adding extra. Does that make sense?


      – Joe

  6. Hey Joe!
    Remeber that colonnade frosting I told you I thought I ruined momentarily with the chocolate? Well, I gave it some time alone in the fridge to think about that 🙂 and then I used it and it was THE most amazing cake filling, like a very fine chocolate silk, and everybody absolutely loved it! And it combined perfectly with multiple flavors (chocolate layer, plain vanilla meringue layer, pecan nuts layer and an orange buttercream – crazy, I know 😀 ), so this one is now on top of my list of frostings! I would like to know though how to flavor it because I wouldn’t want to repeat the story of the the icing going limp like when I added my chocolate, for example. Also, I find it extremely sweet – can we reduce (safely) the amount of sugar?
    Thank you,

    1. Hello, Ioana!

      Nice to hear that it all worked out well in the end! To flavor this frosting, you can add a few drops of an extract to the syrup when it gets to the corrects temperature. Regarding cutting down the sugar, that’s a bit trickier since this frosting is really a sort of meringue candy. However you can try increasing the egg whites and reducing the syrup. That should still work…at least in theory!

      – Joe

      1. Thank you Joe, I think I’ll put the theory to test these days, 5 birthdays coming in the next 2 weeks or so, LOL! Is there a certain egg white/ syrup ratio that I should pay attention to, in order for this frosting to be… well… this frosting?! 🙂 Or just plain, old trial and error, God (and chemistry) help us?

        1. The more sugar you remove and the more egg white you put in, the more this will become an unbaked meringue instead of a frosting, does that make sense? It will still be quite sweet, and also prone to drying. I wonder…what about the Heritage frosting? That’s easier to make less sweet if you prefer. Have a look at it and see what you think!

          – Joe

          1. Thank you Joe, it makes perfect sense. I’ll give it a few tries and keep you posted about the results, but right now I was actually asked to make the same one I used for the new year’s eve cake (of course no one knows – except all the www, lol – that that specific filling was actually a failure 😀 ). And for the cake that I’m making for my kid’s bd (which is tomorrow and I just found out a couple of hrs ago that he wants me to make him a Nemo cake!) I will try the Heritage frosting that you suggested. Of course I have to make it chocolate (sometimes I wonder if I am the only “not-addicted-to-chocolate” person left alive, giizaas!), so I’ll be back with my report, LOL.

          2. Hehe…OK! This is how new formulas come into the world — by mistake! You’ve created a new family classic! Be proud!

            – Joe

  7. Hi joe,

    I tried this recipe tonight and it didn’t work out so well for me. Most possibly because I tried halving your recipe. I used 2 eggs instead of the 3. But halved all other ingredients. It was really runny and didn’t seem to set up at all. Really it was probably my error. I’m trying to make homemade twinkies and I needed a good filling. Probably if I whipped this one up properly it might work.

    Do you have any suggestions on a marshmallowy filling that might go well with a sponge cake type snack cake? I thought about doing a swiss meringue or something but wasn’t sure how it would hold up unrefrigerated for a few hours. I could always just go with a meringue buttercream. It’s not traditional Twinkie filling but who cares if it’s delicious, right?!

    Thanks for all your help! Love your site!

    1. Hey Valerie!

      It’s that extra half an egg that’s the problem. A small amount of liquid — like half an egg — can do quite a lot to thin out a sugary mixture. Regarding a marshmallow filling, I’m afraid I don’t know one offhand. Personally I’d be inclined to use buttercream, but that’s just me! 😉


      – Joe

      1. Hi joe,

        Thanks for replying! I’m gonna go for a buttercream with a little added store bought marshmallow fluff.


  8. Hi Joe,

    This sounds yummy. How large of a cake does this recipe fill an cover? Also, can something else like honey be substituted for the corn syrup/glucose?

    1. Hi Eva!

      This makes enough for a standard two-layer cake. You can use honey, though it generally makes a thinner frosting since it has water in it. Let me know how it goes!

      – Joe

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