Italian Meringue Buttercream

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Our Favorite Buttercream

This ultra-smooth buttercream is not too sweet and is our frosting of choice when we want a silken, elegant texture and delicate flavor. It is based on meringue and a cooked sugar syrup, so it is a more complex Italian meringue buttercream recipe than a standard confectioners’ sugar-based frosting, but we think the results are well worth it. Vanilla is the basic choice, but it can also easily be turned into chocolate, espresso, raspberry, lemon and many more variations.

Italian meringue buttercream recipe

A stand mixer is recommended, as the meringue will have to whip for quite a while to cool down enough before the butter is added; a candy thermometer is also helpful. There is a high ratio of butter in this buttercream recipe, which means that it is very firm when chilled. Any cake frosted with Italian meringue buttercream (we call it IMBC in the kitchen) should be served at room temperature when its texture will fully blossom into a silky, creamy, luscious result.

This recipe makes a very generous amount – plenty to fill and frost a 3- or 4-layer cake plus lots of swirls and decorations on the outside. It freezes very well so any extra can be stored for up to a month.

meringue

Italian Meringue Buttercream
Author: 
Makes: Makes about 6 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups sugar, divided into 1 cup and ¼ cup
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2¼ cups (4½ sticks) unsalted butter, very soft, cut into pieces
Instructions
  1. Place 1 cup of sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir to wet sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, swirling pan occasionally. Dip pastry brush in cold water and wash down sugar crystals from the sides of the pot once or twice. Allow sugar mixture to simmer gently as you proceed with egg whites.
  2. Meanwhile, place egg whites in a clean, grease-free mixing bowl and whip until frothy on low speed using the wire-whip attachment of a standing mixer. Add cream of tartar and turn speed to medium-high. When soft peaks form, add ¼ cup sugar gradually. Continue whipping until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  3. Bring the sugar/water mixture to a rapid boil and cook until it reaches 248˚ to 250˚ F. As syrup cooks, check visual cues to assess doneness if you do not have a thermometer: it starts out with a thin consistency and many small bubbles covering the entire surface. As the water evaporates, the mixture will become visibly thicker. Bubbles become larger and pop open more slowly. At this point the syrup definitely looks thickened, but it has not begun to color; this is the firm ball stage - if you drop a bit of the syrup into a glass of cold water it will form into a ball. When you squeeze the ball between your fingertips, it will feel firm and the syrup is ready.
  4. With the mixer running, pour syrup in a thin, steady stream directly over the meringue. Do not pour any on the whip or the sides of the bowl. Whip meringue until cool to the touch; this could take several minutes. With the mixer running, add butter a couple tablespoons at a time. Keep beating until the buttercream is completely smooth and spreadable, somewhere in texture between peanut butter and mayonnaise. Now the buttercream is ready to use. Any flavorings may be added at this point; variations are given below. Refrigerate up to 1 week in an airtight container or freeze up to 1 month. If frozen, defrost in the refrigerator overnight and bring to warm room temperature before re-beating. Always re-beat before using.

Variations:

  • Vanilla  – Add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract towards the end of beating.
  • Liqueur-Accented Buttercream – Add approximately 1/3 cup of liqueur/alcohol to every batch. Adjust taste as needed. Try Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Amaretto di Saronno, Kahlua, rum, to suggest a few.
  • White, Milk or Dark Chocolate ButtercreamNote that white chocolate will make the buttercream a creamy ivory color; milk chocolate will have an almost pink-ish tinge and semi or bittersweet chocolate buttercream will be a milk chocolate color. – Add 12 ounces of melted and cooled white, milk, semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate towards end of beating. Whip until the chocolate is thoroughly incorporated.
  • Espresso Buttercream – Dissolve 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (such as Medaglia d’Oro) in 2 tablespoons boiling water or warmed Kahlua. Add towards the end of beating, whipping thoroughly to incorporate. The coffee flavor can be adjusted up or down according to your liking.

Bakepedia Tips

  • This recipe can read as complicated. Seeing it being made is very helpful. Check out our video above.
  • Temperature is crucial with this Italian meringue buttercream recipe. If the meringue is warm when butter is added, it will become soupy. If the butter is too cold, the buttercream will be lumpy and too firm. If your buttercream is too loose, place the bottom of the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice water. Check every few minutes until its texture firms up, then whip until smooth. If the mixture is too stiff, just keep whipping, it might smooth out. Alternately, you can aim a hot hair dryer at the outside of the bowl to warm up the buttercream quickly, or place a cup of buttercream in the microwave for a few seconds until it becomes extremely soft, then add it back to the larger amount to smooth out the texture.
  • If you have refrigerated or frozen the buttercream and need to bring it back to its original texture, follow the suggestions above and also in this TIP, starting with buttercream already at a warm room temperature. If you are a daring sort you can also place the mixer bowl directly over very low heat on the stovetop, folding the buttercream over itself all the while and warming it up until it is just beginning to melt around the edges, then beat until smooth. When “reconstituting” buttercream in this way, we prefer to use the flat paddle attachment.

 

Comments (119)


119 Responses to Italian Meringue Buttercream

  1. Erica October 26, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    Ummm- do the eggs get cooked at all in the syrup? Raw eggs kindof scare me, especially since I tend to give away a lot of what I bake. I don’t want to give anyone food poisoning.

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson October 27, 2013 at 9:17 am #

      Great question. Many professional chefs will tell you it is a “cooked buttercream”. The American Egg Board presents Italian Meringue in a very curious way. They describe how to make Italian meringue and also provide a link for their information on raw egg safety, but they never actually link the two concepts through their description. They never state that it is safe or not safe. Pasteurized eggs are available for purchase, but the whites often do not whip well, which is vital for this recipe. The key when working with eggs is to always buy from a reliable source and make sure they are fresh. If you have any concerns or you know that you will be serving those with a compromised immune system then try our Confectioner’s Sugar Frosting. I used this frosting during my many years of making wedding cakes, each cake serving hundreds of people, and never experienced a problem. In the end the choice is yours. Thank you for asking such a great question!

