Thursday, January 20, 2011

Now That's Italian! - Italian Meringue Buttercrème

This is not a commercial for "Good Season's Salad Dressing", trust me, it's SO much better.

There are many forms of Buttercrème out there, but they pretty much fall into 4 types.  French, American, Swiss and Italian.

Both Swiss and Italian are based on a Meringue while French contains only yolks and American uses the whole egg.  Personally, I am an Italian Meringue Buttercrème person.  It's lightly sweet, not OVERLY rich (I know, that is kind of an oxymoron) and has a lighter texture.  From a working standpoint, it seems to be the most stable version.  Though I still would not leave it out of the refrigerator for more than 1 hour if the temperature is above 80 degrees.

Yes, I am making another birthday cake, this time for my other nephew Wyatt.  I have included a sneak peek at the finished product, but I wanted to wait and post the actual cake baking and construction in one post.  Because of this, I figured I should cover the Buttercrème process first, but I actually baked the cake first and had it wrapped and chilled in the refrigerator.   (Just wanted to make sure you all knew that I didn't put the cart before the horse, or rather the frosting before the cake)  :)

Italian Meringue Buttercrème

1 1/2 LB (24 oz) (710 g) Unsalted Butter
8 large Egg Whites (This is about 1 cup)
Pinch or two of Kosher Salt
1 1/2 cups (11 oz) (325 g) Granulated Sugar; divided
1/4 cup (2 oz) (60 ml) Water
1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
optional 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract (If just making Vanilla, go with 2 tsp)
optional 2 tsp Peppermint Extract

Remove the butter from the refrigerator and slice into 1 TB portions 30 minutes before you begin (it works better when slightly cooler than room temperature)

Separate the egg whites and place them in the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment,

then toss in a pinch or two of salt. (Balance)

Combine 1 cup (7.5 oz) (220 g) of the Sugar and the Water in a small saucepan and set over medium flame, stiring until dissolved and the mixture begins to boil. 

Add a Candy thermometer and turn your attention to the egg whites.

Whip egg whites on low medium until frothy, then add cream of tarter and continue whipping on Medium speed.

Once soft peaks form begin adding the 1/2 cup (3.5 oz) (105 g) sugar in a thin stream.

Continue to beat on medium speed while you wait for the sugar syrup to reach 242º F (Firm Ball), on a Candy Thermometer.
If egg whites haven't yet reached a shiny/stiff peaks stage turn the mixer up onto high to finish beating.
If whites are at shiny/stiff peaks stage before sugar syrup is ready, reduce speed to low and keep mixing until syrup is ready.

When syrup is ready, increase mixer to medium-high, and add the syrup in a thin stream, being careful not to hit the side of the bowl or the whisk, or you will have sugar shards in your final buttercrème.

Once all the syrup has been added (DO NOT scrape the pan) continue beating the meringue until it has cooled to about 95° F.

You want the meringue to return to a stiff/shiny peak before adding the butter. (this will make a more stable Buttercrème)
When the Meringue has cooled, switch to the paddle attachment and medium speed.

Begin adding the butter one TB at a time allowing the butter to incorporate before adding the next TB.

Continue until all butter is mixed in.
First, it will appear kind of "runny", just keep adding the butter...

Then it will look kind of grainy & lumpy, just continue adding butter and beating. (this can take as long as 15 minutes after the last TB of butter is added)

If mixture completely breaks, just continue beating at medium speed and mixture will come back together and begin to make that "slapping" sound that Buttercrème is known for.

Now is the flavoring point...   Though you can skip the mint part and flavor with just Vanilla Extract, Orange, Lemon and/or Lime extract or oil, Brandy, Cognac, Bourbon... The choices are endless.

I removed 1 1/4 cups of the Buttercrème to a separate bowl and added 2 oz (57 g) of melted 55% chocolate....

And stirred it all together to form my Minted Chocolate filling....

Here is a sneak peek at the finished cake, which I will talk about tomorrow.

Chocolate cake, with minted chocolate Buttercrème filling, coated in mint Buttercrème, and decorated with "After 8" Mints and Hershey's Kisses & Hugs to make a checker board/chess board type look.



Unknown said...

That is the cutest cake ever!!! I've never made buttercreme....and this sounds amazing!

Patti T. said...

Shane I researched my family tree, and what do you know, I am a long lost relative. Now you will just HAVE to make me a birthday cake. Your cakes are always so awesome. I used to always say I hated butter cream icing, but this doesn't sound like the kind of butter cream I am talking about, this sounded really really good, although VERY decadent with all that yummy butter.