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Buttercream


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Brown Sugar Buttercream

For anyone who loves making cookies just to eat the batter when it's nothing more than butter and brown sugar, this will be your favorite icing. It's fantastic on a devil's food cake (see previous post). From Gourmet , Jan 2001.

Combine 1 c dark brown sugar and 1/2 c water in a small saucepan.

Combine 3 egg whites and 1/8 t salt in a mixer bowl.

Have 1 1/2 c butter softened and whipped in another bowl.

Boil the sugar-water to soft ball stage (238-242 F). Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until frothy, and 1/2 t lemon juice and beat to soft peak stage.

Add the syrup to the eggs whites, beating continually, and keep beating until the mixture reaches room temperature.

Add the butter one glob at a time, still beating continually. When all the butter has been added, beat in 2 t vanilla.

Notes:

if you're not used to making buttercream, read about it in Julia Child's The Way to Cook . The tip about beating the butter beforehand, for example, makes a big difference in how easily it combines with the meringue. There are ways to rescue a failed buttercream, but I won't discourse on that here.

Use the best quality unsalted butter you can afford, and good vanilla, too.

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Brown Sugar Buttercream

For anyone who loves making cookies just to eat the batter when it's nothing more than butter and brown sugar, this will be your favorite icing.  It's fantastic on a devil's food cake (see previous post).  From Gourmet , Jan 2001.

Combine 1 c dark brown sugar and 1/2 c water in a small saucepan.

Combine 3 egg whites and 1/8 t salt in a mixer bowl.

Have 1 1/2 c butter softened and whipped in another bowl.

Boil the sugar-water to soft ball stage (238-242 F).  Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until frothy, and 1/2 t lemon juice and beat to soft peak stage.

Add the syrup to the eggs whites, beating continually, and keep beating until the mixture reaches room temperature.

Add the butter one glob at a time, still beating continually.  When all the butter has been added, beat in 2 t vanilla.

Notes:

if you're not used to making buttercream, read about it in Julia Child's The Way to Cook .  The tip about beating the butter beforehand, for example, makes a big difference in how easily it combines with the meringue.  There are ways to rescue a failed buttercream, but I won't discourse on that here.

Use the best quality unsalted butter you can afford, and good vanilla, too.

This sounds wonderful. I've been bringing baked goods as bribes to make staff meetings more productive and something to look forward to. I'm definitely going to have to try this in the rotation.

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Chestnut Buttercream

8 oz. (225g) unsweetened chestnut puree

28 oz. (795g) unflavored or vanilla buttercream

Beat the chestnut puree until very smooth (sometimes I'll even puree it further in a food processor -- it depends on the brand), then add the buttercream and mix until incorporated.

If unable to find unsweetened chestnut puree, using whole chestnuts pureed in a food processor works just as well. This recipe is easily scaled up or down as needed.

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Italian buttercream, or French? Or will it work with anything? Thanks.
Italian or Swiss or French or whatever you have on hand (or, in my case, in the freezer).

Since I like to err on the side of caution when it comes to serving raw eggs to guests, I usually end up making buttercream based on a Swiss meringue (where the whites and sugar are heated to 160 before whipping, such as in this recipe).

And here is a link to a pretty good description of the various types of buttercreams for those who wonder what we're babbling on about. :unsure:

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mktye, I've long been tempted to do a recipe like your chestnut buttercream, but using pistachio puree (that canned stuff from KA, it's not puree but I'm totally drawing a blank on the name).

However, I've resisted because I've had the feeling that it would be gritty (not matter how much additional puree-ing I gave it). Have you got any sense of that? Have you ever fooled with something like a pistachio buttercream? Other ideas for how to convey pistachio flavor without relying on weird fake food flavorings? (I'm thinking more in the filling/frosting rather than cake--I imagine I could sub in pistachio flour to get pistachio flavoring in the cake.)

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mktye, I've long been tempted to do a recipe like your chestnut buttercream, but using pistachio puree (that canned stuff from KA, it's not puree but I'm totally drawing a blank on the name).

However, I've resisted because I've had the feeling that it would be gritty (not matter how much additional puree-ing I gave it). Have you got any sense of that? Have you ever fooled with something like a pistachio buttercream? Other ideas for how to convey pistachio flavor without relying on weird fake food flavorings? (I'm thinking more in the filling/frosting rather than cake--I imagine I could sub in pistachio flour to get pistachio flavoring in the cake.)

I've not tried the pistachio paste, but I've used the hazelnut praline paste (same brand -- American Almond) in other recipes. It is very, very finely ground (I just ate some off of a spoon to make sure ;) ) and, while it is a little gritty on its own, I suspect it would be masked in buttercream.

Pistachio buttercream sounds like a fantastic idea worth at least some experimentation. I'd try mixing up a small amount to see how the texture turned out. Keep in mind there is a difference between eating buttercream straight and eating it as part of an assembled cake -- the chestnut buttercream is also a tiny bit chalky when eaten by itself (like that stopped me last night from eating an obscene amount with a spoon :unsure: ), but it is not noticable at all when consumed with a bite of cake.

