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Buttercream: where did I go wrong?

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Buttercream: where did I go wrong?

dberg1313 | May 12, 2009 11:59 AM

I tried to make the buttercream recipe from the Cooks Illustrated Family Baking book this weekend and ended up with a mess that took me over 2 hours to fix. I need to know where I went wrong!
The instructions called for 6 egg yolks, corn syrup, sugar, butter, and one is directed to beat the egg yolks while heating together corn syrup and sugar in a saucepan. No temperature was given, which I thought strange, but they assured me in the recipe that this would produce a smooth finished buttercream. I am an accomplished home cook and have made Italian buttercream numerous times by the way. So I dribbled in the corn syrup/sugar, just like usual, and attempted to beat the buttercream and came up with major chunks of hardened sugar! After cleaning up the resulting mess (bowl almost completely caked with granite-hard sugar!), I went back to an old standby (OK, my pastry chef daughter came to the rescue with her recipe) and boiled water together with the sugar to the specific temperature, and instead of cracking more eggs, beat the whites with some sugar, trickled the hot sugar in, continued to beat and so on.
I admit I ended up with a cottage cheese like glop but was assured (daughter again) that I could heat it briefly over a burner. It did come together beautifully, so all was well in the end.

But come on, what did I do wrong? D@mn you, Christopher Kimball! When will I learn?!!

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