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Chocolate Buttercream help needed

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28 replies to this topic

#1 PaulaJK

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 01:05 PM

Made a chocolate buttercream
10 whole eggs + 1 1/2 c sugar +1.5 lbs BS chcolate +
18 tab butter.
BUT, mistakenly added 2 tab water to egg & sugar mix.
Results:
1.egg & sugar didn't thicken as well as usual
2.final mix is less thick than usual...somewhere between
glaze and usual buttercream
Am now refridgerating mix to see if it thickens.
Two questions:
a.Do I need to re-whip [fluff] the buttercream
because I refridgerated it?
b.If it's still too thin, can I add something to thicken
it---more chocolate or egg?--and how do I proceed
with this.
Thanks

#2 amyd

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 01:20 PM

The buttercream recipe I use has powdered sugar in the recipe. If I am trying to get the right consistency, I adjust with sugar to thicken or some kind of liquid (water, milk or corn syrup depending on the recipe) to thin. I think you could add a little sugar to even things out.

#3 chefpeon

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 02:12 PM

No no no....adding more sugar will NOT thicken it. You'll end up with soup if you do that.
I'm assuming of course, that you are making a french buttercream.....?
You're making a sugar syrup and adding it in a thin stream to your thickened eggs, right?
Or not?
Sounds like a weird recipe.....whole eggs? Usually french buttercreams use yolks only.

Anyway, if you want to thicken it, bring it out to room temp and re-whip. As you are doing so,
add room temp butter in chunks until it's the fluffy consistency you want. You should be fine.

#4 amccomb

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 02:39 PM

I had the same problem with a swiss meringue chocolate buttercream, which used only egg whites. It never got quite soupy, but was definitely not as stable and thick as I would have liked. I tried chilling it, bringing it back to room temp, and adding softened chunks of butter, but the more butter I added, the thinner it got! So I stopped and just went with it the way it was. Tasted great.

#5 PaulaJK

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 02:52 PM

It's a George Perrier/Le Bec Fin/ recipe.
I've made it a few times and it's been
v. good tasting. Guess I'll try to re-whip,
adding small amts of butter.

#6 Redsugar

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 04:22 PM

Buttercream can be thickened safely with powdered sugar. Fold it in to achieve the desired consistency.

I made French Meringue Chocolate Buttercream two days ago to ice a custom-order cake. For the icing, I used my tried-&-true 4-egg-white meringue with sieved superfine sugar, and beat in the softened butter & cooled tempered chocolate until just incorporated. It firmed up admirably and had no separation mishaps -- which is simply to underscore my conviction that if a method/technique functions dependably, then the outcome of your performance will follow suit. For my needs, a classic Swiss-meringue preparation is thoroughly dependable for flavouring with, e.g., maple syrup, Cointreau, and chocolate.

I agree with chefpeon that using whole eggs sounds peculiar for buttercream. Nevertheless, I do use 2 whole eggs + I yolk in my basic formula for an Italian-Meringue Caramel-Brandy Buttercream (made with a combination of granulated sugar & light corn syrup or liquid glucose in a ratio of 2¼ oz. sugar to ½ fl. oz. glucose). Often, only yolks are used in an Italian meringue.
"Dinner is theater. Ah, but dessert is the fireworks!" ~ Paul Bocuse

#7 KarenS

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Posted 30 September 2004 - 08:49 PM

Hmm... I've never made an Italian meringue with yolks- only whites. I don't understand how it would be considered a meringue with yolks in it. These days I pretty much only use Italian meringue buttercream.

#8 chefpeon

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Posted 02 October 2004 - 02:35 PM

Often, only yolks are used in an Italian meringue.


If that statement is true, then I need to go back to school, 'cause I know NUTHIN'!
:raz:

#9 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 02 October 2004 - 07:20 PM

My non-schooled opinion is that a yolk mixture with hot sugar whipped up is a pate bombe and a egg whites only mixture with hot sugar is a meringue.

I made the coffee buttercream recipe from Dorie Greenspans book Paris Sweets, this morning. In Dalloyau's Opera Cake recipe they use whole eggs and yolks to make bombe. Quite frankly I prefer buttercream recipes that include yolks. I like the richness yolks add to buttercreams (isn't that a German method?) verses an all whites buttercream.

#10 KarenS

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 09:52 PM

No, it is not German. The French and the English use yolks/ whole eggs. I just think it is too much with the butter and cake too. That is just my opinion though

#11 JSkilling

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Posted 07 May 2005 - 10:02 PM

I need to fix this chocolate frosting problem....

