11 August 2009

Bridal Shower Snacks

First, I'd like to apologize for not posting in a while. I was super busy over the weekend and then was sick. I'm better now though and a lot less stressed out. The reason I was so busy was because I was a co-hostess for my best friend's bridal shower and had offered to make all of the snacks. Being the genius that I am (did I just hear somebody snort?), I thought it would be cute to have a "candy bar" with some homemade sweets thrown in.

Since the bride's wedding colors are black, white, and red, we decided that we wanted to stick with her color scheme and carry it throughout the whole party. We used red and black streamers, bought candy in all three colors, and even decorated some sugar cookies with red and white. I also had a failure that I'll post about later this week (but that's mostly because I'm not sure where I went wrong and would like some advice).

Today I'm going to share my aunt's recipe for Italian Buttercream. My mom's oldest sister makes the wedding cakes for pretty much everyone in our family, and she always uses this recipe. It's so rich and decadent that you really only need a tiny slice of cake to feel like you've gained 20 pounds. I'm not exactly sure where the recipe came from since I copied it down from an email she sent to my sister when we made our parents' anniversary cake. Enjoy!

Italian Buttercream
Recipe from my aunt

11/4 cups plus 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
8 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
11/2 pounds ( 6 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp., cut into small pieces
  1. Place the 11/4 cups of sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir to wet all of the sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally to help dissolve sugar. Dip a pastry brush in cold water and wash down sugar crystals from the sides of the pot once or twice. Turn down the heat so the mixture simmers gently. You want to be able to bring the syrup to a rapid boil when needed.
  2. Meanwhile, place the whites in your clean, grease-free mixing bow land whip until frothy on low speed using the wire whip attachment. Add the cream of tartar and turn the speed up to medium-high. When soft peaks form, add the 1/3 cup sugar gradually. Continue whipping until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  3. Return the sugar/water mixture to a rapid boil and cook until it reaches 248 to 250 degrees (I used my candy thermometer, but I had to cook it to a much higher temp before it was the right stage). The trick is to have the syrup ready at the same time as the meringue. If the meringue is done before the syrup,turn the mixer speed down to the lowest setting so that the whites are continuously moving, but not highly agitated. If the syrup is done first, add a bit of hot water to lower the temperature and continue to cook until the meringue is ready.
  4. While the syrup is cooking at a rapid boil, there are many visual clues to use to see how it is progressing. It starts thin with many small bubbles over the entire surface. As it cooks, the water evaporates and the mixture will become thicker. The bubbles get larger and do not rise to the surface so rapidly. The bubbles will become thick and sticky and pop open more slowly as well. At this point, the syrup definitely looks thickened, but it has not begun to color, which would mean it is about to turn into caramel. The stage you want-called the firm ball stage-is right before the sugar starts to color. If you drop a bit of the syrup into a glass of cold water it will harden into a ball. When you squeeze the ball between your fingertips, it will feel firm.
  5. When the syrup is ready, with the mixer running on medium-high speed, pour the syrup in a steady stream, without getting any on the rotating whip or the sides of the bowl. If it does, the syrup will harden and cling and not make it down into the meringue mixture. Turnoff the machine to add the syrup if you find it easier. You just don't want to let the meringue sit still for longer than a few seconds.
  6. The meringue must be whipped until it cools., which may take as long as 15 minutes (this took much longer for me), depending on the ambient temperature. At this point,beat the meringue on high speed. Occasionally touch the outside bottom of the bowl, you should be able to feel it cooling down. When the bowl is no longer warm, stop the machine and touch the surface of the meringue with your finger to double-check that it is indeed cooled. If you add the butter while the meringue is warm, the butter will melt and ruin the texture of the buttercream by turning it liquidy. It will also decrease the volume of the final product.
  7. When the meringue is cooled, turn the machine down to a medium speed and begin to add the butter, a couple tablespoons at a time. The meringue will change the moment the butter becomes incorporated: the texture becomes thicker, creamy, and smooth as it turns into buttercream. Continue to whip the buttercream, adding the remaining butter. Keep beating until the buttercream is completely smooth. If at any time the mixture looks lumpy or separated, just continue to beat; it will come together.This makes 7 cups and you will need to make it in a 5-quart mixer.


stephchows said...

Glad you are feeling better! Great job with all the decorating and food making (except for that one failure you mentioned whoops! no worries!) That frosting just made me gain 2 lbs reading it LOL :D

Sabine, La Marquise des anges said...

this is so cool ...very very pretty .. you are such a wonderful friend.

a failure ... you ??? how is taht possible ??

Kris said...

Looks great!

Diana Bauman said...

YUMM!! I also make cakes! So much fun!! P.S. your jam rocks!! Really, thank you!!