Pink Peppercorn Buttercream

October 15, 2013
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes about 6 cups
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

What You'll Need
  • 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)
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Christina @ Christina's Cucina
    Christina @ Christina's Cucina
  • melissav
  • fiveandspice
  • dymnyno
  • aargersi

14 Reviews

Christina @. November 8, 2013
Congrats on being a finalist! NOTE TO EVERYONE: Pink peppercorns are related to cashews, therefore anyone with a nut allergy should avoid them. This is a little known fact and can be fatal, as we found out the hard way with my daughter (anaphylactic reaction).
melissav November 7, 2013
Congrats! But you have to also share the recipe for the buttery almond cake and tart cherry filling! You have me craving that!
fiveandspice November 7, 2013
Yum! This looks so delicious and creative. Congrats on being a finalist!
dymnyno November 7, 2013
Congratulations! Your cake was gorgeous and the frosting sounds delicious.

aargersi November 7, 2013
Congratulations! This is a beautiful frosting
creamtea October 25, 2013
I knew as soon as I saw this it would come up for CP or Finalist! Beautiful!
dymnyno October 15, 2013
So pretty! I am a big pink peppercorn fan and use them on lots of recipes, mostly savory. This is unique and very creative!
dymnyno October 15, 2013
Your cake and website are gorgeous. Did you know that Cannele + Vanille uses the same recipe for macaron filling in their June 2, 2009 blog?
hardlikearmour October 16, 2013
I'm sure you didn't mean to imply this recipe is the one from Cannele et Vanille. Theirs is a Swiss meringue buttercream, and this one is an Italian meringue buttercream which make them quite different in technique.
Tessa H. October 16, 2013
Yes, I suppose they are pretty similar. I love Aran's work, but don't think I ever saw this recipe of hers. Yum. Either recipe is definitely worth a try!
dymnyno October 16, 2013
Sorry! I did not mean to imply anything. I love pink peppercorns and love to toss them on chocolate frosting as well as many savory recipes. I googled "Pink peppercorn buttercream" and Cannele et Vanelle's recipe came up and I noticed the ingredients were the same.
darksideofthespoon October 15, 2013
Gorgeous cake!!!
darksideofthespoon October 15, 2013
Are the tops Meringues or uncoloured buttercream?
Tessa H. October 16, 2013
They are baby, baked meringues ;)