The recipe has a few steps, but it is well worth the effort and as long as you follow a few tips, it is NOT hard to make.
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 pound of UNSALTED sweet cream butter (room temperature)
Small pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Place the egg whites and sugar in a glass or metal bowl (whisk together until well mixed) and place the bowl over a gently simmering pan of water (don't let the bottom of the bowl touch the water).
Now here is a tip; right after you mix the sugar into the egg whites, press some of the mixture between your fingers and you will feel a grainy texture (remember that feeling). Heat the egg white-sugar mixture (whisking every 30 seconds or so) for about 3 to 5 minutes or until it reaches 140 degrees on an instant read thermometer. NOTE: If you do not have an instant read thermometer, just heat the mixture until it feels nice and warm (not hot) and you can no longer feel that grainy texture when you press some of it between your fingers. Remove from heat.
Pour the warmed egg white - sugar mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer and attach the wire whisk. Beat the mixture on medium high for 5 to 7 minutes or until the mixture forms a thick and fluffy meringue that is cool to the touch. It is VERY IMPORTANT that the mixture AND the outside of the bowl have cooled down to room temperature.
Stop the mixer and change to the paddle attachment. With your stand mixer at medium speed, start adding the ROOM TEMPERATURE butter, two tablespoons at a time, beating 20 to 30 seconds after each addition. Stop the mixer occasionally and scrape down the sides to make sure everything is mixing well.
After you have added all of the butter, add the extracts and beat on medium high until light and fluffy (another minute or two). Use immediately.
TIP: You want the butter to be at room temperature but not super soft/melty(very important). I cubed the butter when it was COLD and then let it sit on the counter for an hour to insure it would be at room temperature (of course that depends on how warm your house is). Do NOT warm up your butter in the microwave.
This frosting is a dream to work with!!! It is EXCELLENT for borders and trim work (it is VERY stable) and it is very forgiving when doing flat work (smooths easily with a knife).
NOTE: If you start adding your butter too early (while the meringue is still too warm), the frosting will separate or look curdled. Don't panic, just keep beating on medium high and it will eventually come back together and whip up correctly, I promise!!
NOTE: Do not use SALTED butter, I tried that once and I was amazed how salty the frosting tasted!!!