    • Estelle November 6, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

      Egg whites cook at 144 to 149 while yolks cook at 144 to 158. As you’re cooking your sugar to 240 (soft ball stage) and then pouring it directly into your egg whites, your eggs will be cooked quite quickly, and way before you’re even able to start thinking about mixing in your butter.

  2. cuy October 29, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    Hi. Thanks for this. Can I keep the cake in d fridge after icing it with IMBC d day before I’m to use it. Cos we have a very hot weather?

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson October 29, 2013 at 11:05 am #

      Absolutely and I recommend it. Make sure to bring back to room temperature before serving.

  3. cuy October 29, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    Hi. Thanks for this. Can I keep the cake in d fridge after icing it with IMBC d day before I’m to use it. Cos we have a very hot weather?
    And how do you keep ur IMBC SO WHITE.

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson October 29, 2013 at 11:07 am #

      IMBC is an off-white due to the amount if butter. Make sure to use very fresh butter for the whitest color – that’s the best tip. Overall, I find that if the butter is fresh, it is whipped well and it is kept cold, it will be at its whitest.

  4. cuy October 29, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    Thank you very much.

  5. Add November 2, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    Can I add creamcheese at the end of this imbecile to frost a red velvet cake.

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson November 3, 2013 at 8:37 am #

      I wouldn’t suggest tinkering with this recipe to turn it into a cream cheese version. I would choose one or the other. if you are feeling adventurous and want to try it, let us know how it works out. At the very least, try it with full fat cream cheese, but I wouldn’t count on it working well on the first try. A friend of Bakepedia tried it with Neufchatel and I can tell you that that didn’t work out.

      • Adele December 8, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

        I added about 2-3 cups of original philadelphia cream cheese right at the end after carefully following your instructions above and adding the vanilla extract, and it turned out just great! I just kept the mixer on low until it was all mixed in. I was making a tiered carrot cake and the bride and groom wanted a white rustic look and it looked and tasted amazing! Thanks for your help-you saved the day!

        • Avatar of Dede Wilson
          Dede Wilson December 9, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

          What great news! So full fat cream cheese seems like the way to go. Did you use any butter, or just the cream cheese? And you state a range of cream cheese. Did you have 3 cups on hand and just keep adding until it looked right? How did it hold up? Does it pipe shapes well? The more details the better! Love the sense of creativity and adventure.

      • Colleen January 12, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

        I am so glad Adele wrote that she succeeded adding cream cheese. I really wanted to make that modification for a carrot cake as well. It worked wonderfully. I reduced the butter by about 10 ounces, first adding the butter, and then added 24 ounces of regular cream cheese, softened. I flavored using vanilla and almond extract. I think lemon extract would also taste great. It is very fluffy and soft, but still holds a shape. DeDe, thanks for such a great recipe and youtube video. I was nervous to try it, but your instructions totally demystified the process.

        • Avatar of Dede Wilson
          Dede Wilson January 13, 2014 at 7:30 am #

          Well, I am excited too! This kind of experimentation and sharing of ideas is what I had hoped for Bakepedia. I will be sure to try this approach, too. Carrot cake is such a standby and how great that you all have figured out a new way to fill and top it. I thought that the video would be of help, since it is one of those recipes where it reads more complicated than it is and if you can see it, you can understand it more readily. So glad it was of help.

  6. Vera December 4, 2013 at 4:55 am #

    can I use this to make roses and such to decorate a cake?

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson December 4, 2013 at 9:43 am #

      Yes. I have used this IMBC to make hundreds of wedding cakes with various decorations. It’s all about the temperature of the buttercream. For piping you will want it a bit colder than when you use it to create a smooth covering for the cake.

  7. Rachel December 15, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    Used this as the filling for whoopie pies this weekend and it was delish!!

  8. Jenny January 1, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

    Wonderful recipe. I used when I made my son’s birthday cake. My family members, on the other hand, are used to the over-the-top sweetness that comes with buttercream made with confectioners sugar like the local bakeries offer. I would love to continue to use this IMBC recipe for birthday cakes though because I personally like it better and my family did like the texture. Is there a way to make this recipe sweeter to please my family? Can I add more sugar to the egg whites during the whipping process?

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson January 2, 2014 at 7:22 am #

      Great question! Most IMBC recipes are fairly similar with sugar amounts and it is a balance that works. I would up the sweetness factor with the cake and fillings. You could even brush the cake with a simple syrup (flavored or just straight sugar/water). Or make something that is inherently sweet like a German chocolate cake. But you are right, if I were to tinker it would be with the sugar added to the egg whites. Thing is, let’s say you added 2 more tablespoons, which it could probably handle…I don’t think the recipe would really taste any sweeter. Let us know if you tinker and what the results are.

  9. Monalisa January 5, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    Hi..
    Dede, I just loved your recipe and the way you show and explained every step,its really amazing. Dede can you tell me one thing that , which type of cake goes well with IMBC? Does this meringue goes well with chocolate chiffon cake or any other chocolate cake or flavored cake ? It would be really helpful if you guide me.
    Thank you..

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson January 6, 2014 at 10:15 am #

      The IMBC is very rich and might be overwhelming for a chiffon cake, but I have done it and it can work. It is fairly neutral in flavor – you can take it anyway you wish – but it is rich in texture, so keep that in mind. This was my go-to buttercream for all my wedding cakes for over 20 years so you can imagine the array of flavors I matched it up with. Chocolate, orange, vanilla, white chocolate, all kinds of nuts, genoise…experiment!

