Sprinkles are rarely an option. Those colorful little bits of sugar and crunch can make just about any dessert as vibrant and fun as it should be. Today, I’m going to teach you how to make homemade sprinkles. True, there’s tons of varieties at the stores, but sometimes you need an extra-special color. You may be looking for a specific size or color combination, and making them from scratch is shockingly simple. If you’re up for the challenge, let’s dive in!
What Do I Need to Make Homemade Sprinkles?
Today we’ll be making three different varieties of sprinkles: jimmies, nonpareils/ sanding sugar, and flaked sugar confetti. Jimmies and confetti require the same simple list of ingredients: confectioner’s sugar, water, extract/flavoring, and meringue powder. Those few items get whipped together in a stand mixer until a thick royal icing comes together. While there’s a number of ways to make royal icing, I always find that using meringue powder is easiest. If you’re unfamiliar with this ingredient, look for it in the cake decorating section at craft and superstores. It keeps forever and makes royal icing in a cinch! Once your royal icing is prepared, we’ll use gel food coloring to make it your favorite hue and a piping bag or offset spatula to form your sugary bits!
Homemade nonpareils are a different story. Put simply, I don’t have a clue how to make a nonpareil from scratch, but I can teach you how to custom color like a boss. All you’ll need is plain white nonpareils, sanding sugar, or pearls and a bit of gel food coloring. More on that in a bit.
How Do I Make Homemade Sprinkles?
Let’s start with a large bowl or (preferably!) the bowl of a stand mixer. Combine the powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water and begin to whip on medium speed until the mixture has thickened to stiff peaks. You’ll notice the icing standing at attention, straight in the air, when the beater is removed from the bowl. Gently stir in extract and small amounts of gel food coloring until the mixture has reached your desired color. This recipe makes quite a few sprinkles, so don’t be afraid to make multiple colors. You’ll see I blended several bowls of icing so that I’d end with a bowl of richly-colored rainbow jimmies.
If you’re planning to make the basic jimmies, you’ll want to outfit a piping bag with a number two tip. You can go bigger or small here, but the number 2 size yields a diameter most similar to store-bought sprinkles. Line a few baking sheets or a clear work surface with parchment or wax paper and begin piping straight lines all over the place! Don’t worry about keeping them perfectly straight or an even flow. Just pipe away until your wax paper is full of lines. Allow the lines to dry completely- at least 6 hours but preferably overnight. Once dry, use a chef’s knife to cut uniform pieces, or roll the parchment/wax paper into a tube and gently crunch with your hands to break them up. I’ve found that the rolling method is easiest unless you are looking for a special size of sprinkles. Store in a sealed container.
For the flaky confetti, skip the piping bag and use an offset spatula to spread a thin layer of icing all over your parchment and wax paper. You’ll want it to be super thin- not translucent but just barely thick enough to coat the sheet. Allow it to dry completely, at least 6 hours but preferably overnight. Once dry, gently roll the parchment/wax paper to crunch the sugar shards. Crunch more for smaller pieces and less for larger ones! Store in a sealed container.
How Do I Custom Color Nonpareils, Sanding Sugar, and Candy Pearls?
This is shockingly simple. Grab a bag of white nonpareils, pearls, or clear sanding sugar. Put your desired amount in a small plastic bag and gradually add small dots of gel food color. Remember, you can add more food coloring but you can’t take it out! Go little by little and feel free to reference this coloring chart from Wilton! Seal and shake the bags liberally until the color is uniform throughout. Dump the contents of the bag onto a baking sheet prepared with wax or parchment paper and spread out. Allow them to dry for at least 6 hours but preferably overnight. Once dry, use clean fingers to break up any clumped pieces and store in a sealed container.
Is That All There is To Making Homemade Sprinkles?
I feel like I should have more to write, but making homemade sprinkles is so simple! That’s all there is to it! Follow my recipe below to make your favorite assorted shades and let me know what you think. Feel free to check out local craft stores for oversized bags of nonpareils and sanding sugar so that you can make alllll the colors in the world. Get creative, have fun, and don’t forget to send me pictures. Tune in at the end of this week when I’ll be sharing a quick fun recipe for you to use all your new sprinkles with! Have a great week!
If you like these homemade sprinkles you should check out a few other tutorials:
Learn how to make homemade rainbow jimmies, confetti, nonpareils, sanding sugar, and sugar pearls in all of your favorite custom colors!
2–2/3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons meringue powder
¼ cup water, plus more as needed
Vanilla extract, if desired
Gel food coloring
Combine the powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed using the whisk attachment until thickened to stiff peaks, about 5 minutes. If your mixture is too thick and clumps, add water a teaspoon at a time until you’re about to beat it. Once stiff, color the icing with food coloring as desired. Keep in mind, it’s easier to add more but you can take it out if you add too much! Whisk to combine and begin to make your sprinkles.
For homemade jimmies: Transfer the icing to a piping bag fitted with a number 2 tip. Pipe straight lines onto a baking sheet prepared with a piece of wax or parchment paper. Allow to dry completely overnight and then cut or crumble into your preferred size pieces. Store in an airtight container until ready to use!
For flaky confetti sprinkles: Prepare a sheet pan with a piece of parchment or wax paper. Use an offset spatula to smear a super thin layer of the icing on top of it. Once completely dried (preferably overnight) crumble into flaky bits and store in an airtight container.
Have you ever spotted a beautiful cake on Instagram, television, or a website and thought to yourself, “Ugh, I wish I could learn how to do this”? Well consider me your genie in a bottle, because today I’m going to be sharing a few simple pointers to teach you how to stack a layer cake. This is not some super advanced tutorial. This is a quick guide for eager beginners or anyone wanting to polish the skills they already have under their belt. In addition, I’m DYING to answer all of your questions so that I can update this post to include the things you’re interested in learning about, so please feel free to chime in with anything you’ve found to be helpful in your learning experiences. If you’re ready and hungry, let’s dive in!
What Is A Layer Cake?
This feels like a silly question to answer, but let’s be plain as day. A layer cake is any kind of cake with stacked layers! On it’s most basic level, cake is a single layer with frosting, glaze, or some other garnish on it’s top, but a layer cake typically consist of 2 or more layers of cake stacked with schmears of frosting and/or filling. For the purpose of this post we’re going to stick with a 3-layer cake. That was simple, right?
What Do I Need to Make a Layer Cake?
There’s a few basic components required for every cake as well as a few special tools that will make stacking cakes simple for beginners. I have a few of my favorites listed that you can find above on the “Shop” page of my site.
For starters, you’ll need the following: Cake Layers (or a single thick layer of cake that you plan to slice in half) Frosting Filling (if desired) Serrated Knife Offset Spatula (I prefer a small one)
If you’re ready to go to the next level, here’s a few more items to consider purchasing: Cake Turntable Cake Boards Piping Set or Freezer-Safe Ziploc Bag Cake Leveler
If you plan on being serious about learning how to stack a layer cake you may also consider purchasing a cake turntable. When I first started baking, I purchased an inexpensive model from Wilton that I adored for many years. Some time later, I upgraded to an Ateco model that I continue to use today. No need in purchasing anything fancy- just buy what works. A turntable is the single most useful tool for decorating cakes and can make a world of difference in the final outcome of your product.
How To Stack A Layer Cake ?
Let’s take this slow. Heck, I’m going to throw in some numbered steps so we don’t miss a single thing, okay? WE CAN DO THIS! Here we go.
