My mom says that she used to bake from scratch when I was young. Hmmmm, I have a different recollection of her version of "baking from scratch". My first memories of baking a cake, was when my mom opened a box of cake mix. But then again, I give her the benefit of the doubt since the toddler in question (me), was probably too young to remember the "baking from scratch" bit.
Anyway, I did remember though that she used to make icing from scratch. That, I am hundred percent certain. Because during my teen years, I decided to try making it on my own with disastrous results. I realized in hindsight what went wrong and made adjustments. Mostly, I just needed to be patient and not hurry too much when making this.
So now, twenty years later, I am doing my Mom's chocolate icing, from memory. Yes, memory. Because my Mom, bless her, does not write any of her recipes down. I didn't write mine either and decided to "eyeball" it, like the way my mom made it, with a few modern touches. We didn't have a non-stick pan nor a heat-proof spatula when I was young. I remember my mom used only regular steel wok, yes, the cheap ones from the palengke. The icing always turned out well, regardless of the crude equipment used.
Mom's Chocolate Icing
1 can of Evaporated milk
3/4 to 1 cup Dutch Process Cocoa
3/4 to 1 cup powdered sugar (Mom used regular granulated sugar)
2-4 tablespoons of salted butter (I may have used more, hee hee)
1. In a glass bowl, mix the evaporated milk, cocoa and powdered sugar until everything is well dissolved. If you have any lumps, pass the whole thing in sieve, once or twice, until you get a smooth, lump-free mixture.
2. Pour the mixture in a non-stick skillet. Using low-medium heat, cook the mixture slowly. This is very important, keep it on LOW-MEDIUM heat and stir the icing constantly in a circular motion using a HEAT-PROOF spatula. Don't forget to scrape the bottom and the sides of the pan as you cook the icing. Do no leave the icing unattended!
3. After about five minutes, add a tablespoon or two of butter and continue mixing until the mixture is reduced and have a spreading consistency. Keep the heat on LOW-MEDIUM. Again, never leave your icing unattended!
4. Add the rest of the butter, mixing constantly, two minutes before you turn it off.
5. Let cool slightly before spreading on cakes or cupcakes.
It takes a bit of effort and is much more labor intensive but it's soooo worth it.