Italian Meringue Buttercream

italian-meringue-buttercream

Since my Swiss Meringue Buttercream has surely lived up to it’s name of “World Famous”! it seems about time to add to our repertoire yet another variation of buttercream.

The Italian Meringue Buttercream. For those who are looking for a silky smooth way less sugar recipe this one is for you!

Some people claim that Italian Meringue Buttercream is way more stable as compared to Swiss Buttercream due to the cooking of the sugar and the thick meringue that is created through this process.

I’m not sure I disagree, but I would note that if you are making a Swiss Meringue properly (thick meringue is the key note in that recipe as well) then they are both quite stable in my experience.

Italian Meringue requires an a candy thermometer to properly cook your sugar.

Italian Meringue Buttercream has the claim to fame of being less sweet than the other buttercreams and it is a bit more stable due to the way we cook the sugar syrup and prepare the meringue.

Check it out and decide for yourself which you love the best!

Now some of you may notice that in the video I had only 4 sticks (454g) of butter whereas here in the written blog post I have 5 sticks (565g)

Because I wanted to be sure my buttercream was super extra stable I decreased the butter by 1 stick (113g) and increased the shortening ratio by that same amount (1 cup or 113g).

So you see you can play around with ratios here; use all butter if you do not want shortening, or use a combination like I did, but be forewarned that much of the stability of any buttercream comes from the shortening.

So to be clear the total amount of FAT (butter, shortening or a combination of the two) is 765g or 3¼cups

 

Please read all the way to the bottom of this blog post as there are many Most Asked Questions and some troubleshooting that I address below! thanks!

You can add flavors to this buttercream the same as you would for the American Buttercream & Swiss Buttercream CLICK HERE FOR MORE


5.0 from 20 reviews
Italian Meringue Buttercream
 
Butter is to be at room temperature and softened to the same consistency as the shortening
Author:
Serves: 8 cups
Ingredients
  • Egg Whites 7 large (210g)
  • Granulated Sugar 2 cups (400g)
  • Water 1cup (237ml)
  • Unsalted Butter 5 sticks (1lb 4oz) (566g)
  • Solid Vegetable Shortening 1 cup (198g)
  • Vanilla Extract 2 Tablespoons
Instructions
  1. In a large heavy bottom sauce pot, combine the water and sugar and stir over high heat until the sugar is dissolved into the water.
  2. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot and continue boiling without stirring, until the sugar solution reaches 240° F
  3. Meanwhile in the clean bowl of your kitchen aid mixer with the whisk attachment place the egg whites.
  4. As soon as the sugar mixture reaches 240° F you can turn on the mixer to medium high speed to get the whites frothy and gaining volume.
  5. Once the egg whites are starting to get white in color and frothy and gain some strength SLOWLY, as fine as a thread of hair, begin pouring the hot syrup into the whipping whites.
  6. ALWAYS TAKE EXTRA PRECAUTIONS WHILE WORKING WITH HOT SUGAR SYRUPS!!!!
  7. Try to avoid splashing the syrup onto the whisk attachment as it is whipping the whites, or you will be making spun sugar as it hits the sides of the metal bowl!
  8. Continue whipping the whites until the mixture has COOLED COMPLETELY before you add the butter/shortening or you will have Butter Soup!
  9. Once the Italian Meringue is COOL TO THE TOUCH you may add the butter/shortening that is at ROOM TEMPERATURE to the meringue while whipping on medium-high speed
  10. Add the vanilla extract
  11. Switch to the paddle attachment and mix on low- medium speed until smooth
Notes
THIS RECIPE CAN BE STORED 4 days room temp, 2 weeks fridge, 2 months freezer

If you decide to store it in the fridge/freeze, you will have to bring it back to room temperature before re using.

Take it out several hours before you need it, and let it get to room temp, then put it back on the mixer with the PADDLE attachment on low- medium and let it mix, it will look as if it is BROKEN, and curdled, don’t be alarmed this is NATURAL, it will come back together eventually, you can turn the speed up to med-high and it will mix out smooth
For the MOCHA BUTTERCREAM & CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM variations you will do the same as for Swiss Buttercream or American Buttercream, this Italian version takes mix-ins quite well!

MOST ASKED Questions:

Q- “Can I use this recipe under Rolled Fondant Icing?”
A- “YES, you can use this icing under ANY Type of Icing, Rolled Fondant, Poured Fondant, Ganache, Whipped Cream…LIKE EVERYTHING!!”

Q- “What can I substitute for the Solid Vegetable Shortening, I don’t have that in my country?”
A- ” Please read SUBSTITUTIONS blog post”

Q- “Can I use all butter?”
A- YES

Q-”Can I use all shortening?”
A- “Yes!”

