3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
8 egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into
10 pieces, cool room temperature
Flavoring (see Variations)
Cook sugar and
water in heavy small saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves, stirring
occasionally. Increase heat to medium-high and boil without stirring until
candy thermometer registers 248 degrees F. (firm-
ball stage), brushing down sugar
crystals from sides of pan with pastry
brush dipped in water, approximately
4 minutes. Meanwhile, beat yolks
with electric mixer until well blended and
As soon as
syrup is ready, gradually beat into yolks in thin, steady stream. Beat
mixture at high speed until completely cool and thick, scraping down sides
of bowl once or twice, about 20 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add
butter pieces 1 at a time and beat until incorporated. (Can be prepared 1
week ahead and refrigerated or 3 months ahead and frozen. Cover tightly.
Before continuing with recipe, bring buttercream to room temperature. Work
with spatula until completely smooth.) Using wooden spoon or paddle beater
(not whisk), very gradually mix in flavorings.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups.
Chocolate: Melt 10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate in
double boiler over hot,
not simmering, water. Remove from over
melted chocolate to 98
Espresso: Dissolve 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder in 2 table-
spoons hot water;
let mixture cool completely before adding to
Raspberry: Purée one 8-ounce package thawed frozen raspberries in
blender or processor
until smooth. Strain to eliminate seeds. Combine
5 tablespoons raspberry
purée (reserve remainder for another use) and
2 tablespoons seedless
Hazelnut: Use 1 cup hazelnuts. Toast in shallow baking pan in 350-
degree F. oven 7 minutes. Transfer to strainer. Rub hazelnuts against
strainer with towels to remove
skins. Cool completely. Grind in
processor until very fine.
Almond: Use 1 cup whole unblanched almonds. Toast in shallow
pan in 350-degree F.
oven 7 minutes. Let cool. Grind in
pecan: Use 1 1/3 cup nuts. Toast in shallow baking pan
in 350-degree F. oven 7
minutes. Let cool. Grind in processor until
Spirits: Use 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier, rum, kirsch, pear eau-
de-vie or Framboise.
Use 4 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest and scant 2 tea-
Orange: Use 4 teaspoons finely grated orange zest and scant 2 tea-
Use 2 teaspoons cinnamon.
Vanilla: Use 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.
buttercream is rich, it is best used on light cakes such as
filled and frosted with spirit-flavored buttercream should be
same day; otherwise the taste of the spirits will diminish.
be prepared up to 3 days ahead, covered tightly
facilitate cutting, chill cake for about 1 hour, then let stand at room
temperature briefly so that the buttercream can soften slightly.
• Do not add
flavorings too quickly or more than recommended amount,
or the buttercream
will separate. To correct this, chill buttercream 30 minutes. Set bowl of
buttercream over pan of warm water for a few
seconds. Remove from heat. Beat
with wooden spoon until smooth.
If necessary, rewarm again as above. If
buttercream is still not smooth,
melt 2 tablespoons butter and gradually
beat into buttercream.
• Cakes may
be garnished with fruit, nuts, grated chocolate or small
candies to match
flavor of buttercream. Try fresh raspberries with
Framboise buttercream, for
For orange curd:
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
5 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 1/2 sticks (3 1/4 cups) unsalted
butter, cut into pieces and
to cool room
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons freshly grated
Make orange curd: In a small
heavy saucepan whisk together yolks
and sugar and whisk in orange juice,
butter and a pinch of salt. Cook
the mixture over moderately low heat, whisking,
until it just reaches
boiling point, 5
to 7 minutes (do not let boil), and
strain through a fine
sieve into a bowl. Whisk
in lemon juice and cool the
curd, its surface covered with plastic wrap.
Chill orange curd, covered,
until cold, at
least 4 hours, and up to