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It does harden over time, in the fridge. If you are transporting the cake, over rolling hills, allow for the the buttercream to stiffen a bit or else things will happen. The top 3 layers of a 4 layer cake will slide off the base as you are ascending a steep hill to Alamo square park, while you run out of gas and are unable to stop... Just hypothesizing.
People have had problems with swiss meringue buttercream and I too was scared to try it out. All the blogs said were "HAVE FAITH!" I am certain that faith does not a meringue make. Like I said, clouds sans pearly gates.
I tried a method for swiss meringue where I heated the egg whites and sugar until just dissolved. As soon as the sugar dissolved, I beat the mix to peaks and added the butter. Following said method, I experience 17 nail biting minutes of staring into a Kitchenaid. Jesus Christ. Yes, it came together, but by the time it finished, I was halfway to the corner store in search of Duncan Hines. The batter was thicker, stiffer, harder. 6 out of 10.
After reading Martha Stewart, crooked domestic goddess, I realized that heating the whites to 140 F is imperative in building fluff.
So get a thermometer. If you are making the cake, you can shell out for the thermometer, cheapo...
SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM From Martha Stewart (Makes 11 cups, 22 cups needed for a 14, 10, 6)
SUMMARY: Anxiety and egg white heating are indirectly proportional. Get a thermometer, not a colodapin.
WARE: Kitchenaid, thermometer that measures 140 degrees, saucepan
TOTAL TIME: 25 mins; active time 15 minutes
- 3 c sugar- 12 egg whites- 8 sticks unsalted butter, softened- 2 t vanilla
1. Heat egg whites and sugar in the kitchenaid bowl over a double heater (a saucepan with boiling water) on medium until the mixture reaches 140F. Heat slowly, initially with bowl at room temperature.
2. Once it hits 140, remove the bowl from the heat and mount it onto the kitchenaid. Whisk on medium high for 10 minutes until the mixture cools. The meringue will fill early, but pump in enough air to cool. You will be surprised that the blob continues to grow.
3. Add in butter tablespoon by tablespoon slowly on med-high. The meringue may clot briefly, but not as much as it does when you don't heat it properly. It will take 5-10 minutes