So I have promised frosting and icing recipes.
Classic Aussie Icing (up the back)
Play with the quantities to taste/thickness desired. I’ve used the version from the PWMU cookbook (an Aussie classic) because I usually make it up as I go along.
2 cups/360g icing sugar (gluten free icing needs to be pure icing sugar. Icing mixture is easier to sift but contains gluten)
2-3 tablespoons butter, melt in microwave.
(3 teaspoons cocoa for chocolate/ drops of food colouring for plain)
Roughly 2 1/2 tablespoons (50ml) boiling water.
Sift the sugar (cocoa?). Add the melted butter. (Add drops of chosen colour. Be careful. Artificial colourings only need a drop or two.) Stir through. Add boiling water very carefully. This goes from thick to overly liquid very quickly. If it sets before you’ve used it, warm it gently.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (Or Nutella Frosting or Ganache)
My favourite is this Cupcake Central one. It is much richer than the NY Magnolia Bakery version pictured below.
250g unsalted butter (room temp)
6-8 cups icing sugar mixture (gluten version – pure if GF)
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
60g or 1/2 cup good cocoa
200g dark chocolate callets. Quality counts.
Paddle attachment on mixer. Beat butter until white and fluffy. Add 5 cups of icing sugar and move the mixer speed from low to med/high gradually as you incorporate it (or you’ll look like a ghost). Add sifted cocoa, salt, vanilla, milk and beat until combined. Continue to add icing sugar until you like the texture/sweetness. Beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down sides at times.
Melt choc gently (double boiler or gentle, short bursts in microwave) Let it cool enough to prevent melting the whipped butter mix. Add and beat until thoroughly incorporated.
I was cheeky and used Anathoth lemon curd which tastes pretty good for shop bought. It’s easy to find a recipe online and you can use up the yolks you’re about to waste. When you’re ready to go, cut out a well in the cupcakes, fill with lemon curd, then top with the Italian meringue. Optional – blowtorch the top quickly to brown it. Doesn’t taste too different.
Italian Meringue is a glorious thick, gooey and stable version of meringue and if you have a stand mixer, it is worth giving it a go if you’re a more experienced and safety-conscious cook. Otherwise stick to French meringue and keep your skin attached to your body.
Italian Meringue (Julia Child‘s recipe) NOT FOR BEGINNERS
4 large eggs (room temp)
pinch of salt
bigger pinch of cream of tartar (near the salt in the supermarket)
Sugar syrup (see below)*
Make sure your egg white handling equipment is totally clean, dry, grease-free. Water and fat will spoil the peaking of the whites. Crack eggs carefully into a glass, using the shell-halves to separate the white from the yolk. VIDEO (turn sound off). If you break the yolk, you should abandon the egg and get a fresh glass (and have scrambled eggs for lunch). Yolk fat will ruin your egg whites. Tip the egg-white into the clean, dry mixing bowl. (Leave the yolks to one side for curd or whatever.) Do each egg, one-by-one, like this. It will save you if the last egg proves disastrous. It’s also easier to get egg shell chips out of the glass (with a spoon – no grease, remember) than it is the mixing bowl.
Add the salt and cream of tartar powders to the whites. (These help it hold peaks.) Using the whisk attachment (clean, dry, grease-free), whisk the eggs to soft peaks. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally once firming. If you’re using a hand whisk (and a copper bowl? Copper helps the eggs peak), sorry about the workout. Don’t bother going the Italian meringue version, if you’re working by hand. Add icing sugar as per French meringue.
CAREFULLY pour the bubbling sugar syrup slowly into the soft peak, beating, bowl of egg-whites. Keep your skin clear of this. It will foam up substantially at this stage. Beat at high speed for at least 5 minutes (hence the “abandon all hope” for hand mixers, let alone the danger of the boiling sugar syrup).
*Sugar syrup (heavy pan, sugar thermometer) video
1 1/3 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup water
Moderately heavy-based pan. If it has a firm-fitting lid, steam on the lid will stop crystals forming on the sides.
Don’t start boiling the sugar syrup until all the sugar is totally dissolved in the water and it is “perfectly, limpidly clear.” (Thanks, Julia)
Once it is boiling, never stir it, but you can swish it around with the pan’s handle. Don’t let this stuff anywhere near your skin. Terrible burns would result.
So: melt the sugar on a low heat. Once totally dissolved, boil. Watch temperature of mix until it is 235-40 degrees F. You want a really viscous boil if you’re not using a thermometer. Test in iced water. If it’s not ready, it will just dissolve into your iced water. If it is at soft ball stage, it’ll clump. Leave for a few seconds to cool before trying to see if it makes a soft ball in your fingers. Avoid letting it colour: that would be making toffee.
Magnolia Bakery Chocolate Frosting (so pale – humph!) I will put this up at some stage. Once discerning young tester said you could really taste the Lindt chocolate in this recipe, more subtle than my usual “in your face” chocolate creations.