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Italian Meringue Buttercream

Use this to frost the Baby Block Cake, or your favorite layer cake.

  • yield: Makes 4 1/2 cups

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large egg whites
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Step 1

    In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and 2/3 cup water to a boil. Continue boiling until syrup reaches 238 degrees on a candy thermometer (soft-ball stage).

  2. Step 2

    Meanwhile, place egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat on medium-high speed until stiff but not dry; do not overbeat.

  3. Step 3

    With mixer running, add syrup to whites in a stream, beating on high speed until no longer steaming, about 3 minutes. Add butter bit by bit, beating until spreadable, 3 to 5 minutes; beat in vanilla. If icing curdles, keep beating until smooth.

Source
Martha Stewart Living, January 2004

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Reviews (12)

  • 7 May, 2014

    I live in a very hot climate, but this recipe does work! After adding the butter, it did not hold any shape at all. I refrigerated the IMBC (in its mixing bowl) then took it out and whipped it (using a paddle attachment) and the frosting just came together! It took a few minutes - like whipping cold cream. After frosting the cake, I kept it in the fridge. The frosting held up the whole time it was being served and stayed out of the ref!

  • 20 Mar, 2014

    Have made it! What a great recipe and great directions. It turned out perfect first time! Thanks for sharing.

  • 8 Dec, 2013

    Your directions suck butt! Please do yourself a favor: if you are not a Bakery Chef, please find other directions or you will either drive yourself mad or never bake again. Thanks for nothing Martha Stewart

  • 23 Oct, 2013

    Don't refrigerate this. The butter will separate into their separate components of water, milk fats etc. That's why it weeps. It is good at room temperature for 3 days.

  • 19 Sep, 2013

    I'm not sure why this recipe has you bringing the sugar to only 238 degrees. I make a similar recipe from another baking cookbook, and it calls for the syrup to be boiled to 248 degrees. Seems like it would be too soft and melt-y otherwise.

  • 10 Feb, 2013

    I would not refrigerate this if possible!! In my experience this icing has a tendency to "sweat" after refrigeration as it comes to room temp. It is perfectly fine to leave it at room temperature. Because of the amount to butter in this recipe it gets very hard when refrigerated, so definitely would not make ahead and refrigerate before decorating either. Good luck!

  • 24 Jan, 2013

    I have found that all I need to keep this recipe from melting in the heat (I live in Florida) is to replace part of the butter with shortening. For this recipe I used 1/4 cup of shortening and 1 3/4 cups butter to stabilize this delicious recipe while keeping the wonderfully light texture and great flavor. This is one of my favorite recipes.

  • 21 Dec, 2012

    Since the recipe calls for unsalted butter, that's what you should use. And it should go without saying that when making a sweet buttercream, you'd use unsalted butter (as you should in all baking). I can't understand what would lead anyone to use salted butter in this recipe.

  • 8 Sep, 2012

    I had a lovely delicious meringue and then I added the butter and it tasted like... butter. Maybe if you used an unsalted butter you'd get away from that, but it was still a really greasy icing. Not a fan.

  • 8 Sep, 2012

    I had a lovely delicious meringue and then I added the butter and it tasted like... butter. Maybe if you used an unsalted butter you'd get away from that, but it was still a really greasy icing. Not a fan.

  • 6 Jun, 2011

    I made a variation of this recipe. The taste is amazing! This is a frosting that is not too sweet and holds its shape fairly well. I have started using this recipe and freezing it and putting it in the middle of cupcakes and it is divine! The only drawback is that you have to keep the cupcakes or cake refrigerated until ready to eat otherwise it tends to melt fairly quickly due to the amount of butter in it.

  • 22 Nov, 2010

    2 questions: How well does this icing hold it's shape for decorating cupcakes? and does it need constant refrigeration? I have to make approx 130 cupcakes for a wedding in January and time restrictions simply won't permit me to deocrate them the day of the wedding. Will I need to keep this refrigerated?