1. Prepare the cake layers.
We can stack basically any cake recipe, but we always want to work with cooled layers. A cake straight from the oven will not stack well. I like to chill my layers in the freezer for a bit to make them extra easy to work with- it helps keep all the crumbs stuck to the cake instead of all over my spatula. Once cooled (or semi-frozen!) use a large, sharp serrated knife to trim the domes off of your cake. We want the layers to be flat. So if your cake looks more like a hill than an ice skating rink, trim it off. Get down at eye-level to the cake and carefully cut off the top. Remember to go slow and not take too much off! You can always trim off more but you can reattach cake if you butcher off too much.
2. Prepare the frosting and filling.
Again, we need cooled frostings and fillings. Pick your poison when it comes to frosting variety, but keep it simple if you’re new to the game. American buttercream is typically easiest to whip up. Frosting consistency is really important here. Too thick or hard and the frosting will stick to the cake and rip off little bits of it as you go. Too thin and the frosting will squish out the sides. I like a frosting that will scoop onto your finger or an offset spatula without falling off but will droop over BARELY when dolloped. No big droops!
With American buttercream, you can typically add water or milk a tablespoon at a time until the frosting thins out to the appropriate consistency. Likewise, you can typically add additional powdered sugar a bit at a time to thicken it up. If your buttercream gets too warm, throw it in the fridge to thicken it up! After all, butter and fat is hard at chilled temps.
3. Prepare your cake board.
This is optional. I love to work with a cake board because I typically am frosting a cake on my turntable. I use a piece of packing tape or a non-slip pad to get my board to stick to the turntable. Place it directly in the center and smooth a small dollop of frosting on the board. This will help to make your first layer adhere to the board. If you’re not using a cake board you can add the frosting dollop straight to the flat serving plate that you’re making it on. The cake turntable and board make a difference here, but you can do it either way.
4. Begin frosting your cake.
Place the first layer of cake on the cake board with the frosting on it. If you’re not using a filling, go ahead and dollop enough frosting to generously cover the entire cake. For most cake layers about 1″ thick, I like about 1/4″ thickness of buttercream on top. Go ahead and plop some frosting on your cake and grab your offset spatula in your dominant hand. With the spatula parallel to the cake top, begin pushing the frosting around to cover the cake, being sure to not actually touch the cake with your spatula at all.
I like to use a subtle rocking motion as opposed to digging the edge of the spatula into the buttercream or cake. Continue this process, adding buttercream as needed, until the buttercream barely hangs over the side of the cake. Then, rotate the spatula barely to dig in a slight edge and twist your turntable like a record player. Keep your hand level and the edge on your spatula tilted slightly so that you can level the frosting top. We started with leveled cakes and we need our frosting leveled too as we stack!
Alternatively, if you plan to use a filling: Fill a piping bag fitted with a large round tip or a large ziploc bag with some frosting. Pipe a “dam” border around the perimeter of the unfrosted cake. Make sure your dam walls are high enough and connected to contain all of the filling. If the filling squishes out the top or underneath, it can make frosting your cake neatly near impossible! Once the dam is complete, spoon in your filling and continue the steps as listed below.
5. Repeat this process with additional cake layers.
For the cake shown in photos, I repeated the process twice as there are three layers. As your stack your cake layers, be sure to press down gently to allow the cake to adhere and line them up as best as you can. If you find your cakes are wiggling or slipping because of loose buttercream, pop it in the fridge to allow the frosting to set up. You’ll wind up with a wonky cake if you try to frost a slippery fellow. Extra time, but worth it.
6. Crumb coat.
A crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting that traps in any cake crumbs. To start, use your offset spatula to push the frosting overhang on the top layer down onto the sides of the cake. This process takes some practice and is hard to get right the first several times. Use additional frosting from the overhang on the lower layers to cover the sides of the cake and add any additional frosting from the bowl as needed.
For our crumb coat, we just want a thin coat of frosting to trap the crumbs, so just do your best to smooth it out. Use your spatula to cover the cake entirely and scrape any extra frosting (sans crumbs!) back into your bowl. Once the cake is coated, pop it in the fridge for the frosting to firm up. The length of time here is dependent on how cold your cake layers were to begin with, so just check your cake occasionally until firm.
7. Finish frosting your cake.
Some people prefer to use a bench scraper here, but I almost always prefer my offset spatula. For a naked cake, smear just a thin layer of frosting all over the cake and smooth out the edges as able. For a more opaque layer of frosting, go ahead and dollop a hefty scoop on top and smooth it onto the top with angled offset spatula. Spread more on the sides of the cake and use a bench scraper or the spatula to smooth and decorate. This is an exercise that takes a lot of practice, so cut yourself some slack the first 15 times you do this, okay? If all else fails, go for messy, rustic frosting and claim you did it on purpose. Cool? Once finished, store the cake as indicated in your recipe or serve immediately!
A Few More Tips On How to Stack A Layer Cake :
I’ve had to learn a lot the hard way. Here’s a few pointers from mistakes I’ve made far too often:
1. Don’t add too much filling to your cake.
Jam, curd, or other running fillings cake easily spill out the top of a dam or squish underneath. Be sure your dam has adhered to the cake layer it is on top of and don’t overfill it! Let your dam be about 1/8″ higher than the filling and add your next cake layer gently.
2. Master the cake to frosting ratio.
Some recipes will produce extra thick layers of cake that are intended to be torted (or trimmed into layers). Use a large serrated knife here to slice through your cake layer and cut it into appropriately thick layers. Most of my recipes produce cakes that are 1 to 1’1/4″ thick, so about 1/4″ of frosting is appropriate here. If you wind up with thicker layers, consider torting or adding additional frosting between layers. For thinner layers, consider less frosting.
3. Don’t overwork your frosting.
This is hard to do. I get it. The more your attempt to smooth and perfect a finished frosted cake, the more likely you are to overwork or deflate your frosting. This can change the color, texture, and mouthfeel of the frosting. Do your best to not overwork and keep in mind that pristine cakes come with practice.
4. Transfer with care!
I like to slide a large offset spatula under the cake board to help shimmy it off the turntable. I usually need to do this when popping the cake in the fridge or when transferring it to its serving plate. They make cake lifters specifically for this purpose, but I don’t actually have one. I find a large offset spatula works fine. Do what feels right!
5. Make sure your frosting is the right consistency.
I can’t emphasize this enough. If you notice your frosting is difficult to work with, go ahead and fix it before you get too far into the frosting process! The messiest cakes I’ve ever made were when I didn’t take the time to address my frosting consistency. See above for quick tips.
6. Decorating layer cakes is an entirely different topic.
Admittedly, I’m not terrific at decorating cakes, so I usually like to stick with basics: flowers, sprinkles, or large piped dollops of frosting. For cake decorating inspiration, I recommend checking out Tessa Huff’s site. She decorates beautiful and attainably intricate cakes. This is a great place to start.
A Few Last Minute Tips on How to Stack a Layer Cake:
You can’t learn how to stack a layer cake if you don’t have a good baked cake. Here’s a few tips that have helped me:
1. Use room temperature ingredients.
The ingredients in most cake recipes will emulsify together better when not at extreme temperatures. So what do you do when you forget to set your ingredients out in advance? Set your eggs in a cup of warm water to quickly bring to room temperature and feel free to nuke milk in the microwave at a low temperature in 10 second intervals till it’s no longer ice cold. As for the butter: consider slicing it into tablespoon pads and resting at room temperature while you set out the rest of your ingredients, or, nuke in the microwave for 8 seconds per side of butter.
