My mother used to make us chocolate cakes (and white cakes) with "boiled" frosting for our birthdays. I can see her making it, in a clear glass Pyrex double boiler on the stove. When the mixture of sugar and egg whites reached a certain consistency and temperature, she got out her hand mixer and whipped them until thick and frothy, sort of a cross between meringue and marshmallow.
For my mother's and sister's birthday in March, I decided to make a somewhat froufrou devil's food cake with "boiled" frosting. Lacking Mom's recipe, I turned to the recipe for Fluffy White Icing in Nick Malgieri's book, "Perfect Cakes." I leveled each cake layer and saved the crumbs to use as a garnish.
Fluffy White Icing is just like the name suggests -- fluffy, not as dense as a buttercream. I spread each cake layer with a thin coating of seedless raspberry jam, which added a hint of flavor and also gives the icing a stick surface to cling to. The hint of raspberry in each bite was unexpected and earned compliments.
You no doubt have a favorite chocolate cake, devil's food cake, or white/yellow cake that would wear this Fluffy White Icing well. The frosting is thick enough to allow decorative flourishes made with the tip of an offset spatula or knife.
To celebrate another birthday the following weekend, I wanted to make a cake -- but nothing too outrageous, because we were having a very rich supper (pasta with Bolognese sause).
Adapted from "Perfect Cakes," by Nick Malgieri
4 large egg whites
Large pinch salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the icing, half fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Combine the egg whites, salt, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk by hand, just to mix together.
Regulate the heat under the pan of water so that it boils gently and place the bowl on the pan. Whisk gently just to keep the mixture moving until it is hot (about 140 degrees) and all the sugar is dissolved. Place bowl on mixer with the whisk attachment and whip the icing until it has cooled and becomes white and fluffy, about five to seven minutes.
Makes enough to frost one 9-inch, two layer cake.