Icing, icing baby
December 26, 2005 5:53 PM   Subscribe

Do you have a killer icing recipe? I'm making a cavalcade of cupcakes for my birthday next week and I want to make some yummy buttercream icing to go with.

I'm really looking for the kind of icing you get on store-bought cupcakes, the kind that's pretty toothy when you bite in. Not whipped cream, though. I've made buttercream icing before that was pretty much just butter and powdered sugar and I didn't like the flavor so much. I think the flavor I'm going for maybe has shortening in it?

I found this thread for chocolate, but if you have chocolate ones you want to throw in, I won't complain :D
posted by sugarfish to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have made the Cook's Illustrated Coffee Buttercream given near the bottom of the page. Mmmm....3/4 lbs. of butter. For best taste, make sure your butter is fresh with no absorbed fridge or freezer smells. It is very rich and quite good. Just have your defibrillator at the ready.
posted by DawnSimulator at 6:12 PM on December 26, 2005

Butter/powdered sugar is kind of a fake way to make buttercream. The real thing has a soft meringue (hot syrup beaten into eggwhite), cooled and beaten with soft butter.

Here's a recipe to get you started.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:22 PM on December 26, 2005

Best answer: Alton Brown's Buttercream recipe.
posted by frogan at 6:33 PM on December 26, 2005

Yeah, make the meringue-y icing. It's work, but it's sooo worth it. It's got that rich, dense texture you're looking for. The one you get on cakes in schmancy restaurants and patisseries.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:52 PM on December 26, 2005

This is pretty simple, but makes a really tasty cream cheese icing:

Beat one block of softened cream cheese in a standing mixer.
Add a few drops of vanilla.
Add powdered sugar to taste.
Add softened butter until desired consistency is achieved.

Sugar:butter ratio controls the "tooth" of the icing. More sugar, less butter = firmer. Less sugar, more butter = creamier.
posted by kaseijin at 10:29 PM on December 26, 2005

Buttercream is overrated. Go with Italian meringue, which is what I think people have been mentioning. I just used a chocolate version of it to frost and fill a buche de noel, and it's incredibly decadent--like an excellent truffle, but in frosting form.

Here's the gist of it (from Julia Child's "The Way To Cook")

Boil 3/4 c. sugar and 1/4 c. water to the soft-ball stage. While it's cooking, beat 2 egg whites and a pinch of salt and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Beat the sugar syrup into the whites slowly, then beat the icing into stiff shining peaks. Add 2 c. whipped cream (homemade is best), then fold in 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate melted with 1/3 c. espresso. Add 2-3 T unsweetened cocoa to bring it to frosting consistency, and you're ready to indulge.
posted by Vervain at 2:26 AM on December 27, 2005

Vervain, I'm no expert on baking terminology, but I think we're working from the same basic recipe here, where "Italian meringue" adds whipped cream and "buttercream" adds butter instead. I'd assume that this would have a significant effect on the final consistency.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:11 AM on December 27, 2005

Best answer: The thing about making buttercream that's so wild (I made it for the first time a few months ago and wondered where the hell that recipe had been all my life) is that it can seem like you've fucked it all up. You're there, beating the damn icing and it looks all grainy and nasty and separated, and you're about ready to give up, but you keep beating and suddenly it magically turns into this unbelievably luscious smooth rich decadent perfection.

(I made a dacquoise with two kinds of buttercream, chocolate and black walnut. Put a little espresso in there too and wow.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:41 AM on December 27, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, all! I'm really excited to get started now. I'll post back after the baking. Also, CunningLinguist, thanks especially for letting me know it'll look all weird at first. That probably would have freaked me out.
posted by sugarfish at 7:03 PM on December 27, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I made the Alton Brown recipe and it turned out well. One caveat: use UNSALTED butter. The recipe just says butter and until I read the comments it didn't occur to me that just regular old butter would not be the best plan of action. Also, I wouldn't attempt to make it without a stand mixer unless you have biceps of steel. It took a long time to come together! (However, thanks to CunningLinguist's advice I soldiered on fearlessly.)

My cupcakes thank you!
posted by sugarfish at 7:55 PM on January 1, 2006

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