I found this recipe quite a while ago, printed on the giant box of meringue powder that I get from CK Products. I filed it away, and while looking for a good cupcake frosting recently, I decided to dig it up and give it a whirl (hardy har har). The original recipe called for shortening instead of butter, but that sounded really gross to me, so I took a chance and tried it with butter. Luckily, it was a winner! If you’ve ever tried making Italian Meringue Buttercream, this is kind of the same idea. I made Italian meringue a few times back in my cake decorating days, but I always worried about the safety of it (does the sugar syrup REALLY cook those eggs?), so back then I went with another option. This one appealed to me because it’s the same idea– sugar syrup, whipped egg whites, butter– but instead of fresh egg whites, you use meringue powder. Here’s what you do:
Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. When it comes to a boil, pour in 3/4 cup granulated sugar.
Remove from heat and stir gently until all sugar crystals are gone.
You’ll know when it’s all dissolved because you won’t feel the sugar crystals scrape on the bottom of the pan while you’re stirring, and the liquid will be clear. Make sure there aren’t any sugar crystals on the side of the pan. Set it aside to cool. You can let it cool for 1/2 hour, or a whole day– doesn’t matter. Just as long as it’s cool to the touch.
Pour into a mixer bowl and add 1/4 cup meringue powder.
Using the whisk attachment, (or beaters of a hand mixer), beat at high speed for several minutes. This is what it looks like at first:
As it goes, it will get thicker and thicker. You’ll see that the beaters will start to leave distinct “tracks” behind as it mixes.
When it’s done, it will form stiff peaks when you lift the beater(s) out of the bowl.
When you have it at a nice, fluffy, stiff peak, beat in 1 lb. powdered sugar (about 4 1/2 cups, but I recommend weighing if possible).
Mix slowly at first to keep the powdered sugar from flying all over the place, and then increase the speed. When the powdered sugar is all incorporated (it will look pretty stiff and dry), beat in 2 cups of butter. I just leave the mixer flying at high speed and throw in a stick at a time.
As it turns out, it’s pretty tricky to get a shot of that! Ha ha! If you look closely, you’ll see a cube of butter to the right of the beater that just landed. If you used unsalted butter, throw in a couple of pinches of salt at this point, too.
Beat until smooth and creamy and beautiful.
It’s pretty much done at this point, except you’ll notice that there is no flavoring yet. That’s where these come in:
Plus a few things I forgot to put in the picture, including maraschino cherries, crushed pineapple, and orange zest. I’ll get the hang of this yet…
So for this experiment, I divided up the one batch of frosting into several small containers and mixed in small amounts of flavorings to get different kinds of frosting. Unfortunately, because of that, I don’t have exact measurements to give you. I plan on eventually making full batches of each of these so that I can give you some exact measurements, but let me tell you right now: That’ll take a while. So if you want to try this yourself soon, I recommend experimenting like I did and come up with some good combos. Just start with small amounts of flavoring and add more if it needs it. It’s a lot easier to add more flavoring than to take some out! Here’s what I did for each:
For Raspberry/Vanilla, I flavored the cake batter (see my previous post about how to mix up the batter) with pure vanilla extract. For the frosting, I used LorAnn Raspberry flavoring and a teeny drop of Fuchsia food coloring. The little raspberry thing on top is just a raspberry candy. I really wanted a real raspberry, but they were about $5 for a half a cup, so maybe next summer!
For Chocolate Mint, I used plain chocolate cake batter for the cake, and for the frosting I added a couple of drops of LorAnn Peppermint Oil and a tiny drop of Mint Green food coloring. I topped it off with an Andes mint cut on the diagonal. They’re a little tricky to cut, but if you run your knife under super hot water first, it helps to get a clean cut. If that doesn’t work, microwave it for about 5 seconds and then cut.
Yummmmmmmm… the Pina Colada was sooo good. I flavored the cake batter with Coconut Emulsion. For the frosting, I took some canned crushed pineapple and squeezed every bit of juice I could out of it by putting it in a mesh strainer and pressing out the juice with a spoon. I stirred the dry(ish) pineapple into the frosting, along with a tiny bit of vanilla. After frosting the cupcake, I dipped the top into shredded coconut, and topped it off with a well-drained maraschino cherry. When I make these again (and I will!) I think I’ll try toasted coconut.
For Chocolate Raspberry Cream Cheese, I used a plain chocolate cupcake. For the frosting, I softened a little bit of cream cheese and mixed it into the frosting along with a spoonful of raspberry jam. I really wished I had some homemade raspberry freezer jam, but I didn’t, so I used store-bought. It was still very good! I didn’t add any coloring to this one. The jam made it a nice, natural pinkish color.
Cherry Almond. I flavored the cake batter with Almond Emulsion. For the frosting, I chopped up some maraschino cherries, and left them pretty juicy. I stirred those into the frosting, along with a tiny drop of almond extract.
Chocolate/Chocolate. This one was just ok. I need to experiment some more. I just made plain chocolate cakes and stirred some cocoa powder (Dutch process) into the frosting. I wonder if some melted chocolate stirred in might be better. I’ll experiment some more, and you should, too!
This one was awesome! For the cake, I added Lemon Emulsion to the batter. For the frosting, I really wanted to make some lemon curd to mix in. I LOVE lemon curd, and I really enjoy making it, but when I went to the store to buy lemons, they were almost a dollar a piece! I knew I would need 5 or 6 of them, so I decided not to. Then when I was in the peanut butter and jelly aisle, I spotted this:
Um… Yum! It tastes exactly like homemade! And much cheaper if lemons are almost a buck a piece. So I stirred some of this deliciousness into the frosting and added just the tiniest drop of lemon yellow food coloring. It was so good! Before I frosted the cupcakes, I used a bismark tip to fill them with a bit of raspberry jam, then frosted with the lemon frosting. So good!
For Orange/Orange, I flavored the cake batter with Orange Emulsion and the zest of an orange. For the frosting, I added LorAnn Orange Oil and a little bit of orange zest. I also added a teensy drop of orange food coloring.
This one is as easy as it gets. The cake is just plain chocolate cake, and for the frosting, I mixed in a spoonful of creamy peanut butter. For the topper, I cut a mini peanut butter cup in half and plopped it on there. For being so simple, this was completely delicious.
To frost all of these, I used a pastry bag and a #12 tip. I think any tip from 10-12 would work great, but if you add chunks (like the pineapple or cherries), you’ll probably want the 12. These are mini cupcakes. If I were making standard-size cupcakes, I would use a much larger tip.
Whew! That was a long one! I assure you that most of my posts won’t be this long.
Have fun and experiment!