Saturday, November 7, 2009

Chocolate Cupcakes with Matcha Italian Meringue Buttercream

Ever since stumbling upon the Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I've tried a ton of different variations: salted caramel, blueberry, caramelized apple, and pumpkin. Every single time, it turns out flawlessly and has become a staple in my cupcake baking adventures. I've converted many frosting/cupcake haters, and there's no doubt that it's far superior to all others when it comes to taste and texture.

I've wanted to try the Italian version for a while now, but never got around to it. I've heard many good things about it, including the fact that it's even better than the SMB! It's hard to imagine anything better, so I had to try it!

My friend, Patricia of ButterYum, bakes fabulous wedding cakes and swears by the IMB. I recently got a great lesson from her about the differences between IMB and SMB. Apparently they are both very similar in taste and texture. They are both super light, fluffy, and easy on the palate. The main difference is in how they are prepared. With the IMB, a sugar syrup is heated to an extremely high temperature and poured into the egg whites while it's beating. This "stabilizes" the buttercream, making it super "strong." Meaning, you can leave it out for hours under a super hot lamp and it won't melt! It will hold its form perfectly, which is an important quality to have. (Thanks for all your great tips, Patricia!)

So the IMB is great because it has all the awesome taste and texture qualities of the SMB, and you don't have to worry about having to stick it in the fridge when it gets too hot. Just leave your cake/cupcakes out on the counter until the guests arrive!

I decided to make my Italian Meringue Buttercream Matcha flavored. Matcha is a high quality type of green tea, filled with great antioxidants. It's deep and earthy in flavor, and balances out the sweetness of the cupcakes. You can find it at health food stores like Whole Foods, at specialty tea places like Teavanna, or you can order it online at Amazon. It's super expensive- like $16 for an ounce, but it's worth it! It's really yummy in cakes too and a little bit goes a long way.

(1) The Chocolate Cupcakes

I always use the same Williams Sonoma chocolate cupcake recipe. It's the most delicious cupcake you'll ever eat. Seriously. It calls for melted bittersweet chocolate, as well as cocoa powder. This gives it a super deep chocolatey taste and a really great texture. It's also really easy to make! Once you've had these, you'll never want another chocolate cupcake again!

(2) The Matcha Italian Meringue Buttercream

You'll need a stand mixer for this one! There's a lot of mixing involved.

Get 4 egg whites ready to go, but don't start beating just yet.

In a heavy sauce pan, dissolve 1 cup of sugar completely in 1/4 cup of water. When the sugar is completely dissolved, crank up the heat and wait for it to boil.

Once the sugar has come to a boil, cover the pan for exactly 2 minutes. This is the time to start up your stand mixer and beat those egg whites.

After boiling for 2 minutes, uncover the saucepan, and tilt/swirl the pan gently until the temperature reaches 245 degrees.

While the sugar syrup is climbing in temperature, add 2 tbsp of sugar to the egg whites and continue to beat until soft peaks form. At this point, you're ready for the sugar syrup.

Remove the sugar syrup from the heat immediately as soon as temperature reaches 245, and slowly pour into the egg whites while it is rapidly beating.

This is an "in motion" picture of the meringue after I've poured in the sugar syrup. It expanded dramatically. Mix on medium-high speed for 5-7 minutes, or until the bowl has come to room temperature.

Once the bowl has cooled, incorporate the butter slowly, one tablespoon at a time. At some point, it will look really scary and curdled, but don't worry! Just continue to beat it non-stop until all the butter has been incorporated.

It will all of a sudden pull together and become super smooth, with a slightly shiny sheen to it.

When the buttercream is ready, add 1 tablespoon of Matcha powder and beat on medium speed for about 30-60 seconds, until it is fully incorporated.

You'll get this beautiful green buttercream! Super silky, smooth, and slightly shiny. =)

And now, frost & embellish to your heart's content!

Remember that cute dome I talked about earlier this week? You know, the one that I used for the cookies? I promised that I would show you what it looked like with cupcakes, so here it is!

I really can't decide which one's cuter! Cupcakes or Cookies? =)

So to test the stability of this buttercream, I let it sit out in my super hot kitchen for an entire day (I was baking up a storm and had the oven running the entire time). When we went to go eat it in the evening, lo and behold, the buttercream was as perfect as when I had first frosted them! The taste and texture was indeed very similar- I couldn't really differentiate between the SMB and the IMB.

The recipe that I used called for 4 egg whites and about 1 cup of sugar. It was a tad sweeter than the SMB that I usually use- which calls for 3 egg whites and 1/4 cup sugar. I always prefer buttercreams that are less sweet, so next time, I will use a different recipe. Patricia gave me one that called for 5-6 egg whites for 1 cup of sugar. There are a lot of recipes out there, some more sweet than others. So choose one that best suits your tastes. =)

Even though it was a tad sweeter than what I'm used to, it was still so heavenly. I loved the texture- so light and fluffy. The Matcha added a great balance to the sweetness. It had really deep tones, super earthy and slightly bitter- kinda like dark chocolate. It went perfectly with the chocolate cupcakes. Mmmmmm!

Recipes in this blog post:

Williams Sonoma Chocolate Cupcakes
Matcha Italian Meringue Buttercream

Click HERE for the recipes.


  1. Hi Judy - what a fantastic blog post!!!! You're so sweet to mention me (I'm blushing).

    Your cupcakes are stunning, and your photos are pure perfection, as usual!!!

    And again, I love the little dome... how completely adorable it looks with a perfect cupcake inside!


  2. PS - you must have nerves of steel to have gotten that dome over that cupcake without getting any buttercream on it.

    Oh, these look soooooooo good!

  3. Your matcha chocolate cupcakes look just stunning!

  4. Those cupcakes are beautiful and sound delicious. I've made SMB before but will definitely be trying this!

  5. Omg, everything looks amazing but the dome is out of this world. I didn`t know that something like that even existed. So cute!

  6. Hmm I could've sworn I left a comment, but these look gorgeous! I'm glad you found another buttercream you like. I'm still planning on trying your SMBC recipe. This week, in fact!

  7. Oh my gosh, that dome is the cutest! Especially with a cupcake in it!

  8. how much butter do you use?

  9. Hi Judy,

    Great recipe! The 2nd time I used it, I made the matcha italian meringue buttercream over Rose Beranbaum's white velvet mini cupcakes as my wedding cake, and everyone loved it. My only problem is that my KitchenAid insists on flinging the syrup to the side of the mixing bowl, so my frosting turned out less sweet than expected and I had a candied bowl to clean up. Do you have any suggestions on how to pour or beat the syrup into the egg whites?

  10. Matcha Green Tea is great for cleaning the body of harmful toxins because it is rich in Chlorophyll, which is a well-known detoxifying agent. Chlorophyll is quite simply the pigment which supplies leaves with their lovely green color. But more than just a color, it can also help to get rid of chemical toxins and heavy metals from your body. Unlike tea leaves, (which are used to infuse water and then discarded), Matcha Green Tea powder is actually completely consumed when drank, (or used in cooking). Matcha Green Tea is also grown in the shade rather than direct sunlight, a technique that boosts the chlorophyll content in its leaves.

    These factors make Matcha green tea truly rich in chlorophyll, boosting its health benefits significantly.

  11. That's the best cupcake swirl! What tip do you use?

  12. Hi!
    Do you think that the matcha meringue could be used as a filling in a cake?

  13. Yes of course! It would be lovely as a filling.


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