2. Use parchment paper to line the bottoms of your pan.
Yes, it can be a pain to cut out rounds of parchment, but I use it every time. Why? Because the only thing more annoying that cutting out parchment rounds is baking a beautiful cake only to have chunks of it remain stuck to the innards of your pan. If you’re feeling really aggressive, you can purchase pre-cut rounds of parchment online and they make life so much easier. Just do it.
3. Do not overmix.
If you read a recipe that says “mix just until combined”, do just that. Overmixing your batter will cause your cake to be chewy and dense… not usually what we’re going for.
4. Make sure your baking powder and soda are fresh.
If you open your cabinet and the baking soda says it expired in 2009, throw it out. I’m talking to you, Mom.
5. If you don’t keep buttermilk on hand, don’t fret!
I sometimes will use 1 tablespoon of white vinegar for every scant cup of milk when I need a quick substitute for real buttermilk. Works like a charm.
6. Don’t overbake!
Toothpicks cost like, $1 at the store. And I’m pretty sure you can steal them from hostess stands at most chain restaurants. So keep some on hand and when the cake looks just barely firm in the middle and is no longer jiggling in the pan, test it. Moist crumbs should come out. If it’s not done, set the timer for one minute and try again. And in the midst of all that checking, try not to open and close the oven too much. You’ll end up with a cake crater big enough to put your face in. On second thought, this isn’t such a terrible outcome so do whatever you want. No judgement here.
7. Allow to cool a bit in the pan before flipping out on to a cooling rack.
One of my favorite things to do on this site is to dissect baking basics and give a how-to on staple recipes and kitchen techniques. Throughout this so-called “You Need to Know” series, we’ve learned how to make caramel, meringue, browned butter, and more. Today, we’re going to walk through a diverse pastry called pâte à choux and even learn how to use it in the making of coconut cream pie puffs. If you’re up for learning, put on your food science hats (and aprons!) and let’s dive in!
What is Pâte à Choux?
Also known as choux pastry, pâte à choux (pronounced pot-a-shoe) is a common variety of puff pastry. Used to make cream puffs, eclairs, and numerous other treats, pâte à choux makes lightweight pastries with semi-hollow interiors perfect for stuffing and filling. It’s high proportion of liquid to dry ingredients creates a dough that is almost paste-like and bakes into puffed-up treats with airy interiors. Pâte à choux requires liquid (typically water), fat (butter), a binder (eggs), and dry ingredients (flour, salt, and sometimes sugar), and is cooked on the stovetop prior to being baked or fried. Let’s talk about how to make it.
How Do I Make Pâte à Choux?
Water, butter, and salt are combined on the stovetop in a pan over heat. Once the butter melts and the mixture begins to boil, flour (and sometimes sugar!) is added, stirring all the while to keep the butter and flour from forming large clumps. The mixture is cooked over the course of a few minutes to dry out the paste. You’ll know it’s thoroughly cooked when it pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms one large mound of dough. Remove the paste from heat and place it in a bowl to cool slightly before the eggs are added.
Once slightly cooled, we paddle in the eggs using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. As you stir, the dough will become smooth, somewhat shiny, and soft enough that the dough droops off the spoon in soft peaks. If it’s not soft enough, the dough will require extra liquid to make make the pastry puff up adequately in the oven, but be careful- too much liquid and the pastries are at risk of spreading in the oven instead of puffing vertically. There’s a reason baking is called a science, guys! Once your paste is complete, you’re ready to pipe, bake, or fry the dough in whatever manner you’ve decided upon.
What Do I Do with Choux Pastry Once I’ve Made It?
Most commonly, choux pastry is baked. First, the prepared dough is added to a piping bag and piped onto a prepared sheet pan. For profiteroles or cream puffs a large round piping tip is used to pipe small, macaron shell-sized rounds of dough. For eclairs, a large round or French star tip is used to pipe strips of dough. To make Paris-brest, rings of dough are piped, baked, halved, and filled.
Prior to baking, a thin coat of egg wash (One egg whisked with a teaspoon of water) can be applied to make the pastry richly golden and slightly shiny, but this is completely optional. The dough will puff and contort its shape slightly in the oven, so be sure to smooth any tall peaks or bumps in the dough before it’s baked. In this case, a wet fingertip can be used to gently pat down the dough as needed.
While baking, the liquid heats, turns to steam, and causes the pastry to puff, creating a cavernous interior. If you used a fancy star tip to pipe your dough, you’ll notice some small striations in the final baked goods, but typically they’re barely noticed.
If not baked, choux pastry can also be fried. In the case of French crullers, beignet cream puffs, or even churros, the dough is piped or scooped directly into a heated pot of oil. The choux is fried on one side, flipped, and then finished off on the other side. The outcome is crisp, almost crunchy pastries with soft, doughy insides. Can you say YUM?
Coconut Cream Pie Puffs
So here’s the main event: coconut cream pie puffs. We can put our new skills to work and get cracking on these southern pie-inspired treats. Here, a baked pâte à choux shell is filled with a coconut and vanilla bean custard before being topped with melted white chocolate and toasted coconut- so delicious. Since we already know how to make pâte à choux, I’ll explain what happens once we have a dough.
Making the Puffs
First, we use a large round tip to pipe out rounds of dough. Bake the puffs in the oven while you prep your custard. Here, flour, sugar, and milk are combined on the stovetop and cooked until barely thickened. Next, we add some of the hot mixture to a few beaten eggs. The mixture is all combined back on the stove and cooked until it’s viscous to a mayonnaise consistency. Remove the custard from heat, and add a little butter, vanilla, and shredded coconut. If you want to be super extra, you can toast your shredded coconut beforehand; that way, your coconut cream pie puffs have even more flavor.
Filling the Puffs
Once the custard and puffs have cooled, add the coconut mixture to a piping bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe the custard directly into each pastry. Just squeeze your piping bag until you feel the puffs fill up. Set aside, melt some white chocolate over a double boiler, and decorate your little puffs as pleased. I like to garnish with extra toasted coconut, because it’s SO PRETTY, don’t you think?
I hope you guys learned a smidge and are eager to get cracking on these coconut cream pie puffs. Admittedly, I’m not an expert at pastry, so we’re really learning this together. If you’re reading this and you happen to be, oh, Dominique Ansel or Rose Levy Beranbaum, please give me all your pointers and forgive, what I’m sure is, my many mistakes in the above text. If you’re really into pâte à choux now, take a peek at the tiramisu cream puffs, too! Same technique, different filling! Happy baking to you all!
These coconut cream pie puffs come with a tutorial for how to make pate a choux cream puffs! Stuffed with a coconut custard and topped with a white chocolate glaze, these cream puffs are delicious and cute desserts for the spring.
For the pate a choux (Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum):
½ cup (120 gm) water
4 tablespoons (55 gm) unsalted butter
½ teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt
½ cup (70 gm) all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
For the filling:
3/4 cup (150 gm) sugar
4–1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (480 gm) whole milk
3 large egg yolks, slightly beaten in a bowl
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sweetened grated coconut
For the topping:
1 cup white chocolate chips
½ cup toasted shredded coconut
For the choux:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper. Fit a piping bag with a large round tip (I use Ateco 809) or snip the end off of a quart-sized freezer plastic bag.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, butter, sugar and salt until the butter has melted and the mixture is boiling. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add all of the flour, stirring vigorously to combine. After a few moments of stirring, the dough will form a moist ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan. Return the pan back to the heat to cook, paddling the dough with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula for 3 minutes. Dump the dough into a large bowl and add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition to combine. The dough should be viscous enough to hold a soft peak when you pull the wooden spoon out of it. If it is too stiff, add a teaspoon or two of water. Scoop the mixture into the piping bag and squeeze out tablespoon-sized round balls (see photo) of dough, about 2 inches apart on the prepared pan. Barely moisten a fingertip to smooth out any peaks on the rounds so that they are rounded disks, similar to the shape of a baked macaron cookie. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then decrease the oven temp to 350 and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the puffs are golden brown. Allow to cool prior to using.
