You know how a picture is worth a thousand words? Then feast your eyes on this...
This is a bowl of French meringue buttercream. It's frosting heaven. My friend Agnes texted me instructions on how to make it last week after I issued a desperate SOS for advice (so handy having a pastry chef on speed dial, don't you think?) Here, in slightly longer form, is how to achieve this nirvana at your place. It is so amazingly delicious that when you've made it you will want to lock yourself in a room and just eat the whole lot, spoonful by silky spoonful.
How to make French meringue buttercream
This makes a lot - easily enough for a large layered cake and a batch of cupcakes - so you have three options: halve the recipe, eat whatever's left over or - more sensibly, freeze the remainder in a covered container.
You do need a freestanding mixer (or a very heavy-duty electric hand mixer) and candy thermometer for this - the wooden spoon trick won't work here. You can boil the syrup until it reaches the soft ball stage, but using a thermometer is much less stressful.
320g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
500g butter, at room temperature, sliced into 2cm chunks
1 tsp vanilla paste
food colouring - if using
Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir well, then boil until the temperature reaches 118C.
While the syrup is boiling, put the egg yolks and eggs in the bowl of a freestanding mixer and whisk until they are light and fluffy.
When the syrup has reached 118C, carefully drizzle it into the egg mixture (beating all the time). Beat on high until the mixture is thick and pale, and the sides of the bowl are cool to touch.
At this point, switch from the whisk to the paddle attachment and start adding the butter, a piece at a time, until it is all mixed in. Don't fret if it starts to look a bit like mayonnaise, just keep beating it. When the butter is all in, and the mixture is a big cloud of loveliness, add the vanilla and colouring. It's fine to leave at room temperature overnight (as long as it doesn't get too hot or cold) and it keeps in the fridge for a week, though you'll need to beat it again.
Have a great weekend, everyone. I promise no pink food next week! x