I really cannot have my own blog and NOT mention Swiss Meringue Buttercream (“SMBC” in cake circles)… It really is the most amazing frosting that ever was invented (I imagine that Italian Meringue Buttercream is similar, they just have different cooking methods). This frosting is known as my “magic” frosting by certain family members… and really who can blame them? The texture is light, fluffy, silky and just the right amount of sweetness! Much less sweet than the shortening/powdered sugar based American Buttercram most are used to. Really, it is the PERFECT frosting… even non-frosting lovers LOVE my Swiss Meringue Buttercream!
So, here it is, my recipe, super simple to make, it just takes a bit of patience, just be forewarned once you try SMBC you may never be able to eat American Buttercream again!
- 8oz (by liquid measure) Egg Whites (I recommend using REAL eggs, not carton egg whites)
- 2 Cups Sugar (granulated, NOT powdered sugar)
- 6 Sticks Unsalted Butter (room temperature and YES, unsalted makes a difference)
- pinch of Salt
- 1-1.5 TBSP Pure Vanilla Extract (Or flavoring of your choice)
- Double Boiler (aka, pot with water that you will place your mixer bowl on)
- Stand Mixer (you can use your hand beaters, however your arm may fall off as a result)
- In the bowl of your stand mixer add your Egg Whites and a pinch of salt. Whisk the eggs whites lightly to break them up, until they are lightly bubbly.
- Add your Sugar and whisk to combine.
- Place bowl over a pot of simmering water (use a pot that will give you a good seal) and whisk for 5-7 minutes. What you are doing is cooking the eggs to kill off any bacteria! You will know that your mixture is done when a small dribble of it on your finger no longer feels grainy. Egg Whites cook at about 140 degrees, and sugar melts around 186 degress… so if the mixture is no longer grainy, your egg whites are cooked, the sugar is melted and it is safe for consumptions (Science!).
- Once the mixture is “cooked”, put the bowl on your mixer and with the whisk attachment, whip your egg whites on high. You are creating the meringue. You want to whip the mixture until the bowl is no longer hot to the touch and the egg whites are at about room temperature. I usually crack a window next to my counter and angle the mixer towards it. It will take about 10 minutes to come down to the right temperature (but could be longer).
- After the meringue has reach “stiff peaks” and is room temperature (VERY important otherwise the butter will just melt and you will have a soupy mess!) stop the mixer and remove the whisk attachment (scrape off as much of that luscious meringue as possible)…
- Add your butter to the bowl. If your butter is on the stiffer side of room temperature I would cut it into pieces first, otherwise you can add the soft sticks all at once.
- With your paddle attachment, mix the butter into the meringue on LOW speed, this process will take about 7-10 minutes. You may see your mixture go through “stages” from curdled to soupy, but be patient! It will come together, at the end you will have a lovely, smooth and silky Swiss Meringue Buttercream!
- When your SMBC has come together it is time to add your flavorings. For Vanilla, add about 1-1.5 TBSP of Pure Vanilla Extract and mix on low until it is incorporated.
- That’s it! This recipe should yield you enough to frost and fill a 10″ double layer, round cake or about 2 1/2 dozen standard cupcakes.
A Few Tips/Hints
- While this frosting is delicious, it may not be suitable for every occasion… Because it is made of meringue and butter, SMBC has a relatively low melting point. If your cake/cupcakes will be sitting in an environment warmer than 80-85 degrees, I would recommend NOT using this buttercream. Butter melts to it’s liquid state at around 90 degrees… so 85 might even be pushing it!
- It is VERY important that you let your meringue cool sufficiently before adding the butter. However, if you are impatient (like me) and brave, you can let your meringue be slightly warmer than room temp, if you add cold, or still very firm butter. Take this advice at your own risk, it’s a fine line between slightly warmer and so warm it will melt the butter…
- If your buttercream is still too soupy, even after waiting patiently for it to come together, you may have added the butter when the meringue was till too warm. Pop the bowl in the fridge for a bit, and once it is cooled try re-whipping it, it should come together (this frosting is light and fluffy and will never get as thick as American Buttercream).
- Do not ever use salted butter in place of unsalted in this recipe… the added salt bring out the butter flavor far too much and your frosting will taste like whipped butter, no matter how much flavoring you add.
- I’m always on the lookout for a bargain… but with a recipe like this quality is key! I recommend using the freshest eggs, finest butter and best sugar you can get your hands on. A recipe with so few ingredients should be done well! (I once tried using an organic “cultured” butter and I DO NOT recommend it, far too buttery)
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream is so versatile, you can have just about any flavor! Have fun experimenting, try adding some melted (and cooled) chocolate, or Dulce de Leche (home made or a can of store-bought), any number of extracts available, jams or preserves, sauces, or a bit of Lorann Oil! The possibilities are really only limited by your own creativity!
- I would recommend chewing gum while you make this, or at least the moment it is done… to avoid eating it with a spoon!
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my friends & family do!
Happy Caking 🙂