Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The icing on the cake . . .

. . . is definitely the frosting. This one is a cheater's buttercream. But first we have to clear up something about buttercream frostings. American buttercream is the typical butter/powdered sugar/milk/vanilla frosting that most people recognize as homemade frosting. However, there is also swiss meringue buttercream, italian meringue buttercream and french buttercream. All of these include a slightly sweetened egg mixture (egg whites for the first two and egg yolks for the last) that is whipped until frothy then slowly combined with butter. The result is a super smooth, less sweet yet richer frosting. If you've had a good wedding cake recently then it's likely you've tasted swiss/italian meringue buttercream.

For this last rendition of the birthday cake I wanted a swiss/italian meringue buttercream but without the work. So it was blessed fortune that I stumbled across this Martha Stewart cake recipe that included a frosting called instant buttercream. Instead of making the egg white and sugar mixture from scratch you use marshmallow fluff. Genius! Because what is marshmallow fluff but egg whites, sugar and some corn syrup? (remember that part because it's important later on).

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Instant Buttercream
adapted from Martha Stewart

2 sticks of salted butter, softened - I really feel this needs the salt. In fact I use salted butter exclusively. Take me away culinary police.
2 jars of marshmallow fluff - about 7ish ounces each
1 tablespoon vanilla


Place the softened butter in the mixer and beat until it's slightly whipped.

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Then add your pristinely white fluff. I love the look of this stuff. You really don't appreciate the effort in meringue based products until you've made them yourself. I grew up making dominican frosting (known as suspiro) which is a meringue frosting and let me tell you that the person who decided a meringue frosting was going to be the IT thing in the tropics wasn't right in the head. It's delicious but tropical humidity and meringue don't mix.

But look, instant meringue-ish product in a jar!

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Add the fluff and the vanilla then whip for several minutes or until the frosting is fluffy, white and well mixed. You'll need to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl about halfway.

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Look. At. That. If I told you that I didn't stick my finger in there to taste various times I'd be lying. I'm not a frosting person but this stuff is addictive.

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Now to get this cake put together. Place a dab of frosting on the cakeplate to anchor the layers.

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Then on goes your first layer. I placed the bottom layer right side up.

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Spread that with a nice luscious layer of frosting.

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Then tack on the second layer (I went for right side down) and start spreading the rest of the buttercream starting from the top.

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There you have it. I did go on to decorate the cake but my rendition of a fiery cake is something only a six year old can love. I'll spare you the photos. While absolutely delicious, this frosting is not one to use for piping. Due to the corn syrup in the fluff, the frosting is slightly goopier than a traditional meringue based butterecream so it's not ideal for fancy piping. I just swirl it on thick and throw some sprinkles on it. However, for a looks-like-homemade cake (and really that's what all cakes aspire to be) this is definitely a delicious and easy alternative. If you need to do any kind of intricate piping then swiss/italian meringue buttercreams are the appropriate choice.

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4 comments:

Denise said...

do you think it will hold fondant? I am not a fan, but there are recipes for marshmallow fondants so it might be a way to decorate it a bit more if needed. Hmmmmm.

Marielle said...

Hmmm, that's an interesting idea. Although I think not (would be worth a try though) only because this is kind of melty under any weight. I worry that it would slide right off due to the weight of the fondant. Marshmallow fondant huh? I need to look that up. Several years ago I tried a marshmallow gumpaste that dried hard for making flowers but a fondant application sounds neat.

Desiree said...

I try not to visit your blog when I am hungry. It's torture. :)

Marielle said...

Desiree! It's so good to see you here! Well, my solution to the torture is to make it all and inflict it upon your family so they can share in the calories. That way the guilt is dispersed.