This makes a stable meringue from the cooked sugar beaten into it. This is a good buttercream to use in warm weather, but it will soften because of its high butter content.
Italian Buttercream Meringue Frosting
4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, slightly soft 1 cup Crisco® shortening 8 large egg whites *** 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 1/2 cup sugar 2 teaspoon clear, pure or powdered vanilla 1 cup sugar 1/4 cup water
In a mixer, or by hand, beat butter and shortening together until smooth. Set aside in a cool area (68º F).
Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in large mixing bowl. Whip on a low medium until frothy. When white color is constant, slowly add 1/2 cup of sugar in a very fine stream. Continue to beat on medium.
While egg whites are beating, combine 1 cup of sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir until dissolved, cook over medium heat until boiling. Cook to 250º F, as measured with a Candy Thermometer.
If egg whites haven't yet reached a shiny, but softly stiff stage, turn them up onto high to finish beating. If whites reach shiny/soft/stiff stage before sugar syrup is ready, reduce speed to stir and keep mixing until syrup is ready. Increase speed of mixture. Pour a Tablespoon of syrup into whites (stay away from pouring them onto whip), beat for 10 seconds, continue until all of syrup is used. Beat meringue until bottom of bowl has cooled to about 98°. You want the meringue to return to a stiff/shiny peak before adding the butter mixture. This will make a more stable buttercream.
Using paddle, add butter, one heaping tablespoon at a time allowing mixture to mix for 10-15 seconds between additions. Continue until all butter is mixed in. If mixture breaks, continue beating at low-medium speed and mixture will come back together. Cool for about an hour in a cool area before using. Use immediately.
NOTE: For a sweeter tasting Italian Meringue Buttercream, beat in 1 cups of sifted powdered sugar in the end. You can refrigerate it for a week, or freeze for several months. Be sure to allow the buttercream to come to room temperature, then whip it with an electric mixer on medium speed until it is once again thick, smooth, and shiny and returns to its original volume. ***Because much of the syrup's heat is lost to the bowl...the foam mass normally gets no hotter than 130 or 135 degrees F, which is insufficient to kill salmonella. You can use powdered pasteurized egg whites to make the Italian Meringue Buttercream if you are concerned.
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