Standing out from the crowd can be difficult, what can your business bring to the table that will put you above the competition? How about offering bold, premium flavor choices that will wow your clients? Melissa Gray of Cakes by Gray shares her show-stopping recipe for basil Italian meringue buttercream; paired with a delicious strawberry cake, this recipe is perfect for upcoming summer weddings. “This buttercream is really popular with my brides who are looking for something different for their special day,” notes Melissa. “The peppery notes in the basil really complement the sweetness of the strawberries.”
Basil Italian Meringue Buttercream
16 ounces granulated sugar
5.25 ounces water
8 ounces egg whites
16 ounces unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
7 to 8 large basil leaves
½ cup powdered sugar
Method: Put sugar and water in a large saucepot with a candy thermometer over high heat.
Put egg whites into your stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment.
When the sugar reaches 200°F start whipping your egg whites at high speed.
When the sugar mixture reaches 245°F, very gently pour in the egg whites in a slow steady stream (you can also use the stop-start method by stopping your mixer and pouring in some sugar starting your mixer again, if you see that you are getting sugar ribbons by pouring in a steady stream).
After you have incorporated all of the sugar mixture into the egg whites, keep whipping until your bowl is cool to the touch.
At this point add the COLD butter that has been cut into cubes, a few cubes at a time, allowing the butter to be incorporated fully.
Add the vanilla and continue to beat until light and fluffy.
Whilst the buttercream is whipping, put the basil and powder sugar into a Vitamix or blender. Start your machine on low until the leaves have been chopped, then increase to high speed. The leaves and sugar will turn into a paste. Add this to your buttercream and whip for another minute.
Melissa Gray is a classically trained pastry chef based in Asheville, NC. After many years working in restaurants, she turned to making custom cakes in 2014 for friends and family. After people started to request cakes and offered to pay for her work, she opened her hugely successful business, Cakes by Gray. Melissa creates exclusive cakes, cake art, dessert bars, cupcakes, and more—showcasing her classical training and eye for artistic detail.