I made two cakes, last weekend and this, that were the Woolley recipe for cake - torted - and filled with a 1) chocolate buttercream made with powdered sugar, milk, butter, cocoa, vanilla or 2) a Swiss meringue buttercream with added 5 ounces or so of milk chocolate and some cocoa. Both times the cake slumped with the frosting in between the layers practically melting and the cake falling over on itself. They were both covered in fondant.

Today's cake was a 9" hexagon with a 6" round tier on top. The top tier was a Wendy's banana cake with a caramel buttercream and this cake sliced perfectly and stayed together just fine. The buttercream base was from the exact same bowl as the milk chocolate so I guess the milk chocolate made it too soft? I'm hard pressed to figure out how I can add 8 oz of liquid caramel to the buttercream and it stays together but the chocolate solids melt!!

Here's the buttercream recipe:

1 lb butter plus 6T (I have the grams somewhere but it's too late to go look it up)
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 oz egg whites (I use the Pappetti)
2 T vanilla paste

I beat the butter to soften and add the vanilla. Heat the sugar and egg whites together to melt the sugar. Beat until it's a medium stiff meringue. Add the butter. Tastes fabulous even in a puddle.

So what do I do? Help!!!! My goal is to have layers that stay together, moist and filled with a recognizable layer of filling.
Josette

#12 BROWNSUGA

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Posted 08 May 2005 - 04:22 AM

I am sorry to hear about your mishap. I am not sure what it could be. Was the butter very soft? When I make meringue buttercream, I add slightly chilled butter to the meringue. The butter is soft on the outside, but still chilled.

Another question, was your chocolate too warm? Did you allow it to cool slightly before adding it to the meringue?

Another question, you mentioned that you use Pappetti Foods. Do you use the Whippin Whites or the regular All Whites? I am on the hunt for Whippin Whites. I can no longer find them in my area.

Edited by BROWNSUGA, 08 May 2005 - 04:32 AM.


#13 sugarbuzz

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Posted 08 May 2005 - 10:21 AM

I highly recommend the mousseline buttercream recipe from The Cake Bible. It's light,spreads smooth,extremely stable & can have a variety of flavors added to it..such as lemon curd,chocolate..etc.

#14 JSkilling

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 07:50 PM

Ok, I might be on the track for figuring this out. Here is the cake that I had the problem on....

Posted Image

When I dumped my pictures from my camera I really noticed the difference in the slant of those top turrets from the time I put them on and took a picture until I cut the cake. And I noticed that the slices on the girls' plates were holding together - from the outside of the cake. Once I put that together I think I know where part of my problem is. When I added those turrets I just stuck three long dowels into the top tier and popped the turrets over them with some royal icing to stick them to the fondant. I was worried about them toppling but hadn't thought about the added weight on all that sugar compressing down from the top tier to the bottom. I should have made some sort of plaque to put them on and then doweled underneath that. Duh! I still think the chocolate buttercream needs some work and will take some of the suggestions Keith and I emailed on today to see what I can do to improve its stability. But I think I just made it goo when I added too much weight to the top of the cake.

I'm now testing out a chocolate caramel ganache and a caramel buttercream on the chocolate cake layers. It's sitting out in fairly warm weather and I've encased it in plastic to try and simulate being encased in fondant. If that still holds up tomorrow then it's chocolate buttercream again for the same test. If that holds up then it's chocolate buttercream, fondant and something heavy on top with no support. If I get goo, then I know I've solved my problem and know how to fix these tiered cakes architecturally. And people wonder why these damn things cost so much!

Any other ideas with this new info?

I have tried the RLB mousseline and will do so again to see if the IB recipe holds up better. I checked in Toba Garrett's book as well and she adds 1/2 of high ratio shortening - Keith had to tell me what that is! - to get it to hold up better. That's on my test list as well.
Josette

#15 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 09 May 2005 - 08:16 PM

Hum...........maybe I'm not totally sure I understand..........to me the issue doesn't seem like your having problems with your buttercreams stability so much. In too much heat, nothing holds up great. Thats part of the reasoning why some people use frostings that contain shortening and xxxsugar verses french buttercream. Real butter melts at a lower temp. then shortening.

When I've encountered a wet (that word used because I can't think of a better one) or soft buttercream I wouldn't have been able to get the fondant holding onto the sides of my cakes as your photos shows yours does. The weight of the fondant makes the buttercream slide off the cake, literally.

