Italian Meringue Buttercream Disaster

Decorating By MissyShay Updated 5 Jul 2008 , 9:23pm by Mike1394

MissyShay Posted 30 Jun 2008 , 9:50pm
post #1 of 19

I use the recipe from the whimsical bakehouse and it was working great. My stand mixer had broken so my wonderful husband would hold my hand mixer while i made it. made it three times no problem! My husband suprised me with a seven quart Cuisinart. The meringue whipped up no problem, I pured the melted, hot sugar water mixture into the meringue. It says to whip until the bowl is cool to the touch about ten minutes. I waited ten minutes, but it was still warm, i was worried about about over mixing so went ahead and added the butter. It immediately fell. and was pure liquid. I did this twice in one day, first time it fell after the sugar, second time it fell after the butter. The first batch was hopeless, the second batch i stuck in the fridge, disgusted, and the next morning i was able to whip it up enough to spread on the cake but that was it. I live in Dallas, TX and it was very hot and humid that weekend. Luckily it was for church. A week later - I added a little cream of tartar and it whipped up great, I cut the liquid from the hot sugar water by a tablespoon added it and still great. Fifteen minutes minutes later the bowl was still hot but i did not want to overmix it so I slowly added the butter and it immediately fell! I put in the fridge overnight, I was able to get it to firm up enough to do a basic design, but it was still way too soft and nothing like what it should have been
Could I put the bowl in the fridge for a few minutes before adding the butter to let it cool down? Or is something else the matter?
Thank you,
Missy

18 replies
antonia74 Posted 1 Jul 2008 , 12:37am
post #2 of 19

10 minutes isn't generally enough time, I don't know why they suggest that. Metal bowls need way more time than that to lose the heat they naturally retain.

You should have no fear of "overwhipping" it after adding the sugar syrup. I've left the mixer on at top speed for 20-30 minutes, no problem. It just turns into a smooth, thick glossy meringue...which isn't a problem at all.

When you add the butter though, the bowl should be practically room temperature or your butter will just melt to liquid and deflate the meringue mixture with it. If the bowl doesn't cool quickly enough for you, you can certainly take the bowl off the mixer after mixing the hot syrup in for 5 minutes or so. Just remove the whisk and put it into the fridge for 10-15 minutes or so, not too long. This cools the bowl down enough to begin the next step of adding the room temperature butter. In the summertime/humidity, you may need to give it a few extra minutes in the fridge, or even add butter that is ever so slightly cool still. Not rock hard mind you, just not super soft. Both of those tricks will help you to get the right consistency of IMBC to use it right away. thumbs_up.gif

One other thing though, the icing you turned into "soup" is probably still totally useable. If you've chilled it, just let it come back up to room temperature very gradually then use your whisk attachment to get it back to the right consistency. (If it's the slightest bit cold still, it will go through a grainy, wet stage in the mixer that looks like porridge. You'll think you've done something really wrong but JUST LEAVE IT! It comes back together into a soft whipped-cream texture as all the ingredients return to room temperature.) Give it a good 4-8 minutes on med/high speed with the whisk. It should be soft and creamy and of very even consistency. No matter how tempted, NEVER ADD ICING SUGAR!! That actually screws up IMBC and makes it wet/grainy-looking.

For the last step, I like to switch to the paddle attachment and give my IMBC about 3 minutes on medium speed to get a super-smooth icing with hardly any air bubbles in it. icon_smile.gif

Mike1394 Posted 1 Jul 2008 , 10:40am
post #3 of 19

On the boiling sugar. At 240 all the water is gone. So it doesn't matter if you start with 8oz, or a gallon. It won't get there until all the water is gone.

I was in a hurry a couple of weekends ago. I did the same thing as you did. I added the butter to the meringue. Yep it turned to soup. Always add the meringue to the butter. I've never had an issue doing it this way.

Always wait for the bowl to cool down. If your in a hurry you could wrap a cold towel around the bottom of the bowl to speed it up. You have to be careful doing this. If the bowl is to hot you'll get condensation inside the bowl.

Mike

cholmberg Posted 2 Jul 2008 , 2:34am
post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by antonia74

10 minutes isn't generally enough time, I don't know why they suggest that. Metal bowls need way more time than that to lose the heat they naturally retain.

You should have no fear of "overwhipping" it after adding the sugar syrup. I've left the mixer on at top speed for 20-30 minutes, no problem. It just turns into a smooth, thick glossy meringue...which isn't a problem at all.




True. Ten minutes usually isn't enough for me.

