What is the difference between Italian meringue buttercream and Swiss? That’s the question that perplexes newbie cake decorators the most.
In a nutshell, the difference is in the method: Italian meringue buttercream is made by adding a hot sugar syrup to whipped egg whites whereas it’s Swiss cousin is made by heating egg whites and sugar over a pan of simmering water.
Italian meringue buttercream is a little more complicated to make than Swiss but tastes ever so slightly lighter.
Makes 4 cups approx.
(See our chart here on Quantities of Frosting to Fill & Cover Different Size Cakes)
Italian Meringue Buttercream: Recipe
- 1 cup granulated or superfine sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 egg whites, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 1/2 sticks of butter
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract (or other flavouring)
Italian Meringue Buttercream: Method
- Make sure your egg whites and butter are at room temperature before you begin. Also, have all your ingredients measured out before starting
Beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar. Then slowly add in 1/3 cup of sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form. This should take less than five minutes.
While you’re whipping the egg whites, put the rest of the sugar and 1/3 cup water into a saucepan on medium-heat. Keep stirring until the sugar melts and turns clear. Clip a candy thermometer to the side, or have an instant-read thermometer at the ready.
Increase the temperature to medium-high heat and keep stirring until the sugar syrup reaches 235-240F.
Remove the saucepan from the heat immediately. Then drizzle the sugar into egg whites.
Run the mixer until the meringue has cooled.
Then switch from the whisk to a paddle attachment. Keep the mixer running and add the butter to the egg whites about one tablespoon piece at a time. (Don’t panic if the mixtures starts turning into soup, just keep adding the butter and it will work out.
Beat until butter is combined and mixture has reached a silky consistency.
- Finally, add vanilla or whatever flavouring you’d like at this stage.
- If you’re not using the buttercream straight away, refrigerate it until it’s needed. Then just give it a quick whip to bring it back to life.