I’ve made butter cream multiple times in the past, but I’ve never been quite satisfied. (Except when I make it at work, which is extremely rare and lucky…) So I hesitated to use it on my precious, precious Halloween cupcakes. Consequently I decided to try to make two types and see which one I liked.
I made a small batch of royal icing, at the recommendation of a coworker, and it turned out amazing. And this time my butter cream came out really well too, so I feel I know what I’m doing now.
But since these are for a special occasion, I didn’t think any normal tasting icing would do, so I made them cinnamon flavored with the addition of a few drops of cinnamon oil.
For the Royal Icing I used:
1 large egg white
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
~2 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
4 drops cinnamon oil
I had trouble using my stand mixer for this because it was such a small amount, so you may have to either do this by hand or use a hand mixer. Start by beating the egg white and lemon juice until combined.
Add the cinnamon oil then the sugar one half cup at a time and mix. How much sugar you ultimately use depends on how thick or runny you want it, so make sure you have a test surface. Wax paper works well, or even spare cupcakes. I had plenty of those since this whole endeavor was an experiment. Originally I was only going to use a total of 1 1/2 cups of sugar, but that was way too runny for what I wanted. I was looking for something thick that wouldn’t run off the edges too much and got pretty much what I wanted.
One thing that’s nice about royal icing is how pretty it looks. It stays very smooth and as it is exposed to air, it hardens slightly and makes a sort of glossy shell. It is perfect for pouring over something to make an immaculate cover, or for creating a clean look (as long as it’s not too runny). One danger though is that what you don’t use must be handled carefully if you don’t want it to try up and become useless. I put my extra in a bowl in the fridge with cling wrap directly on top, eliminating any air from touching the surface. That’s how you store it, but ideally you’d use all of it instantly.
Next was the batch of butter cream. For this I only used:
1/2 stick of butter (room temperature, or close to it)
quite a bit of POWDERED sugar
7 drops cinnamon oil
I put the emphasis there because I think that is where I went wrong in so many of my previously failed attempts. Also, I guess because of butters overwhelmingly delicious taste, more cinnamon oil was necessary for this icing, which was a bit disappointing.
I started by whisking the butter to a creamy consistency, dropped in the cinnamon oil, then added the sugar little by little (about 1-2 tbs at a time) until I had achieved optimal consistency and taste. It is integral to perform the finger-lick test periodically to ensure maximum scrumptious-ness.
What’s nice about when you have the right ingredients, there isn’t an exact stopping point; there is a wide range of how thick it can be and all of which work for cupcakes. Butter cream’s also pretty easy to spread, but it comes off looking a lot more informal, unless you take a lot of time making it look nice.
After tasting both of the end results, multiple times, I decided that for this event royal icing would suit the cupcakes best, with the butter cream saved for writing and decorating.