Quote:
Quote:



When you add the butter though, the bowl should be practically room temperature or your butter will just melt to liquid and deflate the meringue mixture with it. If the bowl doesn't cool quickly enough for you, you can certainly take the bowl off the mixer after mixing the hot syrup in for 5 minutes or so. Just remove the whisk and put it into the fridge for 10-15 minutes or so, not too long. This cools the bowl down enough to begin the next step of adding the room temperature butter. In the summertime/humidity, you may need to give it a few extra minutes in the fridge, or even add butter that is ever so slightly cool still. Not rock hard mind you, just not super soft. Both of those tricks will help you to get the right consistency of IMBC to use it right away. thumbs_up.gif




What I've done is take an ice cube and run it over the outside of the
metal bowl to help it cool. It seemed to work fine every time I've
done it. . if I was in a hurry. it melts quickly and I keep it moving.

I've added the butter too soon before and had it deflate. . I've added
the syrup too fast before and wound up with shreds of cooked egg whites.
and boy it burns my buns to waste that much eggs and/or butter.

Quote:
Quote:


One other thing though, the icing you turned into "soup" is probably still totally useable. If you've chilled it, just let it come back up to room temperature very gradually then use your whisk attachment to get it back to the right consistency. (If it's the slightest bit cold still, it will go through a grainy, wet stage in the mixer that looks like porridge. You'll think you've done something really wrong but JUST LEAVE IT! It comes back together into a soft whipped-cream texture as all the ingredients return to room temperature.) Give it a good 4-8 minutes on med/high speed with the whisk. It should be soft and creamy and of very even consistency.




This is good to know, thanks.

[quote]

No matter how tempted, NEVER ADD ICING SUGAR!! That actually screws up IMBC and makes it wet/grainy-looking. [/quote}

Yeah, I learned that the hard way too. I can second that advice. Don't. It's nasty. icon_redface.gif

stephaniescakenj Posted 2 Jul 2008 , 3:33am
post #5 of 19

Whew!!! just recently I started having the same problem. I have a very humid kitchen and was attributing it to that but I was beginning to think I was going crazy. I was so frustrated! thank you for posting this question and the great tips. This is the only icing I like and I was so depressed that I was having so much trouble. I too have been putting it in the fridge for a little while and rebeating it. I also had better luck with it the next day. I thought I lost an entire batch a fews weeks ago but I refused to throw it out, I took it out the next day, brought it to room temp and beat it up...Iced my brother's birthday cake with it and it was fine. I'm going to start beating the egg whites and sugar a little while longer though. That must be my problem. Thank You!!!!!

MissyShay Posted 2 Jul 2008 , 6:49pm
post #6 of 19

Thank you all for your great advice!! I love cakecentral.com!
Missy

antonia74 Posted 2 Jul 2008 , 9:16pm
post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by stephaniescakenj

I'm going to start beating the egg whites and sugar a little while longer though. That must be my problem. Thank You!!!!!




Not too long!! If you over-whip your plain egg whites before you add the sugar, you're actually "drying out" the whipped egg and THAT'S when you'll see those little cooked egg bits in your icing after adding the hot sugar and whipping it up. Your egg whites should only be whipped to soft-peaks, not much beyond that. If you whip them far beyond, say to the stiff-peak stage, you'll have to pass the finished icing through a fine seive to get out all those teeny-tiny bits of cooked egg white and it's a huge PITA!! If you don't, it ruins the smooth, glossy look of your IMBC. (Use it for filling instead! But NOT if you're going to make it chocolate or tint it, the white egg bits just show up even more in coloured icing!! icon_mad.gif )

Lol, so many things to be careful about....but the icing is gorgeous and worth it, trust me. thumbs_up.gif Once you get the hang of making it, you'll never go back to other "buttercreams" with no butter in them! thumbsdown.gif

SweetResults Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 3:31am
post #8 of 19

No matter what I do I always end up screwing up any icing where I have to cook the sugar.

So I have given up on it. I buy pasteurized egg whites in a carton and use Duff's recipe - you can find here if you search or on Food Network website if you search.

You don't cook the sugar or the egg whites, Just whip the whites, then add the sugar, then the butter - DONE! So much better for those of us who are sugar challenged. I ALWAYS get crystals when I cook it. UGH!!

Mike1394 Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 10:43am
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetResults

No matter what I do I always end up screwing up any icing where I have to cook the sugar.

So I have given up on it. I buy pasteurized egg whites in a carton and use Duff's recipe - you can find here if you search or on Food Network website if you search.

