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Cooked Buttercream Frosting

This gorgeous, delectable frosting is a little more trouble than the usual cream cheese frosting, but it's worth it. Cream cheese frosting, although good, has little body and doesn't hold its shape well. Cooked buttercream frosting is silky, smooth and a dream to spread on your cake. Also, it won't break down in the heat and does not require refrigeration (who likes a cold cake?). There are several different techniques for making cooked buttercream frosting. Some recipes include egg whites, but this recipe is my favorite. As written, it includes cocoa powder as an optional ingredient, but by using any of the myriad extracts and flavorings available to us, you can have any flavor you like. This recipe extremely versatile, but it produces a fabulous pale cloud of frosting without any additions whatever.
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar (superfine sugar is by far the best way to go here*)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (or more) cocoa powder, sifted (optional)
In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the flour and milk and cook over medium-low to medium heat, stirring constantly, until it becomes smooth, quite thick and gluey. (This will take up to 20 minutes. It’s best to use a wooden spoon so you can mash the flour lumps against the side of the pan.)

Once the flour/milk mixture is the right consistency, remove the pan from heat and cover it immediately. Let it cool until the pan is warm to the touch, but not hot. (You can remove the lid from time to time and stir the mixture to speed up the cooling, but put the cover back on when you’re through stirring. Do not make the mistake I made and let it get too cool or it will turn into a solid mass. I was able to rescue it, but it was a lot of trouble.)

About the time you’ve removed the flour/milk mixture from the heat, put the butter and sugar in your mixer. Start the mixer and cream together the butter and sugar. Let the mixer run for ten minutes if using superfine sugar (15 minutes for regular sugar), scraping down the sides a few times.

When the flour/milk mixture is warm but not hot, add it and the vanilla to the whipped butter/sugar mixture and beat for another 5 minutes.

The recipe says to refrigerate it for about 30 minutes before using but, for me, it wasn't necessary.

Instead, I sifted 1/4 cup of cocoa powder into the frosting and folded it in by hand. This made a light, sort of milk chocolate frosting. More cocoa would make it more chocolatey and probably give the frosting even more body. It was beautiful when I finished, and I frosted the cake immediately.

Makes enough to generously fill and frost a two-layer cake.

* If your store doesn't carry superfine sugar, have them order it for you. Or you can make your own by putting ordinary granulated sugar in your blender and pulsing several times until it has a finer consistency. Don't overdo and make powdered sugar.

Prep time: 20-25 minutes; Cooking time: 20 minutes; Ready in: 40-45 minutes

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