This classic Italian meringue buttercream takes a bit of getting used to, but once you have the method down it's an incredibly reliable frosting, perfect for piping and layering into cakes. A digital thermometer is recommended if you can get your hands on one, so that you can be multitasking and effortlessly bring cooked sugar together with egg whites beaten to soft peaks.
The frosting can be refrigerated for up to one week. To use, bring down to room temperature and beat again until light and fluffy.
This recipe is a combination of buttercream recipes by chefs Thiago Silva (EMM Group, NYC) and Stephen Collucci (Colicchio & Sons, NYC).
- Yield:Makes approximately 6 cups
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:20 minutes
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup egg whites
- 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
- Pinch of salt
- Vanilla bean or extract, to taste (about 1 Tbsp)
In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar with just enough water until it looks like wet sand. Cook over medium/low heat, stirring with a heat-proof spatula, until it reaches a soft ball stage (240°F).
Meanwhile, beat egg whites on medium/high speed until they reach soft peaks.
When the sugar and eggs are at appropriate stages, keep the mixer on medium/high and slowly stream sugar into egg whites. Beat until glossy, slightly cooled, and to stiff peaks.
Add the vanilla and salt, and beat in.
With the mixer still on high, start adding the cubed butter one piece at a time, with a few seconds between additions. At around the 4th stick of butter the mixture will start to look loose and like it's separating; don't worry. Continue until all butter is beaten in, and then continue beating past the point of separation, when the frosting will become incredibly light and fluffy.