So I am finally dedicating a whole page to Italian Meringue Buttercream, that’s how much I love it. What makes it so special? Compared to classic American buttercream, which is made of just butter, milk and (a lot of) sugar, Italian meringue buttercream is not as teeth-pulling sweet, it has a rather settle sweetness which I love. It also has a really silky texture and holds it shape much better than classic buttercream, since it consists to a large part of stabilized meringue. This also helps it stay on your cake better and not melt off as easily.
Italian meringue buttercream is one of two kinds of cooked meringue buttercream, beside the French meringue buttercream, which uses uncooked beaten egg whites. Unlike Swiss meringue buttercream, which is prepared by cooking the egg whites and sugar together in a bowl placed on a pot of boiling water, Italian meringue buttercream is prepared by the addition of sugar syrup. I personally prefer the Italian over the Swiss since it is more practical, you do not have to mess with placing hot water under your mixing bowl, I also feel like the meringue gets glossier.
The sugar syrup is made by bringing water and sugar to a boil and then heating it to soft-ball stage (118 °C / 244 °F). This is important so that the syrup will cook the egg whites and heats them well past the 60 °C (140 °F), the temperature recommended to kill salmonella and any other potentially harmful bacteria.
After the sugar syrup has been added, the egg whites need to be beaten for at least 15 minutes until glossy peaks form and it reaches room temperature. If it is not cooled down to room temperature before adding the butter, the butter will melt and you will end up with a runny, worst case soupy, buttercream.
This Pear and Poppy Seed Layer Cake is made with Italian meringue buttercream, and so is this Vanilla Chiffon Cake with Blueberry Buttercream (coming soon).
If you want to try out French meringue buttercream, these White Chocolate Cupcakes with Pistachio Buttercream are a dream!
- 6 egg whites
- 4 sticks butter
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 9 egg whites
- 6 sticks butter
- 1.5 cups sugar
- ¾ cup water
- 1.5 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boil the syrup until it reaches 240°F (soft-ball stage) on a candy thermometer.
- In the meantime, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat on medium high until stiff peaks form.
- With the mixer running, pour the boiling sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg whites. Turn the mixer on high speed and beat for about 15 mins until egg white mixture cools down to room temperature.
- Add the butter, piece by piece and keep beating. If it looks curdled at any point during the beating process, continue beating until smooth.
- Add any flavors such as vanilla beans, fruit powders, food coloring or almond extract.