January 31: National Brandy Alexander Day, and Italian Meringue Buttercream

Today is National Brandy Alexander Day. I have never tried a Brandy Alexander, and my only real experience with them is a long-running joke that a friend with Alexander as her last name should adopt the drink's name should she ever take up stripping. I know what you're thinking: HILARIOUS.

But I digress. I don't think today is the day for me to discover drinking Brandy Alexanders, so instead may I tempt you with another delectable delight that has nothing to do with alcohol? It's called...

Italian Meringue Buttercream.

For the longest time, this buttercream scared me. It involves monitoring temperatures and boiling sugar, both of which set off the "too hard!" blinking button in my mind when I read through a recipe.

But you know what? It's really not that hard. Really. And the stuff is delicious.

It's a little fancier and definitely smoother than an American buttercream (which is primarily butter and sugar). Using egg whites in buttercream, as you will do with Italian and Swiss meringue buttercreams, respectively, gives them a silkier finish and a more sophisticated flavor. Plus, they're a little more heat-resistant, so they're better for using on cakes that might be served during warmer or more humid weather. 

I wrote a little tutorial on how to make Italian Meringue buttercream on Craftsy.com. I think you should check it out, because I wrote it with newbies in mind.

Don't be scared of Italian meringue buttercream! Go ahead, have a Brandy Alexander, and give it a try.

Recipe and tutorial here.