If my outpouring praise was not already enough, you could probably guess that I love the new cookbook, Frostings. I may be slightly biased, not only because I think author Courtney Whitmore is a doll, but because I had the chance to assist with the book itself. Miss Whitmore is quite possibly the sweetest and inspirational gals I know, and when she suggested that I come out to Nashville to help her on set for her latest book, I jumped at the opportunity. She was to be in the photography studio for only 6 days to shoot the entire book. With about 40 recipes to cover, it was going to be a lot of work. As crazy-talented as Courtney is, I was glad to lend a hand and my cake skills to help her get through the week that I was visiting. So, I packed my chef coat and cake tools, and off to Nashville I went!
Working with Courtney and her crew was an unforgettable experience. This was my first time at a food photography studio, working with a stylist, and (of course) shooting photos for a book. The studio alone was mind-blowing. Courtney had props for days, festive backdrops, and colorful linens. Everything had a “party” element about it, and it made the days just that much more fun.
The photography studio had its own kitchen, where I quickly got to work on the recipes that would later be published in Frostings. Courtney sure is a one-woman show. She can do it all! But while on set, shooting at least 6 recipes a day, I helped out in the kitchen so she could over-see more of the project. While the photographer was setting up lights, and stylist gathering props, Courtney and I prepared recipes and frosted an assortment of desserts. The week I was there, the focus of the shoots were for the cakes, naturally Keep in mind, however, that this book has plenty of recipes for frostings that do not necessarily go on cakes. From ganaches, to glazes, this book is full of recipes and ideas for using them. Some of my favorite pics from the book include chocolate-glazed donuts and a s’mores tower of stacked chocolate bars, graham crackers, and marshmallow frosting.
Needless to say, this book is full of beautiful, mouth-watering photography. And trust me, they taste delicious too. I had to keep myself for “sampling” too much while we worked. Once I received my copy, I had the hardest time choosing which recipe to make first. All of them are enticing and original. Alas, I decided on a buttercream to ice a fanciful cake with. Since I typically work with Italian or American Buttercreams, I chose the French Buttercream.
What I did not know about French Buttercream is that it is made with egg yolks. I have been making buttercreams with just egg whites for years, but never tried this version before. The egg yolks and real butter make this buttercream particularly smooth and creamy. The flavor is rich, but versatile. This buttercream would pair with any cake. Keep in mind, however, the color is definitely not pure white. Due to the egg yolks, butter, and pure vanilla extract, the frosting comes out a little on the yellow side. But, as you can see from the photos, you can tint it easily.
- 3 ounces egg yolks (about 5-6 whole eggs worth)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg yolks on high until light and foamy (about 5 minutes).
- Meanwhile, place sugar and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue to boil sugar mixture until it reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.
- Immediately remove from the heat and carefully pour into the egg yolks, while mixing on low speed.
- Increase the speed to medium-high, and continue mixing until room temperature.
- With the speed on medium-low, gradually add in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Add in the vanilla extract and beat on high until smooth.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes before frosting and piping.