Vegan icing is any icing that is prepared with substitute ingredients in conformance with vegan dietary requirements. Icing that is suitable for vegan consumption must be made without any ingredients derived from animals as vegans do not consume any animal products including meat, seafood, eggs, cheese, milk, honey and sugar whitened with bone char or charred animal bones. Any difference in taste between vegan and non-vegan icing is often difficult to detect and ingredient substitution is rarely a complex process.
Almost any non-vegan icing can easily be made vegan. Buttercream frosting is a popular and sweet icing for cupcakes and cakes because it is stiff and holds its shape. A vegan buttercream icing is typically made with shortening, soy margarine, powdered sugar, soy milk or soy creamer and a flavoring such as vanilla extract. Once the ingredients are well blended, vegan buttercream can be piped just like the non-vegan version.
Cream cheese frosting is a richer variant of buttercream that can also be made vegan. Cream cheese frosting is creamy and best used to decorate a cake with mild flavor. Vegan cream cheese frosting is usually prepared with a vegan cream cheese product, soy margarine, powdered sugar, lemon juice and a flavored extract like vanilla or maple. Like vegan buttercream, the ingredients of vegan cream cheese frosting are simply blended together. This vegan icing is often used to frost carrot cake.
Another popular icing is ganache that is commonly used as a glaze or a filling for cakes, fudge and pastries. Non-vegan ganache is made with cream. A vegan version substitutes soy or rice milk and includes soy margarine and vegan chocolate. Dark chocolate is often vegan and can make a good substitute, too. Ganache is often prepared on the stove in a sauce pan or a double broiler.
Peanut butter frosting is a popular topping for brownies or chocolate cupcakes and cake. A vegan baker can use soy or rice milk instead of the dairy version and blend it with creamy peanut butter, soy margarine, vanilla extract and powdered sugar. The consistency can be altered by adding more or less soy or rice milk.
For vegans who are concerned about reducing sugar and fat consumption, vegan icing can be prepared with tofu as a base instead of soy margarine or shortening. By using tofu, it is possible to reduce the added powdered sugar to only a few tablespoons. The tofu and sugar once blended with lemon juice and vanilla extract can be colored with food coloring or flavored with an extract like orange or lemon.