  10. Rainbow January 10, 2014 at 3:57 am #

    Hi Dede,

    Love the way you demonstrate this, looks so effortless! You did mention that this recipe is a very generous amount, I just want to top like 12 – 15 cup cakes. How much do you recommend I make?

    Or, do I simply just store the leftover in the fridge? not freezer right?

    Thanks.

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson January 10, 2014 at 7:43 am #

      So glad to be of help! Indeed you might only end up using part of the batch, but I always find it handy to have it in the freezer. If you will be using it within the week, just store in fridge. Otherwise freeze it, where you can store it for a month or more. Make sure to read about How to Reconstitute IMBC.

      • Rainbow January 13, 2014 at 6:12 am #

        Thanks, Dede

        Another thing is that is there any pan specially made for making dessert? Like boiling sugar or cream or milk…? The one I’m using is a polished stainless steel saucepan and it often turns sticky and very difficult to clean.

        Many thanks

        • Avatar of Dede Wilson
          Dede Wilson January 13, 2014 at 7:34 am #

          Cooked sugar syrup clings like crazy. I usually add some hot water to the pan and let it sit in the sink while I am finishing up the cake. If it is still sticky, I bring the water to a boil and attack the clean-up that way. By the way, I use stainless steel as well. Mine is a triple ply, which means it is stainless inside and out but in-between is a sandwiched layer of aluminum. Best heat conducting trio and along with the heavy weight of the pan, it heats evenly. This is important when making the sugar syrup, but also help with clean-up since there were no (minimal) hot spots.

  11. May January 15, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    Hi! I have a couple of questions:

    1. How can I make sure that the frosting stays cool without making it too firm? After the recipe is done, do I need to cool it more before piping roses because my hands may warm it up too much?

    2. Should I refrigerate the cake after I frost it (I am thinking of making this cake the night before the event)? Or is it ok to leave out for one night? I don’t want the frosting to break down on the cake and ruin it if it is in the fridge.

    Can’t wait to try this!

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson January 15, 2014 at 10:47 am #

      Wonderful questions, which I will address with numbers to break them down, too.

      1. When the IMBC recipe is done it is ready to fill and frost and pipe, however, you seem to be aware that you might have “hot hands” and that can be an issue. Not all bakers think about that. You obviously pay keen attention! Our hands are body temperature, which, as you are aware, is warmer than the buttercream, so when we are holding the pastry bag that warmth can go through the bag, contact the IMBC and overly warm it, making it too loose for piping. If you are someone with extra warm hands (people who do chocolate work are often aware of this), the problem can come up more often. So, you might need to chill the IMBC a bit before piping. This can be done by simply allowing it to sit at cool room temperature for a while (30 min?). When you beat it till cool, there is still some heat from the beater, so allowing it to sit un-agitated can cool it further. Of course if your room is warm, this won’t work. In that case, a brief stint in the fridge might be needed, but as you also mention, you are aware that that can make it too stiff! Temperature is Everything with this buttercream so sometimes you need to go back and forth between chilling and warming to get it just right. A bit persnickety perhaps but the IMBC is actually very forgiving, so manipulate it to your needs! Show it who is boss!

      2. Yes, refrigerate the cake overnight. I do that all the time and especially with large celebration cake that need to be transported somewhere, it is nice to have the IMBC cold to prevent smudging during a delivery. Make sure to bring cake back to room temperature before serving or the IMBC will be too hard to enjoy properly. This could take several hours, depending on how large your cake is.

      You are asking all the right questions and I know it will be a success for you! Don’t hesitate to ask more…and let us know how it turns out. We love posting pictures on our facebook page…hint, hint. :)

  12. Anna January 25, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

    Hi Dede, thank you for your great recipe and tutorial. I was wondering if you could help with a question I have? I made a batch of the IMBC – all was going well and I had added half of the butter. I scraped down bowl as you suggested then continued to add second half. It was then I noticed the mixture starting to curdle and separate. Any ideas what I may have done to cause this? Thanks Anna

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson January 26, 2014 at 8:14 am #

      Hi Anna, hopefully you kept whipping/beating and the IMBC came together. Sounds like the butter was too cold and it “looked” curdled. This is easy to fix by warming the mixture. Check out this tutorial as well on working with IMBC and temperature.

      • Anna January 26, 2014 at 11:32 pm #

        Thanks Dede – I have done as you said and it has come together. Great taste and it held it ‘shape’ beautifully (it’s quiet hot here at the moment) so I was really pleased :)

        • Avatar of Dede Wilson
          Dede Wilson January 27, 2014 at 8:32 am #

          There have been summers where I was working in non-airconditoned bakeries and the temperature was in the high 90’s inside. Making the IMBC in this kind of heat is problematic and almost always will require some refrigeration time before piping to be able to hold shape. Hopefully you aren’t dealing with that kind of heat!

  13. Monalisa January 25, 2014 at 11:12 pm #

    Hi Dede,

    Made imbc from your recipe ,its just awesome. That was my first time I made imbc,this is the bestest recipe.. Best best besttt… I love this. From now this recipe will gonna save in my recipe book. Mmm such a mind blowing taste,perfect texture.. Everything is just perfect.. Even I made flower from this imbc,those also came out perfect. I made basket weave caske for our anniversary, my husband got surprised. He thought I bought this cake.. He ha.. Thank you thank you thank you soo much . :) probably 100 star.. And yes I made this without candy thermometer.. I follow all the thing you said :)

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson January 26, 2014 at 8:15 am #

      Great to hear! The thermometer is helpful, but once you learn what to look for in the syrup – visually – it’s easy to make without! Would love to see pics. We could share them on our facebook page.

