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French Buttercream Frosting

Servings: Makes about 1 1/2 cups
French Buttercream, also called 'Crème au Beurre' is made by heating egg yolks, sugar and brandy or other liqueur (or water) until it reaches a certain temperature. Then the cooled egg yolk mixture is added to a beaten butter and vanilla mixture. Because the sugar has melted this type of buttercream is much smoother than one made with confectioners' sugar (such as the more traditional American Buttercream).

Silky, creamy, and ivory in color, a delightful finish to your cakes and cupcakes that's not too sweet. The recipe of master French chefs, this buttery icing is lovely when flavored with brandy or Grand Marnier, or many other liqueurs.

Make sure you use UNSALTED butter, also called SWEET butter.

4 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp. brandy or other liqueur of your choice (water may be substituted for the alcohol)
Dash of salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks/6 oz./170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In the top pan of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl placed over but not touching simmering water, combine the egg yolks, sugar, brandy or other liqueur of your choice (or water, if using) and dash of salt. Whisk until very thick and pale, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan or bowl from over the water and let cool to room temperature.

In a bowl, combine the butter and vanilla. Using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat until very soft and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the cooled egg yolk mixture. Let the mixture stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until spreadable, about 20 minutes.

Use the frosting immediately, or cover and refrigerate overnight or freeze for up to 1 month. Before using, let stand at room temperature until softened, then beat with an electric mixer set on high speed until smooth and fluffy.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Date: June 27, 2006