I made the following icing/glaze with the following recipe:

  • 2 pints frozen blueberries
  • large bunch of fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 6 cups of confectionary sugar

Blend berries, basil, and bourbon until smooth. Incorporate sugar and then whisk until smooth.

I made this to use on a cake instead of donuts, but it came out very watery. I would like to thicken this by either just reducing it or whipping it with some butter. Reducing seems straight forward, but is there anything I should watch out for? I know the flavors might degrade some.

Alternatively, would it be feasible to whip this up with some butter to create more of a frosting?

1 Answer 1


The basic icing recipe I use is a lot of powdered (confectionary) sugar, and just enough milk to make it run (I typically play it by ear, but I would guess it is 2–4 tablespoons of milk for every cup of sugar). I usually start with the liquid in a bowl, and add sugar until it gets to the desired consistency.

The point of an icing or glaze is that it is thin. It is supposed to run or pour, and create a thin layer of sugar over the donut or cake or whatever. Pour it on, wait a bit, and most of the liquid either evaporates out or is absorbed by the thing it is poured over. What you describe sounds about right to me.

That being said, some things to try (and not try):

  1. Add more sugar. Again, I generally make icing by adding powdered sugar to milk (and vanilla) until the consistency is right. You can keep adding more sugar until it is what you want.

  2. Add less bourbon.

  3. I would not try to reduce this icing. Adding heat is going to change its character quite a lot—a lot of the bourbon is going to cook off (which will reduce the "boozy" flavor of the icing), and cooked fruit tastes quite different from fresh (or frozen) fruit. Sugars also decompose in heat, which is likely to change the flavor quite a bit.

  4. You could try to make a buttercream frosting from this basic recipe. Usually, buttercream frosting is made by whipping butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy, then mixing in a small amount of some flavor (vanilla extract, fruit, whatever). The general goal is to get an emulsion of butter, sugar, and whatever minimal amount of liquid is added as part of the extra flavoring.

    Since you have already mixed the sugar with other liquid ingredients, it may be harder to get the ingredients to emulsify properly. However, if I were to try, I would maybe start with around 2 cups of room temperature butter (that's around 4 sticks). Whip it up with the whisk attachment of a stand mixer (or a hand mixer, or just a whisk if you don't have a power tool), slowly adding your icing as you go. You ought to be able to get something pipe-able. Maybe.

  • I wonder whether there is a good way to reduce the water content of bourbon and use some kind of concentrated bourbon. Just heating it beforehand will mostly boil of the alcohol which is not quite what is desired.
    – quarague
    Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 10:25
  • Depending on the need for delicacy, like if you're using a specific fancy bourbon, if you need to replace missing alcohol content, neutral grain alcohol may do the trick. But if this is a one-off for a recipe you're making, the advice in this answer is much more relevant. Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 12:29
  • 3
    @quarague They do sell "Bourbon Extract" (like vanilla extract and orange extract), if you're just looking for generic bourbon flavoring rather than a particular bourbon. You could potentially replace some or all of the actual bourbon with that.
    – R.M.
    Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 20:46

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