To prepare the filling:
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, flour, and salt, whisking to combine. Slowly add the milk. Turn heat to medium temperature and whisk constantly until the mixture is bubbling and thickened. Continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Slowly drizzle a small amount of the cooked mixture into the beaten egg yolks, whisking all the while. Once about a cup of the mixture is incorporated, pour the mixture back into the original saucepan and place back on the heat. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes while continuing to stir.
Add the butter and vanilla, stirring until incorporated. Stir in the coconut. Allow to cool to room temperature. You can do this in the fridge as well. When cool, stir and outfit a piping back with a large round tip. Fill the bag with the custard and insert the tip discreetly into the side of a crack in a puff. Fill with the custard slowly until full and then repeat with the remaining. Set aside while you melt the chocolate for the topping.
For the topping:
Set up a double boiler over low heat and add the white chocolate to the bowl. Stirring regularly, gently melt the chocolate. Be sure to not let the chocolate get too hot or it will seize! Once my chocolate starts melting a good bit, I usually remove the pan and bowl from heat to stop the cooking and keep it going gently. Once melted, spoon pours of white chocolate on top of each pastry and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Enjoy once the topping has set!
I’ll be honest- meringue is my arch nemesis. On top of pies, in a buttercream, WHEREVER, meringue is really just kinda no bueno in my book. I have failed time and time again when it comes to whipping egg whites the right way, so much so that I’ve nearly given up. But today, in continuation of our “You Need To Know” tutorials, we’re going to talk the ins and outs of egg whites, how to deal with them, what to use them for, and how to know if you’re doing it all right. Prepare yourself for total domination of the egg whites.
What Is An Egg White?
Let’s put on our nerdy glasses and science caps for a second. An egg white (aka the albumen) is one of five portions of a whole egg and accounts for about 3/5 of an egg’s total weight. It’s primarily made up of protein and water and is viscous in consistency. When beaten, the protein structure of the egg white breaks down, and over time, those unfolded proteins will rearrange into a new, expanded form. Whipped egg whites can increase in size up to 8 times larger than its original volume, and this foaming ability makes it an all-star aerator in baked goods.
How Do You Whip Egg Whites?
Egg whites are most easily whipped with an electric hand or stand mixer, but this process can be done by hand with a wire whisk as well. To whip egg whites, start with a clean, grease-free bowl and whisk attachment and begin to process the egg whites on low speed. Large, foamy bubbles will begin to appear, and once the egg whites transform from viscous liquid to loose foam, you can increase the speed of your mixer. Although the bubbles start out large, smaller, more fine bubbles will begin to appear and the foam will continue to increase in volume. You’ll stop your mixer when you reach the desired level of foam formation. So what if a recipe calls for “firmly whipped egg whites” or “egg whites with soft peaks?” We need to know what we’re looking for! Let’s start by breaking down the stages of egg white foam formation.
Foamy Egg Whites
To prepare foamy egg whites, whip your fresh, room temperature egg whites in a clean bowl until large bubbles begin to appear. At this phase, the egg whites will appear like bubbles in a foamy bathtub and will not hold their shape.
Soft peak egg whites will have a slight sheen to them and fine textured bubbles. At this phase, the whipped foam will still slide around in the bowl, and if you lift a beater out of the mixture, the peak will droop over without holding its shape. The foam is definitely fluffing up at this phase though, and you will likely see a trace of your beater in the mixture.
This is the narrow gap between soft and stiff peaks. Here, a beater lifted out of the bowl will yield a defined tip that may fall over slightly but will keep its overall pointy shape.
At this phase, peaks are stiff, shiny, and stick to the inside of the bowl. If you lift a beater out of the bowl, the peak tip will stick up tall with a slight sheen. If you were to turn your bowl upside down at this phase, the foam would stick to the inside of the bowl without falling out! Avoid beating your egg whites past this stage as you’re likely to create an unstable, overbeaten egg white that will eventually break and deflate.
How Can I Ensure Successfully Whipped Egg Whites?
Starting out with room temperature eggs in a clean, grease-free bowl will begin the process on the right foot. Room temp eggs whip more readily than cold ones and any trace of fat (think butter, cooking spray, egg yolk) will inhibit foaming. For best results, separate your egg yolks from their whites while cold and allow the whites to come to room temperature on their own. You can ensure your bowl is truly grease-free by wiping off the inside of it with a paper towel saturated with lemon juice.
There’s also a few things that you can add to your egg whites to increase stability. Some recipes may call for adding an acid like cream of tartar, vinegar, or lemon juice, and typically 1/8 teaspoon of any of these per egg white is enough to give aid. Sugar also stabilizes egg whites and can be added in little by little near the end of the whipping duration. Avoid adding sugar in too early or too quickly as this can inhibit foam formation. More sugar incorporated into the mixture will result in a mixture that is glossy and shiny.
Is There Anything Else I Need to Know About Whipping Egg Whites?
Even stabilized egg whites are delicate, so take care when incorporating them into baked goods. Most recipes will call for gently folding the foam into whatever batter you’re working with. If you opt to beat your egg whites by hand, consider using a copper bowl or whisk! The copper in the bowl or whisk reacts with one of the proteins in the egg white, causing foamy bubbles to expand. Finally, if you’re looking for a suitable substitute for whole egg whites, consider using liquid egg whites from a carton. Just check to make sure you’re not purchasing one with a bunch of add-ins to the ingredients list.
What Do I Use It For?
Whipped eggs whites are used in a number of foods like cakes, meringues, and souffles. The foamy nature of whipped egg whites provides air, height, and a light texture to foods that benefit from the added fluff. You’ll find a small list of recipes at the bottom of this page that contain whipped egg whites, so if you’re in need of inspiration, start there! In the coming weeks, I’m going to be sharing a variety of whipped egg white-containing recipes, starting with today’s crispy Easter meringue cookies.
Easter Meringue Cookies
These Easter meringue cookies are made up of stiffly whipped egg whites to which vinegar has been added for stability and sugar has been added for sweetness. They bake up in the oven into crisp, weightless bites of sweetness that make for a cute and accidentally fat-free snack. The texture and taste of these cookies reminds me of the marshmallows you might find in a box of cereal or a packet of hot cocoa mix, and that is in no way disappointing to me.
For a little added flair, I’ve dipped these cookies in chocolate followed by either sprinkles or finely chopped pecans. Both add flavor and texture in a fun and festive way that is sure to add some springtime cheer to your home. If you’re interested in turning these basic meringue cookies into Easter meringues (aka resurrection cookies), check out the link here for a how-to on incorporating the Easter story into your baking. It’s a fun way to engage kiddos in the kitchen and to celebrate Easter beyond the bunny.
I hope you all have found this tutorial useful and that you’ll give whipped egg whites a try! See below for a list of a few airy egg white-containing treats so that you can get some practice ASAP. Happy baking, friends!