The only corrections I see that could happen are: more supports internally and a cooler room or cooler frosting.

By the way, your cake is absolutely adorable!! I REALLY like how you designed it to represent a brick castle yet it remains totally feminine and frilly, you also have the crown feeling happening.......that's really excellent design imo!!

#16 cakesuite

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Posted 10 May 2005 - 03:49 AM

The frozen whites are not ideal for a swiss buttercream. The addition of all that sugar before whipping prevents it from becoming a real meringe. Fresh egg whites are much better for this style of buttercream, but make sure you heat them up enough!!

If you want to use the frozen, then perhaps you'd consider an Italian buttercream. Same flavor as Swiss, but different method, and much stiffer. Here, the frozen whites work perfectly. If you haven't worked with an Italian bcrm before, it's a different experience, and will take some getting used to, but remember that it is essentially stiffer than what you're used to.

Now-- What to do with the soupy buttercream...?
I actualy LIKE working with a super soft buttercream as a final coat because it contains very little air bubbles, and winds up very smooth. However, your crumb coat needs to be very well set before you apply a soft icing. Make sure you chill your fully iced cake for at least an hour before you enrobe it, and you'll find that your edges keep their shape.

BTW, I don't see much slumping, and your cake is lovely!

Edited by cakesuite, 10 May 2005 - 03:51 AM.


#17 JSkilling

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Posted 10 May 2005 - 05:07 AM

It wasn't so much the fondant coming off the sides but the filling in between the layers just oozed out instead of staying in a nice firm layer. That's what caused the cake to just fall over on itself once I started to cut it. Probably what held it together was the fondant and the dowels.

When I made the buttercream with the Papetti egg white only product (not frozen) I was able to get a medium stiff meringue and added the butter and had a product that was the right consistency. Same when I added the chocolate - it was a good weight and seemed to hold on the cake. I put it in the fridge for a while to firm up. That very same buttercream base held fine with the addition of the caramel so I'm still not sure what caused my problems. The temp here is in the 70's. The room was not excessively warm. Do you think the layer of fondant could be causing the filling to melt?

My caramel buttercream (exact same container of base buttercream as the castle ) and chocolate caramel ganache are pretty much right where they were last night in my experiment cake. I have the cake sliced in half so I can watch how the layers look over time (um, we ate the other half for science sake!) The caramel buttercream is holding up better than the ganache which is softening slightly and bulging out of the layer a bit. Maybe it's my chocolate?

I have made IB before so it's off to try that again. Would any of you cake experts care to post what you make for a chocolate buttercream? I'm not sure what you mean by a cooler frosting.

Thanks for noticing the design, Wendy. I was quite influenced by the castle at Disney last week. My girls were enthralled with all the princess paraphernalia so they loved this.
Josette

#18 cakesuite

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Posted 10 May 2005 - 05:16 AM

If your filled cake is chilled, the buttercream should stiffen up fine. 70 degrees shouldn't make your filling ooze, if it's been previously chilled in the cake.

To make a chocolate buttercream, I add cooled melted chocolate to room temp. buttercream. It may often the buttercream slightly, but once chilled will set up beautifully. Caramel, on the other hand, may loosen up your icing, depending on how much you add, and how liquid the caramel is to begin with.

No, your layer of fondant wouldn't cause your icing to melt.

Edited by cakesuite, 10 May 2005 - 05:18 AM.


#19 mkfradin

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Posted 10 May 2005 - 10:59 PM

I have noticed that my chocolate buttercream gets softer and "soupier" as it sits between the cake layers. Usually I consider this a positive sign, but there have been cases in the summer where cakes have slid because of how much the icing softens. Like you, I use cocoa, not chocolate. I'm not sure why this happens, since the icing stays very firm when it's not sandwiched between two layers of cake, and the only thing we've done to deal with it is reduce the amount of liquid in the summer and make sure the cakes are thoroughly chilled when they go out the door.

I too thought your cake was adorable. Most cake artists I know are their own worst critics--I'm sure your clients were thrilled.

Good luck!

#20 cupcakequeen

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Posted 10 May 2005 - 11:35 PM

a buttercream made with an italian meringue will last longer in hotter temperatures than the swiss method. basically, you heat the melt the sugar (with water), above soft ball stage, whip your egg whites & after they've reached volume, slowly add the hot sugar. makes a more stable meringue, and in turn, a stable buttercream.

