Posts Tagged 'frosting'

Pipe Dream #108: To Declare War – Coffee Buttercream Meringues

I have this thing about meringues. It’s like a war. I love making them, because they are delicious and light, and you can sandwich them together with frosting, so they are basically just an excuse to eat frosting. But I also hate making them because one time in two, they don’t turn out. There are many reasons for the egg whites not whipping up properly, which you can read about here. Quick summary though: If your beater/bowl is dirty, it won’t work; if there is any water in the bowl, it won’t work; if there are any bits of eggshell in the whites, it won’t work; and if your egg whites aren’t room temperature, it won’t work.

And I sit here giving you all my reasons why meringues are so finnicky, but the underlying reason (and there usually are underlying character flaws for all of my baking mistakes) is that I am careless and impatient. I think to myself, “Oh, leaving the eggs out for 20 minutes beforehand is enough to bring them to room temperature, surely. And besides, Facebook calls I’m supposed to be applying for jobs right now. I’ll just start whipping the meringues now.” So I do, and the end result is that my eggs whites sit in a gloppy white puddle, with a bunch of undissolved sugar  at the bottom of the mixing bowl.

So I am declaring war on my character flaws (insofar as they affect my baking skills) and I will attempt to do right by meringues. I was patient with these, even going so far as to pipe them into puffs. Then I quick-baked them so they turned out hollow filled them with a coffee-flavored buttercream.

This buttercream recipe is one from my new favorite cookbook The Great British Bake Off’s “How To Bake: The Perfect Victoria Sponge and Other Baking Secrets.” I’ve never seen the show, which is probably good because I’d probably be addicted like I was to Alias in ’06 (unhealthy). I love love love the cookbook though because the recipes in it are so classically British, and it reminds me of my time over there. Anyway, the buttercream is made with egg yolks rather than egg whites, which made for a very smooth consistency. I had trouble with one batch splitting–be very careful not to overbeat it–but I’m still counting this as a win because I didn’t have any problems with the meringues themselves.

This means war,

Lauren 1     Meringues 0


2 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup regular or superfine sugar

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Beat egg whites until foamy. Add salt, cream of tartar and vanilla, and beat mixture again until it holds soft peaks. Add the sugar, gradually, beating the batter until it is stiff. Spoon batter onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake for 25 minutes. Undersides of cookies should be golden or lightly tanned.

Coffee Buttercream

Adapted from The Great British Bake Off’s “How To Bake”

Makes enough to decorate 12 cupcakes or to fill and top a 20cm sponge cake pan

85 grams caster (superfine) sugar

2 large egg yolks

150 grams unsalted butter, very soft but not runny

1 teaspoon vanilla OR 75 grams dark chocolate, melted and cooled OR 1-2 tablespoons cold, very strong black coffee

a sugar thermometer or cooking thermometer

Put the sugar and four tablespoons water into a small heavy-based pan and heat gently, without boiling, until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and boil until the temperature reaches 110 degrees C/225 degrees F on a sugar thermometer. This will take about five minutes. Don’t let the syrup caramelize.

Meanwhile, put the egg yolks into a heatproof bowl and mix briefly. Stand the bowl on a damp cloth to keep it from slipping. Pour the hot sugar syrup into the bowl in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly with an electric mixer. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes very thick and mousse-like, pale in color and completely cold.

Gradually whisk in the soft butter followed by the vanilla, chocolate or coffee (to taste). Spoon or pipe the buttercream onto the cakes. In warm weather, chill the decorated cakes just until the icing is firm.

Pipe Dream #98: To Be Before My Time – Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

I think cream cheese was invented in America. I might have read that somewhere. Anyway, I can’t imagine Europeans inventing it. They like real cheese too much. Cream cheese feels like a processed cheese product of the American 50s.

Sometimes I wish I were born in a different era. I feel like I would fit in better in 1850 than I do now. Clothing from the 1950s makes me wish I were born then. Processed cheese products do not.