Q- “Can I use Margarine”
A- “Yes”

Q- “Can I use Meringue Powder?”
A- No, the point of making an Italian Meringue is to COOK the eggs to a completely safe temperature, Meringue Powder is not intended to use a 240 degrees F sugar syrup added to it.

Q- “Can I double this recipe?”
A- “YES, if your mixer bowl is large enough to accommodate that amount of ingredients DOUBLED. Be wary that the meringue alone with the single amount recipe comes just about half way to the top of the bowl-(IF you mixed it properly that is)”

Q- “How long can I store this icing?”
A- “4 days room temp, 2 weeks fridge, 2 months freezer”

Q- “Is it safe to eat raw egg whites?”
A- “Please read to the bottom of this post.”

Q- “Can I use a hand mixer if I do not have a Kitchen Aid?”
A- “Yes. However you must make sure that your meringue is STIFF STIFF STIFF! This is the most important step in this whole recipe and why so many have trouble. You must get that meringue as stiff and glossy as possible, and the hand mixer, well… it takes a very long time to achieve this.”

 

The debate on raw egg whites: The trouble is in the yolks, never the whites. At school we were taught that you can leave the egg whites at room temperature for a week, and nothing bad would happen because the trouble is in the yolks. But only if the yolk is contaminated with salmonella, NOT ALL EGG YOLKS ARE DANGEROUS. The problem is, you don’t know when it is or isn’t contaminated.

Now keep in mind I also went to school almost 20 years ago and the world has changed, and our food supply has also changed due to the industry pumping out mass amounts of it to keep up with the demand, hence why our food has gotten so dangerous.

To avoid this “danger” you can simply use pasteurized egg whites in a carton, like Egg Beaters JUST WHITES. I do not feel there is a risk in this recipe whatsoever. But this should be a personal choice for each and every one of you. Although it is possible for Salmonella to be in both the white and the yolk of the egg, the white does not readily support bacterial growth. Cold soufflés, mousses, and chiffon’s containing raw beaten whites require refrigeration to maintain their character, and an added safety factor. Such dishes might be considered low risk for healthy individuals.

To add colors to this buttercream, I recommend using Gel Paste Colors like Americolor or Chefmaster or an oil based color is great too, since this is a high fat recipe.
The gel paste color should be added at the end.
You may color the whole batch, or divide it up and color smaller portions at a time.
Gel paste colors are the best since a little goes a long way and they do not add extra liquid to the recipe like food colors do.

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Egg Nog Mousse

egg_nog_mousse

‘Tis the season for EGG NOG!

The holiday cheer is a-plenty and so may be the Egg Nog too!

It’s possible you won’t have any leftover “nog” in which case you will want to go out and buy some more before the season is over!

The possibilities for this recipe are endless~ as I was making the mousse I was thinking of about a zillion ways I would serve this!

As you can see it is perfect as a dessert all by itself, pop a couple wafer cookie rolls in there and you have a dessert that is fit for New Years Eve!

Use it for the filling in your Christmas Cake like I am, or fill eclairs with it!

Egg Nog and Chocolate Chiffon Pie?

Egg Nog stuffed cupcakes?

I mean I can literally go on and on about this!

Try it for yourself and if you can make it past the first stage without just drinking it down right then and there….well then you have some serious will power!

You’ll see how tempting it is to ditch the mousse idea and drink this white chocolate spiked egg nog base custard with a splash of brandy and call it a night! LOL

I urge you to follow it through though, since the building on recipes ideas with this is seriously never ending!

For those who are new to Egg Nog, read through to the end for an Egg Nog recipe courtesy of my favorite Food Network Chef Alton Brown


5.0 from 2 reviews
Egg Nog Mousse
 
Prep time
Total time
 
This recipe is closer to a pâte bombe in that it doesn't mix light and fluffy like a typical mousse and would be perfect for molded desserts like entremets.
You will see in the video it is fine to use later for filling cakes and filling glasses piped with a pastry bag, but keep in mind this style of mousse preparation is best used immediately poured into cake molds, glasses or pastries and allowed to set in the vessel it is first poured into
Author:
Serves: 5 cups
Ingredients
  • Ready Made (store bought) Egg Nog 2 cups (473ml)
  • Unflavored Gelatin 3 teaspoons (1- ¼oz package)
  • White Chocolate 1¼ cup (226g)
  • Nutmeg ½ teaspoon
  • Brandy 2 Tablespoons
  • Heavy Cream 2 cups (473ml)
  • Vanilla Extract 2 teaspoons (10ml)
Instructions
  1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the egg nog in a medium heavy bottom sauce pot
  2. Once it has bloomed (about 5 minutes)
  3. Heat it over low heat to dissolve the gelatin, but do not boil
  4. Remove from heat and add the white chocolate and nutmeg, whisk smooth.
  5. Allow to cool completely but not to the point that the gelatin begins to set. Just until it is cool to the touch
  6. Meanwhile whip the heavy cream,vanilla and brandy to soft peaks- reserve until the custard base is cooled
  7. Fold in the whipped cream into the cooled custard/ egg nog base
  8. Pour into molded cakes or pastries or allow to set for later use.
Notes
Egg Nog Mousse and any cakes and pastried made with it, must be kept refrigerated at all times.