#21 JSkilling

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Posted 11 May 2005 - 06:48 AM

Mkfradin, Bingo! That's exactly what's happening. The chocolate, whether cocoa chocolate or a mixture, is very soft between the layers of cake. That's what's causing my problem. I guess if I fill and frost, put on the fondant and then into the fridge until a couple hours before I need it that should solve my problem. All decor will just have to go on at the last minute.

But why is only chocolate going soupy? The caramel and the vanilla are still both quite nice after 24 hours out.
Josette

#22 mkfradin

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Posted 11 May 2005 - 09:14 AM

You know those chocolate covered cherries that you make by wrapping in fondant, dipping in chocolate, and the fondant liquifies? I'm guessing something like that is going on here. Or else, the cocoa takes a while to absorb into the buttercream (I used to add way too much milk when I first made this), but maybe once it gets going, it just keeps absorbing--moisture from the butter, milk, and even from the cake. B/c we don't do a lot of fondant, and certainly not on the scale you are , it's not a huge problem for us, but I would be very interested in learning exactly why this happens, just from a food science standpoint. So if anyone has any further insight, please let us know!

#23 chefette

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Posted 11 May 2005 - 09:47 AM

after you fill and crumb coat your shold chill to set - then add successive layers of buttercream chilling to set in between until you have enough buttercream on (maybe 3 coats?) then you do a final smoothing and cover with fondant then decorate.

It is tough to cover a cake that hasn't been set/chilled because ut is soft and slippery

#24 jgarner53

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Posted 11 May 2005 - 09:57 AM

I don't use any cocoa in my chocolate buttercream. I'm not sure if that makes much of a difference, but it sets up nicely.

How about using a chocolate whipped cream between the layers instead of the buttercream?
"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

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#25 In2Pastry

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 04:48 PM

Would be be so kind as to post your caramel buttercream recipe. That sounds like it is absolutely delicious!
Thank you.
BTW-- your cake is so precious, what a great idea.

Kelli

#26 JSkilling

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Posted 15 May 2005 - 09:02 PM

I just added caramel to my regular buttercream until I thought the taste was strong enough. Chefette just posted a recipe that I'm going to try this weekend - basically in the proportion of caramel to buttercream I used but she uses a French meringue with the yolks. I'm anxious to try that.
Josette

#27 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 15 May 2005 - 09:20 PM

Here's the link to Chefettes recipe: here.

Let's keep this thread on chocolate and that one on caramel please.

#28 JSkilling

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Posted 15 May 2005 - 09:21 PM

I've done testing this week. Tried the SCW chocolate cake with a dark chocolate buttercream - added some cocoa for a richer flavor. This stayed out for days and never oozed out between the layers the way my castle cake did. It definitely had some deflation but it's chocolate after all and the temps have been warm. As I would cut a new slice (you know, for testing purposes) it would be fine inside but would have a slight bulge in the layer the next time we sliced it. So, so far so good. For those reading along, it has never been about the outside layer of buttercream causing the fondant to slide off, it's the inside layers that oozed and caused the cake to collapse on itself instead of allowing me to cut nice slices.

Next. I made another version of the Swiss meringue but added 2 oz of egg whites per Keith's recipe. Since I'm using the Papetti, it took forever to get a meringue but once it's there the resulting buttercream is quite nice. I used 8 oz of bittersweet chocolate and got a very light, whippy chocolate filling. I put that between two layers of the SCW chocolate cake and one layer of the golden vanilla. Decorated Spongbob and then into the cooler overnight despite all warnings in every book to the contrary. Today I took it out 3 hours before the party, left it there (actually had to hide it so the kids at the next party wouldn't come over and eat it while it was unattended - I'm not kidding). Beautiful slices, great texture, yummy cake! I was able to very quickly slice the cake and plate it and had every piece hold exactly as I expected.

My lessons: I believe letting chocolate fillings stay out over 24 hours means I'll have a softer filling that might not handle well. I don't think the milk chocolate was stable enough in the buttercream to hold up. The cooler is my friend even with fondant. I even had used a simple syrup on all the layers to keep them nice and moist and still had no problem with the structure.

Granted, ole Spongebob (stupidest character on earth) didn't have any weight on top but I think I know better now about how much support I need to handle the sugar work on the cakes. Live and learn. Practice on your friends....


Posted Image
Josette

#29 BROWNSUGA

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Posted 22 May 2005 - 05:44 PM

How'd I miss this post? I love this cake!! Great job!





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