This recipe also goes by the name “Jen’s Birthday Celebration Cupcakes”, because I created them for, surprise, one of my oldest and dearest friend’s birthday. If you haven’t guessed, her names is Jen, lol.
You may recall that when it comes to decorating cupcakes I have a serious handicap. Well, now that I think about it, I’m not sure whether or not I have any cupcake decorating skills, because for the life of me I cannot get the icing to come together properly. Flashback to my New Years Eve Champagne Cupcakes and three bags of powdered sugar still resulting in soupy icing. Ugh! American Buttercream icing hates me! Of course, that is all fine with me now that I have found and fallen in love with Italian Buttercream!
You see, I was coming across a deadline: Jen’s birthday. We have been friends for over 15 years and ever since she became a mommy, I do not remember her ever celebrating her birthday. This year I was determined that she would have a few hours to celebrate and unwind with no adorable munchkins in tow (we opted for drag queens that day). Failure was not an option.
In my quest for an alternate to American Buttercream, the variation that gets its structure from powdered sugar that most of us are familiar with, I had come across a fellow WordPress blogger, Wina, post about this Asian technique called Tangzhong, which replaces a lot of the powdered sugar with a flour roux. We had had a few back and forths about it, and she mentioned an egg white version that also aided in reducing powdered sugar . After re-visiting her post, I decided that the flour technique would be too risky with my looming deadline, so I started combing the web for this egg white based butter cream.
Turns out there are a few meringue based buttercreams, like Swiss and French. When I saw the basics for the Italian version, I knew it was the one for me! It was also the one for the birthday girl who absolutely loved the white chocolate version I made for her cupcakes…still gotta work on the decorating bit though.
- 2 cups cake flour, sifted
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup sugar, separated into ¼ cup and ¾ cup
- ½ cup butter, room temperature (1 stick)
- 2 eggs separated
- 2 additional egg whites
- ½ cup pureed frozen raspberries
- ¼ cup sparkling or mineral water
- 1 6oz container plain greek yogurt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- Wilton’s Rose gel food coloring
- Pre-heat oven to 350°
- Separate eggs and place all four egg whites in one bowl. Place the yolks in a separate bowl. Set aside
- In a bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda until blended. Set aside.
- Place frozen raspberries into a food processor or blender and pulse until pureed. Add sparkling or mineral water and pulse to blend. Set aside.
- Place egg whites in a bowl and whip with a whisk or mixer until frothy
- Add cream of tartar to egg whites and continue to whisk until soft peaks form
- When soft peaks begin to form, gradually add ¼ of sugar while continuing to whisk until stiff peaks form and hold their shape (Test: If you can hold the bowl upside down without anything immediately spilling, the egg whites are ready). Set aside.
- In a separate, large bowl, add butter and beat until soft and creamy.
- Add remaining sugar, vanilla, and two egg yolks to the butter and beat until fluffy.
- Add Greek yogurt to butter mixture and cream together
- Alternately add flour mixture and pureed raspberry mixture to butter mixture until everything is mixed well.
- Using toothpicks, add small amounts of the Rose Gel Food Coloring until you reach the level of pink that you want. You may want to try a little Red for the darker, magenta like pinks*. I used two coated toothpicks worth.
- Add whipped egg whites to batter and gently fold. Be careful not to over mix or the batter will deflate
- Evenly fill cups of a muffin tin with the batter and bake for 18-20 minutes
*This could get tricky, since you are adding in the egg whites afterwards, which may pale the color. However, you don’t want to put the food coloring in with the egg whites, because you risk “deflating” them by over mixing.
White Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream
- 2 ½ cups sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup pasteurized egg whites (appx. 5-6 large eggs)
- 1 ½ lb butter (6 sticks)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla
- 6 oz melted white chocolate, cooled
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix sugar with water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 2-3 minutes covered. Uncover and continue to boil until syrup reaches 230-245°F
- While syrup is cooking, place egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip until foamy.
- Add cream of tartar, and whip until soft peaks begin form. IMPORTANT Stop here, since you will need to continue whipping when the syrup is ready. If you overbeat your egg whites at this stage you’ll have grainy frosting.
- When syrup is ready, continue whipping egg whites at a medium speed and stream the syrup steadily down the sides of the bowl.
- Whip frosting on high until whites have cooled and stiff peaks begin to form and you get a fluffy meringue.
- Turn mixer to medium. Add salt and being cutting in the butter, a few tablespoons at a time. Continue beating until all butter is incorporated and you have a thick, spreadable buttercream. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
- Turn mixer to low, and add in vanilla then the white chocolate
- Important, and you’ll find this tip all over the internet from Smitten Kitchen to Martha Stewart to the Cake Journal to your average day bloggers like Emilie and I…if the frosting won’t bind KEEP WHIPPING! Yup, keep going. You can do it! If that doesn’t work, the frosting may have become too warm to hold its shape, so try putting it in the fridge to let it cool down before whipping again. I whipped mine forever and a day…then I stuck it in the fridge while I made the cupcakes.
Warning! Not sure how much icing you use on your cupcakes, but this recipe covered two dozen cupcakes plus some smaller cakes I made later. Just put the leftovers in the fridge (haven’t tried freezer storage yet). It will get solid, like cold butter, so you may want to let it soften before decorating.