Food is Love, Love is Food.

A blog devoted to the connection between meals, memories and the special moments in our lives.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Eureka Moments: Birthday Buttercream

I had a double eureka moment this weekend. A while ago, I posted a blog entry about a new recipe for buttercream frosting that I just love. This is birthday season in my house. Over the past 7 weeks, every member of my immediate family has had his or her birthday, so there has been a lot of buttercream flying around. Last Friday, I made cupcakes for my daughter Emily and the group of girls she had over to celebrate her thirteenth birthday. I cut the recipe for the buttercream in half, and frosted 20 cupcakes, with a little frosting left over. In my original posting, I had stated that the frosting needed to be used the day it was made, and that once it was refrigerated, the frosting would not work for spreading or piping. I Stand Corrected! I experimented with my leftover buttercream. Refrigerating it overnight, I took it out of the fridge the next morning, and let it sit out on the countertop at room temperature for several hours, and it became easily spreadable again! So, though it takes some time, it is possible to make the frosting a day or two ahead.

So that was Emily’s birthday with friends. Sunday was her actual birthday, and though my dear cousin Laurie used to say that the birthday of a child should celebrate the mom, there I was making my girl another birthday cake (and I wouldn’t have it any other way). Her request was a ‘monkey cake,’ and with the help of my husband, who is quite the creative genius, we used geometry to cut up cake circles to form a monkey head. As I began to make the buttercream frosting, Emily reminded me that she wanted chocolate frosting. I had a moment of panic, then decided to try to improvise. I had started the process of adding the confectioners sugar to the creamed butter, so I threw in about a half cup of cocoa powder, and kept my fingers crossed. Turned out, it worked just fine! The frosting was a beautiful light brown (perfect for said monkey), and had a light chocolate flavor, still creamy and not too sweet. I added a little toasted coconut to the top of the cake, and it was utterly delicious; rave reviews from all the party goers! So here is the original buttercream recipe again, along with the chocolate variation. You can add more cocoa powder for a more intense chocolate flavor.

American Buttercream
1½ pounds unsalted butter
7½ cups Confectioners Sugar
5¼ cups heavy cream
Vanilla bean or vanilla extract

With paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth, scraping down the bowl several times. Add sugar slowly, incorporating into butter to form a smooth paste. Warm the heavy cream to 98-100 degrees, and begin to drizzle in, with mixer running, very slowly. Continue to add until all the cream is incorporated, and frosting is smooth and full of body.

1. For the chocolate variation, once you have added the confectioners sugar, add a half cup of cocoa powder or more, depending on the intensity of flavor that you desire.

2. There is no need to sift the confectioners sugar, even if you are going to use a fine piping tip, as I did for this cake. The warm cream dissolved it all, and there were no problems.

3. The recipe says to drizzle the warm cream in very slowly. Really. I am not kidding. I had to throw out 2 batches due to excessive eagerness which led me to drizzle too quickly. Then it is a big batch of liquid goo. There is real science going on here, people.

4. I did place the frosting in the fridge for about 7 – 10 minutes before putting it into the piping bag just to firm it up a little, but I was working with it on a hot day, so plan accordingly, but do not leave it in the fridge too long.

5. This recipe make a lot of frosting.  I cut it in half to frost 20 cupcakes, and then did so again to frost 2 round cakes (cut up) to make the monkey cake. 

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