Recipe by Abby Falck
I got the idea for this frosting many years ago, when I read that, on her 100th birthday, the Queen Mum's cake had a gin frosting. I don't think I'd reached the legal drinking age yet, but I already knew that sounded delicious! This is NOT a recipe for a child's birthday cake! It's for a very grown-up birthday cake to get your grown-up friends tipsy on cake. Not for those under the legal drinking age in your jurisdiction. I finally found the perfect frosting to absorb the gin without becoming runny - Swiss meringue. Although it sounds complicated, it's actually a very forgiving recipe. In fact, one of the best things you can do is ignore it for several minutes at a time. You just need a stand mixer and a candy or meat thermometer that can read 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes enough to frost a 9-inch, 2-layer cake. If you don't want to use raw eggs, or have no use for a lot of yolks, pasteurized egg whites from a carton work equally well.
- 5 ounces egg whites
- 1 1⁄4 cups sugar
- 1 1⁄2 cups unsalted butter, cold
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1⁄2 cup high-quality gin
- 1 pinch salt
Directions See How It's Made
- Put some lemon juice on a paper towel and wipe down the bowl, the whisk attachment, and a wire whisk to remove any traces of grease.
- Put about an inch of water in the bottom of a 2-4-quart pot, set over medium heat, and set the mixer bowl over the pot.
- Pour the egg whites and sugar into the mixing bowl and whisk until sugar dissolves. Stir and check the temperature frequently until it reaches 160 degrees F (71 degrees C).
- Turn off the heat and remove the bowl from the water bath. Set it into the mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk on low speed for about ten minutes, or until the bowl has reached room temperature and doesn't feel warm anymore.
- When the bowl feels just a little warm, take the butter out of the refrigerator. It should still be cold when the meringue is ready for the next step. If your kitchen is hot, leave it in the refrigerator until it's needed.
- Swap the whisk attachment out for the mixing blade and return the mixer to low speed. Cut off cubes of butter and gradually add them to the meringue, waiting until each one is incorporated before adding the next. Let the frosting mix on low for 3-5 minutes. If it doesn't thicken, chill it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes and mix on low until it becomes thick and fluffy, 5-15 minutes. When it thickens, it will likely go through a long stage where it looks curdled and ruined. Walk away and leave it alone for a while. Eventually, it will look smooth and fluffy!
- While the frosting is mixing, combine the gin, vanilla, and salt. Stir to dissolve salt.
- When the frosting turns fluffy, let it mix for a few minutes more, until it's really thick.
- Leave the mixer on low and pour the gin mixture in a thin, slow stream. The frosting will probably look "broken." Turn the speed up one notch/setting until the frosting starts to come together again, then lower the speed to low and mix until it thickens back up.
- Mix until the frosting is as thick as you want for spreading or piping. If you have extra, store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 8 weeks. Before reusing, allow frosting to come up to room temperature (leave out overnight for frozen frosting) and remix with the paddle attachment on low for 5 minutes.