I used this buttercream for the first (and only) wedding I ever catered -- for the brother of a good friend. The bride and groom-to-be wanted cupcakes instead of a majestic four-tiered affair, which took some of the heat off. But although I had a couple of excellent cake recipes under my belt, at the time I didn't have a go-to buttercream. So I paged through several of my cookbooks and finally stumbled across one of Julia Child's recipes that looked promising. I have never looked back.This buttercream is as easy as pie to make, not too sweet, and it can be flavored in all sorts of ways. The egg yolks add a silkiness that's unbeatable, but if you're at all concerned about salmonella, you can opt to leave them out. —Merrill Stubbs
about 1 1/2 cups (enough to ice a single-layered 8" cake)
(1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
egg yolks (from good quality eggs that have been refrigerated)
sifted confectioner's sugar
kirsch, rum, orange liqueur, strong coffee OR 1 tablespoon vanilla extract OR 2 ounces melted semisweet chocolate
Beat all of the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer or with a hand beater for about 5 minutes at medium speed, until creamy and light. Chill until cold, but still spreadable, before using. Make sure to keep the cake refrigerated after you've iced it, and serve soon after removing from the fridge.