There are few things in life I can say I ‘need’. My family, my dogs, my own comfy bed….yep that’s about it.
However, there are many things I think are necessary to help make life happy including a job you enjoy, a car that doesn’t break down, a food mixer and an oven AND Italian Meringue Buttercream.
Italian Meringue Buttercream is frosting for grown-ups, and is close to being put into the category of things I need in life. It should definitely be on everyones list of the 10 food things you HAVE to try!!! Seriously, once you’ve tried it you won’t ever look back. It’s light, its bright, its buttery, its creamy…….its one of heavens clouds on a cake! (sorry, I know that’s a bit OTT, but I’m trying to get my point across)
I’ve tried a few recipes in my time, and this is the one I’m sticking with. On this occasion I swirled it onto a Victoria Sandwich, but it’s great piped onto cupcakes…..really you MUST try it!
Italian Meringue Buttercream
3 egg whites (the fresher the eggs the better)
30gms Caster Sugar
a further 150gms Caster or Granulated Sugar
250gms Unsalted Butter at Room Temperature
First I recommend you get all your ingredients prepared and weighed out. This recipe takes a little time, but when things happen they happen pretty quickly one after the other.
Secondly, make sure your mixer bowl and whisk is free from any grease or dirt as these are a good meringues worst enemy.
So….onto the recipe.
Start by cubing the butter and then place to one side for later:
Separate your eggs making sure ONLY the whites go into the mixer – yolk is another meringue enemy!
Whisk your egg whites until they form soft peaks, which means they are light and fluffy and leave little droopy peaks when you lift the whisk away.
Then, with you mixer turned to slow add a teaspoon of the 30gms of caster sugar at a time. The eggs will soon become thick and glossy.
Whilst you have been doing this, you also need to have been boiling up some sugar syrup. If you aren’t able to multi task, don’t worry, prepare the eggs first then put to one side.
Place the 150gms of granulated (or caster) sugar in a saucepan with the water and place it over a medium heat. Don’t stir it, just swirl it around. Stirring sugar when it’s being heated can create a strange chemical reactions which can result in a crystally mess.
Bring the sugar to a rolling boil and let it bubble until it becomes clear (about 5 minutes at boiling). If you have a baking/sugar thermometre it needs to be about 121c.
When it gets to this point turn the heat off.
WARNING: Hot Sugar is really hot – not just a bit hot, but super hot and can cause serious injuries – BE CAREFUL!!!
Take the sugar to the mixer and turn your mixer on low. Gradually pour the sugar into the eggs in a thin steady stream.
Continue to whisk until the outside of the bowl becomes cool. Which can take about 4-5 minutes.
Now throw in the butter….piece by piece. Let each chunk of butter become completely incorporated before you put in the next chunk.
This is the stage that calls for a leap of faith. I know it’s lost all its fluffy white texture, and it may even look curdled….DON’T PANIC!!
Keep adding the butter, chunk by chunk, waiting for the last chunk to disappear before adding the next.
Then leave the mixer going. In time, before your very eyes, the mixture goes from thick liquid to fluffy whisked double cream consistency.
And there you have it – your basic Grown-up Buttercream. At this point you can add some flavouring. I added good vanilla extract, but you can add coffee essence, chocolate, fruit flavour……the grown-up world is your oyster (yep, that means you can add alcohol too!)
Italian Meringue Buttercream is great for piping, spreading or eating straight from the bowl (sorry, did I say that out loud?).
Once you’ve tried it, you won’t look back.
So what are you waiting for? Go and make some…..go on…..off you go!!