Perfect Vanilla Bean Italian Buttercream

Sweet, creamy, and oh so buttery - Italian Meringue Buttercream is a classic buttercream that has never lost its signature pizazz. It's made differently than the standard buttercream, and it's worth every extra little step. 

Continuing on with my buttercream saga, I present to you my VERY favorite buttercream. This is a staple in my home, business, and freezer. I always have some ready to go. 

What would my life look like without Italian buttercream?! I am not even sure. This is the ultimate recipe. Anyone who tastes this buttercream experiences a bit of magic. I loved doing wedding cake tastings and getting the Bride & Groom's reactions. No one expected to like this buttercream over the traditional sweet stuff, but man. I converted many a couple to the bright side! Once you try Italian buttercream, most never go back.

This buttercream is sweet, but not overly sweet. It is from a whole different realm than the traditional buttercream with powdered sugar. It is buttery, creamy, light, sweet, and incredible. 

I promise that this recipe is more than worthy of your time. Despite the hassle, timing, and boiling of sugar, this buttercream is worth it. Don't let it intimidate you.

What is Italian Meringue Buttercream?

Its full, traditional name is Italian Meringue Buttercream, because the base is an Italian meringue. Italian meringue is the only type of meringue that is fully cooked. The hot sugar syrup heats the egg whites to the point where they are deemed "cooked." Once your meringue is made, softened butter is added, along with the chosen flavorings. It's easy, but it does take a bit of practice on the timing of things. 

You want your whipping egg whites to reach medium peaks at the same time your sugar syrup reaches temperature, at 239F. It just takes practice and a bit of multitasking. 

I remember the first time I ever made this was in culinary school. I was terrified to cook with boiling hot sugar. I was so scared that I would either burn the living daylights out of my hands or completely ruin the buttercream - or, both. Yes, we had to learn to tell when the sugar was at the right temperature by using our fingers, that we iced down before. Please don't try that!! I don't do that at home. I have a fancy thermometer that I love dearly. But, yeah. I had to dig my little, numb fingers into a pot of 240F boiling sugar to test if it was at the soft ball stage. It was not my happiest memory of culinary and pastry school.

This is my buttercream of choice to use on any cake. This is the buttercream that I coat all of my wedding cakes in. It is naturally a nice color, chills well, and smoothes like a dream. However, if you want to color it, gel colors work great in it, too. Step back, classic buttercream! Italian meringue buttercream is here to take your place. 



How Else Can I Flavor Italian Buttercream?

You can flavor it to be just about anything you could dream of. It is a canvas for any idea and flavor combo you could dream up. I especially love chocolate, coffee, peanut butter, honey, Earl Grey, pistachio, strawberry, and so many others. The possibilities are endless. I mean it!

If you're looking for something really special and unique, check out my Brandy Italian Buttercream that I used on Food Network's Halloween Wars. I presented it to the judges in Episode 6, and check out those recipes here, too. It has an incredible flavor that includes warm, floral, fruity, and so many other unique tasting notes brought to us by the brandy. It's a real keeper of a recipe. I highly recommend it.

And, you can find my Peanut Butter Italian Buttercream here. It's a phenomenal, because who doesn't love peanut butter. This is nutty, creamy, rich, and decadent. It's amazing with mocha cake, chocolate cake, vanilla cake, and just about anything else. It is so dang delicious. I also used this on Food Network's Halloween Wars, too. Check out the cake I made for Episode 7 here that included deep fried, chocolate coated seaweed. It was darn good.

I used this buttercream on the Cherry Limeade Cake that I presented to the judges, Aarti Sequeira, Shinmin Li, and Eddie Jackson on Episode 4 of Food Network's Halloween Wars - Season 12. They loved it, and it's the perfect compliment to any cake you could ever make. 


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