Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sweet Satin Buttercream

To sense something amiss in my fridge is an enigma. Somehow, I always feel it if something's lacking-- meaning, I no longer have butter/caramel/ganache/buttercream or just whatever I deem are basics in a baker's fridge. As it turned out, I've ran out of buttercream.
A buttercream can be anything made from the more complex meringue and butter to the simplest butter and confectioner's sugar mixture. But I love my egg yolk buttercream. It is satiny smooth with a lush texture. Freshly made, they simply melt in your mouth without the slightest resistance, leaving a taste of sweet creamy butter. That's how it looks freshly made. It reminds me of freshly churned butter (it doesn't matter that I have never seen a freshly made butter, let alone witness churning butter); Or a soft stage ice cream! A bit of vanilla adds extra aroma and a richer depth of flavor, but do not overdo it, as to become the buttercream's defining feature. At this point, the butter, whipped yolks, and sugar syrup have coalesced and transformed into an ultimate treat.
Add the butter, cube by cube, into the cooled yolk-sugar syrup mixture. Make sure that no butter chunks are left chunky. You want them thoroughly and smoothly incorporated. In the middle of incorporating the butter, the buttercream may seem watery and not at all creamy. Don't get all querulous and dismayed, it is bound to coagulate and reach a lush full texture by the time that last bit of butter is added.
Cube the butter and leave at room temp to soften a bit; do not let it get too soft as to near watery though, the buttercream may not achieve a lustrous airy appearance. And in case this happens, place the buttercream still in the mixing bowl into the chiller, let it chill for 20 minutes. Continue beating, adding a half cup more of cubed butter. Beat well, till the fluffly but solid consistency (see first picture) is reached.
I call this the first stage--the beating of the yolks until light and doubled in volume. Simultaneous with this stage is the boiling of the sugar syrup until hard ball stage (240deg). Be very very careful while pouring the hot syrup into the yolks. Make sure to switch the speed to medium when pouring the syrup, then bring it back to high speed afterwards. Divide the pouring in thirds, finally beating on high until the mixture cools. Beat in the butter next and pour in a clean, dry container.
Buttercreams can be flavored and used in so many ways. For coffee buttercream, get a chunk of buttercream, melt it in a double boiler or the microwave, stir in 1 tablespoon or more of coffee granules and mix together with the remaining buttercream. Lemon or orange zest may also be added in the buttercream to give a fleeting whiff of citrus flavor. I especially love it with cocoa powder folded in but not mixed, making the cocoa masked a melt-in-your-mouth creamy goodness in every spoonful.
Sweet Satin Buttercream
160g egg yolks
200g sugar
120g water
225g unsalted butter
1. In a medium saucepan, boil sugar and water.
2. While the syrup is boiling, beat the yolks using the paddle attachment.
3. Cube the butter and let it soften a bit.
4. When the candy thermometer registers 240deg, get it off the heat and pour into the beaten yolks, lowering the speed to medium and bringing back to high after. Do this in thirds.
5. After the last third has been poured into the yolk, bring the speed to high once again and let it beat until the mixture cools.
6. Add the butter cube by cube. Scrape sides if needed. Beat well until no chunks are left and the mixture becomes creamy and airy. Transfer to a container, chill.

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