Italian Meringue Buttercream

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I did a massive spreadsheet on buttercreams once. American style buttercream (icing sugar and butter), Italian, Swiss, German, French, you name it, I've googled it. Then listed all the ingredients to get the sugar content, fat content in relation to the volume of buttercream produced. Yes, it's the OCD in me.

Seriously though, who needs a frosting with 50% of it sugar? That's why after all that data was digested into usable information, we settled on ... drumroll, please ... Italian buttercream. Why? It has the right mix of ease, sweetness, and is great for our family because all our birthdays are in the summer, and this frosting holds up so well when we take our cakes outdoors ... for taking pictures of course ;)

Just a small note about the egg whites here... they aren't really cooked through, rather they are 'tempered' by the boiling sugar syrup. If you're a bit queazy about the raw egg bit, try Swiss meringue buttercream instead for a similar texture.

This recipe makes enough to sandwich and frost a three layer 9-inch cake.

500 g (2-1/2 cups) granulated sugar
120 ml (1/2 cup) water
240 ml or 8 large egg whites, at room temperature
450 g (2 cups or 4 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and softened
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil.
2. In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until the whites are at soft peak stage.
3. When the sugar syrup reaches 235 - 240F (112 - 115C), remove from heat and slowly and very carefully drizzle (not on the whisk!) the sugar syrup into the mixing bowl, while the whisk is still running.
I often tell the kids that boiling sugar can be a biological weapon, so treat it right!

4. Don't worry if it starts to look funny, keep mixing until the meringue has cooled slightly and the bowl is no longer warm.
5. When the mixture has smoothened out, start adding the butter, one cube at a time, waiting until it has disappeared into the mix before adding the next one.
6. The frosting 'can' look like its falling apart, trust me on this one, it will come together again.
7. Add the vanilla and just keep whisking. See ... isn't it creamy and velvety now?
Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 10 days, but you'll need to whisk again before using.

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