I’ve been having a lot of fun working with a big bag of wild spicebush berries (the seeds of Lindera bezoin) that my friend Val sent me. Spicebush frosting is the first real winner. Granted, I don’t consume lots of frosting, or bake that often, but I suspect that knowing fat and dairy can absorb the aroma of the seeds really well will be helpful in the future, and I’m sure you can probably extrapolate a few ideas from this post whether you bake or not.
I’m a little picky about frosting, and I think more people should be. Under no circumstances will I consume the pasty, chalky, saccharin-sweet, gag-inducing garbage most Americans will know from cheap birthday cakes and other commodity products. For me, it’s either going to be buttercream, cream cheese frosting, or chocolate, and the proportions of spicebush here (2 finely ground teaspoons to 2 1/4 cups/1.25lb) can probably be used with any of the aforementioned.
Here I take my favorite cream cheese frosting, which is a little different than most people will be used to as it contains some butter for structure, and a paltry amount of powdered sugar compared to most, and simply add a couple teaspoons of frozen, finely ground spicebush berries that will give it a spiced aroma of white pepper.
You’ll be able to notice the flavor right away, and the fat and dairy will continue to absorb it as the mixture sits. It’ll be great spread over cupcakes, on gingerbread, cakes containing molasses, carrot cake, or anyplace where warm spices and the flavor of white pepper would be welcome.
The key to having it be uniform is having all the ingredients at room temperature, and whipping the cream cheese until smooth with the sugar before you add in the butter. If you find your frosting looks lumpy, you can buzz it in a food processor. This also makes a small amount, about 2 cups, perfect for frosting a double decker 9 inch cake. Scale it up to suit your needs.
Spicebush Cream Cheese Frosting
- 16 oz cream cheese at room temperature/softened
- 4 oz unsalted butter at room temperature/softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 tsp finely ground fresh or frozen spicebush berries
- In a stand mixer with the whip attachment, whip the powdered sugar, salt and cream cheese like it owes you money, meaning until it's homogenous and fluffy, about 5-10 minutes on high.
- Add the butter and spicebush and whip until incorporated, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Apple the frosting to a cake using an offset spatula, or refrigerate in a covered container if making ahead.
- If you make the frosting ahead of time, allow it to soften completely at room temperature before attempting to use it to frost something. It also works on bagels.
- Sprinkle some extra ground spicebush on top of whatever you make for a little extra punch.