I know I’ve said this like 20 times, but I’ll say it again! I don’t like overly sweet frosting. The best way to get silky smooth buttercream without it tasting like pure sugar is to use a meringue buttercream. There are three different methods of meringue buttercream: Italian, Swiss and French. The difference comes from the eggs used and the mixing methods. My preferred method is the Swiss meringue buttercream. It uses only egg whites like the Italian method, but it’s much simpler and almost fool-proof.
To make this amazingly smooth buttercream, it starts with egg whites and sugar in a stand mixer bowl. That gets whisked together over a bain marie (hot water bath). You don’t need a thermometer for this like you do with the Italian meringue buttercream. Just dip your finger and thumb in it and rub together. If the sugar is completely dissolved (you can’t feel any sugar crystals), then it’s ready. It should be white and foamy on the surface. Now, put the bowl on the stand mixer and whisk on high speed. This will turn into a meringue.
After mixing for about 10 minutes, feel the side of the bowl. Once it’s cool to the touch, start adding the butter. Now, continue whisking on high until the buttercream comes together. It should be completely smooth and creamy.
Why is my buttercream curdled?
If your buttercream is curdled, it’s probably too cold. Use a kitchen torch to heat the sides of the bowl while whipping on medium speed. You can also put it back over the bain marie for a few minutes. When the buttercream around the edges of the bowl starts to melt, put it back on the mixer and mix on high until it comes together again. Be patient!
Why is my buttercream soupy?
If you’ve been mixing your buttercream for what seems like forever and it’s still a soupy mess, it’s probably too warm. Pop it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to let it set up a bit. Put it back on the mixer and give it another 5-10 minutes to come together. If it’s still too soft, put it back in the refrigerator for another 10 minutes and repeat.
Can I save leftover Swiss Meringue Buttercream?
Absolutely! Put it in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. When you’re ready to use it again, let it come to room temperature and then beat on high for a few minutes to bring it back to life. I’ve heard that you can freeze Swiss meringue buttercream for several months but I’ve never tried it. I always end up using it before it goes bad.
One of the things I love about meringue buttercreams is their versatility. They’re easy to flavor and color with just about anything you like. The picture above is a chocolate buttercream. I simply added melted chocolate to the finished buttercream and whipped for a few more minutes to incorporate. Peanut butter, lemon, mint and caramel are all very lovely flavorings as well.
To color, add a few drops of gel food coloring and beat to combine. For darker colors, continue adding 2-3 drops at a time until you reach your desired color. My favorite is AmeriColor Soft Gel Pastes which come in just about any color you can imagine.
Swiss Meringue ButtercreamCourse: DessertDifficulty: Medium
Egg Whites 180g
About 6 eggs
Unsalted Butter 339g
(1 1/2 cups)
Vanilla 1 tsp
Pinch of Salt
- Pour 2 inches of water into a small saucepan or bain marie and bring to a boil.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, measure egg whites and sugar.
- Place the bowl over the saucepan so that no steam escapes. Whisk vigorously until a white foam appears on the surface. Test the mixture with your fingers. If you rub your fingers together and you can’t feel any sugar granules, it’s ready.
- Remove from the heat and place the bowl on the stand mixer. Whisk on high speed for at least 10 minutes.
- When the bowl is cool to the touch, switch to the paddle attachment and beat in the butter in chunks. Beat on high until the buttercream comes together.
- Add vanilla and salt and beat for 30 seconds to combine.
- Your butter should be softened but not room temperature. Take it out about 30 minutes before using. It should still be pliable. The meringue will still be slightly warm, so room temperature butter will melt and make the buttercream soupy.
- I use carton egg whites but regular egg whites work really well (better actually). Shake the carton really well before measuring.