This week I did something naughty. Don’t judge me, not yet…just hear me out. I know we are always supposed to try the original directions for a recipe BEFORE we make changes to it so that we know how it’s supposed to look and taste. I also know that when it comes to things like meringue and buttercream, I’m no scientist. I know the basics and some of the whys and hows, but I’m not an expert and should probably perfect my technique before I accidentally blow up my kitchen in a freak meringue accident (that would probably be de-licious to clean up though!).
So… back to my badness… I had leftover egg yolks from my Swiss Meringue Buttercream and decided to use them in a French Meringue Buttercream this week and share the results with you. Every single recipe I read had a similar technique to an Italian Meringue Buttercream; they all required me to make a hot sugar syrup and slowly drizzle it into an egg yolk mixture. I was just… soooo lazy and after trying out a Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe, which literally put the easy in peasy, I didn’t want to mess around with molten hot, disastrous sugar syrups, so I changed it up a bit. I thought… Can’t I try the Swiss method with a French Meringue Buttercream? What would happen if I heated the yolks and sugar in a double boiler and then whipped them? After bouncing that idea around in my head for a while, and wavering between trying the traditional way versus experimenting and possibly ending up with a wasted mess of butter, I decided to just go for it! With the help of my bestest friend (and super amazing baker extraordinaire) Tessa, we were able to pull off a surprisingly easy and velvety smooth, pipe-able whipped French Meringue Buttercream!!
Start by putting your egg yolks and granulated sugar in your stand mixer bowl or a heat safe bowl.
When mixed together its going to be thick and grainy.
I added about 1-2 tablespoons of warm water and cooked slowly over medium-low heat while whisking constantly. You want your egg yolk mixture to reach about 160 degrees but you don’t want cooked egg yolk in your frosting so you need to do this slowly. On a side note, French Meringue Buttercreams (and Italian) are sometimes shied away from because many people believe the hot sugar syrup does not heat the egg whites or yolks to a safe temperature of 160 degrees. By using the Swiss method, we are making sure our frosting is safe for everyone to consume! 🙂
When your egg mix reached 160 degrees and coats the back of a spoon as you can see above, it’s ready to whip! Mine was still a tiny bit grainy from the sugar, but I have a fix for that coming up that makes it perfectly fluffy and silky! However, you can also choose to keep your egg mix at 160 degrees on the stove for a little longer and try to dissolve all of the sugar so you end up with a silky frosting right away – your choice, but keep reading for another idea.
After whipping for about 5 minutes, the side of the bowl should not feel warm at all. You can add your butter piece by pieces until all are incorporated. Look at all those butter wrappers!! No one said these frostings were light on butter or fat 😉
You’ll notice one of my favorite recipe book behind the mixer. Frostings is a great recipe guide with every kind of buttercream, glaze, and icing you can possibly think of – check it out! After whipping all that butter in, you’re going to have a very pretty, light yellow frosting. If you took the time to cook out the sugar you could use your frosting now – just be aware that FMBC’s are a little softer and don’t hold up quite as well to piping and decorating. It may not look like it, but mine was *very* soft, and there was still a little bit of graininess from the sugar which prompted an AH-HA moment! My Ermine frosting starts off grainy and a thickened/cooled mix of milk and flour magically makes it all disappear AND makes its super fluffy and pipe-able. What if I added a little of that flour mixture to my soft FMBC? Would my FMBC go from thick & custard-y frosting to whipped and light??
YES, it most certainly DID! After adding my cooled flour/milk mix and whipping for about 2-3 minutes it was pure gold! No grainy sugar, no melty mess in my hands or piping bag, and peaks that lasted the whole day at room temperature. I think I’ve died and gone to buttercream heaven! I will most certainly be trying the traditional French Meringue Buttercream recipe and comparing the two, but I really hope you try this recipe at least once so you can experience the delectable richness that was obtained through experimentation 🙂
- 1 Cup Milk (any kind works, I even use Almond Milk)
- 4Tablespoons Flour
- 5 Egg Yolks
- 1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Warm Water
- 1 Pound (4 Sticks) Unsalted Butter (room temp, cut into tablespoon sized pieces)
- 1 Tablespoon Vanilla
- A Pinch of Salt
- In a saucepan, whisk together milk and flour and heat on medium. Whisk constantly until thickened to a pudding consistency (about 3-4 minutes), transfer to a bowl, and refrigerate until cool.
- In your stand mixer bowl, or another heat safe bowl, add egg yolks, sugar, and water and whisk together to get a bright yellow, slightly thick paste.
- Place bowl over a saucepan containing about 2 inches of water that has come to a simmer. Make sure the bottom of your mixer bowl does not touch the water. Continuously whisk the egg yolk/sugar mixture until it has lightened to a pale yellow and temperature reaches 160 degrees.
- Remove the mixing bowl from the stove and whip on medium high until the side of the bowl is no longer warm at all. If your egg yolk paste is too thick to get a good whip going, add a tablespoon or so of water and continue whipping.
- Add butter, one piece at a time and 5 seconds in between each piece.
- Once butter is fully incorporated add vanilla extract, salt, and cooled flour/milk paste and whip for 2-3 minutes.
- This recipe is best enjoyed at room temperature. If refrigerated, let sit out for 1-2 hours before eating for best taste and texture.
- Try subbing in brown sugar and get a caramel flavored frosting - yum!
- This frosting can be left at room temperature for one day, refrigerated for about a week or frozen for 2 months. As with other Meringue Buttercreams, you will need to bring the mix back to room temperature and re-whip before use.