I’ve got a little bonus post for you all this week: I realised I never wrote out my recipe for my favourite buttercream, Italian meringue buttercream! If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you will have seen it mentioned in a few of my posts, especially the cake decorating ones. But it somehow slipped my mind to actually upload the recipe for it 😅 So here it is this week, better late than never I guess!
Italian meringue buttercream in my opinion, is far superior to the traditional American buttercream, which just consists of butter and icing sugar. It is so much smoother, less sweet and overall just a lot more pleasant to eat. As you can tell, I’m not a big fan of American buttercream 😉 I find it too sweet for my taste and a bit grainy – and I’ve tried every tip I could find to get it smooth, but I could still always feel the sugar between my teeth. So after a while I gave up on it and switched to Italian meringue buttercream. It is a bit more work and does require a sugar thermometer, but the result is so worth it! And you can pick up sugar thermometers for just a couple of pounds online or even in larger supermarkets. If you don’t want to get a thermometer, Swiss meringue buttercream could be the alternative for you. I haven’t really made that yet, but there are plenty of recipes you can find online for it 🙂
To make the Italian meringue buttercream, you boil sugar and water until they reach a specific temperature, while whisking up egg whites to stiff peaks. Then the hot sugar syrup gets poured into the egg whites, making them very stable and killing off bacteria. After whisking the egg white and sugar mixture until cool, the softened butter gets added in to make a smooth buttercream. After that you can add any kind of flavouring you like: vanilla, chocolate, fruit purees or even liqueur. For a vanilla buttercream I usually add about 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste and for a chocolate buttercream I add in 150g of melted chocolate plus 1-2 tbsp of cocoa powder, depending on how strong you want the flavour.
Just another couple of tips before we get to the recipe: please be very very careful with the sugar syrup, it will be extremely hot and sugar burns are very nasty! Also don’t make this in a plastic mixing bowl – make sure it is a heat safe material and maybe use an oven mitt to hold it if you’re using a hand held mixer. And lastly, if your meringue is still a little too warm when adding in the butter it will go a bit sloppy. But don’t worry, just keep mixing and it will come together after a little while. If it is very runny, maybe pop it in the fridge for 5-10 minutes and then whisk until it is smooth.
You will need
300g caster sugar
6 medium egg whites
500g unsalted butter, softened
- Put 250g of the sugar into a small saucepan with the water and add a sugar thermometer. Over a medium-high heat, bring to a bubble without stirring.
- Put the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer or into a heat safe mixing bowl and start whisking them on a medium speed. Gradually add in the remaining 50g of sugar and whisk until stiff and smooth.
- When the sugar syrup reaches 130°C, pour it into the egg whites in a thin stream, while whisking on a medium-low speed. Once all the syrup has been added, keep whisking on a medium speed until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Have patience, this can take around 10 minutes.
- Turn the mixer to a medium-high speed again and start adding the soft butter in chunks. Whisk until everything is completely combined and smooth and add any desired flavours. Will keep in the fridge for about 1 week.