Seven Minute Frosting Recipe

They call it “seven minute” frosting because that’s how long you’re supposed to beat it with a hand mixer over boiling water. It’s amazing how right on that figure is. Seven minutes does it every time. Assemble:

10 ounces (1 1/2 cups) sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2.65 ounces (1/3 cup) water
2 ounces (2) egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all the ingredients save the vanilla in a metal bowl or in the top portion of a double boiler. Meanwhile, set the bottom portion on the heat. Beat all the ingredients on medium high for one minute. Place the mixture over the boiling water (making sure there’s no water touching the pan) and again apply the hand mixer on medium high. Beat for seven minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy, then beat in the vanilla.

23 thoughts on “Seven Minute Frosting Recipe”

    1. Perish the thought! Now that I have daughters I shudder to think of games like that. Nope…no dating, no parties…I’ve decided.

      – Joe

    1. Far be it from me to deny you the help you need! You can fold in about three ounces of melted dark chocolate while the frosting is still warm.

      – Joe

    1. It’s actually a no-fuss frosting. It’s a make-it-and-eat-it-the-same-evening sort of thing. It’s delicious and creamy, though it gets crusty after several hours. Some people like that. Me, I prefer to eat it just after it’s made.

      – Joe

  1. My grandmother made this frosting every Christmas and Easter. For Easter, we made a cake in the shape of a bunny then frosted it and sprinkled coconut on the cake for the bunny fur. This frosting doesn’t last very long. By the next day it was all sugary and sort of evaporated right off the cake.

    1. Oooh, yes! Now that you mention that, I do know this recipe – except my grandmother made a lamb-shaped cake, not a bunny. But it’s definitely the same stuff – I remember the sugar-crunch texture it turns after a day or two.

  2. this frosting is very easy to make and absolutely delicious! Like light and fluffy marshmallow. You can also make it with brown sugar to get a caramel flavor to the frosting.

  3. This frosting is well worth the fuss if you don’t want a buttercream. A double batch *will* take longer than seven minutes. You have to get it stiff enough! It wants to sink into a cake in humid weather, but it’s fine the first–and maybe second–day. We like the crust it gets and I leave the cake under a tent, not an airtight cover, for several hours after frosting it. I think cocoa could be added to taste after it’s been beaten stiff. Or, pretend it’s Halloween and drizzle melted chocolate over the top of the frosted cake, spiderweb fashion.

  4. A friend, whose birthday happens to be today, got me to investigate and make this frosting. He had vivid memories of his mother making it and frosting a chocolate layer cake for his birthday cake. He remembered eating it warm off the beaters and from the bowl. People assume it is marshmallow until they try it and it is always a hit. It pairs well with chocolate but it does revert to sugar quickly and it cannot be frozen or shipped due to its fragile and short-term lifespan but it is definitely worth the trouble and will get rave reviews. Very pretty on the eyes too.

    1. Indeed so! To me, this is one of the easier frostings. As long as you have a hand mixer, it’s a snap!

      – Joe

  5. And, you can replace the vanilla with peppermint extract and add few drops of green food colouring. (Or red, I suppose.) Then decorate with crushed peppermint candies. Very nice.

  6. Hi Joe, what’s the science behind the option of cream of tartar or white corn syrup? Cream of tartar is acidic, but is corn syrup? I’m only familiar with Canadian corn syrup, but I’ve never considered it to be far from neutral pH, and I assumed white corn syrup would be the same. Maybe my tastebuds are deceiving me?

    1. Hey Jen! I’m glad you mentioned that, because I meant to delete the corn syrup alternative before I ever put it up! It works, because corn syrup is acidic, if only mildly so (about 4.8). A tablespoon has enough acid to provide a buffer against over-whipping just like a small amount of cream of tartar. But since most people have cream of tartar (or can easily get it) it doesn’t seem necessary. Thanks for pointing that out!

      – Joe

  7. Hi again! One more question.. I’m hoping to make a milk chocolate malt version of this. I saw in an earlier comment that one can add up to 3 oz of dark chocolate. Would it be the same for milk chocolate? As for the malt, how would I add that?

    1. Yes the same rule applies for milk chocolate. As for the malt, that’s a very interesting idea. I’d add it with the rest of the ingredients in the double boiler. Let me know how that goes!

      – Joe

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