If you want to know how to whip egg whites into baked goods, check out these recipes:
These easter meringue cookies are light and airy, crispy marshmallow cookies dipped in chocolate and either sprinkles or pecans. A fun and festive fat-free treat for springtime!
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
¼ teaspoon white vinegar or cream of tartar
Dash of salt
2/3 cup (130 gm) sugar
Food Coloring, if desired
White Chocolate or almond bark for dipping, if desired
½ cup sprinkles or finely chopped toasted pecans, if desired
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and line two large sheet pans with parchment paper.
In a large clean, grease-free bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, use the whisk attachement to whip the egg whites on low speed until foamy bubbles appear at the top. Add the vanilla bean paste and vinegar (or cream of tartar) and continue whipping until really foamy. Increase the speed to medium-high and slowly add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until it has all been incorporated. Continue whipping until stiff glossy peaks appear (see notes in blog post above for help on this), about 8 minutes. If you’d like to add in food coloring, add a small bit and gently whisk or fold in.
Outfit a pastry bag or large Ziploc bag with a large piping tip (I used a Wilton 2A) and pipe small 1-1/4”-2” diameter cookies about 2” apart on the parchment paper. Do this swiftly so as not to allow the foam to deflate. Place both sheet pans in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes to an hour. The cookies should feel firm to the touch. Turn off the oven and keep the door closed and allow them to cool to room temperature completely, even overnight. The cookies are done when the bottoms feel fry, pop off the paper easily, and almost sound hollow when tapped.
If you wish to dip your meringues, gently microwave ¾ cup of white chocolate or almond bark for dipping and in 20 second increments, stirring regularly until melted and smooth. Do not overheat as the chocolate may seize. Quickly dip the bottoms of each meringue in chocolate and then dip in either sprinkles or the chopped pecans. Allow to cool on wax or parchment paper and eat within 1-2 days. Keep in a dry, moisture free place covered and air tight as meringues will get sticky over time, particularly in humid climates.
To follow the Easter story, check out the link in my blog post.
Approximately half of my all-time favorite recipes either begin or end with caramel. No other food satisfies my sweet and salty craving like a rich caramel sauce; no other flavor works better with my favorite chocolate cakes, apple pies, and creamy ice creams. Homemade caramel is a tricky yet essential skill that every home baker needs to master, so in today’s post we’re going to talk all the nitty gritty on how to make caramel.
WHAT IS IT?
Caramel is little more than the product of sugar that has been heated and cooked to the point of caramelization. A finished caramel has a unique taste and can be manipulated to flavor a number of confections.
HOW DO YOU MAKE IT?
This is the question that used to keep me up at night. I’d lie awake, shuddering at the burned, sugar-coated mess in my kitchen sink, wondering where I went wrong. After a bit of research and some time spent with my food scientist hat on, I’ve figured out what works best for me to create a delicious, no-fail caramel every time. Let’s dig in.
Two Ways to Make Caramel:
There are two methods to make a caramel: dry and wet. In some instances, sugar is heated in a pan solo and allowed to melt, cook, and caramelize without the help of any other ingredient. In other cases, sugar is dissolved in a bit of water and the syrup itself is what caramelizes on the stove. Although many of the baking resources I revere prefer a dry caramel, I have found, in my personal experience, that a wet caramel is much more simple to nail every time. So from here on out today, we’re going to talk about that method. If you’re just dying to make a dry caramel, I’d recommend checking out David Lebovitz’s explanation of that process here. He will help you to avoid the grainy mess that a dry caramel can often be.
Step One: Combine the Sugar and Water
Gather up all of your ingredients and have them ready before you start cooking. Once a caramel is on a roll it’s hard to get that train to stop. So have everything you need to finish out your caramel prepped and ready.
You’ll need a large, heavy-bottomed pan, a rubber spatula, and your water and sugar to get started. I chose to use my enamel-coated cast-iron pot, but any kind of stainless steel or light-colored pan will work. If you plan to add cream of milk to the caramel after it’s done (as you would with an ice cream or caramel sauce), you’ll need to be sure to use a large pan as liquid added to caramel will bubble up fiercely. Try to avoid using any pan with a dark-colored bottom, as it is more difficult to tell when your caramel has reached the appropriate level of doneness. Combine the sugar and water in the pan and place it over medium-high heat.
Step Two: Allow the Sugar to Dissolve
The first phase of making a caramel is allowing the sugar to dissolve into the water. Throughout this phase you can stir the mixture in your pan as you please. You’ll notice the mixture changes from being a grainy water to a slightly viscous syrup. Continue to stir occasionally until the sugar has just barely dissolved. To verify that the sugar has dissolved, carefully rub a bit of the non-boiling mixture between your fingers. If you notice a grainy feel, the sugar has not dissolved yet. Keep cooking until the mixture feels smooth between your fingers.
Step 3: Caramelize the Sugar Syrup
Once the sugar has just barely dissolved, STOP STIRRING YOUR MIXTURE. Other recipes may contradict this statement, but in my experience, stirring a caramel will lead to a pan full of rock candy- no joke. So just leave it alone while it comes to a boil and begins to bronze. Some recipes may call for you to “baste” the sides of your pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent crystals from forming along the perimeter of your pot. You’re totally welcome to do this if you prefer, but I find that if you truly leave it alone on the stove the crystal build-up on the pan won’t be too bad.
Once the syrup has come to a boil, you’ll likely notice the color will first begin changing around the edges of the pan. If you see that some parts of the syrup are browning a lot faster than others, you can give an occasional gentle swirl to the pan- one time, barely moving it, and really just to allow the mixture to caramelize evenly. Be sure to not swirl the mixture all over the sides of the pan. Continue to let the mixture cook on the stove.
As you begin to see the mixture turn golden, do not leave your pan’s side. The caramelization process happens quick, and you want to be there when it’s time to remove it from the heat. From golden, the mixture will continue to darken. Pull you pan off of the heat when you see the mixture turn to the color of a shiny copper penny. That’s how you know it’s done!
Step 4: Stop the Cooking Process
Once the caramel is the perfect shade of auburn, you need to stop the cooking process to prevent it from burning. If you’re making a caramel sauce or chewy caramel candies, this is when you’d carefully add the cream or milk to your pan. If you’re using the caramel to line your pan for a upside-down cake or flan, now is the time to add it to the dish! And if you need to stop the cooking process so that the warm caramel can be spun or added to a number of other dishes, have a bowl of ice water ready to dunk the bottom of your pan in. If you don’t stop the heat, the caramel will likely burn, so have your next steps laid out for you before you even begin the process.
HOW CAN I USE IT?
More often than not, when I’m making caramel, I use it to create a caramel sauce. There’s almost always a jar of homemade caramel sauce in my fridge waiting to be spooned over ice cream, layered into cakes, or sandwiched in between cookies. I’ll leave a few links below to some of my favorite caramel-containing recipes.
Yes. David Lebovitz wrote a whole post about this that you need to read here. If you’ve never made homemade caramel before, you’ll want to give this a read ASAP. He’s really a food genius, so you can trust what he says!
Give homemade caramel a try in your home kitchens this weekend. If you follow these steps, I feel confident you can have success in the kitchen! I’m sharing my favorite recipe for homemade caramel sauce below as well, so if you want to finish out the caramel in a decadent, use-everywhere kind of sauce, this is your chance! Happy Labor Day weekend and happy baking!
If you liked this post on how to make caramel, you should check out:
Learn how to make homemade caramel and homemade salted caramel sauce here!
