You know, besides baking another cake.
Credit: Photo by Dorling Kindersley: Charlotte Tolhurst via Getty Images

I can’t be the only one who consistently overshoots on how much frosting or glaze I’ll need to sugarcoat a homemade baked good. Be it a layer cake, bundt cake, batch of cookies, etc., I am unintentionally—and oftentimes, unconsciously—paranoid about not having enough icing to get the job done. I’m not even a big fan of frosting, but I’d rather have too much than not enough—nothing wrong with that, right? Still, the fact that I regularly go overboard with the icing leaves me with a reoccurring decision to make: Toss the leftover or create a purpose for it.

I believe there are strong, viable arguments for both paths, and it just depends on the unique architecture of your personal beliefs as to which one will feel right for you to take. This will likely vary from occasion to occasion, and that’s A-OK. (After all, we’re talking about frosting… it’s seriously not that big of a deal.) As for me, I have a guilt complex that is easily triggered by throwing food away (among other things), so I generally try to look at this particular scenario as a creative challenge; I have to find a way to put the excess sugary paste to good use without investing more time, effort, or money than it’s worth—which usually, ain’t much.

I most recently faced this challenge after throwing together a tahini glaze—made with a mixture of tahini paste, powdered sugar, a little honey, a little melted butter, heavy cream, and a dash of salt—to drizzle over a batch of tahini chocolate chip cookies that didn’t come out tasting very tahini-y. Naturally, I made far more of this distinctly flavored glaze than I needed for my drizzling purposes. Long story short, I stashed the leftover glaze in the fridge and a couple days later, swirled it into the top of a pan of raw brownie batter before baking… and I have to tell you, they were phenomenal. I was ultimately very pleased with my decision to hold onto the excess, and here we are. After experiencing such a delicious success, I wanted to share a few other ideas for how you might utilize some remaining frosting in such a way that you too are thankful you saved it from the trashcan.

Ways to Use Leftover (Spreadable) Frosting

  • Spread it over graham crackers (or other prepared cookie of your choosing) and sprinkle with desired toppings—such as mini chocolate chips, candy sprinkles, chopped nuts, etc.—for a quick, sweet treat/fun dessert kids can make.
  • Pipe the leftover frosting into hulled strawberries.
  • Mix with a bit of softened cream cheese to make a “cheesecake dip” for pretzels and fruit.
  • Blend into a vanilla milkshake.
  • Spread over a (baked and cooled) batch of blondies or brownies.
  • Use it for DIY whoopie pie filling.
  • Make cake “truffles.”
    • (A discounted, day-old unfrosted cake from your local grocery store’s bakery works great for this.)
  • Use it to flavor a batch of puppy chow.
    • (Clarifying because people are commonly confused about this informal recipe title; I don't mean literal food for your dog... I am no vet, but I believe in my heart of hearts that feeding frosting to your pets is a terrible idea.)
  • Stir a spoonful into your morning oatmeal to sweeten. Because you deserve your hearty, whole grain breakfast to taste like birthday cake.

Ways to Use Up Leftover Glaze

  • Obviously, you can drizzle a leftover glaze over another baked good—such as banana bread, baked doughnuts, or cookies—once cooled. If you’re not trying to bake anything else, this is a good trick for dressing up store-bought treats with a homemade touch.
  • Do as I did and swirl dollops of your glaze into the top of a pan of brownie or blondie batter before baking.
  • Warm the glaze and dip fruit and pretzel rods in it for an easy weeknight dessert.
  • Make flavored rice crispy bars by stirring a bit of glaze into your melted marshmallows before adding the cereal.
  • Drizzle over waffles or pancakes for an extra decadent weekend brunch.
    • (You may want to thin your glaze out a bit before first.)
  • Pour over ice cream; love your life.
  • Stir into cheesecake filling to flavor.

You can similarly use leftover dessert glaze in many of ideas listed above for using up a thicker, spreadable frosting (such as cream cheese or buttercream frosting). My top tip here is this: Don’t be afraid to experiment! You know what you have on your hands—a whipped chocolate ganache frosting clearly isn’t going to lend itself to the same use-it-up applications as a lemony glaze—so just imagine where else in your life you’d love to experience that particular flavor and try it out.

By Darcy Lenz and Darcy Lenz