Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I took cupcakes to work today to celebrate Dawn’s Birthday, woohoo happy 47th DT! I work very closely with Dawn and Mary… close enough that we’ve lost that “professional relationship” and we’ve become family. I get so comfortable that I often find myself saying something work related in my relaxing verbiage like “Dude, you should totally reformat that computer!” Dawn will look at me like… seriously Carrie, do you need to go catch some waves? Grow up and get to work! ...I can’t help it though, I am a child of the 90’s, I grew up on Bill and Ted and 3 Ninjas. When I put on my teacher big girl pants in the morning I make a conscious effort to suppress the “dudes” and “totally”! Ok, before I get started on my desire to wear Hypercolor again lets get to the frosting…

Swiss Meringue Buttercream is my favorite type of frosting! The difference between meringue buttercreams (there are several - Italian, Swiss, French - every European country thinks they know best, apparently,) and regular "American style" buttercream (what we think of as a more "crunchy" frosting) is this… American buttercream is just butter (sometimes a little cream cheese) and TONS of powdered sugar mixed together. The result is that intense, super sweet, sometimes a little gritty, frosting. I make a great one. Mmmm! Swiss Meringue Buttercream is made by dissolving a relatively small amount of granulated sugar into egg whites, whipping it into a meringue and then adding the butter. They're smoother, creamier and less over the top sweet. They also stand up better in heat, which is awesome for taking cakes/cupcakes to events. I don’t think the Swiss Meringue Buttercream is very good plain, the real magic happens when you add an additional flavor like lemon or chocolate (like I used in my birthday cake and chocolate torte)!

Base Ingredients
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Additional Flavor Ingredients
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder

I will add more flavor add-ins as I try them but I don’t want to list anything I haven’t tried for fear of ruining someone’s delicious dessert :( that would make me feel so guilty!

Place the sugar and egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer or another large heatproof bowl. Fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk/mix constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Using an electric mixer, beat the mixture on medium speed until it has cooled, about 5 minutes. Add the butter, flavoring add-in, and vanilla (you may want to add the butter one stick at a time beating until smooth and adding another). Once all of the butter has been added, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 10-15 minutes. During this time, the buttercream may curdle or separate--just keep beating and it will come together again. The buttercream will be smooth and velvety. You will know it’s done when it stiffens up. You will notice the mixer beaters going through the icing and the icing will stay in the stiff peaks and not fall. I think the frosting tastes best when it's cold so I keep my cake/cupcakes in the fridge, it will keep for 3-5 days in the fridge as well! You will stand and mix for a long time, so put on your comfy shoes and just keep mixing it, it will eventually stiffen up and… dude, you will have a totally delicious frosting!


suz said...

Those look so delicious! You're a very good co-worker. Lucky people you work with.

Latte Lady said...

If I weren't watching my calories I would so make these!

Anonymous said...

These look absolutely delicious. Am looking for a easy to handle and yet light buttercream as frosting for my cupcakes party in 2 weeks time. Do you think I can add coloring to this buttercream recipe? Thanks for your advice.


Carrie said...

Eliz, I would go with Wilton's frosting for your party OR my other buttercream (it's very light and takes color very well)

Anonymous said...

Hi Carrie,

Thanks for yr speedy reply. So you don´t think I can add color to the Swiss buttercream. Is your easy buttercream frosting recipe very sweet because I´m looking for a recipe which is less sweet than the usual American style buttercream?

thanks a lot

Carrie said...

The buttercream is actually a VERY similar frosting to this Swiss Meringue it's just lighter and SO much easier, that's why I suggested it. I will never make Swiss Meringue again with the new buttercream tasting identical. It isn't very sweet, I would compare it to the whipped icings they sell at the store.

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