Archive | August, 2012

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

29 Aug

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Cupcakes

Recently@solvethepuzzle_asked me about a fluffy buttercream recipe on Twitter, and it occurred to me that I have yet to blog about my very favorite buttercream icing. How is this possible? I make icing almost every day of my life, sometimes multiple times a day, so it is a subject near and dear to my heart.

First things first –in my opinion, REAL buttercream icings always involve some kind of cooking because they contain eggs. A mixture of butter, shortening, powdered sugar, and flavoring is indeed icing, and it can be tasty, but it isn’t a true buttercream.

My #1, absolute favorite, jaw-dropping buttercream recipe is a Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Don’t be intimidated by the fancy name! It takes a little bit longer to make than the aforementioned powdered sugar recipe, but it’s not difficult and the end results are “Oh My God” worthy.  Swiss Meringue Buttercream is smooth and silky because granulated sugar is dissolved and cooked into egg whites, so there is no grittiness from undissolved granules. I use all butter, all the time, because the flavor is a million times better than a butter/shortening  combo, and it doesn’t leave a grease slick on the roof of your mouth.

Speaking of butter, it should go without saying, but I use unsalted butter in all of my baking. Most recipes include salt in the ingredients list, and if you use salted butter too, you lose control of the total amount of salt in the finished item. I’m a control-freak. I need to control that salt! Plus, who wants to eat overly salty cake??? I’m not talking about salted caramel here, either…

Swiss Meringue Buttercream can be flavored a million different ways. The recipe below includes basic vanilla extract, which can be subbed with seeds from a vanilla bean or for equal parts of vanilla bean paste, which I love.  I’ve added a few ounces of melted dark chocolate to the mix after all of the butter is incorporated. I’ve done the same with caramel sauce. Both have been divine.  A shot of espresso in addition to the vanilla extract is lovely, as are citrus zests.  For Cupcake Wars, we subbed out packed dark brown sugar for the granulated sugar and added a bit of molasses to make an amazing Brown Sugar buttercream for our Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Groom’s Cupcakes. The judges loved it!

This Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe can be adapted to any flavor profile, but keep in mind that it won’t take a lot of liquid. Plan to add ½ cup or less of any liquid flavorings so that the buttercream stays emulsified. Add more, and you risk breaking that beautiful buttercream!

This formula is so basic that I’ve committed it to memory over the years. Make it a few times, and you’ll have it memorized, too!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
Pinch kosher salt
3-1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into tablespoons
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk together the egg whites, granulated sugar, and salt. Cook over a double boiler, whisking frequently, until mixture reaches 140°F. Remove from the heat and whip on high-speed until the mixture is completely cool using an electric mixer. The egg mixture will be very fluffy and voluminous. Congratulations, you’ve just made meringue!

Once the mixture is cool, reduce the mixer speed add the butter one tablespoon at a time, making sure that the last pat is incorporated before adding the next. When you have added about 2-1/2 sticks of the butter, the mixture may start to look curdled. Don’t stress! Just keep whipping and adding the remaining butter one pat at a time and the buttercream will come together. Add the vanilla extract and whip until well combined.

Makes about 3-1/2 cups, or enough to ice about 2 dozen cupcakes.

Do you have a baking question? Tweet me, or leave a comment below, and I’ll try to help you out!

WE WON CUPCAKE WARS!

28 Aug

Oh hell yes!

Milette Raz and I won Cupcake Wars! Milette’s Cake’s takes home $10K!

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The outpouring of support and enthusiasm from our friends and family has been truly amazing. So many amazing people cheered, screamed, cried tears of joy, tweeted, texted, called, sent smoke signals and telegrams, etc…

AND THANK YOU ALL A MILLION TIMES! I think I finally got through all of the encouraging messages last night (a full 24 hours after the show aired), but if I somehow missed thanking you in person, please accept it here.

There is a part of my interview that was edited out, and didn’t make it onto the show, so I want to say it loud and clear here.

Milette Raz is the owner of Milette’s Cakes, just in case the name didn’t give it away. Milette was not my assistant on the show. We were 50/50 partners, right down the line. If it came down to it, she would kick my ass in a cake decorating competition, and I would be happy for her victory! She taught me everything that I know about working in a bakery, but I also got an amazing friend out of the deal. If you’re lucky enough to know Milette, you have a friend for life. She might be the sweetest person ever. Nope, she is definitely the sweetest person ever, and it was a true pleasure to compete with her on Cupcake Wars. I’m glad we brought home the title for Milette’s Cakes!

In full disclosure, they also didn’t show when I nearly broke the food processor because I turned it on with part of the lid still inside of it. They also didn’t show us burning the hell out of our hands and feet while spinning sugar for our Bubbly Berries Cupcakes. I’m guessing that the subsequent cursing was just too much for television!

Due to the overwhelming response from the show, Milette’s website has been getting a whole lotta traffic, and it’s struggling to keep up. We’re working on it! For now, please go to Facebook and like Milette’s Cakes. You can also follow me on Twitter at @bethylou10.  We don’t have a retail location, but you can order online or over the phone and we’ll deliver right to you!

Custom cupcakes to your door? Sounds pretty boss to me!

Cupcake Wars – Tomorrow Night!

25 Aug

I was honored to compete on an episode of Cupcake Wars with my great friend and mentor, Milette Raz of Milette’s Cakes!

I’ve kept my big mouth shut for months and months in accordance to the uber-expensive nondisclosure agreement we had to sign before the competition, but it’s finally here, and I couldn’t be more excited to watch it!

Want to see us acting like fools? Check out the casting video that landed us a spot on Cupcake Wars.

Want to see us kicking some ass?

Tune into Cupcake Wars on Food Network this Sunday, August 26 at 7:00 pm CST to see Milette and me in action!

Curious how it all plays out? Can’t tell ya…that nondisclosure agreement looms large. Watch the show to find out!

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