Thursday, August 14, 2014

Earl Grey Buttercream Frosting

Alrighty, today we're going to continue with our cake building posts, picking up from baking our chocolate lavender cake!  We're going to make a really lovely, smooth Earl Grey buttercream frosting!  This frosting would pair beautifully with any cake, really, and while there are a few steps to it, it is pretty easy (especially if you've made any of these ice creams, like my Brown sugar peach ice cream or Caramel ice cream....the process of making the base is the same!)  Are you ready to get started??  Let's go!
Here is the grocery list of what you'll need today:
2 (8oz) blocks of cream cheese, softened
1/3 C sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt, which is what I use)
1/4 C heavy whipping cream
16 oz whole milk
Earl Grey tea bags (I used 3, but make it as strong/weak as you would like)
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
3 TBS cornstarch
2 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
2 sticks unstalted butter, softened
Pinch of salt

Okay!  Lets get started!!  Don't you want to dive in, and eat a piece of this??  I know I do!  

To start with, mix together your cream cheese, sour cream (or yogurt), and heavy whipping cream, until it is all mixed in together.  It doesn't have to be completely homogeneous, since it is going to be put in the mixer later, but just get it together as best you can in a small bowl, and set it aside.   
Now that the cream cheese is mixed together, put the whole milk into a medium sized pot, and bring it up to a bare simmer; toss in your tea bags, and let that steep for 5 minutes.  If you let it steep too long, the tea will turn bitter, and that's not tasty!!  

Okay, the tea is steeping, so lets turn our attention to the mixing bowl.  Add in your sugar, cornstarch, and pinch of salt, egg yolks, whole eggs, and give it a quick stir!

Squeeze your tea bags out, and bring the milk back up to a bare simmer and ssllloooowwwlllllyyyy add it to your sugar/egg mixture.  If you add the heated milk all at once, you'll end up with sweetened scrambled eggs.  You may be into that, but it won't make for a very good frosting.  Just sayin....

Once everything is mixed together, put the entire mixture back into the tea pot, and bring it up to a soft boil, over medium heat.  The mixture has to come up to a soft boil, because in order for the cornstarch to act as a thickener (which is why you use it), you need a liquid to be boiling.  So, bring it up to a boil, and let the mixture thicken; when you first put it back into the pot, the mixture will be very thin, and watery.  As it heats up, you'll notice that it gets almost pudding-like in consistency.  This is what you're looking for!  Once it has thickened up, pour it through a fine mesh sieve (just in case any of the eggs get scrambled!) into a medium sized bowl, cover and put it into the fridge to cool off.

As I have said, in my ice cream posts, when you cover your ice cream bases, or this pastry cream base, cover it with plastic wrap pressed against it.  If you don't cover it, a skin will develop on top of the frosting base, and again, that's not what you want in your frosting!
While this part is cooling, put the cream cheese, sour cream/yogurt and heavy whipping cream into your mixing bowl and cream together, fully.  
Scrape the whipped cream cheese mixture out (more or less, it doesn't have to be perfect), and put the cooled frosting base into the mixing bowl.  Stay with me!  We're almost finished!  
Now then, mix in the softened butter, one tablespoon at a time; don't worry if it looks curdled, or grainy.  This is fine, and it will come together and be smooth in no time!  Once all of the butter has been added, mix in the cream cheese mixture a spoonful at a time, until it is all incorporated.  


Once this has all been combined, this frosting is ready to be used!  It seems soft at this point, but once you have used it and put the cake in the refrigerator, it really sets up into a beautiful frosting.   
I always put my frosting into a zip top bag, to help frost the layers of the cake.  If I just scoop the frosting directly out onto the layer of cake, it can sometimes tear the cake (if the frosting is too hard), or just get crumbs into the frosting, making the overall appearance of the finished cake look messy.  So, I like to squeeze the frosting out of the zip top baggie, smooth it out with a knife, or off-set spatula, and pile on another cake layer, squeeze the frosting out, and so on and so forth, until all of the layers are frosted.  

This frosting smooths out perfectly, and with no effort!

Once you have your frosting over the top of the last layer, finish up frosting the rest of your cake, and stick it into the fridge and let it set over night.  You can certainly stop at this point, and have a truly lovely cake filled with delicate, floral flavors.  However, I'm not going to leave well enough alone!  On Tuesday, I'm going to be making a marshmallow fondant to cover this cake with!  Like I said in my last post, you can use any of these elements separately, and they would be lovely, or put all three together, and have a real treat!  Have a great weekend, and I'll see you back here, Tuesday!