Whipped Buttercream

"It takes a touch of genius to move in the opposite direction."

I'm no Albert Einstein, but I love the quote.  And you could say  I have lived my life blazing my own trail,  so to speak.
 For example,  I  blog only when  inspired. No more, no less. Even, alas, at the risk of losing potential readers.

   And today—with Valentine's Day around the corner—I'm inspired.

And so, I'm blogging about Christmas...

Yes, it is common  knowledge that the sheltering sky moves faster than me.   But truth to tell, I'm here to deliver on a promisethe buttercream  recipe I offered to share, before life got its nose in my business.

  I used the buttercream  to decorate the Christmas gnome. Don't you just love that he's 50% beard?

His imperfect little tree house, with lopsided windows, is just right for the tiny man and his wildlife friendsIt consists of four 6-inch layers, with filling in between. Then, everything is covered with a chocolate version of my buttercream.

I used a decorator's comb for the 'bark' on the tree but a new, wide-tooth comb, or even a fork, will achieve the same effect. 

The gnome is simply a cupcake baked in a mini Wonder Mold pan.

 As you can see, this buttercream is made with all butter, so it's not perfectly white. 

I will admit that, during the hot summer months, I  tend to incorporate a little Crisco shortening into the buttercream to give it some stability, and to keep piped flowers from wilting.  Don't judge me.

And please,  don't get me wrong either.  The idea of eating white, vegetable fat makes me queasy too. But consider this, when was the last time you looked forward to gnawing on a solid stick of butter? 

At any rate, this buttercream is simply delicious, with a very light texture, and not cloyingly sweet. Use it to cover a cake, pipe borders and flowers. It's a bit fancy and kind of special.

Submitted  for your approval...

Memories in the Baking Whipped Buttercream

½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup boiling water
¼ cup meringue powder *
1 pound sifted confectioner's sugar
1½ (3 sticks) cups unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon Crème Bouquet, or a few drops of Fiori di Sicilia, optional

Dissolve sugar and salt in the boiling water (I normally do this in the microwave. You could put the sugar, salt and water in a small saucepan, bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, until sugar is completely dissolved).

 Set sugar mixture aside to cool to room temperature. You can make the syrup ahead of time, and keep at room temperature  for a few days, or refrigerate indefinitely.
 If you decide to refrigerate the syrup, be sure to bring it to room temperature before using.

In a mixer bowl, fitted with a whisk attachment, combine sugar mixture and meringue powder, and beat until soft peaks form.  Gradually add sifted confectioner's sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. You're basically making  stiff Royal Icing.

On low speed, beat in the butter for about 5 minutes, or until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla extract,  and the Crème Bouquet or Fiori di Sicilia, if using. Continue to beat buttercream a few more minutes, until smooth.

Use immediately, or cover well and refrigerate for up to a month. When you're ready to use it, bring buttercream to room temperature and beat  at low speed,  to a light, creamy consistency.  

For the chocolate buttercream:

Gently melt 4 ounces of dark chocolate. Allow chocolate to cool to room temperature.  Beat chocolate into prepared whipped buttercream,  using  the paddle, or wire whisk attachment.

 So start practicing the messy art of piping  decorations  on for your Valentine. Yeah, let's go with that.