Total Time:17 minutes
To make caramel:
1/4 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar
To make salted caramel sauce:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, slightly warm
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
To make caramel:
Stir the water and sugar together in a large heavy-bottomed, light-colored pan. Set the pan over medium high heat. Stir occasionally, allowing the sugar to dissolve. Once the sugar granules have dissolved completely, quite stirring the mixture and allow it the sugar to come to a boil. Once the mixture begins boiling, watch it carefully as the mixture turns from clear, to pale yellow, to golden. You can swirl the mixture occasionally to keep it browning evenly. After about 9 minutes of boiling, the mixture willl turn into a deep color, similar to a shiny copper penny. Remove the mixture from the heat and use immediately.
To make salted caramel sauce:
Once you caramel has completed browning, remove from heat and immediately being to slowly add the heavy whipping cream, whisking vigorously to incorporate. Wear oven mitts during this process to ensure that the fierce steam and bubbling doesn’t spatter or burn your hands. Place back on low heat and continue stirring for about 1-2 minutes until the mixture is smooth and incorporated. Add the butter and salt, stir to combine, and allow the mixture to cool in a heat-proof container. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Once the sugar has caramelized to the correct color it will burn if you do not stop the cooking! Read through the post for more tips on creating the perfect caramel!
There are a few recipes that every home baker needs to know like the back of their hand. Ganache, with only two ingredients and two steps to create it, is one of a few baking fundamentals that can elevate homemade dishes to sweet, chocolatey bliss. Despite its simplicity, ganache often scares bakers away from attempting to make it themselves at home. Today, in an effort to conquer this Everest, we are going to cover the basics on ganache so that you can create decadent, chocolate dishes with ease from here on out. We’re also going to learn how to make 4 different types of homemade chocolate truffles from a single ganache base, so if you’re interested in making some treats for your valentine (or yourself, no judgement here!), this is a post you’ll want to listen in on. Let’s get started!
What Is It?
Ganache is the mixture of warmed cream and chocolate. It can be used to glaze, fill, coat, or whip into baked goods and desserts. Ganache can take on a variety of forms depending on the cream to chocolate ratio; the concentration and preparation of these two ingredients will alter the final product.
How Do You Make It?
All ganaches begin by heating heavy whipping cream until hot but not boiling. The warm cream is poured over finely chopped chocolate and allowed to rest for a few minutes. Once the chocolate has melted enough to be stirred into the cream. When combined, the chocolate and cream transform into a smooth and rich liquid that we know as ganache.
What Are the Different Types of Ganache?
The proportion of cream to chocolate will determine how viscous your final product will be. A higher cream:chocolate weight ratio will land you a more thin chocolate glaze. Likewise, a ganache with more chocolate than cream will result in a thick, fudgy texture. Here are three basic cream:chocolate ratios that you need to know.
1:1 – One part cream to one part chocolate
Using the same weight of cream and chocolate will result in a thick fudge sauce consistency. When warm, this ganache can be poured thickly over cakes, breads, and ice cream. When chilled, the ganache can be used to fill cakes, pastries, and tarts. If whipped, this ganache ratio will transform into a hardening frosting that is perfect for cakes to be covered in fondant. You might remember this ganache from marble loaf pound cake .
1:2 – One part cream to two parts chocolate
Ganache will become thick and viscous as you increase the amount of chocolate to cream. The more chocolate, the thicker it will be. We will use this ratio later today to prepare homemade truffles, but you might remember a similarly rich ganache from the mint chocolate sandwich cookies.
2:1 – Two parts cream to one part chocolate
When warm, this ganache will be a thin, pourable glaze that can be used to coat baked goods, but when allowed to cool, this ganache ratio will whip into a light and fluffy frosting that will stay soft upon setting.
What Else Do I Need to Know About Ganache?
There’s a few other things that will affect your final ganache. First: time and temperature. A warm, freshly made ganache will be a bit more loose than one that has been resting at room temperature or chilled overnight in the fridge. Given enough time and cool temperatures, all ganaches will firm up somewhat from their warm state. For example, if you’ve prepared a thick ganache with more chocolate than cream, you’ll find the ganache is pourable and saucy while warm, but will harden up to a firm, malleable consistency after some time in the fridge. Cold ganache will always be more firm than a warm one, so if you find that your final outcome is not as thick as you anticipated, it may be that you just need to let it rest a bit more.
The type of chocolate that you choose to use will also affect your final ganache. While most recipes call for bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, ganache can be made with white or milk chocolate as well. The type of chocolate you choose will affect the flavor and texture of your ganache, so be sure to use chocolate that you would normally enjoy eating on its own.
Finally, ganache can be flavored with a few simple add-ins. Extracts, liquors, and even nut butters can be whisked into a warm ganache to to add flavor the the chocolate base. I’ll share a few simple variations below, but be sure to tell me if you have any favorites that I need to try!
Homemade Chocolate Truffles
Let’s be honest. There’s nothing sweeter than romance via chocolate on Valentine’s Day and no better way to share that love than by making homemade chocolate truffles. Now that you’ve mastered ganache, you can easily prepare 4 different homemade chocolate truffles to show love to your boo thang. Of course there’s a million other options, but here are a few rich candies to get started with:
Simple Chocolate Truffles
The gold standard for chocolate candies, these babies are the most basic form of truffle, prepared by scooping firm rounds of chilled ganache and rolling it in cocoa powder. These are perfect for the more-is-more kind of chocolate lover in your life.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles
Here, peanut butter is stirred into the warm ganache before it’s chilled to a thick consistency. Once firm, simply scoop small mounds of chocolate to roll and refrigerate until cold. The chilled balls are then dipped in a coating of melted chocolate and sprinkled with chopped peanuts.
Dark Chocolate Truffles with Sea Salt
Simple, rich, and decadent are these truffles, made by preparing a dark chocolate ganache with the addition of sea salt. Once chilled, balls of ganache are dipped in dark chocolate, and a sprinkle of sea salt gives these little guys a sophisticated look with that sweet and salty taste.
Hazelnut Chocolate Truffles
Similar to the peanut butter truffles, these hazelnut truffles are made by stirring chocolate hazelnut spread into the warm ganache. I like to roll the chilled truffles in chopped hazelnuts, but certainly you could dip these in chocolate as well.
A Few Other Chocolate Truffle Filling Variations:
Boozy Truffles: Add 1 tablespoon of rum, bourbon, coffee or orange liqueur into the warm chocolate ganache recipe.
Vanilla Truffles: Add 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract to the warm chocolate ganache. Roll the finished balls in powdered sugar.
Coconut Truffles: Add 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract to the warm chocolate ganache and roll the finished balls in toasted sweetened coconut.
Peppermint Truffles: Add 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract to the warm chocolate ganache and roll the finished balls in crushed candy canes.
Ok, I’m Obsessed with Ganache. How Do I Get Started?!
Ganache and homemade truffles are one of the easiest recipes you’ll make all year. Once you know how to make a base ganache you can make a ton of different treats like peanut butter chocolate cheesecake, mint brownie ice cream cake, and pretzel millionaire bars. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you’ll be glad to have this technique in your pocket, and you honey booboo will be even more thrilled. Give these homemade chocolate truffles a try and let me know what you think! #MonthofChocolate will continue next week, so stay tuned for more milky cocoa goodness!
Making homemade ganache is simple and only requires two ingredients. Use some basic ratios to learn how to make the perfect ganache your recipe needs!