  14. Avatar of Consentida
    Consentida January 30, 2014 at 9:09 am #

    Great instructions! & superb video! Can this IBMC be colored-say pink or blue-if so how?

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson January 30, 2014 at 11:52 am #

      You can add coloring at the end of the recipe. I like gel colors but liquid can work. As always when working with color, start with a tiny bit because a little goes a long way. Also, tint and use immediately. Colors can change during storage – some get darker, some fade.

  15. Avatar of bikerhen
    bikerhen February 7, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    I made this the other day and love the fact it’s not as sweet as a traditional butter cream. I have a question about the texture of the finished product. I followed the directions and used my Kitchen Aid mixer. When it was first ready it have a nice texture and spread fairly well. By the time I was almost done icing a three layer cake the IMBC had stiffened up and was thick, almost like butter. It even seemed to “sweat” a little on the cake. Why did it do this? I want to use it again, but it is a bit of a process to make and it was very hard to spread and smooth toward the end.

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson March 30, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

      I am so sorry I missed this post a while back. The “sweating” is temperature related. If you have made it again, did you try making it a bit warmer? It should have the consistency of mayonnaise. Very easy to spread and silky.

  16. Avatar of Kusum Byrd
    Kusum Byrd February 9, 2014 at 2:02 am #

    Hi dede. I’m in a class and we have to decorate solely with imbc. On initial appearance and taste my frosting seems perfect but when I go to pipe it, it is very soft. Building a rose and transferring it almost is impossible. The instructor said to add more butter to the recipe which already calls for almost 2lbs! Do you have any thoughts on what may be doing wrong? Overbeating, syrup too hot? I’m working with frosting that has been refrigerated and brought to room temperature. I even tried working with it chilled a little and it still didnt hold it’s stiffness.

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson February 9, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

      It truly is a matter of temperature. That said, they will never be as “sharp” looking as a non-frosting rose. All work should be done on the cake, not on a flower nail. It needs t be cold!

  17. Avatar of Thiripura Sundari Balasubramaniam
    Thiripura Sundari Balasubramaniam February 14, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

    IMB is now my fav frosting…. tq u soooooo much for this grt recipe… :) My 19 Months old daughter loves it like anything… :))))

  18. Avatar of Jo Sturdevant
    Jo Sturdevant March 1, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    Today was my third attempt at making this icing. I let the meringue cool for over 40 minutes. The merigue was still too warm. Do you know of a way to cool down the meringue or do you know what temperature is cool enough for the meringue? Wedding is in June, I will Keep trying!

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson March 2, 2014 at 10:55 am #

      Jo, I have had it remain warm on summer days when I am working in a non-airconditioned kitchen, but that’s about it. What are your surroundings like? Air temp? Are you using a stand mixer? You can wrap the bowl with ice packs or set in an ice water bath. The meringue should not be warm when you touch it with your finger (after turning the mixer off, of course).

  19. Avatar of V-M-G
    V-M-G March 4, 2014 at 4:28 am #

    Hi, I am very new to baking cakes, always done cupcakes and it will be my first time to make IMBC. I have a couple of questions:

    1) Can I use this as frosting if I want to cover my cake with fondant?

    2) How long do I refrigerate to ensure the frosting is set and I can cover with fondant?

    Thank you!

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson March 4, 2014 at 7:52 am #

      You can use the IMBC. You will most likely use a very thin layer under the fondant but this will be trial and error depending on many things, such as the texture of your cake (is it firm and sturdy and can it take a thicker layer?) and also how thick your fondant will be.

      You will know the IMBC is cold enough to cover when it is as hard as a stick of butter. Touch it. You should barely leave a fingerprint. Depending on size of tier and how warm/cold the IMBC was to begin with, it will be 2 to 4 hours or thereabouts.

      • Avatar of V-M-G
        V-M-G March 4, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

        Just tried it and was successful. Thank you so much!! Do you think it would work if I add cocoa powder to give it a bit of chocolaty taste? I don’t have any dark chocolates lying around.

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson March 4, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

      So glad to hear about the success! I have never added cocoa. What I suggest is dissolving it in a bit of hot water or Kahlua or creme de cacao or it might be powdery.

      • Avatar of V-M-G
        V-M-G March 4, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

        Thanks! Will try it this weekend and I’ll let you know the result. :)

  20. Avatar of Joshua Eason
    Joshua Eason March 17, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

    Hi. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I have one question though.

    Do you think using margarine would change the consistency of the final product?

    I really want to get this right, but we only stock Country Crock in our house.

  21. Avatar of Pamela
    Pamela March 18, 2014 at 12:39 am #

    Hi,
    I’m new to this site but have just made my first cake using IBCF. Am I supposed to refrigerate the cake once it’s frosted? It seems that will make it all hard. Any suggestions? Thanks!
    I enjoyed reading the posts. I’ll be back. Lots.
    Pamela

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson March 18, 2014 at 8:47 am #

      Pamela, Welcome to our community! You are right about the texture. The IMBC will be as hard as a stick of chilled butter when it is right out of the fridge. And it takes much longer for cakes to come to room temperature than one assumes. Do store the cake in the fridge but then give yourself several hours for it to come back to room temp before serving. It’s right if the IMBC is creamy to the touch.

  22. Avatar of Seema Alsaeed
    Seema Alsaeed March 22, 2014 at 3:22 am #

    Hi

    Can I add ground pistachios (or any other ground nut) in the frosting?

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson March 22, 2014 at 8:26 am #

      Great question Seema. I have added ground praline made from almonds and pecans and hazelnuts, which adds texture and sweetness. I have never added just nuts themselves. If you were to add ground nuts, there would obviously be a texture, which is fine. Just be aware that your IMBC won’t be silky smooth anymore and piping might be an issue. Your question has me wondering what would happen if I added nut butter! Have to try that in the Test Kitchen.

