Vanilla Bean Buttercream
The ultimate classic vanilla bean buttercream is honestly why I learned how to make my own cakes. Yep, no shame. After I had my youngest son 5 years ago I craved that classic birthday cake flavor sooo much. Not that I should be eating it all the time cause you know, health. But seriously if I had a sweet tooth it was for this. Since then I have found a few secrets to my perfect frosting and I call it the best buttercream because everyone that has it always asks "what is the flavor in it? It's so good!" Even people that don't like frosting love it! So, I'm finally spilling the beans here. ;) Read on, girlfriend.
This recipe is for a classic American buttercream. There are various types of buttercreams and professional chefs look down on the american buttercream a lot but I don't really get it. Maybe I'm just a little more country and will always be. The problem with American buttercream is it can be a little "waxy" tasting and feeling in the mouth and can be overly sweet but the best part is that it's super sturdy, crusts over and it's fast to make. I also just like the taste better. There is also Swiss Meringue and Italian Meringue buttercreams which take longer to make and area tad more complex. I will post those recipes down the road. I have made and used them as well.
A few notes before we dive in, the vanilla bean flavor is only as good as its source. For this reason I highly recommend using vanilla bean paste (like this one) as it's the best way to add real vanilla bean flavor and specs without using an actual vanilla bean each time. It is pricier but so worth it. If this isn't available to you then get really good extract with all natural flavoring. Using artificial vanilla flavor is not my favorite but use what you got girl. Secondly, use sticks of real butter not margarine. I use unsalted and then add a pinch of salt myself, this way I can control the salt level. You can use all butter or half butter and half Crisco for this recipe. I have done both. All butter tastes a little too buttery for my preference but it really up to you. Also if you use all butter it will be a little more yellow coloring as opposed to white. You can contrast this though by adding the slightest touch of blue coloring into it to bring back the white balance.
So my secret ingredient that makes it tastes sooooo good and what people always comment on is.....drum roll please...banana extract! That's right, I add about 1/8 of a teaspoon banana extract and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. And no it doesn't make it taste like either of those things but what it does do is enhance the fruity and nutty notes of the vanilla bean really allowing it to pop. I'm telling you, game changer. You can always add a little more (or less) depending on personal preference.
In this post I am also sharing the super trendy "how to" for the rainbow look when piping it out. Its way easier than you think. After you make your buttercream, you will separate it out and color your frosting to whatever colors you want. Use Wilton or Americolor gel colors to do this so you are not adding any extra moisture like with the drops. It also takes a lot less of the gel coloring to achieve your desired color results.
One of my favorite tips for piping on macarons and decorations is the large star tip, Wilton tip # 8B. Fit a large 16in piping bag with your star tip (or whatever tip you want) and set it aside.
Lay out a large piece of saran wrap (plastic wrap) on a flat surface. Start spooning out your buttercream colors one at a time to form a line. I just use a spoon to do this but some like to fill a piping bag with each color and pipe out your rows. That just wastes piping bags in my opinion. None of this needs to be perfect because as the colors squish and mix together it just makes more rainbow and I love it.
Keep layering on all your colors until you've formed a mound. I usually make a pyramid style with a few on bottom and the rest on top.
Then you will start to roll up your saran wrap, and twist the ends to close.
Feed one of the ends through your fitted piping bag and snip off the wrap. Now squeeze your buttercream down into the tip and pipe away!
VANILLA BEAN AMERICAN BUTTERCREAM
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
BAKE TIME: none
MAKES: 2 lbs of buttercream
1/2 lb of unsalted real butter (not margarine) *Option to use 1lb of butter and omit the shortening*
1/2 lb of shortening (crisco sticks)
2 lbs (1 bag) powdered (confectioners) sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon banana extract
4-5 tablespoons milk (any kind) or cream
1. Allow all ingredients to come to room temperature.
2. In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment cream together butter and shortening (or all butter and no shortening). Mix until well combined and consistency is creamy and smooth.
3. Stop mixer and add your salt, vanilla paste, almond extract, and banana extract.
4. Mix until combined.
5. Stop mixer and add half of your powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons milk. Cover mixer with a towel to prevent sugar from flying all over. Turn mixer onto low at first and then increase to medium,
6. Stop mixer again and add the rest of your powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and cover with towel again. Turn mixer onto medium low and then increase to high until all incorporated. You can remove towel once sugar is mixed in but allow the mixer to run for at least 4 whole minutes or more to really blend everything together. Stop and scrape the bowl once or twice as well. You may need more milk but it's dependent on how thick you want the consistency at this point. If you're piping flowers you will want it thicker, if you're frosting the side of a cold cake maybe a little thinner.
7. At this point I always stop and taste. If I'm wanting to add more of anything else, I do or I think it's perfect and I'm done. You are ready to use your buttercream for frosting a cake, filling a macaron, piping out a flower or anything else your heart desires. You can now color it anyway you like too. Enjoy!
Use immediately or cover container in plastic wrap or put in air tight container or else it will develop a crust. If you want to store for later use you can put in fridge in an air tight container for up to 3 weeks. When ready to use, allow it to come to room temp and then remix till creamy.
Hope you love it!!