I am making a cake for a co-worker’s wedding and he requested a family recipe for the icing. As with many family recipes, it is not one that is really written down. I was told it was made with equal parts milk, sugar and butter, with a drop of almond extract. Bring the milk and sugar to a boil, then as it cools whisk in the butter and extract. With no more direction than that I knew I would have to experiment a bit before I could make the icing for the actual cake.
I decided to seek help from my friend Yvonne over at Ms. Adventures in Baking to see if she had any insights about this mysterious recipe. She suggested it may be an Ermine frosting, which has the same proportion of ingredients but has a small amount of flour as a thickener. Basically you mix the flour and milk and heat them to thicken. Then you cream the butter and sugar, and as the thickened milk cools you gradually whisk it into the creamed butter and sugar. I was skepitcal that an icing with flour would be good, but it did indeed make a very creamy and delicious icing.
Having made the Ermine frosting, I was still curious about the challenge of the original recipe. As I thought about it, the description sounded a lot like a fudge recipe. So I decided to try it out. I heated the milk and sugar to soft ball, about 235F, then let it cool to 110F and beat in the butter. It came out as a super creamy frosting, absolutely melt in your mouth.
In the interest of time and ease, I will probably make the Ermine recipe for this cake. But I am glad I didn’t give up on the challenge of the original recipe. It’s definitely one to keep in mind for other special desserts.