Cooked Buttercream Frosting (on chocolate cupcakes)

It might or might not surprise you that I find most frosting kind of gross. Buttercream is normally so packed with powdered sugar, I want to gag. But not this magical mystery fluff!

I wanted to make some celebratory cupcakes for the last class of my improv 401 course, but I didn’t want to go to the store (was feeling kinda lazy on Friday night). Fortunately, I discovered this awesome, easy chocolate cake recipe a couple months ago and figured it’d make plenty of cupcakes. It did (2 dozen easy).

Karen, the blogger of the original recipe, swears by this frosting, too. And even though it’s weird – you cook milk and flour to make a roux (so it’s also known as “gravy” frosting, but that sounds gross) – I figured it was worth trying. And oh, man, it’s so good.

It’s kind of like cool whip in frosting form. It’s light and fluffy while still being buttery and sweet without being tooth-ache inducing sweet. It only calls for one cup of granulated sugar. In addition to the roux, this recipe is equal parts butter and granulated sugar. Compare that to Betty Crocker’s gag-inducing recipe for traditional buttercream, which calls for a 3 to 1 ratio of sugar to butter – as in 1 cup butter = 9 cups powdered sugar. GROSS.

Anyway, this stuff is delicious and will enter my limited frosting repertoire as a go-to favorite. Normally I try to put cream cheese frosting on pretty  much anything, but sometimes that’s not the most appropriate flavor combination.

Two caveats about this modern wonder: it’s much more time consuming (you have to cook the roux, let it cool, and there’s a lot of time beating the mix so you really only want to do this with a stand mixer), and it’s not all that sturdy if you’re into fancy decorations. Or, at least, I don’t think it is. I’m not into fancy decorations at this point – perfectly satisfied cutting the corner off a ziplock baggie and plopping the frosting on top – but I’m guessing it wouldn’t be sturdy enough for flowers or whatever. Maybe I’ll test it next time. My mom just sent me some fancy piping tips, but I need to buy bags and whatnot. I’ll keep ya posted.

Also, cooking the roux is a bit weird, but that’s what makes this frosting kind of magical.

For the cupcakes – I divided the batter evenly into 24 muffin tins and cooked for between 18-22 minutes.

Cooked Buttercream Frosting – in Vanilla (adapted from Tasty Oasis)

Grade: A

  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (not powdered sugar!)

In a small saucepan over medium heat, constantly whisk together the milk and flour until it becomes thickened. You’re looking for the consistency of brownie batter – thick and goopy. The thickening happens pretty quickly, so be sure to stay at the stove and stir. Don’t worry if it’s kind of lumpy, though, those will come out when you mix it with the butter/sugar mix. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool completely.

While the mixture is cooling, beat together the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until light and fluffy, periodically scraping down the sides of the bowl. This takes at least five minutes, maybe more, and have a tiny taste to see if it is still grainy before moving on.

Add the vanilla extract to the cooled milk and flour roux (again, don’t worry if it’s so thick that stirring is challenging), and then transfer all of that into the mixer with the creamed butter and sugar.

Beat on a high speed for a ridiculously long time, until it resembles whipped cream. This could take 7 minutes, but taste test as you go and see how you like it.

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