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Unless I get a credible and resounding NO! within ~48 hours, I'm going to give it a shot. I've recently started using my food processor for more and more whipped egg (not whipped egg white) applications, and they have always turned out surprisingly well. My plan is to try this: http://www.joepastry.com/2008/french_buttercream/ , a minor adaptation of Julia Child's French Buttercream recipe. I will use the steel blade until it's time to add the butter, then I will switch to the plastic blade.

I don't have a stand mixer (anymore:( , and I have no desire to try it with a hand mixer. That leaves my food processor. The feed tube could make really easy work of it, IF it works.

I should mention that I'm specifically playing with a potential filling for a dense, dark chocolate, flourless tarte. That being the case, high volume is not necessarily desirable.

If you know of any good reason to stop this madness, please tell me now!

Of course I will update with triumph, failure or anything in-between.

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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

YES YOU CAN!!

As I said in the question, I used this recipe http://www.joepastry.com/2008/french_buttercream/ .

Before I embarked on the experiment, I whipped egg yolks with my hand mixer and in my food processor. Since there seemed to be no difference, I proceeded.

before with mixer with food processor

The first picture was before whipping, the second was whipped for 5 minutes with the food processor, the third picture was whipped for 5 minutes with a hand mixer. Prior to whipping the yolks measured 1/3 cup. Both whipping methods yielded just over 1/2 cup after transferring the yolks to a measuring cup which broke the biggest bubbles.

While the yolks were whipping, I made my syrup and pulled it off the heat at exactly 148F, and transferred it to a pyrex measuring cup. It was at the next step that I first saw an actual advantage to the use of the food processor vs a stand mixer. There was no need to stop the machine, pour, stop again, pour... I just poured in a slow steady stream until all the syrup was incorporated. One thing I noticed after that is that it was taking forever for the mixture to cool, so I wrapped the bowl in a cold damp towel.

After incorporating syrup wrapped in towel

WHOOPS! This isn't supposed to happen!

hardened mixture

See the hole at 2 o'clock? That's a finger press mark in the still not quite cool mixture. At this point I figured I was toast, but I'd come this far so I kept going. I turned off the machine, took off the lid, and just waited for it to completely cool. When the mixture was completely cool (almost an hour later), I restarted the machine and started dropping in the softened butter. After about a stick I used a butter knife to scrape off the hardened mixture that was still adhering to the blade and bottom of the bowl, and just kept going. When the hardened bits finally dissolved (at about halfway through the butter), I switched from the metal blade to the plastic blade of my food processor. I should note at this point that I found the same advantage to the food processor here as when I incorporated the syrup, the feed tube and lid made it really easy, I only stopped the machine once to scrape down the sides.

OOH! It's starting to look like buttercream!

completed peak on whisk peaks in bowl

The peaks in the bowl were created sicking in the whisk and pulling it out. Because the camera was giving me a hard time, the pictures of peaks were actually taken 10 minutes after the peaks were created.

At this point the frosting was delicious and of a perfect constancy to frost cupcakes by the dip and twist method. Since what I really wanted to do with it is use it as a filling, I took SAJ14SAJ's advice and gave it a 3 minute whip with my hand mixer. That did give it a slightly more matte finish and a bit more structure.

The proof is in the pudding. EEK is that a BOXED cake?? hangs head in shame I refrigerated the bottom layer with the filling (which of course significantly solidified the filling) before placing the top layer, then I let the whole thing come to room temperature, frosted the cake, refrigerated, and smoothed the frosting with a hot spatula.

The chocolate frosting in the final picture was made with the experimental buttercream mixed with melted bittersweet chocolate and powdered sugar.

unfrosted layers filling layer completed cake

I don't think that I'm going to have replaced my stand mixer in time for the next time I want buttercream, but my results with this experiment are such that I think I will do it again. The one thing I will do differently next time is that I will stop processing every 3 minutes during the cooling stage, remove the lid, and refrigerate for 2 minutes, repeating until the mixture is cool. That was the only point at which I became less than optimistic. If I do it again, I will update with the results of the procedural change.

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Thanks for the experiment and pictures. We talk so much about theory it's nice to see people actually trying things out. –  Sobachatina Oct 1 '13 at 20:17
    
I'm glad you like. I hope it finds a big enough audience to make it worth the effort! –  Jolenealaska Oct 2 '13 at 16:21
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The purpose of the beating (and thus using a stand mixer) is two fold:

  • To get sufficient agitation to form an emulsion from the yolks, the butter, and the liquid ingredients;
  • To incorporate air creating a foam, for the light texture that is expected

While the food processor is almost certain to form and maintain the emulsion, they are not normally designed to incorporate air into the mixture. While only an actual experiment (on your particular equipment) will be certain, you are likely to get a much more dense, and fudgy product with much less volume than using a stand mixer would give you.

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True, but like I said, so far my food processor has yielded remarkably satisfactory results with eggs. Consider too the application, I'm not necessarily looking for "fluffy".. –  Jolenealaska Sep 27 '13 at 10:54
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A good French buttercream has a fair amount of air in it, even if you don't see the bubbles, since the structure is quite fine. Look at the pictures in your linked recipe, and the substantial increase in volume in the bowl compared to the ingredients put into it. –  SAJ14SAJ Sep 27 '13 at 11:00
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I think it's going to have plenty of air. I snapped a couple of pictures yesterday for my own use. Tomorrow I will share them. –  Jolenealaska Sep 27 '13 at 11:04
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