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Swiss Meringue vs Italian Meringue

One of the most common questions we get here during our classes is “What the difference between Swiss and Italian Buttercream?”. 

One of the most common questions we get here during our classes is “What the difference between Swiss and Italian Buttercream?”.  The most popular or most known is the American Buttercream which is made with rich butter (or High Ratio Shortening) and tons of Powder Sugar.   But the 1st thing to know is to make Swiss or Italian Buttercream you will put away the powder sugar.   Both Swiss and Italian Buttercream recipes require granulated sugar.

Let’s talk about other commonalities in both recipes:

  • Both of Buttercreams use real butter. The butter flavor makes the buttercream have a rich flavor.   With that said it is important to pick a butter that you love the taste of.
  • Both buttercreams require eggs whipped into a meringue.
  • Both require a lot of mixing to help stabilize the buttercream.
  • The temperature of the Buttercream when adding butter is key.
  • Italian buttercream is sweeter than Swiss Buttercream

Both recipes are harder to make then the American because they involve heating sugar and/or egg whites.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a popular Buttercream.   It gets it name because it starts off with making Swiss Meringue.   This recipe requires you to use a double boiler to heat to your egg whites and sugar.    Then your eggs and sugar are beaten into a meringue and butter and flavoring is added.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream is silky smooth and less sweet.  Swiss Meringue buttercream is not a crusting buttercream, so if you need a buttercream that needs to crust, stick to the American Buttercream.   This buttercream is pale white in color.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream is best used with lighter cakes, like angel food. 

Italian Meringue Buttercream:

It gets its name because it starts off with making Italian Meringue. This recipe is the trickiest to make and requires the boiling of sugar syrup which is then added to egg whites and whipped.  Use caution when making this buttercream because you are using hot sugar.   The sugar syrup must be cooked to a specific temperature.  This buttercream also is not a crusting buttercream. This buttercream is pale white in color.

Italian Meringue Buttercream is great for intricate decorating and will hold it shape.

Both Buttercreams:

  • Are delicious with a wide range of cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. If you are looking for something on the lighter side these buttercreams are perfect. Both are great if you are preparing your dessert well in advance of the event. 
  • If you notice when adding the butter into either recipe begins to look soupy, I have found not to panic. Just keep the mixer going with your whisk attachment.   The longer you beat them the Buttercream will come together as it cools.
  • Both recipes can be flavored. While they can be flavored many ways, it is important to flavor them well or they can be bland – the butter flavor will be more prominent.  You can use Vanilla, Almond Emulsion, Chocolate, Coffee, Raspberry, or lemon just name a few.    
  • Make sure to start off with room temperature eggs whites. At room temperature eggs whites will whip easier and gain a lot more volume.
  • Make sure your mixing bowl is clean. This is important for meringue success.  Any oil or dirt will impede the volume of your meringue.   You can even give your mixing bowl and whisk a distilled white vinegar bath.  This serves as a stabilizing agent as acid is stabilizing for meringues as well.

Need more information or would like to try making this Meringue Buttercreams?  Watch for our “ALL THINGS BUTTERCREAM” class opening for registration this spring.

Happy Baking!

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