Monday, September 3, 2012

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Ever so slightly adapted from, this is my go-to buttercream recipe.  The little bit of extra time it takes to make the meringue is worth every second.

4 large egg whites, room temperature
Generous 1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup water
1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon sugar, divided
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla
candy thermometer

Place water and 1 1/4 cups sugar in medium saucepan and bring to boil, making sure all sugar is dissolved.  Let boil until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F on candy thermometer.
Meanwhile beat egg whites until frothy, then slowly add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of sugar.  Beat until soft peaks form.
Slowly pour the hot syrup along the side of the bowl and into the egg whites mixture.  Beat on high, scraping sides of bowl until meringue is cool to the touch.  This takes me about 10-15 minutes with this plastic bowl.  A metal bowl may hold the heat longer.
Once the meringue is cool, and it is very important that you are patient enough for it to cool, thoroughly incorporate the butter a piece at a time.
Continue beating until all the butter is added and buttercream is smooth and fluffy.  Add vanilla and beat another minute or two.  Frost your favorite cake and prepare yourself for rave reviews.

This recipe will frost 48 Guinness Cupcakes like this:

For a printer friendly version without the photos, click here.

Guinness Cupcakes

~Divine Intervention~
I enjoy running.  It offsets my weakness for carbs and calibrates my mental compass.  When I run, my mind freely wanders from long stretches of nothing to the occasional tangible thought.  Mostly my mind pecks around like a free-range chicken - light, easy, happy - and this is when I get very thankful for the good things in my life.  These thoughts always includes my ankles.  Yeah, I said it.  My ankles.

Now, let's pause a minute and give some honest thought to the relatively unglamorous life of the ankles.  I mean, other than a brief mention in that skeleton song, they get no notoriety.  They receive no ego boosts of positive encouragement.  No one says, "Oh, what svelte ankles you have!"  There's no Anklepolitan Magazine for ankle models, no sexy articles with tips for attracting the ideal ankle partner, no exercise secrets for how to live a life free from cankles.  Face it, they only get periodic careful attention when the stubble can no longer be ignored, and that is only because a razor nick to the ankle is a real pain in the you-know-what.  Ankles, if given any thought at all, are regarded more in a Mr. Rogers' I Like You Just Because You're You kinda way.  Poor things.

Let me give you a glimpse into why I get thankful for my ankles each time I run.  We got a terrific deal on a commercial grade treadmill; however, Giant Clue #1 should have been the fact that four young strapping dudes loaded it on our truck.  These things are heavy beyond belief.  Little did we know.  We lost control of the beast as we eased it off the truck and toward our basement doorway.  It slid, knocking me backwards onto the floor.  Somehow, miraculously, the treadmill got hung up on the door frame as it came to rest across the tops of my ankles.  Holy close call, right?  Thank goodness, we have terrific neighbors who helped us out of this pickle.

When I reflect on that night, I feel stupid.  Astoundingly STUPID.  I can't imagine how or if I would be able to run today if that single event had taken a different turn, if old houses didn't have narrow doorways, if the good Lord didn't watch over me.  I shudder to think it took a near-crushing for me to acknowledge these gorgeous little body parts that gloriously connect the leg bone to the foot bone.  This is why I savor every run as wonderful and delicious and good.  REALLY, REALLY GOOD.

Almost as good as these cupcakes.  They, too, have some divine intervention of sorts.  It's called Guinness.  They will help YOU have good neighbors, too.  I can't make any promises about cankles, though.

Guinness Cupcakes
14.9 oz. can Guinness or other stout beer
2 cups unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
4 cups flour
4 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
2 - 5.3 oz. containers vanilla Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the beer and butter in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a simmer then add cocoa powder.  Whisk until smooth.  Remove from heat and let cool a bit.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt; set aside.  Using a mixer, beat eggs and yogurt.
Add chocolate stout mixture until just combined.  Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until well combined.
Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.
Bake 18-22 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly.  Makes approximately 48 cupcakes.
Top with loads of Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.

For a printer friendly version without the pictures, click here.