Please forgive me for the extremely pedantic explanation that is about to follow. I can imagine myself saying this in a really obnoxious encyclopedia voice:

Regardless of its humble beginnings, cream cheese has become a staple item in everything from dips to desserts. Most notably, perhaps, is its use as a frosting.

There are many frostings in this world, but none is so decadent as the cream cheese frosting. It is rich and flavorful and totally caloric. So, of course, everyone loves it. Especially birthday girls. I decided to try a giant cupcake again. Same problems as last time. Ah well. I can live my life without giant cupcakes.

The bonus of this frosting is that it is super easy to whip up, especially if you live in North America. It’s just two parts cream cheese to one part butter and powdered sugar enough to make it stiff. Snap.

I’m out,


Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces (226 grams) cream cheese, softened

1 stick (113 grams) butter, softened

5 cups powdered sugar (more or less depending on the consistency you want)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Blend softened cream cheese and butter with a mixer. When the fats are well mixed, blend in the vanilla. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until the frosting is as stiff as you would like it.

Favorite Shots: Biscuit Art//

In my all-too-often ending quest to be arty, I present to you my latest exhibition: Biscuit Art//

It is complete with random, pointless punctuation. Please enjoy the show. Take your sweet time staring at pictures that will tell you nothing except that I am very messy when I bake.

You’re welcome,



I Got It Right: Secret Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

My friend Tara came to visit me once. We had lots of fun, mostly eating burgers and chatting. She happened to visit during a bit of a busy time, so I spent a lot of time dragging her around to different events at which I was obligated to be. I don’t think she minded. She is very personable and happy.

And besides, we made the best chocolate frosting ever. And then no one was complaining. No one did complain. The complaints were non-existent.

Let me just say something about this frosting. It is crazy good. I have had–count ’em–four independent confirmations of its awesomeness. It is unlikely I will ever feel the need to improve upon it. It has some secwet ingwedients.

And we baked an excuse to eat frosting, vanilla cupcakes. I didn’t know it until later, but I actually made these cupcakes before. Here I was, thinking, “Oh, I’ll just try out a new vanilla cupcake recipe. It’ll probably be better than the last ones I made.”

They were better than the last ones I made, probably owing to Tara’s cheerful presence and butter-hwhipping skills. Do you know anyone that puts the h sound in front of their wh words? So weird for real. You can find the recipe for Ultimate Vanilla Cupcakes here.

This is a picture of  Tara complaining about how I dragged her along all weekend. :] Isn’t she pa-retty?

To finish up, i sprinkled them with some leftover Heath bits. Although, these babies needed nothing, it was clear that they needed something.

Christ is life. Everything else is this chocolate buttercream,


The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Joy the Baker

makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes or one 8-inch layer cake

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup Ovaltine (or hot chocolate mix, like I used)

Cream together butter, cocoa powder and salt. Butter mixture will be very thick. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar. Turn mixer on low and mix in powdered sugar while adding milk and vanilla extract. As the sugar incorporates, raise the speed of the mixer to beat the frosting. Beat until smooth. In a 1-cup measuring glass, stir together heavy cream and Ovaltine. Turn mixer speed to medium and pour cream mixture into frosting in a slow, steady stream, until you’ve reached your desired consistency.  You may not need the full amount of Ovaltine and cream.  Spread or pipe onto cupcakes.

Pipe Dream #50: To Pipe Creatively

So I made this perfect frosting right? Which coincided nearly perfectly with the reception my new piping tips. And I figured that it would be baked injustice served on a platter if I didn’t try out some pretty piping.

The classic cupcake swirl, just fine on its own, or a pretty foundation for the quins, the pearls, the dragees.

The “bouquet.” I made this one up, but I like it. I felt like I was giving myself flowers. Edible flowers (bonus!)

And finally, the rose with optional mini flower. This one is probably my favorite. It is so elegant.

Try these on your own! It is a really forgiving technique and they look fabulous. Another neato thing–I used Wilton’s 1M tip for all of them. The versatility! Let me know if you come up with more creative swirls; I would love to see them.