You don't cook the sugar or the egg whites, Just whip the whites, then add the sugar, then the butter - DONE! So much better for those of us who are sugar challenged. I ALWAYS get crystals when I cook it. UGH!!




Are you stirring it? Get a pastry brush, and some water. "Wash" the side of the pot with the wet brush. Don't stir the sugar.

Mike

MissyShay Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 12:34pm
post #10 of 19

You might have the sugar turned up too high. When heating sugar you can never rush it or leave it unattended. The recipe I have says to heat it to a boiling then let it boil for seven minutes. When that seven minutes is up I take it off the burner. Like the previous post said, stir it constantly and use a pastry brush dipped in cold water to wipe any sugar crystals off of the side.
Missy

Mike1394 Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 12:39pm
post #11 of 19

Don't stir sugar, and cook it to a temp rather than time. If you over, or under cook sugar you will get a totally different response than your looking for.

Mike

MissyShay Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 4:21pm
post #12 of 19

What temperature do you stir it to? Would I use a candy thermometer?

Mike1394 Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 4:52pm
post #13 of 19

For IMBC cook the sugar till 240. Yes, a candy therm.

Mike

3GCakes Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 5:50pm
post #14 of 19

Hello...I'm a newbie on here. Ever since I started using IMBC (usually Rose Levy Berenbaum's and almost always with white chocolate) I hardly use anything else? Do most of you who use IMBC use it exclusively? With so many BC recipes on here, I get a little paranoid that it's not for everything...but I use it for everything..even under fondant. Even in the heat. ANyone else? THanks!

3GCakes Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 2:28am
post #15 of 19

Maybe I asked something that has already been discussed to death...sorry. Maybe someone could answer this....how much is too much bittersweet choc. to add to IMBC? I have NO problem with white chocolate...but I am making a cake for tomorrow and my IMBC was perfect until I added the thoroughly cooled chocolate. Now I am getting Lines of chocolate throughout, so it's seperating. I did a batch with two pounds of butter and 12 oz. of choco...was that too much choc? I used Baker's semi-sweet because that's what I can afford. I appreciate anyone's help on this. TIA!!!!!!

stephaniescakenj Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 2:56am
post #16 of 19

Alton Brown made a buttercream once and he put a lid on his pot and now I do it everytime, haven't had any crystalization or overcooking since. I put my sugar in the pot first. slowly pour the water over the sugar making sure there is no sugar on the sides of the pot, turn the stove on, slap a lid on it and let it go 7 minutes after it comes to a boil. The lid makes condensation collect and then run down the sides thus avoiding the need for the pastry brush trick.
And thanks for tips antonia, I actually meant I would let my egg whites and sugar syrup whip up longer to cool it more, not just the straight egg whites. I've never overwhipped whites but I imagine it wouldn't be a pretty sight, I once overwhipped heavy cream and it started to turn towards butter consistency. it was a huge mess and very gross! Thanks!

shisharka Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 9:25am
post #17 of 19

Iâve made IMBC only once (it whipped fine) â BUT⦠on one hand, it seemed like too long of a process, on the other, I was not convinced the syrup heated the egg whites high enough for long enough to pasteurize them⦠I do make SMBC all the time â there was no real taste or texture difference between the IMBC and my SMBC⦠SMBC is faster to make, and after beating for a few minutes at about 160 degrees, Iâm sure the eggs are safe⦠MissyShay, I highly recommend that you try SMBC instead! thumbs_up.gif

antonia74 Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 9:16pm
post #18 of 19

Just a little info for everyone. These are a few facts we should all be aware of if we are preparing and selling food to people....

Egg whites pasteurize at 160 degrees after a duration of only 30 seconds, so that is far beyond the required temperature and length of time it needs in your mixing bowl with the 240 degree hot syrup poured into it.

If you use any raw "egg product" (i.e. not necessarily eggs in their shells, but Egg Beaters, liquid egg whites, dried egg, etc.) purchased in the grocery store in North America, the company selling said product is required by law to have already pasteurized that product. As of 2003/2004, even some brands of whole eggs are now being pasteurized!

Salmonella enteritidis is found in much less than 1% of all eggs on the market, and an even smaller amount of those can/do actually cause illness in people who don't take care in preparing their food properly. The vast majority of salmonella cases are due to bad storage temperatures or cooking meats for too short a time. It doesn't start grow until it is 40ºF and is killed at 160ºF



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Mike1394 Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 9:23pm
post #19 of 19

Thanks Antonia A good reminder.

Mike

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