Leave it to the French to find a way to make one of the richest preparations in all of pastrydom even richer. How do they do that? By employing egg yolks in their classic buttercream instead of an egg white foam. What impact does this have on taste and texture? As you’d expect it makes the finished product denser and still more buttery tasting, yet it renders this form of buttercream probably the silkiest and most luxurious of the lot. The ingredients are as follows:
6 egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 pound unsalted, soft butter
Start by putting your room temperature yolks into the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whip attachment:
Turn the mixer on high and whip the yolks for five minutes or so, until they appear light in color and somewhat foamy.
While the mixer is going, prepare your sugar syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring them up to 238 degrees Fahrenheit. Oops, this is a little hot.
Immediately pour the syrup into a pyrex measure for easier handling.
Now then, as with Italian meringue buttercream, start drizzling the syrup into the yolks a little at a time. Do it with the motor off so as not to splatter it all onto the sides of the bowl where it won’t do your buttercream any good. Drizzle a little, run the machine a little, drizzle a little, run the machine a little until all the syrup is incorporated.
When all the syrup is in, you should have something that looks like this:
Whip this sweet yellow “foam” until it’s cool…about room temperature. Once that’s achieved, switch to the paddle (beater) attachment and start adding your butter, a piece or two at a time until it’s all in.
Oh no! Mayo!
Turns out my egg yolk and syrup foam was too warm when I started adding the butter, so my buttercream is almost soupy. What to do? If you said “beat it”, you get an A for this course.
Ah, there we go, a few minutes on high and all is well.
Now then, you can see from the way this French buttercream hangs off the beater that it’s not as good for piping as the meringue buttercreams. But then who says every buttercream has to be pipable? This stuff is a silken, butter lover’s paradise, and as it happens, my favorite buttercream for cupcakes.
As with the others, this is the time to add your flavorings and/or colorings. A teaspoon or so of vanilla for starters, then just about anything you want.