You can freeze cakes filled with egg nog mousse for up to 1 month wrapped well

ALTON BROWN’S EGG NOG RECIPE

But wait! What IS Egg Nog anyway?

It is a drink made from a mixture of beaten eggs, cream, and flavorings, often with alcohol.

Traditionally eggnog was made with raw eggs.

However some countries today (including the United States) restricts the use of raw egg so nowadays most commercial eggnog does not include raw eggs.

Below is a COOKED Egg Nog recipe to ensure safety when using eggs in recipes.

5.0 from 2 reviews
ALTON BROWN'S Egg Nog Recipe
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 pint whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 ounces bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Instructions
  1. Beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the ⅓ cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, over high heat, combine the milk, heavy cream and nutmeg and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove from the heat and gradually temper the hot mixture into the egg and sugar mixture.
  4. Return everything to the pot and cook until the mixture reaches 170 ° F.
  5. Remove from the heat, stir in the bourbon, pour into a medium mixing bowl, and set in the refrigerator to chill.
 

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Pignoli Cookie Recipe

Pignoli_cookie_recipe

It seems everyone has a version of a Pignoli Cookie Recipe.

I have tried many, and have to say this one is my favorite.

The Pignoli Cookie~ also known as Pine Nut Macaroon is a delicate almond paste macaroon topped with Pine Nuts, hence the name “Pignoli” in Italian.

I have seen many variations on Pignoli Cookies, some with the inclusion of flour.

I leave the flour out of my recipe not only because I do not see the need for it, but this way we can give our gluten free friends a nice recipe to enjoy as well!

When I owned my bakery we would make these cookies and store them in the freezer for retail sale.

This practice has gotten to be commonplace in most bakeries or Italian deli’s since the cost to make these cookies are out of this world!

Pine nuts were coming in at about $22 a pound for me several years ago, and that was the commercial bakery price!

But you can see how that is not so far off even today as I bought my little jar of 5ounce Pine Nuts at Publix for $7!

And then the almond paste is another whopper!

I like to reserve these cookies for special occasions like Christmas or as birthday gifts since they are really special after all!


5.0 from 1 reviews
Pignoli Cookies Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
*You can half this recipe with no trouble, as I know the ingredients are expensive!
Author:
Serves: 4dz cookies
Ingredients
  • Good Quality Almond Paste 2- 7ounce packages (392g) (14ounces total) (approx 1½c)
  • Egg Whites Large 4 (120g)
  • Granulated Sugar 1 ¼ cup (250g)
  • Vanilla Extract 1 teaspoon
  • Salt Pinch
  • Pine Nuts as needed 1- 5 ounce jar will be fine
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Mix the almond paste on low speed to break it up, and smooth it out.
  3. If you find that your almond paste is a bit dry and/or hard, you can add just a tiny bit of egg white to help break it down and smooth it out.
  4. Add the granulated sugar all at once, and mix on medium speed until it is light and fluffy.
  5. Lower speed and slowly add the egg whites, taking care to scrape the sides of the bowl as you go.
  6. Transfer the macaroon paste to a pastry bag with just the coupler and no tip inserted.
  7. Pipe onto a parchment lined sheet pan. It is your option what size you prefer. I pipe them to about 1" diameter. Be sure to space them about 1" apart n the sheet pan to allow for some spreading.
  8. Top each macaroon with Pine Nuts.
  9. Bake in preheated 375°F oven for approximately 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges.
Notes
Cool cookie completely and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months wrapped in an airtight container.
 

 

 

 

 

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Caramel Dipped Pears

caramel-dipped-pears

Who made the rule that only apples can be dipped in caramel?

Caramel Dipped Pears are so much better!

These little personal sized Seckel Pears are the perfect treat for Halloween!

Sweet, juicy and delicious with caramel and chocolate all over them!

Decorate them any way you wish!

I almost went for orange chocolate dipped with faces to look like Jack-o-Lanterns!