Total Time:10 minutes
Dark Chocolate, finely chopped
Heavy Whipping Cream
Place the chocolate in a bowl and set aside while you prepare the cream.Warm the cream in a saucepan over medium-low heat until cream is hot and beginning to steam. Do not boil.
Pour the warm cream over the chopped chocolate and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Allow it to rest about 5 minutes, and then use a spoon or spatula to stir the chocolate and cream together. If the chocolate is not completely melted you can microwave the chocolate and cream together in 15 second increments, stirring until the two have combined.
Allow the ganache to cool to your desired consistency. You can expedite this process by placing the bowl in the refrigerator. Stir it regularly to keep it uniform in consistency.
For a thick glaze/ cake or pie filling:
Use a 1:1 chocolate to cream ratio.
Weigh equal amounts of cream and chocolate. For example, you may use 2 ounces of heavy whipping cream and 2 ounces of chocolate to make 4 ounces of ganache.
If you plan to frost a cake with this ganache, allow it to cool and then whip with a paddle attachment until fluffy in the bowl of a stand mixer.
For truffle thick ganache:
Use a 1:2 cream to chocolate ratio.
Weigh out double the amount of chocolate to cream. For example, you might combine 2 ounces of cream and 4 ounces of chocolate to make 6 ounces of truffle thick ganache.
If you plan to use this ganache to make truffles, chill the ganache until it is firm enough to scoop.
For a thin glaze/ whipped ganache:
Use a 2:1 cream to chocolate ratio.
Weigh out double the amount of cream than chocolate. For example, you might combine 4 ounces of cream and 2 ounces of chocolate to prepare 6 ounces of thin ganache.
For whipped ganache, allow the cream to set out or chill in the fridge until slightly thickened and viscous. Place in the bowl of a stand mixer and use the whisk attachment to beat until light and fluffy. Be sure to not overbeat- you may make butter!
1 cup (180 gm) chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate for dipping, optional
Toasted peanuts or hazelnuts, finely chopped, optional
Place the chopped chocolate in a small mixing bowl
Heat the heavy whipping cream until hot. Pour over the chocolate, stir to combine, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow to rest 5 minutes and then stir to combine until smooth. Microwave in 15 second increments if the chocolate is not thoroughly melted. If you plan to make classic truffles, refrigerate this mixture until firmed but still malleable. Scoop out 2 teaspoon sized balls and roll them in cocoa powder. Refrigerate to firm and then serve at room temperature.
For peanut butter truffles:
Stir the peanut butter into the warm ganache and place in the fridge to chill. Once the ganache is set but still scoopable, spoon 2 teaspoon sized balls (I use a small cookie scoop) of ganache and roll gently in your hands. Place the balls back in the fridge to cool. In the meantime, melt the additional chocolate in a double boiler set over medium-low heat. Roll each chilled ball in the melted chocolate and place on a piece of parchment or wax paper to set. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and cool completely in the fridge.
For hazelnut truffles:
Stir the chocolate hazelnut spread into the warm ganache and place in the fridge to chill. Once the ganache is set but still scoopable, spoon 2 teaspoon sized balls (I use a small cookie scoop) of ganache and roll gently in your hands. Roll each ball in the finely chopped hazelnuts and place in the fridge to set.
For sea salt truffles:
Sprinkle in a small pinch of salt and stir to combine. Place in the fridge to chill. Once the ganache is set but still scoopable, spoon 2 teaspoon sized balls (I use a small cookie scoop) of ganache and roll gently in your hands. In the meantime, melt the additional chocolate in a double boiler set over medium-low heat. Roll each chilled ball in the melted chocolate and place on a piece of parchment or wax paper to set. Sprinkle with sea salt and allow to firm up at room temperature or in the fridge.
There’s a few skills that every baker, professional and novice alike, needs to have in their repertoire. This is the second installment in the “You Need to Know” series where we explore basic baking techniques and tap into the know-how that is required to master them. In today’s edition, we are going to whip our way to the cloud-like heaven that is perfectly whipped cream, so if you need to know the ins and outs, keep reading!
What is it?
Whipped cream is cream or heavy cream that has been whipped. Throughout the process, the texture changes from a fatty liquid to a light and fluffy foam. As the cream whips, air bubbles incorporate into the fat, resulting in an airy mixture that is approximately double the volume of the original liquid. A high amount of fat is required for the whipped cream to be stable, so heavy whipping cream or one that contains at least 30% fat is typically recommended for best outcomes.
How do you make it?
You can make whipped cream in a number of ways. First, you can use a chilled bowl and wire whisk, a hand mixer, a stand mixer, or even a a glass jar with a lid! The key is to start with very cold cream. The fat in the cream will melt at warmer temperatures, resulting in a lack of stability for the emulsification. I prefer to make my whipped cream with a hand mixer fitted with the beater attachments; I find it a lot easier to monitor the progress of your whipped cream this way. Feel free to use whatever you have on hand and feel comfortable working with.
Step One: Begin whipping!
Pour the cream into a mixing bowl and whip at low speed. If you are using a stand mixer, I use the whisk attachment on speed 2 or 4. Beat the mixture steadily until you notice the cream beginning to froth and barely thicken.
Step Two: Add sweetener and flavoring!
Once your cream is frothy, it is stable enough to add sweeteners and flavoring. For a traditional sweetened whipped cream, a small portion of granulated or powdered sugar is typically used. Alternatively, you can use honey, brown sugar, or even agave nectar. The color and texture may differ slightly, but all should yield successful results. Vanilla extract, lemon zest, almond extract, or even cocoa powder can be added to your cream for flavor; just use in moderation, adding only until the desired flavor is achieved.
Step Three: Watch for peaks!
After the add-ins have been included, continue whipping and increase the speed. The cream transforms from a bubbly liquid to a thickened mixture. You might notice a trace of the beater or whisk as it spins around the bowl. Man your post at the mixer; once the cream begins to thicken, you’re only a few moments away from perfect whipped cream. Keep whipping and watching, and you’ll soon notice soft and fluffy mounds forming on the top of the cream, finally increasing in volume to thick, smooth clouds that barely billow up onto themselves in the bowl.
Once your cream gets close to doubling in volume, turn off your mixer and pull the whisk from the bowl. The cream is adequately whipped once it holds its shape on the end of the whisk without wilting over or plopping off the end of the attachment. Be sure to not over-beat the cream- you may end up with butter!
What if I over-beat it?
If you continue beating your cream beyond the point of whipped cream, you’ll notice small lumps in your bowl, forming a grainy, thick mixture. Don’t fret- as long as you haven’t breached the fine line between whipped cream and butter, you can still rescue it! Add a few extra tablespoons of cream into your bowl and slowly whisk it into the mixture. If it’s not beyond repair, the mixture will smooth right back out and you’ll be back in the game. If you happened to take it too far, that’s okay too! You’re well on your way to making fresh, homemade butter, and we all know there’s plenty of room in the kitchen for that.
What do I use it for?
Whipped cream is an excellent topping for cakes, pies, coffees, and sundaes, but is often incorporated into recipes in a number of other ways. You may fold whipped cream into trifles or cream pies,no-churn ice cream or icebox cakes. With nothing more than a bit of cream and a handful of fresh fruit, you are well on your way to preparing a simple dessert that takes little time and zero fuss. Homemade whipped cream is fantastic on its own and adds a sweet and creamy mouthfeel when incorporated into homemade desserts.
Is there anything else I need to know?
