Italian meringue buttercream is a very stable and smooth style of buttercream that stands up to higher temperatures than other varieties of buttercream. Italian meringue buttercream takes some care to make due to the hot sugar syrup involved.
What is Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting?
Italian meringue buttercream, also known as simply Italian buttercream, is a silky smooth style of buttercream made from an Italian meringue. This style of buttercream takes the most skill to make because it requires a lot of precision with the temperature of the sugar syrup.
Italian meringue buttercream is often associated with being used for elevated desserts and fancy cakes due to its luxurious mouthfeel. It also works very well for intricate piping work.
Characteristics of Italian Meringue Buttercream
Due to the cooked sugar syrup, Italian meringue buttercream is the most stable of all the buttercreams and holds up to higher temperatures. It is also not overly sweet and has the lightest texture.
The process of making Italian meringue creates a buttercream that is almost completely white in color. This characteristic lends itself well to wedding cakes or when coloring the frosting to vibrant colors.
Tips for Making Italian Meringue Buttercream
- A candy thermometer is necessary to heat the sugar syrup accurately.
- It is important to take extra care when pouring sugar syrup into the mixer because it can easily burn skin if it splashes.
- Make sure the meringue is truly cooled to room temperature before you start adding the butter in for the buttercream. It will not come together properly if it is not cooled enough.
- 2 cups (14 oz, 392 gr) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (6 fl oz, 177 ml) water
- 3/4 cup (6 fl oz, 177 ml) egg whites (from about 5 large eggs)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 sticks (1 lb, 448 gr) unsalted butter, room temperature
- extracts and flavorings as desired
- Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the sugar is dissolved, stop stirring and increase the heat to high. Bring the mixture to a boil until a candy thermometer reaches 240 F (115 C).
- Meanwhile, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment. When the sugar reaches 220 F (104 C), begin whipping the egg whites on high speed.
- As soon as the sugar reaches 240 F (115 C), carefully and slowly begin streaming the sugar into the mixer down the side of the bowl while it is still running. Add the salt. Continue beating to stiff peaks and until the meringue has cooled to room temperature.
- While the mixer is still running, add the butter in 1 tablespoon at a time until it is all incorporated and the buttercream is smooth and fluffy. It is common for the buttercream to start looking broken during this time. You might think it is ruined, but trust in the process. Keep adding the butter a little at a time and keep whipping. It will come back together into a silky smooth buttercream.
Note: This recipe makes enough buttercream to generously frost 24 cupcakes, or a 2 layer 9” round cake.
- Vanilla Italian Meringue Buttercream: Add in 2 tsp vanilla extract at the end
- Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream: Melt 4 oz of bittersweet chocolate and allow to cool slightly. Fold it into the prepared buttercream.
- “Wedding Cake” Italian Meringue Buttercream: Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/4 tsp almond extract
- Lemon Curd Italian Meringue Buttercream: Fold in 1 cup of lemon curd to the prepared buttercream
- Strawberry, Raspberry, or Blackberry Italian Meringue Buttercream: Fold in 1 cup of seedless preserves