Kelly Neil

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Vanilla Bean Buttercream Dream {aka Nanny Burke's Buttercream}

I finally did it.

After four failed attempts, I finally made the buttercream I've been dreaming of. And it's all thanks to Nanny Burke.

You may remember my first attempt. Sure they looked good (and the cupcake itself was pretty good) but the frosting had as much flavour as a of a jar of Vaseline and the texture to match.

Then last week, I made Bacon and Baileys cupcakes. I used what I thought was a decent buttercream recipe but really, all you could taste was icing sugar. In an attempt to rescue it, I glugged in a bunch of Baileys. As you can see in the photos, it was somewhat of a droopy, oozy mess. 

On Thursday, a really cute girl I know, A, said 'Oh - you need Nanny Burke's recipe!!' She e-mailed Nanny Burke in Cape Breton and asked for the recipe on my behalf. Nanny told A that over the last 50 years, she's tried a TON of buttercream recipes and this one was by far the best (and the easiest). On Friday I got a text from A with the recipe and a few notes from Nanny Burke.

So why, oh why didn't I follow my gut and trust the wisdom and experience of Nanny Burke? {sigh}

You see, I woke up Saturday morning, inspired by a recipe I had seen online for Swiss Buttercream. Ooooooh - a beautiful meringue-based buttercream that even a beginner could make without screwing up? Or so the recipe implies. Well guess what? I wasted 8 eggs and 4 sticks of butter on a nasty curdled bowl of grossness that I hurled into my green bin in a fit of frustration. 

And then I turned to Nanny Burke.

Oh Nanny Burke, I know we've never met, but after making your buttercream, I consider us kin.

Nanny Burke's Buttercream is the stuff dreams are made of. As I was piping this perfect marriage of buttery sweetness atop my vanilla cupcakes, I constantly stopped to pipe some onto my fingertip. Some for the cupcakes, some for me, some for the cupcakes, some for me...

Ok, so are you ready for the recipe? It's ridiculously easy and by far the BEST frosting I have EVER had!!

Nanny Burke's Buttercream

2 Cups Unsalted Butter, room-temp/soft (I used 1.5 Cups Salted Butter and 1/2 Cup Crisco for firmness)

1 lb icing sugar, sifted (I used 4 Cups, unsifted - I'm lazy sometimes)

1 tsp Vanilla (I used Vanilla Bean Paste)

1/8 tsp salt (I omitted the Salt because I used Salted Butter)

Notes from Nanny Burke

~ Don't mix for more than 2-3 minutes

~ Sub in shortening for butter if you want to decorate with flowers or want a firmer texture

~ Make it once and then play with it

On a side note, here's something interesting that happened when I was baking these cupcakes. I used Ina Garten's recipe for Coconut Cupcakes without the coconut. I baked the first dozen at 350 degrees until golden on top, about 22 minutes. Then I had another look at the recipe and realized that I was supposed to bake them at 325. So I reduced the temperature on the oven for the second batch. Here's what happened:

I've discovered that it is MUCH easier to decorate a cupcake when the top of the cupcake is puffed up into a little dome. Anyway, it doesn't really matter because both batches were absolutely delicious (next time though, I think I'll omit the almond extract in the cupcakes and double up on the vanilla). Today is Tuesday, I baked these on Sunday and they are still tender and moist. I'd recommend making them for sure.

Whew - I did it!! I finally did it!!