Thursday, November 17, 2011

italian meringue buttercream: lonely boy

I'm not really sure where the sun has been hiding lately but I think it's time that it came out to play. Although the days are getting shorter, there are still some things that make it seem brighter.

For one, this song has been pretty much at the top of my playlist lately. I just can't help but blast it whenever it's on. Also, my new purse, the maple salmon that will be dinner, the thought of amazing friends coming home soon and my boyfriend keep me happy.

What makes you happy?

I'll tell you another thing that puts a smile on my face. Beautifully piped cupcakes with buttercream. I can't believe I've gone on this long without posting a recipe for buttercream. I know it must seem like I don't really use it, but I actually make it quite often, especially for specialty cakes. Birthday cakes just wouldn't be the same without buttercream! Also, any cake that is going to be covered with rolled fondant should be masked (crumb coated) with buttercream first, otherwise the fondant will have nothing to stick onto.

If you're wondering what the difference is between all the different types of buttercream, then take a look at this list.

American buttercream: creamed butter with icing sugar and sometimes a bit of milk or whipping cream, and flavouring. Quite easy to make but very "buttery".

Swiss Meringue buttercream: a meringue of egg whites and sugar warmed up to body temperature over a water bath, then whisked on high speed and butter added once meringue has cooled completely. The egg whites should not be hot, just warm enough to break the cold. This is a very easy and good method.

Italian Meringue buttercream: sugar syrup heated to 121 C poured slowly into egg whites that have been whisked to soft peaks. Syrup is added while whisking on low speed then increased to high and butter added once meringue has cooled completely. Italian meringue is very similar to Swiss method but I find it holds a little better.

Italian Meringue Buttercream


8 (250g) egg whites
2 ½ cups (500g) sugar
200 ml water
4 sticks (1 lb or 450g) butter
1 tsp vanilla


Make a syrup with the water and sugar by placing them in a small pot over medium-high heat until you reach a temperature of 121oC (250oF) on a candy thermometer. Do NOT stir the water and sugar once the syrup starts to boil! This is extremely important. Just let the sugar cook.

Meanwhile, place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and start whisking on medium speed when the syrup reaches around 115oC. If you feel as though the temperature is going up quickly, you can start whisking before. Just make sure that your egg whites are at soft peaks and have risen a bit before adding the syrup.

When syrup is ready, lower mixer speed and pour sugar slowly into egg whites. Increase speed (medium-high) and whisk until meringue is shiny and cool (feel the bottom of the bowl to check - this can take about 10 minutes). Start adding butter a little bit at a time with the mixer on medium speed only when the meringue has cooled down. Add vanilla and mix until you have a nice, smooth consistency and the buttercream doesn’t slide off your spatula too easily when picked up. (Don’t worry if it looks all separated and scary when you start adding the butter, once it’s all in it will come together).


Use to decorate cakes and cupcakes!

Buttercream keeps well at room temperature but should be refrigerated if more than three days. Can also be frozen in an airtight container. When ready to use, thaw in refrigerator the night before and whip again for a couple of minutes in case the butter has separated. 


  1. I need to stop reading your blog at work, it makes me so hungry!

  2. I have never tried this type of cream in my whole life because I was afraid of the method. Anyway, now I feel like I could handle it - your description is AMAZING and so in detail! Thank you so much for sharing your tips :)

  3. I've never made this type of buttercream before, but it looks so creamy and delicious! Your directions are excellent and I hope to try it on some cupcakes soon. :)

  4. This looks so good!!! 4 STICKS OF BUTTER!... the more the better. ;)


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