Friday, December 7, 2007

Frosting Recipes

OK--here are a couple of my favorite recipes for frosting. The execution on both recipes is very simple, so I'm certain that all of you are capable of either.

The first is for the tastiest chocolate frosting I've ever had. The recipe is from The Joy of Cooking (which is is something I need to post about in the near future). The frosting is perfectly rich, not too sweet nor heavy. If you like butter than you will especially love this. It is glossy and a beautiful, dark chocolate color. Here's a picture from a couple of years ago so you can get an idea of what it looks like.

So here's the recipe:

In a double boiler (see below for an explanation), melt 6 oz of semi-sweet chocolate (that's half a bag of chocolate chips) with 6 tbsp. of milk and 1 tsp. of vanilla. Once the chocolate is melted, remove from heat and stir in 6 tbsp. of butter (that's 3/4 of a stick). Stir it until the butter is melted and cool it until it's stiff enough to stand up but still soft enought to spread without destroying your cake. That's it! So easy, huh? I don't remember exactly how much cake this will frost, but it will at least do the top, sides and 1 layer of filling for a 9-inch circle.

So--about double boilers. They're used to gently heat things by placing a container over a pan of simmering water. You can buy a nice set like the one on the left, or just put a metal or glass bowl on top of a sauce pan like the picture on the right.

Just make sure that the bowl isn't touching the water and make the water simmer, not boil. This is especially important for chocolate because if it gets too hot, it will break, meaning that the cocoa butter will separate from the other parts and you'll have a nasty, unusable mess.

Recipe number two: Raspberry Whipped Cream

I think that whipped cream makes some of the best frosting. The melting point of butter (and therefore whipped cream) is about 90 degrees, compared to about 94 for margarine and 98 or more for shortening. This means that whipped cream and butter-based frostings melt quickly in your mouth and do not have the tendency to coat the inside of you mouth like shortening. Plus, the whipped cream is obviously full of air so it's of course very light.

Simply whip 1 1/2 cups of HEAVY cream until it's stiff enough to stand up on its own. When it starts to stiffen, stop beating frequently and turn you beaters upside down. As soon as its stiff enough that the whipped cream doesn't fall, you're done. Then take 1 cup of seedless raspberry jam and mix it up so it's smooth and has no lumps. Add the jam and a few drops of red food coloring if you want (I did for this cake) to the cream and gently fold it in. Store it, covered, in the fridge until you're ready to put it on the cake. This recipe was enough for the top, sides, and 3 layers in the middle of this 7-inch cake. To do a bigger cake, you could increase the cream to 1 pint and the jam to 10 0z.

The deal with electric knives--They are not a necessity. For leveling tops and splitting layers, a long slicer works great. If you have to straighten edges, however, an electric knife greatly simplifies things.

How to do the squiggles on the cake below--This was my first try and if you look closely it is evident. I just used the chocolate recipe from above and used the fine, round tip on a pastry bag and started swirling, trying to cover all the area wihtout overlapping. The sides were a little trickier and took a few tries to get it right. I had to kind of press the chocolate firmly into the frosting to get it to stick. If you just did the squiggles on top and left the sides bare, it would save you a lot of trouble and would still look cool.


Vicky said...

Thanks for the recipes and tips--especially for the bit about the double boiler! I haven't felt justified in buying a double boiler yet, so it's great to know I can just use a bowl! I'd never thought of that. I'll definitely be trying that chocolate frosting recipe soon.

Carrie Snedeker said...

Sensi, check out the cake I made, I posted the pics on my blog.


Tay, please tell my you've seen the karate movie.

danielle said...

Wow Alton Brown...this was so informative! I had no idea that is why gross crisco frosting makes me want to gag, while I could eat spoonfuls of the whipped cream stuff. Lower melting point. You are so smart!

Vicky said...

So I made the chocolate icing recipe and I really liked it. It took much longer to cool to spreading consistency than I expected, though (I ended up putting it in the freezer to speed it up). Still, great tasting stuff! I'll keep using this. Thanks!

Autumn said...

Hi, I found you by blog hopping. Wow, you're so talented!