This basic vanilla buttercream can be flavored in an almost endless variety of ways; see Variations below.
Yields 7-1/2 to 8 cups enough to fill and frost a 9-inch four-layer cake.
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5 large egg whites
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. light corn syrup
1 lb., 4 oz. (2-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
Place the egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium-high speed until foamy. Sprinkle in 6 Tbs. of the sugar and beat on high speed to medium peaks (the whites should be smooth, full, and shiny, and the peaks should curl a little). Turn off the mixer.
Combine the remaining 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. sugar and the corn syrup in a medium (3-quart) saucepan over mediumhigh heat, stirring briefly to dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook just until the mixture comes to a rolling boil.
Immediately remove the syrup from the heat, turn the mixer onto medium-high speed, and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl in a steady stream, being very careful not to let the syrup hit the whisk.
Reduce the speed to medium and continue whisking until the whites are barely warm, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the butter 1 Tbs. at a time. Add the vanilla and continue beating until the frosting is smooth and creamy.
In place of vanilla, add one of the following flavorings at low speed to prevent splattering, then increase speed to medium to blend.
Lemon: 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest.
Orange:1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed orange juice, 1/4 cup finely grated orange zest (from about 3 large oranges).
Strawberry or Raspberry: 3/4 cup berry purée (purée the fruit in a blender and strain).
Liqueur: 2 Tbs. liqueur (such as Frangelico, Grand Marnier, Baileys, Kahlua, Chambord), more to taste.
Chocolate: 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted.
Coffee: 1-1/2 Tbs. instant espresso dissolved in 1 Tbs. boiling water.
photo: Scott Phillips
From Fine Cooking 78
, pp. 68
April 1, 2006