Black Pepper Icing

A touch of black pepper is the secret ingredient in this recipe from chef Kieran Baldwin, which tops her signature Devil's Food Cake.

  • Yield: Makes enough for one 9-inch round layer cake


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon sugar and salt; set aside.

  2. Place remaining sugar in a small saucepan, along with 1/2 cup water. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to a boil; do not stir. Cook, occasionally swirling and brushing down sides of saucepan with a moistened pastry brush, until mixture registers 240 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on medium speed until frothy. With the mixer running, gradually add sugar and salt mixture.

  4. Increase mixer speed to medium-high; slowly add hot sugar mixture, allowing it to drizzle down the sides of the bowl. Continue beating until whites are stiff and cooled, about 20 minutes. Add pepper; mix until well combined. Use icing immediately.


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