I’m proud of that word “real”. I greatly dislike and disapprove of fake flavors and low-quality extracts. There are great products available that you can use to get natural, REAL flavors in all of your baked goods and there’s just no excuse to settle for the red and white labeled bottles at the grocery store.
Of course, my first go-to is always Amoretti. Between the Artisan Natural Flavors, extracts, and their flavor compound line, there’s nothing you can’t do with their REAL flavors. But you might not be able to get them in time if you fail to order ahead (ahem… cough cough… like I might tend to do…) so you need another game plan.
FREEZE DRIED fruit!!! You can find these in most groceries stores, specialty food stores, and Target 🙂 And that’s what I used for this REAL Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream. But I added it at an unusual spot. Read on…
I know my ingredients. I know my methods. I know food science more than well enough to know that certain things science simply won’t allow no matter how much we may want to bend the rules of physics or chemistry. So I took what I knew and asked the world of science to play nice since what I was about to do followed the rules.
I added stuff to my egg whites and sugar before cooking them THEN tried foaming them in my mixer.
In general, we know this to be a no-no. Nothing but whites and sugar. Not even the faintest trace of fat anywhere or your meringue will not form. But if you think about it, there is zero fat in the particulates of freeze dried fruit powder. So I’m playing by the rules still, right? And if I can successfully add meringue powder to the sugar before the whites and then heat and mix, isn’t that just another example of foreign particulates being added to the ingredients of a pre-foam successfully?
Yes. Yes, it is.
“Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah SCIENCE!” (I live in movie and television show quotes… I can’t hold back any longer. Not a moment of the day goes by that I can’t find a quote to use in response to a situation or conversation.) But seriously, SCIENCE!
And guess what? It. Worked. And it rocked my socks off! It was exactly what I wanted for my Peach Melba Cake!
So here’s the skinny on how I added freeze dried raspberries (and peaches) to my Swiss Meringue Buttercream Before heating and whipping.
Gather all of your ingredients before pulverizing your freeze dried fruit in a spice or coffee grinder. Put your granulated sugar in your bowl along with the meringue powder. Then grind the ever-loving daylights out of the raspberries (or fruit of your choice). Dump them directly into your sugar and mix them right away with a whisk to distribute them and prevent it from clumping.
Add your fresh egg whites and mix till you have a thick, purple-red liquid. Then off to the stove and double boiler you go! I heat directly over flame because I hate double boilers. It takes more care and attention than even the double boiler, but I get steam burns. And I’m not patient enough for the double boiler. I rock the caveman style. Straight flame.
Now just look at that pink, thick, sticky, satiny, soft, SEXY raspberry meringue!!! Isn’t it glorious! I sat on pins and needles just staring at the Kitchen Aid bowl until I was certain that the meringue mixture would foam properly. And you know what? That raspberry powder stabilized the meringue even more!
Only a couple things left… the fat (shortening and butter) and vanilla. Yes. Still the vanilla. I never take it out because it is one magical ingredient. It is a perfect backbone to nearly any flavor profile. It helps flavors meld and intensifies them. It brings them out and lets them shine. It’s amazing little things that can make your baked goods better than the rest.
I mean come on. Isn’t that pretty? It’s just as yummy! You need to try this. And truly, any fruit will work. Just note that the milder the flavor you may need to increase the amount you use. For the raspberry, I use one bag of freeze dried berries. For the peach, I added two. It’s good to just get more than one, taste the freeze dried fruit before pulverizing it, and deciding if you think it would benefit from extra.