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.