Pink Peppercorn Buttercream

October 15, 2013
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Paired with a buttery almond cake and tart cherry filling, this frosting is unique, unexpected, but oh-so delectable.

One benefit of making sweets for family and friends is that I get to experiment with new flavor combinations. My mother’s birthday was last week, and I was excited to try something a bit different. Year to year, I always try to one-up myself with unique flavors, creative designs, and new pastry techniques. This year's recipe starred this pink-flecked frosting. I used an Italian meringue buttercream base and the pink peppercorn paired beautifully. The buttercream is slightly sweet and buttery, and the spicy-sweet crushed peppers added a level of flavor that was unexpected and vibrant. —Tessa Huff

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Tessa_StyleSweetCA is a pastry chef by trade who lives Vancouver.
WHAT: A frosting with a kick.
HOW: Make an Italian buttercream, spice it up, try not to eat it all before it gets to the cake.
WHY WE LOVE IT: A good buttercream is a beautiful thing, but it can grow tired, and expected. The perfect solution? Pink peppercorns. —The Editors

  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes about 6 cups
  • 6 ounces egg whites
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons to 4 finely crushed pink peppercorns (or to taste)
  • 1 pinch salt (or to taste)
  • 2 drops to 3 pink food gel (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. Place the sugar and water in a medium sauce pan. Stir slightly to dissolve.
  2. Heat over medium-high until the sugar mixture reaches 238 on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and let rest 10 to 15 seconds.
  3. Meanwhile, place the egg whites the mixing bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form. (It's best to start this process when the thermometer reads about 200 to 210 degrees on your sugar mixture.)
  4. Once your egg whites are whipped and the sugar reaches 238 degrees, carefully pour the sugar into the mixing bowl. Do so with the mixer still on high speed.
  5. Continue to whip until the outside of the mixing bowl becomes room temperature.
  6. Stop the mixer and switch our the whisk for the paddle attachment.
  7. While mixing on low, gradually add in the vanilla and butter. Once everything is combined, continue mixing on medium-high until smooth.
  8. Add in the crushed peppercorn, salt, and food coloring.

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