Yep, probably, so if you want to get your nerd on, be sure to check out this article. If you’re interested in more photos of the different phases of whipped cream, this post from King Arthur Flour is really helpful. And if you’re just wanting some inspiration on how to use whipped cream, be sure to check out this page of my blog that includes a number of recipes requiring a little fluff of cream.
To all of my American friends, have a great Labor Day! Be sure to reference this post next time you need a little whipped cream in your life. And don’t forget to vote for the Saveur Blog Awards! The polls are open until Wednesday, the 6th of September, and you can find me in the “Best Baking and Sweets” category. Have a great week!
Learn how to make whipped cream, step by step with photos, in this quick and simple tutorial.
Total Time:5 minutes
1 cup (240 mL) heavy whipping cream, very cold
3 tablespoons sugar
Pour the cream into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-low speed until the mixture becomes frothy and foamy. Add the sugar. Increase the speed to high and whip until you notice traces of the mixer attachment in the cream. Continue whipping, watching carefully, until the mixture thickens into smooth pillowy clouds, nearly doubles in size, and barely holds its shape on the end of the whisk attachment. Use immediately.
For vanilla whipped cream: add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For chocolate whipped cream: add 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
For honey whipped cream: add 3 tablespoons good honey in place of the sugar.
For lemon whipped cream: add 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest or more, according to your preferences.
If you’ve been around the block a time or two, you’ve probably already become acquainted with brown butter. You know it by its nutty aroma and speckled amber hue. You’ve already been allured by the rich caramel flavors, seduced by the complexity it adds to sweet and savory dishes alike. But for the average home baker, brown butter is a mystery. What is it? Where can I find it? How do I make it?
If you fall into that second category, allow me to make the introduction. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the magical world of brown butter.
WHAT IS BROWN BUTTER?
Brown butter, or beurre noisette, is basically regular old butter that is gently melted and cooked until it browns which results in a change of flavor, aroma, and color. Butter is made up of water, fat, and protein. When it is cooked beyond the point of melting, the water will slowly evaporate leaving the butterfat and milk protein to continue cooking. As the proteins cook, they will begin to brown, which will be evident in the changes that you’ll notice in your pan.
HOW DO YOU MAKE BROWN BUTTER?
A fine question, dear friend. I’m glad you asked. To make brown butter, all you need is a quality stick of butter, a metal pan for your stovetop (I use this one), and a whisk or a spatula to gently stir with. I prefer to use a a light bottomed pan and a whisk, so whip those out if you have them. To help explain the browning process, I’ve taken some photos and notes. Let’s get started!
Step One: Melt the butter
Place your butter in a pan over medium-low heat. I like to cube my butter into equal sized chunks, and I prefer a light-colored pan so that I can monitor the browning process easily. Use whatever you feel comfortable with. Allow the butter to melt, stirring occasionally, until the butter is entirely liquid. As the butter continues to heat, it will begin to sizzle and foam, which is a good indication that the water has begun to evaporate.
Step Two: Begin browning the butter
Once the water has completely evaporated, the protein in the butter can begin browning! This is when you need to stay glued to your pan. Once you notice that the butter isn’t sizzling as much, begin whisking it regularly to ensure that the proteins brown evenly. We don’t want to burn the butter on the bottom of the pan while the liquid skimming the top remains unaffected. So keep whisking and watching. You’ll notice little golden flecks beginning to form on the bottom of the pan which is a thumbs up that you’re getting super close.
Step Three: Brown that butter!
The butter will continue to darken and brown as it cooks. Man your post at the stove and keep that whisk moving to ensure that the milk proteins cook evenly and you don’t wind up with burnt bits of butter. You’ll notice the changing aromas as the butter continues to brown. Trust me when I tell you that it tastes as good as it smells. Keep stirring and agitating the butter until you reach your desired degree of darkness. Then, remove the pan from the stovetop and pour the butter, browned bits and all, into a separate bowl. Don’t leave it in the pan or the residual heat will continue to cook and brown your butter, likely resulting in a burnt finish.
The trickiest part of this process is knowing when to pull you pan from the heat. There are a few different degrees of brown butter. Some recipes may call for a lighter, less-browned butter, while others may encourage you to continuing cooking, even to the point of nearly burning it. So to help identify what you’re looking for, I’ve got you covered with a photo lineup of the different varieties of brown butter.
The Three Degrees of Browned Butter
First up is a super-light, golden butter. At this phase of the game, you’ll notice deep golden flecks forming at the bottom of the pan, but the overall hue is still pretty light. This degree of brown butter isn’t as rich in flavor, but may be just the ticket for a number of dishes. If a recipe you’re using calls for “lightly browned butter,” this is exactly what you’re looking for.
Next up is the OG of brown butter- the gold standard. When in doubt, go for this degree of browning. Here, the color is darker, and the flavor is richer. This butter will give off a strong nutty, almost caramel scent and those same flavors will be present in the taste as well. This is the brown butter we fold into streusel crumbs, toss in our pasta sauces, and whisk into sugar for a delightfully decadent cake glaze.
If you’re willing to take the risk and allow your butter to brown in the pan just until the point of burning, you can score the darkest butter of all. Ultra-dark butter adds scads of flavor when chilled and creamed into cookies, cakes, and more. The extra color results in an extra oomph of flavor, so you’ll land terrific tasting treats every time.
HOW CAN I USE BROWN BUTTER?
I have a very specific rule of thumb about when it is most appropriate to use brown butter. Are you ready? Ok, here it is:
USE IT ALL THE TIME BECAUSE IT’S THE BEST.
That’s it! Simple, right? Ok, I’m kind of kidding. When making things like pasta sauces, salad dressings, toppings for breads and sauces for proteins, brown butter is a perfectly acceptable substitution for regular butter and oil. However, when adding it to baked goods like cookies, cakes, and pie crusts, there’s a few things to consider. Remember how we cooked all of the water out of the butter? Well, water is a really important part of baking! We need water to add moisture, to create steam in the oven, and to do a number of other nerdy food science stuff that I won’t bore your with here. So if we substitute brown butter for regular butter, we have to remember that our final outcome will likely be affected by of the lack of H2O. To compensate, sometimes you can add a bit less dry ingredient (like flour) or a wee bit of extra water or fat. But sometimes it’s just isn’t a good sub and we just have to dry our tears and be okay with that.
Yes. There’s tons. But this isn’t that kind of blog. I’m giving you what I think you want to know as well as a few other science geek tidbits that I just couldn’t hold myself back from. If you have more questions about, please share them with me below in the comments section! I would love to help in any way!
This is the first in what I hope will become a fun and helpful series for you all. Baking becomes so much easier and enjoyable when you understand some basics and have a few tips and techniques up your sleeve to help achieve success in the kitchen every time. So stick around for a few more things you need to know. I can’t wait to share more! Have a great weekend and cheers to you!
This is a quick and simply tutorial on how to brown butter. Making brown butter has never been easier with this photographic how-to!
Total Time:10 minutes
1/2 cup (113 gm) unsalted butter, cut into equal-sized chunks.
Place butter chunks in a light-colored pan over medium-low heat. Allow the butter to melt completely, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking.
Once the butter has melted, you’ll notice it begin to sizzle and foam. Continue stirring occasionally. Once the crackling has subsided, you’ll notice small golden flecks forming on the bottom of the pan. Begin stirring constantly with a whisk or a spatula to agitate the butter and keep it cooking evenly. Continue cooking until the desired level of brownness is reached. Remove the butter from the pan to a separate bowl to discontinue the cooking process.