Happy piping,


P.S. I didn’t even know I could dream 50 things in my life.

Piping Dream #25: To Be Humble – Oreo Cupcakes

I get requests for these cupcakes. I don’t mean to sound proud or anything, I just mean that they are a really good recipe. That is, the Oreo you can find on the bottom is really clever, and the frosting is so amazing that I might take it over the previously-exalted peanut butter cream cheese frosting. Right??

But I can’t take credit for any of it. The Oreo in the bottom idea is not mine; I can’t remember where I saw it, but I am sure glad that it happened. I just use a one-bowl recipe for chocolate cake, pour it over the cookies…

and voila! Neat, eh?

Make these for your enemies any day of the week. It will turn them into lifelong, self-sacrificing friends. And besides, loving your enemies is Biblical.

I can take no credit for the abundance of goodwill flowing in your direction after you pass these babies around,


Oreo Cupcakes with Oreo Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from somewhere

For the cupcakes:

24 Oreos, divided

One bowl chocolate cupcakes recipe

For the frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese (light works fine)

8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) butter

3-4 cups powdered sugar

24 oreo halves

Halve the Oreos, and place the side with the cream face up in the bottom of a lined cupcake pan. Reserve the other halves. Whip up your chocolate cake of choice and divide evenly over the cupcakes, filling no more than two thirds full. Bake as directed. Let cool.

For the frosting, beat together the butter and cream cheese. Add the powdered sugar, beating until you reach the consistency you want. Crush the reserved Oreo halves in food processor…or with your hands and a Ziploc. Just make sure they are really fine crumbs, whatever you do. Stir the crushed Oreos into the frosting and pipe as desired.

Pipe Dream #19: To Level Precisely – Anatomy of a Wedding Cake

I made my first “wedding cake.” It’s in quotes because technically, this cake was for a bridal shower/party prior to a wedding, but the intention was for the cake to look like a wedding cake. So I’m just going to call it as I see it and say “wedding cake.” This was an especially fun adventure because my hairstylist extraordinaire was helping me. She was so good about keeping things clean and organized, which basically made my life. Plus, she has an amazingly creative eye for color and detail.

If I could bake and never have any mess to clean up, I would bake every day. Which, if we follow our logic to its inevitable conclusion, would have both positive and negative consequences. Mostly negative.

To save effort, we baked the cake in all separate layers instead of slicing them through the middle and filling. I’ve heard that this can lead to a drier cake. The best best best advice I ever heard about making a layer cake was realized in this cake. Before slicing and decorating, we wrapped them well in plastic wrap, froze them and then took them out of the freezer right before we cut them. Weirdly enough, the results made the perpetual knots in my shoulders melt away instantly. I may never experience anxiety again! Ahem. Anyway,

They cut like a dream!

They didn’t melt my frosting because I was too impatient to wait until they were cool!

The crumb-age was minimal!

Apparently, I was a little too happy about the cake cutting so easily, because see how I didn’t level it down quite far enough? It caused problems later. I’ll get back to my problems-that-are-not-anxiety in a minute.

We decided to fill the cake with lemon curd, so we put a thick layer of frosting around the edge of the cake layer to keep the curd from splooshing out the sides. That would have made me unhappy. By the way, we bought the frosting at Lynn’s Cake and Candy. It is to die for. I want the recipe.

Then we gave the layered tier a quick crumb coat of frosting to seal in all the crumbs. I think of the crumb coat like a girdle–an invisible layer underneath it all that holds everything in. We hope.

After sticking it in the fridge while frosting the second smaller tier, we frosted the cake.

And here is where my problems came in. Because we hadn’t made the layers perfectly level and had left a little bit of a dome, the top layer stuck out a bit farther than the bottom layer, making it really hard to get the frosting thick and smooth. Luckily, we had decided to go “rustic” with it. The bride-to-be is super romantic and chic, so we had some license.

So so fun. Besides the layer issues, everything went off without a hitch. I would do this again.

Tune in tomorrow for the finished product!

I used many exclamation points in this post,


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