Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Icing-tastrophy" or How to Save Separated Icing

I may not have admitted to the world yet that I do, indeed, love Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing... just like everyone said that I would.

I love it because of how many different flavors you can make it. So far, I've done vanilla, chocolate, caramel, pineapple, coconut, and my favorite, strawberry.

However, re-using the icing can be a challenge. Once you refrigerate it, to reconstitute it, you have to whip it again. BUT you have to make sure it's at the right temperature to bring it back to life. If you don't... you get this:

Soupy, separated, mess.

When this happened to me last week, I was so mad at myself. I knew the icing was too cold to re-mix. But I just wanted to finish before I got the boys from school, so I mixed it... and it was a watery, disgusting mess.

So I thought about it, did some research (thank you, Google), and thought about it some more. (And maybe said a little prayer or two that I didn't have to waste all of that icing.)

I waited, patiently, for the icing to really get to room temperature. Not almost room temperature. Not just not really cold. Not kinda almost warm-ish. No. REALLY ROOM TEMPERATURE.

Then I mixed. I started on low speed because the liquid sloshed and sloshed out. (I eventually covered the mixer with a towel because it was that bad.) And yes, I should have photographed the process, but I was sure it wouldn't work.

Finally... I got this:

 It worked

So, here's the takeaway... have faith. Be patient.

To resurrect separated Swiss Meringue Buttercream icing:
- Make sure it is at room temperature. Not too hot, or it gets soupy. Not cold or it first looks curdled and then completely separates like you saw above.
- Mix, mix, mix and mix some more. (I probably ran the mixer for 5 or more minutes when I got the icing back to the right consistency.)
- Try to keep the icing at room temperature to begin with. (If you're going to use it in the next 24 hours, don't bother refrigerating it. Now, I will admit that this will be a rule that's hard for me to follow. I think I must refrigerate the icing.)

Update: April 2013
- Another option, when the icing separates or curdles... once the icing is at room temperature, take about 1/4-1/3 cup of icing out of the bowl.
- In a heatproof measuring cup, microwave the removed icing for 20-30 seconds (on high) - until it is liquid and warm to the touch.
- With the mixer running, drizzle the warm, melted icing over the remaining icing, and mix on medium-high until the consistency returns to a normal, creamy icing. (It can take 2-5 minutes for this to happen.) 

But it can happen. If I brought that soupy mess back to this soft, smooth icing... you can, too!

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  1. WOW - well done. I don't think I would have been so persistent. I haven't ever used Swiss Meringue icing seems a bit scary :o)

    1. I was scared of it before I tried it, too. But I've actually had really good luck with it. And a few friends of mine who use my recipes from here have tried it, too, and love it.
      Try it. Try a half-batch first if you're nervous and afraid to waste all of the ingredients. I bet it will go perfectly!!
      - Beki

  2. Thank you so much for posting this! You saved my Arnold Palmer cupcakes!

  3. You saved my neck at midnight for a cake I have to deliver at 5am! Thank you!

  4. Awesome, had to melt a little and put back but it worked! Thanks :)

  5. Thank you thank you!! You just saved the day!

  6. worked here too! even after the kids' all told me it was a lost cause. Thank you for such simple explicit directions!

  7. You saved my life. Used this process for the Magnolia Bakery creamy vanilla icing and it worked like a charm. Thank you!

  8. Thank you Thank you..found myself with totally split icing on the morning of my daughters birthday ....followed your instructions ...thank you.

  9. Thank you thank you.....found myself with split icing on the morning of my daughters birthday...followed ur advise and got my icing back....Thank uuu

  10. Thanks so much, fixed curddled-like icing just 30 minutes before all the guests arrived for my sons birthday party. I put my mixing bowl with the icing in it, on top of the vent while the heater was blowing. It was partially melted (liquid), but whipped it for 3-5 minutes, and it was beautiful.

  11. I was just about to toss my "ruined" buttercream when my warm tears dropped into the bowl and brought it back to life ;)
    Seriously, thank you. Kept the faith and it came back together.

  12. Oh dear Lord, I am hoping this will work with my boiled icing.


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