  23. Avatar of Mark Anthony Torres
    Mark Anthony Torres March 22, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    Hello. This is my third time making the IMBC and i tried it with the chocolate variation. The consistency was too thin.. Maybe i added the chocolate a bit warmer thats why it looks like it splits. Any suggestion what should i do? Its been mixing for almost 20minutes to try cooling it down but nothing changes. Help!

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson March 23, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

      If the chocolate is warm, yes that can melt out the IMBC. If the deed is done and the IMBC is runny, you can place it in an ice bath and play with the temperature. What did you end up doing? The one thing I can tell you is that sometimes people think its ruined and throw it away. DONT! It almost always can be saved with temperature manipulation. You might lose some volume, but you do not need to toss it.

  24. Avatar of Vibescuisine
    Vibescuisine March 22, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

    Hi. I am very persistent. I have tried this buttercream 6 times. Through osmosis I KNOW it is delicious. That being said. I live in the tropics, it always comes out a little grainy. This evening it was grainy and runny. I’m not certIn if it’s the consistency of my butter but everything else is spot on…..

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson March 23, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

      Thank you for writing…temperature is key here. Sounds like the butter is melting out a little bit, creating a texture. A few other questions come to mind. Are you using cane sugar? Are you using a calibrated thermometer and do you know you have brought the sugar syrup up to temp? Also tell me about your butter. is it unsalted? Is it fresh?

      I have made this in hittable heat and humidity and it can be a challenge, so I empathize on those accounts.

      I think you have to make sure to beat meringue until cool to touch and your butter can’t be so soft it is greasy when you add it.

  25. Avatar of Jennifer
    Jennifer March 26, 2014 at 5:42 am #

    Hi, I’m making my sister’s wedding cake and have done a trial using layers of chocolate and vanilla cake and IMBC, with a cherry filling. It turned out beautifully, thank you for the recipe and tutorial!
    This weekend I’m planning to make the tiers (three, with four layers each), put a thin layer of IMBC over each, wrap them and freeze for two weeks. I’ll then defrost and decorate with IMBC the day before the wedding. I’m limited by distance and time so this is my best bet for getting it all done. Is freezing for two weeks likely to be a problem? I’m worried I’m making a big mistake.

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson March 26, 2014 at 9:27 am #

      Your instincts are right on. If I have to freeze, I like to have a protective coating of IMBC in place. Make sure to wrap very well, and protect the sides so that they don’t get any dents. Tell me a little about the filling. That’s my only question. If it is freezable, you are good to go! So glad I could be of help. Let us see a picture when you are done!

      • Avatar of Jennifer
        Jennifer March 26, 2014 at 10:32 am #

        Great to hear it’s not impossible! My filling is a layer of IMBC flavoured with Dutch cocoa powder (tastes amazing!), then a layer of my own cherry syrup creation: sour cherries lightly chopped, simmered with the syrup from their jar, a little sugar and a splash of rum. I’m thinking of adding a dash of cherry essence too to lift the cherry flavour. I simmer it until I get the consistency I want then layer it up.
        If I can figure out how to post a photo, I will definitely show you the results. Thanks for your advice!

        • Avatar of Dede Wilson
          Dede Wilson March 26, 2014 at 10:35 am #

          Sounds Really delicious. If the filing is “jammy” you are good to go! If the fruit were more “fresh”, the freezing could create a problem with ice crystals.

      • Avatar of Jennifer
        Jennifer April 13, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

        Well, the wedding happened on Saturday and I’m pleased to report my cake was an outstanding success! It defrosted beautifully, the IMBC went on perfectly and best of all it tasted wonderful. Thank you so much for your advice, and most of all your recipe!
        I’d love to post a picture but can’t make it work. Can you offer any technical advice?

        • Avatar of Dede Wilson
          Dede Wilson April 14, 2014 at 8:10 am #

          Jennifer, how exciting! Thank you for letting us know about your success. Send me the image dede@bakepedia.com and we will post on our Facebook page.

          We are currently working on tech that will allow community members like you to upload recipes and images. Please be patient and again, thank you so much for letting us know about your experience.

  26. Avatar of Ping Martinez Roque
    Ping Martinez Roque March 29, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    Hi Dede, thank you for sharing your recipe. This is going to be our favourite frosting for our cakes – yummy!!!! and my little girl said ” I can eat a bowl of the frosting!” and off she ran with a spoonful of frosting. Two questions, if I need the frosting in the morning and make it the night before, can I keep the frosting in the fridge and use a paddle attachment to beat it? Is it possible to leave the frosting out of the fridge overnight? Thank you :)

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson March 29, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

      I have been known to leave it out in a cool room overnight. Even then, you might need to warm some of it in order to “reconstitute” it. This is probably not what the local health department would tell you – and I never did this at my bakery – but I admit that when I bake for family and friends, the approach is sometimes more relaxed. Use your best judgement. You could certainly make the night before, leave in the bowl and beat with paddle the next day, but you will Definitely need to warm some of it up and play with the temp. It will become silky and lustrous/luxurious again, but you must be patient and play with it.

  27. Avatar of vanessa
    vanessa March 30, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

    Hi, I want to use IMBC for my daughter birthday, I’m thinking of covering the cake with m&ms. I would like to make the cake the night before. The IMBC will be able to hold the chocolate m&ms in place? I live in California and probably it will be very hot so I’m guessing I will have to put the cake in the refrigerator overnight but how long before serving should I take the cake out I’m scared I might leave it too long out side because of the heat and get so soft that it will not hold the m&ms in place, any suggestions of what can I do?

