Cream of Tartar

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Hi! For this past Christmas eve, I made a cranberry buttercream frosting. Butter, powdered sugar, cranberry and 1/4 t cream of tartar. I didn't have it, so I just left it out. I had never used it in a frosting before, so I just skipped it. Did not care for the frosting. Just tasted like unsalted butter. Does anyone know why I would put cream of tartar in a frosting? Would it bring out the tart flavor of the cranberry? I know salt brings out flavors. I would actually like to try this cake again. I think the frosting looked pretty and festive for the holiday! Although my sister said, " Oh my God, it's pink!" It was subtle! Haha. I would love to hear what you think.
Thank you!
 

Ima

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Hi! For this past Christmas eve, I made a cranberry buttercream frosting. Butter, powdered sugar, cranberry and 1/4 t cream of tartar. I didn't have it, so I just left it out. I had never used it in a frosting before, so I just skipped it. Did not care for the frosting. Just tasted like unsalted butter. Does anyone know why I would put cream of tartar in a frosting? Would it bring out the tart flavor of the cranberry? I know salt brings out flavors. I would actually like to try this cake again. I think the frosting looked pretty and festive for the holiday! Although my sister said, " Oh my God, it's pink!" It was subtle! Haha. I would love to hear what you think.
Thank you!
Hi Elle

Although I haven't used cream of tartar in buttercream frosting before, perhaps the recipe originators called for cream of tartar to:
- avoid sugar crystals from being formed so the icing stays creamy (cream of tartar can be added to some homemade jams to avoid crystallisation, and i'm wondering if your frosting recipe called for homemade cranberry jam).
- add a slight acid (potassium bitartrate) tang, maybe emphasising the tartness of cranberry
- i'm sure this is not the reason in your case because you were making buttercream frosting, but a common reason for a recipe to ask for cream of tartar is to stabilise a frosting made with whipped egg whites, or whipped cream.

No doubt, cranberry frosting seems gorgeous and delicious - a wonderful way to balance the sweetness of cakes and bring pink happiness. So how are you intending to make this again?
-you could always use cream of tartar on a small batch of frosting and see if the original recipe is a winner. but if it's not a winner...
- if the frosting tasted like unsalted butter, then it is possible there isn't enough powdered sugar in the frosting recipe. Some people go as high as 1 cup butter to 4 cups powdered sugar in buttercream frosting recipes. Perhaps use your go-to buttercream frosting sugar:butter ratio instead of the one in the recipe, and add homemade cranberry jam.
- consider innovating a cranberry cream-cheese frosting. You could use your go-to cream-cheese frosting recipe and add the cranberries in. No cream of tartar.

Let us know how Cranberry Frosting Round 2 goes :)
 
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Hi Ima!

Thank you for the response. Now it is making sense. It WAS a homemade cranberry jam. That and the tang it would bring out from the cranberry. I also love the idea of cream cheese frosting. Who doesn't love that?

Well, Valentine's Day is coming. Maybe pinkish-hued frosted cupcakes would be nice.

Thanks again and Happy New Year!
Ellen
 
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Learn how to make real buttercream based on Italian meringue. It is a reliable product and not hard once you learn it. No cream of tartar and most certainly does not taste primarily of butter.
 

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