If you’ve never tried Italian meringue buttercream, you’re in for a treat. It’s pretty much what it sounds like – meringue + buttercream. And it’s deliciously different. Based on the research I did, some people call this the “real buttercream” but I think they taste completely different. Oddly, I find Italian meringue to be more buttery than my classic buttercream recipes, and I have to say I still prefer my vanilla buttercream, but this is a great recipe for when you want to try something different. It pairs well with almost any flavor, and you can add flavors to just like you can with traditional buttercream frosting.
I was pretty intimidated by Italian meringue at first, but it’s actually not that difficult if you take it slow. It’s great for piping too because it’s really creamy. I found mine similar to a cream cheese frosting consistency and that made it perfectly spreadable.
Ingredients (frosts 24 cupcakes):
- 5 egg whites
- 1 1/2 cup of sugar
- 2/3 cup of water
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- 2 cups of butter, chopped and cold
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
You will also need a candy thermometer, but you can make the buttercream without it if you don’t have one.
First, cut up cold butter into a squares and set aside.
In a small saucepan on the stove, bring the water and sugar to a boil on medium heat. Use the thermometer to determine when it reaches about 240 degrees (soft-ball stage) and remove from heat. If you don’t have a thermometer, you’ll have to eyeball when the sugar water reaches a light syrup consistency.
While the water and sugar heats, combine the egg whites into the bowl of your mixer with the whisk attachment. Mix the egg whites on low speed until foamy, add in the pinch of cream of tartar and then mix on medium until peaks begin to form, but do not overbeat. Stop before the egg whites appear dry. With the mixer running on medium-high speed, slowly pour in the sugar syrup. Beat on high for 2-3 minutes until some of the steam has subsided.
Keep the mixer running on medium-high speed, and add in the butter one cube at a time as it mixes. Continue to beat the buttercream on high and add in the vanilla extract. Beat until the frosting begins to peak. This will take some time and you’ll see a drastic change when the butter is fully incorporated. If it curdles, continue mixing for a few more minutes and you’ll see it smooth out.
Pipe the buttercream onto cupcakes or spread on a cake for a beautiful and delicious topping. Enjoy!