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson March 30, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

      Two things: the IMBC will definitely hold the M&Ms BUT they will bleed into the buttercream – or at least there is a high possibility that this will happen and you will get coloring where you don’t want it. So the issue is that you should refrigerate the cake overnight, which will leave the buttercream very hard – too hard to nestle the candies into. So you have to allow ample time for the IMBC to soften the day of serving, and apply the candies at that time. Good luck!

      • Avatar of vanessa
        vanessa March 30, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

        Thank you :-)

  28. Avatar of Michelle Green
    Michelle Green April 15, 2014 at 8:11 am #

    Hi Dede, I have a two tier wedding cake to do on May 2, 2014. The bottom layer is choc mud and top layer is white choc mud. I fill and ganache my cakes. How will the meringue go over the top of the chocolate ganache. Do I need to store it in the fridge if I cover the cake with the meringue the day before the wedding. Any tips or steps on what to do would be wonderful. Thank you so much.
    Michelle :)

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson April 15, 2014 at 11:37 am #

      Hi Michelle. I am assuming a dark chocolate ganache? If so, make sure to have plenty of IMBC to cover the dark ganache. Might have to do a thick “crumb” coat and then a final coat. If you have a cool room and are Not traveling with it I might be tempted to leave out overnight. Of course local health code authorities might say differently:) If it has to be transported, I would refrigerate it overnight. Sounds delicious! Tell us about the white chocolate mud please! I want to know more

  29. Avatar of Echo Garrett
    Echo Garrett April 17, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    It’s been a while since I made Italian buttercream (I’m lazy and normally make its cousin, the Swiss). I decided that it was time to visit my old friend and gave your method a whirl. I have forgotten just how light and delicious Italian buttercream can be. I flavored mine with a tablespoon vanilla and 2 tablespoons rum. Perfection. Will file this away for future use.

  30. Avatar of Kimberly Barnett
    Kimberly Barnett May 3, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    This is an amazing recipe! Thank you for sharing and the video! Before adding the butter, once the sugar syrup is added to the egg whites, can you use this as a meringue? If so, would you still need to cook the meringue as long after being placed on top of a pie? If you do, for how long? If not, can it be placed under the broiler for toasting?

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson May 5, 2014 at 8:13 am #

      I have used the meringue (pre-butter) as the topping for lemon meringue pies and similar desserts. I make it as described and then brown with a propane torch. You could do a broiler too, just keep an eye on it!

      • Avatar of Kimberly Barnett
        Kimberly Barnett May 5, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

        I imagine anything you make probably doesn’t last long and is gobbled up immediately but I have to ask, have you ever had troubles with it weeping? The way my Mother makes meringue it always gets watery by the next day. Oh an the Italian Buttercream is now my go to icing! Everyone just absolutely adored the icing! It may take a little extra work than an American Buttercream but the taste and texture are well worth the time! Bless you for sharing this recipe and your video! I took some leftover vanilla that I used on a Lemon Cake with raspberry preserves and the vanilla Italian Buttercream, brought it to room temperature and added some melted semisweet chocolate, perfection! I was so excited to have been able to make such a delectable icing! Thank you again!

  31. Avatar of Kylie Ammerlaan
    Kylie Ammerlaan May 16, 2014 at 4:46 am #

    Hi,
    Great recipe.
    I was wondering can I use just lemon juice to flavour it and how much? If not how much lemon curd would you add?
    Thanks.

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson May 16, 2014 at 8:16 am #

      Hi Kylie, lemon juice won’t provide enough flavor. Lemon curd will though! You can add anywhere from about 1/2 cup to 1 cup depending on your color, flavor and textural preferences.

  32. Avatar of lauren dubose
    lauren dubose May 22, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    Hi Dede,

    I am using your italian Meringue Buttercream to frost my wedding cake! 4 tiers- 12, 10, 8, 6.

    Question- the cake will be in the cooler overnight (at the inn where we are getting married). What time do you think we should take the cake out to display at the wedding? The room temperature will be in the mid-70s. I was thinking of taking it out of the cooler and displaying it at 5:30 (reception begins at 6pm and cake cutting is at 8:30pm.) Is that to much or too little time for the frosting to reach the right consistency and/or is it safe? Thanks!

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson May 22, 2014 at 10:26 am #

      You sound very organized! Your instincts are right on. I’d say the 3 hrs would be the minimum. Professional coolers are often colder than a home fridge so if anything I would say take it out even earlier. Ask the chef how long it would take a block if butter to soften coming out of their cooler and sitting out. Then factor into that the fact that your cake is a larger mass and would need even more time. Really the issue 99% of the time is not allowing enough time.

      Good luck and have an amazing day! We would love to see pics! You can send them to dede@bakepedia.com

      • Avatar of lauren dubose
        lauren dubose May 22, 2014 at 10:39 am #

        Thanks so much Dede- very helpful info. I will confirm times with the chef– and allow at least 3.5-4 hours.

        And, I will be sure to send you pictures!

        I am very excited about this not overly sweet buttercream icing :)

  33. Avatar of phoebe
    phoebe May 29, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    Hello! My icing looked okay until i added the butter – then it completely collapsed. I tried dunking the bowl in ice cold water but it is still really runny. What do I do? Is there any hope in saving it at all? Thanks :)

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson May 29, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

      Hi Phoebe! So glad you asked. YES don’t give up. Sounds like meringue was too warm. This is a common occurrence. Sitting over an ice bath until it is firm is a good start. You do need to chill it. It CAN be saved. You just have to manipulate the temperature. In fact, you might end up over-chilling it and then it will look lumpy upon beating, at which time it must be warmed. Sounds like a pain, I know, but I promise you it will work. Stick with it. Let me know!

