I must admit that when it comes to icing, I really like a plain, old, basic buttercream icing. (One like my Basic Decorator's Icing.) It's sweet, sugary, everything I think icing is supposed to be.
However, there is also another kind of icing, known as Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Before trying it, I'd been told this icing is just the most wonderful thing since sliced bread.
*Update: I am sold on this icing now... a few months after trying it for the first time. It is really good, and what I love about it is that I can change the flavors of it SO easily. I've made it strawberry, pineapple, caramel, chocolate... It's great!!
4 Egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) Unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
Special equipment, etc.:
Saucepan with about 1/2 inch water
Lemon juice or vinegar & paper towels
(If you don't separate a lot of eggs, I recommend separating each individually in a small bowl, rather than all into the large bowl as seen here. If you get any yolk into the whites, the recipe won't work as well.)
How long it takes to reach temperature will depend on a lot of things: how warm were your eggs to begin with? How hot is your stove? etc. So watch the temperature, not the clock.
*Note: 160-degrees is the recommended temperature for killing any possible bacteria. I've read some recipes that call for you to heat it just until the sugar dissolves, but I don't want to take any chances with salmonella. I've seen how nasty that can be! So, I always heat mine to 160-degrees.
Have your 3 sticks of butter cut into about 4 pieces each - (about 2 Tbsp. chunks). Add those a few at a time with the mixer on medium speed with the paddle attachment.
You can use this icing just like any other. It pipes well, covers the cake well, however, it does not "crust" like my decorator's recipe does, so you won't get the perfectly smooth finish with it.
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My Recipe Index
Other Icing/Frosting Recipes & Tips