Using pistachio flour in the cake layer would also be an option for more pistachio flavor. Probably the most sure-fire way would be to look for a cake recipe that calls for almond flour and sub the pistachio flour. I know there is one such recipe in Bo Friberg's "The Professional Pastry Chef", let me know if you'd like me to copy it for you. :P

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I wanted to report back on my efforts to make a pistachio buttercream filling for my birthday cake. I had frozen leftover Italian Meringue buttercream from my son's birthday cake and the KA Flour Pistachio Nut Paste sitting on the countertop, waiting for their marriage.

Straight out of the can, the pistachio nut paste is pretty amazing. Although initially there is a strong smell of almonds (I'm thinking one of the "natural ingredients" must be almond extract), it's followed by the scent of pistachios. The color and general appearance is a bit, well, frankly, off-putting to somebody who's changed a lot of diapers. I was able to overcome this, though, and it's got a really good taste. Again, initially a strong taste of almonds, but followed by an equally strong taste of pistachios. Really, really yummy. The nuts are *very* finely ground, so the grittiness is pretty minimal.

In the name of science, I did 5 different dilutions of buttercream:nut paste and the +1 and I had at 'em. Bottom line, it's a great combination, if killer rich. I thought the best combo was either the 50:50 or 60:40. I think +1 preferred the 50:50 or 40:60. However, I felt the texture was a bit too chewy in the 40:60.

Thanks for the encouragement to give this a go, mktye. Well worth it and I'll be ordering more of the pistachio nut paste to make the actual filling.

So, now the final (burning!) question. What kind of cake to use? I had planned on a typical American (read here, moist and rich) chocolate later cake. I'm thinking now, however, that it may be too much (too rich) with the pistachio buttercream. This leads me to think that a lighter cake (a biscuit, for example), might be more appropriate? But then, I'm wondering what kind of simple syrup to put over them? I like using the simple syrup to enhance/complement some flavor of the final concoction. But, my biggest complaint with chocolate biscuit in the past has been that it's not chocolate-y enough. So, I'm thinking I want to enhance the chocolate, but not sure how to do it in a simple syrup medium. (Perhaps I should just soak it in hershey's chocolate syrup?!).

Any and all advice appreciated. My birthday is still over 6w away, so I've got some time to experiment!

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Thank you for taking one for the team! :) In the process of moving to the new house, I found a can of that pistachio paste in my pantry (amongst other forgotten goodies) and I've been looking to find a use for it. Is your ratio based on weight or volume?

What about mixing cocoa powder into some simple syrup? Sounds like more experimentation may be in order... :)

The ratio was based on volume not weight. I'll admit, it wasn't a super precise measurement (what with needing to lick my fingers and all while getting buttercream out of Tb), so I was thinking I would lean towards more buttercream and modify as necessary.

Although obvious, the cocoa simple syrup thing somehow seemed, I don't know, wrong. Yeah, probably will just need to experiment :lol: .

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Is is possible to infuse fruits such as: mango, orange, strawberry into a traditional buttercream recipe? If so, should the process proceed as two steps? First making a traditional buttercream. And second, pureeing the fruit and then cooking it down to almost a syrup and then folding into the buttercream?

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Is is possible to infuse fruits such as: mango, orange, strawberry into a traditional buttercream recipe? If so, should the process proceed as two steps? First making a traditional buttercream. And second, pureeing the fruit and then cooking it down to almost a syrup and then folding into the buttercream?

That will work with no problems. There are sources to buy fruit purees/pastes if you don't want to make your own. The ones I have used are pretty thick so that they don't thin the buttercream.

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I make raspberry buttercream by thawing frozen berries, mashing them up well, straining them well, and mixing the puree into the buttercream. The taste is just fine, but you have to be careful not to add too much puree, or the cream will break.

I've been wanting to try orange, too. I would try grating the rind and adding it to the amount of water called for; bring to a boil, turn off the heat, let cool, strain, and proceed with the recipe.

No idea what to try for mango.

La Cuisine in Alexandria sells fruit essences that work pretty well in these applications (though the taste seems just a bit off to me).

Please report back with what youtried and whether it worked!

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I wonder whether mango puree wouldn't work. I don't know how liquid the puree would be, but mango is intensely flavored, so if it is rather liquid, you may not need as much to flavor the buttercream. Alternatively, you could reduce the puree to a consistency where it wouldn't thin the buttercream.

I've never tried it, but Rose Levy Beranbaum recommends using Tang (?) in orange buttercream.

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That will work with no problems. There are sources to buy fruit purees/pastes if you don't want to make your own. The ones I have used are pretty thick so that they don't thin the buttercream.
Like mdt and porcupine, I've always had the impression that thickness/flavor strength were the key aspects to success. The flavor you add needs to be pretty concentrated, or the volume of flavoring will make the buttercream runny and/or break.
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gulp... my cupcake making seems to have just taken on a new dimension as I am going to have to learn to make "real" frosting a la porcupine and mktye! I see know that Marc Bittman might not cover "everything" in his how to cook everything cookbook. So much for truth in advertising! :lol:

I'll report back...

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