devonly randomonium

Sugar-coated effery and shenanigans.

Me and Mr. Banana Legs Part Three: Whipped to Perfection

on April 11, 2011

Last month, I told you all about my adventures with the Mr. Banana Legs cake. Ok, I’ll admit that the Italian Meringue Buttercream icing made me its byotch. But I’m proud to announce that after 12 over-ripened bananas, six boxes of  extra-fine sugar and half of a bottle of Bacardi Select, I’ve finally nailed this cake.

Mr. Banana Legs

The cake was not hard to make at all. The recipe was super easy to follow, the ingredients weren’t hard to find and the end result is worth the effort. But I was not crazy about the Italian Meringue Buttercream icing. The first time I made it, the flavor was not good. After chilling the cake, the icing solidified and tasted like a stick of butter that was soaked in rum and sugar. The second time I made the icing, it tasted a little better but the consistency was still bad. It was like the icing had curdled or something.  When I look back on the process, I realize that it’s probably better to make the icing with a standing mixer.

Why?

Take a look at the recipe and I’ll break it down in a minute:

Italian Meringue Buttercream

From cakelove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch by Warren Brown

Ingredients

egg whites (large), 5

extra-fine granulated sugar, 10 ounces (1 1/4 cups)

cold water, 1/4 cup

unsalted butter (room temperature), 1 pound (4 sticks)

1. Separate the egg whites into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment.

  • Measure 1 cup sugar and the water into a 1-quart, heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Gently stir to combine.
  • Measure the remaining 1/4 cup sugar into a small bowl and set aside.
  • Cut the butter into tablespoon-sized pieces and set aside in a medium bowl.

2. To make the sugar syrup, place a candy thermometer in the saucepan and heat the mixture over medium-high heat. Partially cover with a lid to capture the evaporating water-this helps to moisten the sides of the saucepan to prevent sugar crystals from forming.

3. With the mixer on high speed, begin whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks. When the peaks are stiff, you have a meringue.

4. Keep the mixer running and pour the 1/4 cup of sugar into the meringue.

5. Raise the heat under the sugar syrup to bring the syrup to 245 degrees Fahrenheit. When the syrup is at 245 degrees, remove the thermometer and slowly pour the syrup into the meringue.

6. After 1 to 2 minutes, reduce the mixer speed to medium for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the meringue is cooled. Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase the mixer speed to high for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the butter is fully incorporated.

Here’s where I screwed up.

I have a hand mixer and it actually works for this recipe up until step six.  When I started adding all of the cubes of butter, the icing falls apart. I realized that this was due to me over mixing it. With a standing mixer, you can add one cube of butter after another  and each cube will be fully incorporated. So with a standing mixer, step six can be completed in eight minutes or less. With the hand mixer, I probably got close to the 10-15 minute mark and my icing started to turn into butter again.

Here’s where I redeemed myself.

This time, I decided to be less ambitious. I also wanted to make a lighter icing. Even if I nailed the Italian Meringue Buttercream, it would have been too sweet and rich for the cake. So I did some research and decided to go with a whipped cream icing. But not just any whipped cream icing would do. No, I needed one that would hold up for more than just a day. So I found a great recipe for a sturdy whipped cream icing  on AllRecipes.com. Here it is:

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  1. Combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until smooth. While the mixture is still whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times while you continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak.

Mr. Banana Legs Cake sliced

How simple is that! And it takes less than 10 minutes to make. I recommend not letting the cream cheese come to room temperature, or putting it in the microwave before mixing it with the sugar. Just mix it right out of the fridge. Also, use a metal bowl and pop it in the freezer to get it really cold. To keep it cold, I sat my bowl in an ice water bath while mixing the ingredients together.  And since I’m not a fan of almond extract, I just left it out. The texture is light and fluffy, and the icing tastes great. It’s a perfect match for Mr. Banana Legs.

So I delivered some slices to my friend this evening. I just hope she likes it as much as we do!

 

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