      • Avatar of phoebe
        phoebe May 29, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

        Okay, thank you! It looks a little curdled, but it’s slightly thicker and tastes okay (i put some raspberry coulis in it). Thanks again for your help and the great video. Will let you know about the final outcome. Fingers crossed!

        • Avatar of Dede Wilson
          Dede Wilson May 29, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

          OK a few things: if it looks curdled, it is still too cold. Also, always make sure it is “done” and in great form before adding anything. Raspberry purée contains a lot of water and you are adding it to a fat based mixture. They resist one another and if you add too much purée it will not smooth out. Warm it up and keep beating. Change to the flat paddle.

  34. Avatar of Kristin
    Kristin May 30, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    Thank you for such a great recipe and the video to go along with it. It was super helpful since I’ve never made a meringue. I actually watched and paused it along the way. The IMBC came out SO good! I cannot believe ow easy it was to frost it on the cake, and how smooth it came out.

    The only issue I came across is that I have a lot of small air bubbles in it, which I’ve tried to smooth out as I’m frosting the cake. Am I whipping it too high perhaps while I’m putting the butter in?

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson May 30, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

      So glad you enjoyed the process and now that you know, it will get even easier and easier. The air bubbles can be an issue. You could switch to the flat paddle attachment and “cream” the IMBC a bit, but what I do is run my icing spatula under hot water, dry it and use it warm on the buttercream. It smoothes everything out. Give that a try and let us know.

  35. Avatar of Alegria Sweets Palace
    Alegria Sweets Palace June 6, 2014 at 9:52 pm #

    I Just finished whipping up a batch and I agree with you Dede I think this is going to become one of my favorites really quick, thank you for posting it.

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson June 7, 2014 at 8:04 am #

      So glad you had a good experience. It is one of those recipes you have to make to understand – but then it all makes sense!

  36. Avatar of Julie Ramsey
    Julie Ramsey June 14, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    How do you make it raspberry flavoured?
    Thanks

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson June 14, 2014 at 10:30 am #

      Hi Julie, you can add raspberry puree, with or without seeds. The IMBC will be VERY pink. VERY! You can add as much as the IMBC will allow. What I mean by this is because it is filled with butter and the purée is very high in water, there will be a time when the IMBC won’t accept anymore and you will be able to “see” this. It just won’t combine and blend in. Good luck! It is very tasty.

      • Avatar of Julie Ramsey
        Julie Ramsey June 14, 2014 at 11:30 am #

        Thank you I’ll give a go

  37. Avatar of Majeda Abu-Shakra
    Majeda Abu-Shakra June 15, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    Hi Dede
    Why did the Italian meringue buttercream turn runny following yur steps what should I do need it now to frost my cake can it be fixed in a way. Thanks
    Majeda

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson June 15, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

      Most likely it was warm when you added the butter. It can be chilled and re-beaten best using the flat paddle attachment. It might be chilled, then be too hard, and have to be softened again before becoming silky smooth. But it CAN be revitalized.

  38. Avatar of Debbie Turner Lancaster
    Debbie Turner Lancaster June 21, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    Could you tell me how much I would need to make of this recipe to have enough to cover your 3 tired simple wedding cake? The one with the 6,9, and 12 inch round tiers. Thank you!

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson June 21, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

      Debbie, my book Wedding Cakes You Can Make goes over just this sort of thing and might prove helpful. I would plan on a total of 4x the recipe using 8 egg whites if you are using it for filling and outer frosting. If you have a different filling you won’t need as much. I just realized I don’t have that larger version listed and I am actually running out to a wedding! I will post by end of Monday. Will that work for you?

  39. Avatar of Natasha Halim
    Natasha Halim August 2, 2014 at 12:38 am #

    Hi Dede, super in love witg this recipe!!it’s not overly sweet & it melts in the mouth unlike other BC recipe which uses tons of butter..however, my cake is cracked after i covered it with this BC..i’ve never had cracks bfore..I put a layer of crumb coat & keep it in freezer for 5 mins then put the outer layer..it set very quickly and after few mins, it’s cracked..I think maybe bcs of the cold weather here & I shouldnt put it in freezer..do u know how to prevent cracks?thank you ;)

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson August 2, 2014 at 9:32 am #

      You are on the right track. It was a temperature thing. The freezing was the issue. You can freeze a cake with a crumb coat to set it fast, but let the intense chill subside before applying the BC. You don’t want there to be a huge differential between the crumb coat and the final coat in terms of temperature. After you are done, the cake should be refrigerated and I have seen cracks develop at this point, too but they are usually minor. I always bring an icing spatula with me when I am delivering a seeing cake and a quick swipe usually “seals” any cracks.

      • Avatar of Natasha Halim
        Natasha Halim August 5, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

        Thank you Dede.
        I’m making a three layer birthday cake next month. I’m going to cover the first cake layer with this BC.
        Last time, I put 50ml of rose water to 500gr of this recipe. It was awesome, everybody was surprised and love the scent. Thank you for the tips :)

        • Avatar of Dede Wilson
          Dede Wilson August 6, 2014 at 9:58 am #

          What a nice idea! Makes me think of trying orange flower water, too.

  40. Avatar of Sarina Pierce
    Sarina Pierce August 3, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    Can you add cream cheese to this? I am making a wedding cake: White with raspberry filling and they really want cream cheese type frosting.

    • Avatar of Sarina Pierce
      Sarina Pierce August 3, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

      Never mind I got my answer. I could not view the other comments before and they finally loaded.

      • Avatar of Dede Wilson
        Dede Wilson August 4, 2014 at 8:09 am #

        Glad you found your answer! Our community can be very helpful.

