My Favorite Icing

My favorite icing recipe is a combination of the recipes found on Cake Journal and Cake Love. And, yes, they're both recipes for Italian Meringue Buttercream, but the steps are listed a little differently, as well as the ratios of the ingredients.

So I'm rewriting the recipes here to streamline all the different recipes I've read to explain how I make IMBC myself. I apologize in advance for any sarcasm that may be contained in this recipe. Oh, and I recommend that anyone making IMBC practice a lot to get a feel for what works best for them.


5 (10) egg whites
1 c + 2 tbsp (2.25 c) sugar
1/4 c (1/2 c) water
3 (6) sticks softened unsalted butter
flavoring (vanilla + almond; or Lor Ann oils; or liquor) around 1 tsp
a sprinkling of salt

How to:

  • Beat the egg whites in a stand mixer with the whip attachment until nice and fluffy; soft peak stage, while you're doing this,
  • Mix sugar and water and boil (high heat) until temperature reaches 245 F
  • Pour sugar (warning: it's super hot!!!!!) into stand mixer while it's slowly mixing.
  • Put an ice pack under your mixer while it continues to mix on a medium-ish speed, so that it cools down faster
  • Once it's cooled down (COMPLETELY COOL TO THE TOUCH, OK?!), start adding the butter one tablespoon at a time
  • If the mixture looks gross and unedible at this point, there are a few reasons why
    • The temperature of the butter was too cold, or the meringue was too warm
    • Sometimes if you use the whip attachment at this stage instead of the paddle attachment, it won't mix as well, so switch out your beaters!
    • You completely screwed up and used cheap-o Wal-Mart pasturized egg whites and absolutely nothing you can do will fix this batch of icing, SORRY. (What? No. That's never happened to me.)
  • What I like to do at this point is set a kitchen timer for 10-15 minutes and just watch away. Fretting over the Kitchenaid is (a) a waste of time and (2) just a lot of anxiety to experience for just making icing.
  • If at that point, you don't have a beautiful smooth and creamy homogenous mixture of heavenly goodness, stick your bowl in the fridge for a little while. That usually seems to help me when I'm still having problems.
So there ya go. That's how I make IMBC, and I've made it a lot, and it's my favoritest recipe for buttercream ever. And if your IMBC tastes too much butter, it's probably because you didn't add enough salt and flavoring. So says my past experience, at least.

I've also made Duff's French buttercream, and although it is good, he measures all his ingredients out by weight and in large batches and I'm too lazy to convert the amounts to what I need.