1 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Pastry Cream:
2 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons corn starch
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Begin by making the pastry cream. It will be a major ingredient in the vanilla buttercream that will create a very creamy, rich, buttercream, much like French buttercream. The pastry cream can be made up to 2 days in advance.
In a saucepan, bring milk and salt to a simmer over medium heat.
In the meantime, combine the sugar, corn starch, cream and egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk together for a few minutes until thick and pale yellow.
Slowly, pour the hot milk in the egg mixture one ladle full at a time while whisking.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly until thickened.
Remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Whisk well.
Place the pastry cream into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to cool to room temperature.
For a quick cool, fill a large mixing bowl with ice and place the bowl with the pastry cream over the ice. Mix with a spatula every 5 minutes. The pastry cream should be ready to use in 15 minutes.
If the pastry cream was made a few days ahead and is very cold, either microwave it at 10 second intervals until it reaches room temperature, or place it in a warm water bath. This can be done by placing the bowl with the pastry cream in a larger bowl filled with warm water.
It is crucial that the pastry cream and the butter at the same temperature in order for the buttercream to be ultra smooth.
Also, when the pastry cream is made ahead of time and is refrigerated it will thicken and seem hard. Beat it in a tabletop mixer until smooth or by hand. If necessary, add 1-2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream and beat until smooth.
Place the butter, salt, vanilla extract, and confectioners sugar in the bowl of a tabletop mixer. Beat until smooth and fluffy.
Add the pastry cream to the butter mixture in 2-3 batches. Beat until, thick, creamy, and very smooth. About 3-5 minutes.
This basic recipe can be used to make so many different flavor variations:
Chocolate hazelnut buttercream: add 1/2 cup or more of your favorite chocolate hazelnut spread to the buttercream and beat to incorporate.
Almond buttercream: Substitute 1 teaspoon almond extract for the vanilla extract
Coffee buttercream: dilute 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules to 1-2 tablespoons water and add to buttercream. Beat to incorporate
Fruit flavored buttercream: Add 1/2 cup or more of your favorite fruit jam to the buttercream and beat well to incorporate
Chocolate buttercream: Add 12 ounces melted chocolate to the buttercream and beat well to incorporate
The options are endless but, one thin is for sure. We have been using this delicious recipe at our bakery for the past 10 years and everyone loves it. It is velvety smooth, creamy, and delicious.