This is a recipe for Italian Buttercream. Got it from the "Baking at Home With the Culinary Institute of America" cookbook.
It. Is. Divine.
Really. The next time you make a cake you NEED to frost it with this icing. You can thank me later.
1 recipe Italian Meringue (Recipe to follow.)
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter (Hey, I didn't say low fat, just worth it.) diced, at room temp.
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Just before you are ready to make the butter cream, prepare the Italian meringue. To do that you will need the recipe. Here it is:
Cooking spray for greasing
3/4 cup sugar (divided use)
1/4 cup water
5 large egg whites
Grease a heat proof glass measuring cup. Combine 1/2 cup of the sugar with the water in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat without stirring until the mixture reaches 230 degrees F. At that time, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip on medium speed until frothy. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and beat the meringue to medium peaks. When the sugar mixture reaches soft ball stage, 240 degrees F, pour it into the measuring cup, then into the meringue in a slow steady stream on low speed. Increase the speed to high and whip until the meringue cools to room temperature and has the desired peak.
Ok. Now on to the main event!
Once the meringue cools to room temperature and reaches stiff peaks, add the butter a few pieces at a time while continuing to whip on high speed. Once all the butter has been incorporated and the butter cream is thick and very smooth, blend int the vanilla extract. The butter cream is ready to use now, or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Let the buttercream soften at room temperature before beating it on low speed with the paddle attachment to make it warm and soft enough to spread. (IF you refrigerated it.)
Now. It is AWESOME as is, but if you care to increase it's awesomeness 10 fold, do this:
make it chocolate.
Melt 1/3 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate, let it cool to room temperature, and add to the buttercream just after the vanilla extract has been added by stirring about 1 cup of the buttercream into the chocolate to lighten it, then adding the lightened chocolate to the remaining buttercream.
I am telling you. It. Is. The. Best. Icing. Ever.