Updated: Mar 19
So let’s talk about butter bleed.
What the hell is butter bleed? If you’re wondering this, and you’ve baked cookies and frosted them successfully, then you’re doing something right and continue to do you.
Butter bleed is when the oil and butter...essentially the fats from your cookie...bleed to your icing after it’s dry. When this first happened to me I didn’t know what it was and I thought I did something wrong to the icing. Nope. It was butter bleed. So as I was baking this morning I thought oh! I’ll explain how NOT to have this awful thing happen to you.
Make sure your cookies completely cool before frosting. It’s even better if you use day old cookies. If you do this, it gives the fats in the batter is time to settle into the cookie instead of leaching out on the top. Just don’t leave your cookies out uncovered for longer than 24 hours. You’ll end up with stale cookies in accident. I usually let mine cool while I’m at work and pop in a tuppaware when I get home.
After you bake your cookies and they are somewhat cool to the point where you could handle them, grab some paper towels and lay your cookies on your paper towels in a single layer. The paper towels are going to soak up the excess fats that seeped out of your cookies so they don’t seep into your icing.
If neither of the first two are working then the butter or shortening that you use in your cookies maybe too soft. Most bakers recommend using room temperature butter but I personally have had issues with butter bleed if I do this because with real butter it doesn’t always solidify back up. So if you start with watery butter you’re going to have more oily cookies. You may also have spreading or crunch issues. To me, the ideal butter temperature is when you can stick a fork in it easily and give it a good shake around the air and it does not fall off your part.
Between all three things, you should be able to avoid butter bleed without hassle. Unfortunately, there’s no way to reverse butter bleed if it happens so fingers crossed you never have to deal with it. Luckily I’ve only had problems with it a couple times.