Kim Morrison's Real Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Mix 3 cups sugar with water in a small, heavy saucepan. Cook over high heat until syrup reaches 248 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Watch it closely as it gets close to temperature; it will go quickly at the end.
With mixer running, pour syrup into the egg whites in a thin, steady stream, making sure not to pour directly onto beaters. Be careful, as hot syrup can burn if you. Continue to beat mixture until it is no longer hot.
Allow to cool to room temperature and then beat in the softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all is incorporated. (Salted butter works fine. If you are using unsalted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste.) The mixture will become thin and may look curdled at first, but will then become smooth as it beats. Lastly, beat in the vanilla all at once. (Use the best vanilla you can find. Artificial and white "vanilla" will ruin the delicate flavor.)
If not using at once, refrigerate the buttercream until needed. It will keep for 1 week in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. To use, just bring it back to room temperature and re-beat to restore the texture. If you have trouble with the texture, getting it to room temperature and extra beating are the keys to making it smooth. Enjoy on your favorite cake!
Professional Recipe: This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional and makes a large quantity. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe in the proportions indicated and therefore cannot make any representation as to the results.