To continue yesterday’s post, the frosting that was recommended for the Devil’s Food White-Out Cake is a basic Italian Meringue frosting, which is a type of frosting that everyone who bakes cakes, even just once in a while, should have in their repertoires. If you’ve never had this type of frosting, trust us. Have we ever led you astray?
First, while there may be one, or possibly even two, people on the planet who like heavy lardy and sugary frostings, we are not among them. We happen to like light, airy, slightly sweet frosting for our cake. The kind which, if you get the slice of cake with a bunch of frosting used to fill in a large cake divot, you can eat it without acting like a hummingbird later. That’s Italian Meringue Frosting.
This frosting might seem as though it’s intimidating at first, but remember, scratchers aren’t easily intimidated.
Makes enough for a three layer 8- to 9-inch cake (a lot, in other words).
What do we know about happy hens? Good, you’ve read previous posts. And, of course, only pure real vanilla extract, please.
Procedure in detail:
Prep egg whites. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment in place. You’ll be whipping the egg whites, so the bowl and beater must be scrupulously clean. We often double-wash them right before whipping egg whites, and we’ve not had a white fail to whip.
Boil syrup. Place the sugar, water, and cream of tartar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and stir to dissolve. Once boiling, cover and boil 3 minutes. We think this is so the sugar will get washed down the sides of the pan and prevent crystallization.
Cook syrup. Remove the cover, insert a candy thermometer, and allow the syrup to boil until it reaches 235°F. Do not stir.
Start whipping. While the syrup is cooking, turn the mixer to medium and start whipping the egg whites. If everything goes well, the whites will be forming shiny, glossy peaks, just as the syrup reaches 242°F. If the whites are getting done too early, you can back off the speed to low to hold them; if the syrup is getting too close, you can lower the temperature.
Pour in syrup. With the egg whites nice and billowy, and the syrup at 242°F, you’re ready to combine the two. With the mixer on medium, pour the syrup into the egg whites. It will spatter, and hot syrup burns and sticks, so stand back a bit. Keep pouring. Pour. Pour. There, all the syrup is in the egg whites. Yay!
Add vanilla. Just pour it in while the mixer is going.
Cool down. Let the mixer continue to run on medium until the frosting cools down to room temperature, about 5 to 6 minutes. You can check by feeling the side of the bowl.
Frost. Once cool, frost that cake!
We like this frosting a lot; it’s super-light, a bit sweet, but not that cloying, sickly sweet that kids like. It’s fairly easy to work with, and stays soft and billowy even the next day, so there’s no problem decorating the cake one day and serving it the next. It’s not the kind of frosting that will be easy to get a nice smooth surface on a cake, though. It might be possible, but you’d be better off with a fluffy buttercream for that. Instead, it’s a frosting you can use to make waves or tufts of frosting across the cake; for that, this is a perfect five stars.