  41. Avatar of Jessica Liew
    Jessica Liew August 9, 2014 at 6:12 am #

    Hello, if my candy thermometer can only measure up to a hundred degrees celcius, is it still possible to make this buttercream and do without the thermometer? :)

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson August 9, 2014 at 8:58 am #

      Yes! Here is what you do…boil the sugar syrup. Keep an eye on it. Watch as the bubbles get thicker and bigger and move more slowly to the top. There will be more of them, too. The whole top of the solution will be covered with big, slowly opening bubbles. It will “look” like it has thickened. Use it at that point. If you are worried, let it go a minute longer. If you start to see the barest tinge of color appearing around the edges, pour right away! it will work! I have made this IMBC hundreds of times with no thermometer. Cooking it more is better than cooking it less. Worse case scenario you have wasted some time, egg whites and sugar. Best case scenario you have learned a new technique! GO FOR IT. You can do it Let me know….:)

  42. Avatar of ben
    ben August 11, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    If I wanted to color it would I add it in near the end of beating and what type of dye would be best.

  43. Avatar of Onion Ginger
    Onion Ginger August 14, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    Help!!!!! I tried two time! All going ok except added butter! My meringue was silky smooth (sugar syrup added). Then i tested my meringue temperture was about room temperture, next step i added butter which it soft like the one u show in your video, but! When i added butter into my meringue then it trun to lumpy and mositure. Why? What did i do wrong? Help !! Many thx!
    k

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson August 15, 2014 at 7:04 am #

      Hi! We are here to help. If it looks lumpy and there is moisture – like it looks like the meringue is repelling the fat from the butter (you know, like how oil and water don’t mix) then you need to keep beating! The great majority of the time, people have the mixture too warm, but your description suggests the opposite, which does happen. If the butter and meringue are too cold they don’t combine – but they will!!!! You can try many things. First read this extra tutorial. When this happens to me I remove about a cup or so of the buttercream, zap it in the microwave for a few seconds until very soft and then add it back in to the main batch. Sometimes you have to do this a few times. It will come together. You can also switch to the flat paddle attachment if you have one. Let me know if this helps. It’s always temperature with this baby!

      • Avatar of Onion Ginger
        Onion Ginger August 16, 2014 at 5:37 am #

        Thank you very much! Eventually my cream is done! I keep the butter cream whip bit longer! Thank you!

        • Avatar of Dede Wilson
          Dede Wilson August 16, 2014 at 8:14 am #

          Excellent! Now you have a first hand understanding of the temperature issue! It will only get easier and better!

  44. Avatar of Tenesa Vuillemenot
    Tenesa Vuillemenot August 15, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    I asked a baker friend for her favorite white frosting and she suggested Italian buttercream. I was a bit uncertain about the process, but your video made it clear and easy.

    It came together beautifully and the taste is unlike anything I’ve made before!

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson August 16, 2014 at 8:06 am #

      So glad you had a fun and delicious experience! Did you try flavoring it or just use vanilla?

      • Avatar of Tenesa Vuillemenot
        Tenesa Vuillemenot August 16, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

        I just used vanilla as my daughter wanted chocolate cake with white frosting. I will definitely venture into other flavors!

  45. Avatar of Julia Dingus
    Julia Dingus August 25, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    Hi, Dede. Thanks for your wonderful recipes and instructions! I am making my daughter’s wedding cake in October and have used your recipes and suggestions for a couple of test cakes. Your thorough instructions and warm demeanor have made my baking life a lot more pleasant lately! I’ll be using the white cake and IMBC frosting. Question: I have make a batch of IMBC and flavored it with lemon extract, with a good quantity left over, and would like to use the remaining frosting on a chocolate cake for a cookout. Not really wanting to frost a chocolate cake with lemon flavored frosting, is there a way I can turn my lemon frosting into vanilla or almond or something else more complimentary to chocolate cake? Or should I just change gears and make another lemon or white cake instead? Hope not, but I don’t want to waste all that frosting! Thank you! -julie

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson August 26, 2014 at 8:07 am #

      Hi Julie! Thank you for the compliments and I am glad I am able to help. I would embrace the lemon. The first time I had lemon and dark chocolate together was at Maison du Chocolat in a truffle and it was a revelation! Maybe add some lemon zest to the chocolate cake…, maybe candy some lemon. Go for it!

  46. Avatar of Natasha Halim
    Natasha Halim August 30, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    Hi Dede, can I use this under fondant? Does it stable enough to hold the shape? thank you :)

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson August 30, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

      Yes, you can. I am not a fondant user so I have not put it to that use myself, but many of my book/website users have and have reported good results. Don’t make the layer too thick.

  47. Avatar of Mommygunnn
    Mommygunnn September 18, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    Hi DeDe just made a batch of this frosting and it’s fantastic! Just wondering if it would be a big problem if I replaced one stick of unsalted butter with salted butter? Just ran out of the unsalted. Also, can I frost me cake 2days ahead if I keep it refrigerated! Thanks in advance.

    • Avatar of Dede Wilson
      Dede Wilson September 18, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

      Salted would be fine and yes, you could frost and then refrigerate a cake for 2 days. I do it all the time with wedding cakes. So much butter in this that it seals the freshness of the cake in! MAKE SURE to bring to room temp before eating…it takes longer than you think.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Happy Birthday To Me! | My Kitchen In The Middle Of The Desert - July 22, 2014

    […] For the frosting, I had a dozen egg whites (I only used 6 egg whites) in the deep freeze that were leftover from making Meyer Lemon Curd awhiles back. So I went looking for a recipe for Chocolate Italian Meringue Butter Cream that I have wanted to try my hand at. What I found even came with a video, very helpful, Mahalo (thanks) Dede Wilson at Bakepedia. […]