Friday, 11 October 2013

The Dashing yet dangerous Italian Meringue Butter Cream

I had decide to embark on the 'perilous' adventure of making this lovely icing with my friend Jen, but she's abandoned me for another end of the planet  so I decided to attempt it alone. Perilous because stories are dotted all over the 'net of how wrong it can go.

I picked a an easy(ier) recipe off the internet, after scouring through hundreds and tried my hands at it.I will forever be grateful for that recipe: 

Essential equipment: Food mixer &  Sugar thermometer
The food mixer is needed because the eggs must be whisked at very high speed. I don't think it's humanly possible to whisk that fast for as long as the recipe requires. The Guinness Book of Records should look into a challenge like that.

The sugar thermometer is needed because the sugar syrup must be at the soft ball stage, which is a particular temperature. The Cake Tekniks shop the makola mall sells sugar thermometers, in case you're looking for one.

Sugar/ candy thermometer 
It took me ages to attempt it because I wanted to get my hands on a Sugar/Candy thermometer. It's said to be essential in making the icing, unless you can gauge exactly how sugar behaves at every stage.

You basically need  sugar, water, egg whites, butter and essence.

Only the egg whites

Cubed Butter at room temperature (unsalted)

That's basically all you need to create this magical, fluffy buttercream.
I was nervous about the outcome  so I documented the process very carefully. 

I put the sugar and water into a pan and stirred it with a whisk. It took about 3 minutes and 30 seconds to boil. I then got the chance to use my sugar thermometer. About 3 more minutes later the temperature climbed to the soft boil stage. 
At this point, no more heat!

Meanwhile, I had put the egg whites in the mixer bowl already and had started whisking at low speed so and I just tipped in the sugar syrup when it was ready, being careful not to hit the sides of the bowl or the whisk attachment while pouring.

When it all went in, I turned it up the mixer to high speed.

You should smell the eggs cooking.

The mixture has to be beaten at high speed until the mixture cools to room temperature. This is to ensure the eggs are completely cooked. 
My mixing bowl is plastic, so it did not heat up as much as a metal bowl would have (I think). 
I allowed it to mix on high speed for 10 minutes and then decided it had reached room temperature.

I then reduced the speed to medium and in went the butter, a few tablespoonfuls at a time.

Some recipes suggested switching to the paddle attachment for the 'heavy mixing'. I ignored the advice (and regretted it later,lol!) Next time I make it, I will switch to the paddle at this point. The icing is much smoother, with no extra buttery bits, in my experience.  

Added in the vanilla essence, turned it on  high to incorporate for just over a minute.

Then taste! 
It can be stored in the fridge, even freezer, quite well. But good luck not finishing it all!

One of my favourite cake bloggers has a similar different recipe, minus the sugar thermometer - in case you don't have one and want to attempt it too.

I used mine to ice a cake for a friend's baby shower. What will you use your's for??