But instead, I couldn’t stop drizzling chocolate all over them once I got going!

Not to mention I was feeling “ghostly” since the shape of the pear is like a ghost already!

But you can see how much fun these can be if you let your creative juices get flowing!

All you really need is Kraft Caramel Bits (I love the bits because you don’t have to spend a lifetime unwrapping those little cubes! Thank you Kraft!)

For 6 pears I would recommend 2 bags of bits, same will go for the Caramel Squares since either way they are 11ounce bags.

For the chocolate I am Merckens all the way.

I order all my Merckens chocolate from a company called Candyland Crafts located in my hometown of Somerville NJ

They ship worldwide so you may want to check them out.

They have every color under the sun! Plus tons of other cake decorating and candy making supplies!

You will LOVE what they have to offer I promise!

So I used Green, Orange, Super White & Dark Chocolate Merckens Coins for all my dipping and decorating

The sticks I inserted into each pear was a 6″ Lollipop stick and yep, Candyland has those too!

You can also find all of these items at Michael’s Crafts stores as they sell all of the Wilton brands

So that’s it really! It’s very simple to make these little treats for Halloween or any occasion.  I’m thinking thanksgiving would be neat to have each place setting get their own little caramel dipped pear!

Yumm!

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Black Cherry Compote Recipe

Cherry Compote

This black cherry compote recipe is  specifically for making my Black Forest Cake.

However you can use this for many other applications like toppings for cheesecakes or ice cream or even as a filling for any cake you can dream up!

Probably one of my most requested cakes here at Gretchen’s Bakery is the Black Forest Cake.

Black Forest Cake has been a long time favorite of mine in the cakes department!

So whatever brings you to this recipe whether it is for Cherry Shortcakes, Ice Cream toppings  or just because, you will be happy you got here because this is a real winner!

I couldn’t stop eating it with a spoon! I hope I have enough for my cake! LOL

Black Cherry Compote Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
The Kirshwasser is completely optional, you can leave it out with no substitution
Author:
Serves: 3 cups
Ingredients
  • Fresh Cherries pitted 1½ lbs (600g)
  • Granulated Sugar ¼ cup (50g)
  • Kirshwasser or brandy 2 teaspoons *optional
Instructions
  1. Place the pitted cherries and sugar into a heavy bottomed sauce pot, cover and cook over low heat stirring occasionally to prevent scorching
  2. Cook for about 15 - 20 minutes or until the fruit has started to break down slightly.
  3. You will notice a sauce begins to form and it is getting thickened as the cherries cook down
  4. Remove from heat and add the kirsh or other liquor.
Notes
Compote will thicken as it cools due to the natural pectin in cherry skins

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the refigerator or freeze for 6 months

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Edible Chocolate Dessert Cups

Chocolate Mousse Cup 1

What fun it is to not only eat your dessert, but now you can eat the cup it is served in!

Edible Chocolate Cups are so whimsical (wow, I never thought I would use that word!) and a fun way to serve your Chocolate Mousse or Ice Cream or Chia Seed Fruit Salad like I did this past Memorial Day Weekend!

IMG_0830 Yummy white chocolate cups filled with just about anything you can think of!

They really are quite simple to make, however you will need a silicone mold for easy release.

To be honest after I made these, I preferred the more affordable Silicone Cupcake Liner over the silicone flexipan mold I used originally. (Yes I know the flexi-molds are outrageously expensive too!) (And yes, I cut mine! Gaaaaah!)

I decided I liked the fluted texture of the baking cups vs. the plain rounded bowl shape of the flex mold.

But of course it is your option to use whatever you like best.

There are lots of different shapes and size options in silicone molds available too.

I’m pretty sure I even saw one other youtuber making them out of a real teacup lined with plastic wrap!

To me it seemed a bit tedious to go to all that trouble; but on second thought if it’s all you have……..then it is quite genius!

The only other thing you need is some sprinkles or non-pariels for decoration and of course your chocolate choice.

In my hometown of Somerville New Jersey, there is a really awesome cake decorating supply shop called Candyland Crafts.

They will ship worldwide, so be sure to check them out for anything you may need especially the Merckens Chocolate and tons of chocolate molds!

They have chocolate in every color of the rainbow and more! So for those of you having trouble with Wilton candy Melts (like me) you may want to give the Merckens Brand a try.

And for those who are avid Chocolatiers you will surely be tempering couverture right!

Well, I hope you will try your hand at these edible chocolate dessert cups for your next fiesta!

You will see just how easy they are.

Chocolate Dessert Cup They are so much fun and really add a special flare to the dessert buffet table!

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