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Burnt Sugar Icing: A Delicious Sugar Icing Recipe

Burnt Sugar Icing

Enjoy these ‘old time’ burnt sugar icing recipes. Just be careful of the heat – I would stay on low heat especially for step one – use a good pan and take it off the fire a minute or so before it turns light brown,as the residual heat in the pan will finish the cooking.

Burnt Sugar Icing #1

* 2 cups white sugar
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1/4 cup boiling water
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Over a low heat, pour 1/2 cup sugar into a heavy pan. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 8 to 10 minutes; or until it is caramelized (light brown colored).

2. Pour the boiling water into the caramelized sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the butter, milk, salt and remaining sugar. Boil the mixture until it reaches soft ball stage, approximately 236 degrees F (115 degrees C). Cool the mixture to room temperature. When the mixture has cooled, stir in the vanilla extract.

3. With an electric mixer, beat the mixture until it is thick and creamy. Spread on cake.

Burnt Sugar Cake

Hi, Rita–I must’ve missed your “first” mention of burnt sugar icing, but I have one, plus the cake (which was my favorite), from my mother’s wedding present cookbook.

She was married in l924, so I think the cookbook was the Boston Cookbook (?). The recipe sounds a little old-fashioned as I typed it directly from the clipping in her cookbook.

l/2 cupful of shortening
l l/2 cupfuls of sugar
2 beaten eggs
3/4 cupful of milk
2 cupfuls of cake flour
l/4 cupful burnt sugar sirup
l t vanilla
l/2 cupful of flour
2 l/2 teaspoonfuls of any baking powder
l/4 teaspoonful of salt

Cream the shortening and sugar together. Add the beaten eggs and mix until smooth. Add the milk or water alternately with the flour. Add the burnt sugar and vanilla, then the l/2 cupful of flour sifted with the baking powder and salt.

Bake in 2 layers or in a shallow loaf pan in a moderate oven (350 to 375 degrees) for 30 minutes. Cool and frost. (to burn the sugar, put l/4 cupful of sugar in an iron skillet, over a slow fire. Stir constantly until the sugar is melted and deep-amber in color.) Add l/4 cupful of boiling water and cook to a thin sirup.

Burnt Sugar Icing #2

Sugar, l cup
Water, 2 tablespoons
Egg whites, 2
Browned sugar sirup, 2 tablespoons (saved from cake)
Salt, l/8 teaspoon
Vanilla, l/2 teaspoon

Combine sugar, water, egg whites, syrup and salt in top of double boiler. Place over boiling water and beat constantly with rotary beater or electric mixer for 7 minutes until icing is thick enough to stand in peaks. Remove from boiling water, add vanilla and continue beating until icing is thick enough to spread.

Burnt Sugar Icing #3 – From Reader Amy Veil

3/4 C sugar
3/4 C boiling water
1 C butter, softened
2 egg yolks
4 C powdered sugar

Spread sugar in large, heavy skillet. Heat very slowly until sugar melts and starts to turn a deep golden color. Add boiling water SLOWLY, stirring constantly. Continue heating until melted sugar dissolves completely in the water. Boil syrup rapidly until only 3/4 C remains. (This is usually at about the same time that the sugar is completely dissolved.) Cool completely.

Beat butter until smooth. Add egg yolks and blend well. Add syrup alternately with powdered sugar to the butter mixture. Beat until smooth. This recipe is very sweet and we like it best on top of a Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge cake.

Old Time Burnt Sugar Icing Recipes.


Hi Rita
My mother pasted away 13 tears ago and she had an applesauce cake recipe that I found. I can not find the recipe for the burnt sugar recipe. I remember watching her cook it on the stove using white sugar  She would drop balls into the water to know when it was done. Have you ever heard of such an icing. It would sit up and get hard on the cake. Hard as hold-able when in your hand. Thanks for any info . Jennifer L.
Hi Jennifer L. How touching that you want to make this. Check out the recipes for the cake and burnt sugar icing on my website – my very considerate and savvy webmaster, John, put it up a while ago. Let me know how it turns out.
Hi, Jennifer,
Regarding your burnt sugar icing that crystallizes remember that if it’s made with butter that is to be ‘browned’ the butter will burn real quick after it takes on a golden color. Remove it from the heat then and the residual heat will continue to brown the butter. Then add your sugar, etc.
Hope this helps. And please log onto my website for more fun recipes and my newsletter if you’re not already getting it. Rita
Here’s another good one.


Here is a recipe for Burnt Sugar Icing my mom passed to me – I’m not sure if this is what you’re looking for, but I had a recipe and thought I’d try to help.

Burnt Sugar Icing

3/4 C sugar
3/4 C boiling water
1 C butter, softened
2 egg yolks
4 C powdered sugar

Spread sugar in large, heavy skillet.  Heat very slowly until sugar melts and starts to turn a deep golden color.  Add boiling water SLOWLY, stirring constantly.  Continue heating until melted sugar dissolves completely in the water.  Boil syrup rapidly until only 3/4 C remains.  (This is usually at about the same time that the sugar is completely dissolved.)  Cool completely.

Beat butter until smooth.  Add egg yolks and blend well.  Add syrup alternately with powdered sugar to the butter mixture.  Beat until smooth.  This recipe is very sweet and we like it best on top of a Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge cake.

Permanent link to this article: http://abouteating.com/burnt-sugar-icing/


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  1. Gregg

    Hi Rita… so my g’ma and mother use to make anise cookies and then would ice them with a hot sugar mixture. They would heat the sugar and whatever ingredients and add food coloring, then just at the right temperature would drop the cookies into the mixture and stir while adding a little flour. The cookies were to die for, but I can’t seem to locate anything close to this way of icing. Any ideas?

    1. Rita Heikenfeld

      Hi Gregg,
      Gosh I’ve never heard of anise cookies made like this. But let’s put it out to my readers – can anyone help Gregg? Sounds like a treasured recipe for sure!

  2. Julie

    Hi Rita…. My father and I are trying find a burnt sugar icing that my grandmother used to make. We keep thinking it was white and very crunchy (hardens). She would put it on a chocolate cake. Any ideas? Everyone keeps saying it can’t be burnt sugar if it is white but we both know that is what she called it. HELP! lol

    1. Rita Heikenfeld

      Hi, Julie,
      I love that you and your Dad are trying to recreate your grandma’s recipe. The recipes for burnt sugar icing I have tend to be more cream colored or darker. I am posting some on the site now. But I will ask baking expert Rose Levy Beranbaum about this. She would know, if anyone would. So check out the recipes now and stay tuned…

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