the best - buttercream icing

This year I was reminded of what Valentine's Day was like as a child.  It's different than when your adult. Remember, it 's all about making valentines for each of your friends and baking sweet treats and celebrating friendship and love. One of my favorite things to do as a child on Valentine's Day was to make heart-shaped cookies or cupcakes. Today  I thought I would share with you the best buttercream frosting recipe. This icing is smooth and buttery with only a hint of sweetness. It holds it's shape incredibly well and is great to use for piping on festive cakes or cupcakes.

You might be surprised to find out that there is no icing sugar in this recipe. Instead you make an Italian meringue and then add a little bit of butter (ok a lot of butter, 1 pound to be exact!)

If the thought of making an Italian meringue scares you, stick with me you'll find it is not that hard. The most important thing to remember when making any meringue is to start with a clean bowl free of any fats and to warm up your egg whites. I like mine just a little warmer than room temperature. The other hint I would recommend with this recipe is to have all your ingredients measured out and on hand. There are only five components so it isn't hard to do!

The first thing you want to do is get your sugar syrup warmed up the stove. While this is heating up you can start on your meringue. Beat your warmed up egg whites with the salt and slowly add two tablespoons of sugar.

Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. It should look something like this:

Once this is ready you can turn your focus back on the boiling sugar syrup. The syrup needs to reach a temperature of 238-242 degrees fahrenheit. If you're nervous about using a sugar thermometer don't be. You literally put the instrument into the syrup and then watch it do it's thing. The syrup warms up quite slowly so you have more than enough time to watch it reach the magic number.

Once it reaches the correct temperature immediately remove it from the stove and with the mixer running slowly add it in a thin stream to the meringue. A word of caution - the sugar syrup is extremely hot and sticky at this point so be very careful with it! Once you have added all the sugar syrup continue beating the meringue for approximately another 10 minutes until it is cool to the touch. You do not want to add the butter until it is cool otherwise the butter will melt and you will end up with a soupy mess.

Once it has cooled add the butter cube by cube until it is all added. To finish the icing off add some vanilla or other flavouring of your choice. The icing will keep for up to a week in the fridge or 1 month in the freezer. It works well on any type of festive cake or cupcakes.

For the complete recipe and detailed instructions please check out the vanilla buttercream recipe on Epicurious. It is honestly the best buttercream recipe I know.

Oh and don't forget to enter the Biko Jewellery giveaway for a heart-shaped locket. You have until midnight (EST) tonight to enter. Just leave a comment on last Wednesday's post and tell me the one goal you hope to achieve this year. It's a stunning necklace - so delicate and pretty.