What has the consistency of a cloud, the taste of butter whipped by angels, and melts on your tongue better than a midsummer sidewalk popsicle? Ding ding ding!! You got it… Swiss Meringue Buttercream, my new favorite cupcake frosting (don’t worry Ermine, I still love you!). I was a little scared to try another meringue based buttercream after my last spectacular failure with the Italian Meringue Buttercream, but I read through the directions and it seems a heck of a lot easier from start to finish. I needed to make cupcakes for my nephews 3rd birthday this weekend and I wanted the frosting to be really silky and memorable. Take a look at these awesome trucks and planes cupcakes!
What’s the big difference between Italian and Swiss Meringue Buttercreams? The meringue method. Italian uses a hot sugar syrup slowly drizzled over whipped egg whites, while Swiss employs a double boiler technique that heats the egg whites and dissolves the sugar in them before whipping the mixture into a meringue. The main reason I like the Swiss method is that I can do it all in one bowl! With Italian, hot sugar syrup can be a scary thing to work with. No one wants to get burned, but letting the syrup touch the sides of the bowl or whisk is also an issue and can ruin your frosting by adding cooled sharp chunks of sugar into your delicate frosting. I also noticed that Swiss Meringue Buttercream had a slightly lighter, less sweet taste to it and held up better to piping that the IMBC. Let’s get started so you can see for yourself.
Begin by choosing a bowl and a pan that can “nest” together to make a double boiler. I used my Kitchenaid stand mixer and for meringue buttercreams it really is a necessity. If you’re going to use a hand mixer be prepared to stand over your bowl for quite some time. Fill your pan with about 2 inches of water and make sure your bottom of your bowl does not touch the water when nested on top. Bring your water to a simmer and place your bowl over the pan.
Separate your egg whites and add them to the bowl along with white granulated sugar. Head on over to Tips for a way to store those egg yolks for longer!
Gently whisk your egg white and sugar mixture with a whisk while heating. Don’t stop whisking, you want the sugar to dissolve but you don’t want the eggs to cook into a scrambly mess! Do you see the ring of egg whites and sugar granules around my bowl? Don’t go full whisk strength like I did, try to keep it a little more centered in the bottom of the bowl.
Once your egg whites reach about 140 degrees, they are ready for the next step. You can tell when they are just about there by the frothiness on top; it’s almost like they can’t wait to be whipped! Place your bowl back in your mixer stand and whip the heck out of it for about 8-10 minutes until the side of the bowl no longer feels warm.
You’re going to end up with a super silky mass of white marshmallow-like fluff. I know it looks heavenly, and it is, but wait for it… it gets better.
Your butter should be room temperature. See the fingerprint? You should be able to leave an indent in your butter but not go all the way through it with a little pressure.
Add those butter pieces one at a time. I wait about 5 seconds in between each one and have not had any issues with it incorporating.
After your butter is full incorporated, add vanilla or other flavorings such as cocoa powder, or even a little bit of seedless jam.
I added food coloring at this point too; orange, yellow, and red seemed masculine enough for a boys birthday, right??Do you see how many colors I have?? Too many choices to choose from! Gels work best, and I’ve really enjoyed working with the Americolor food colors the best!
With your Swiss Meringue Buttercream shoved down into your piping bag its time to frost these puppies! I filled them all with a little extra frosting too for a secret surprise. 😉
Look at how beautifully it pipes!! Swiss Meringue Buttercream is not too sweet, and melts quickly in your mouth with no greasy, buttery feeling leftover. I’d say by the smears of frosting all over my nephews hands and face that they were a success!!
- 5 Large Egg Whites
- 1 1/4 Cups White Granulated Sugar
- 1 Pound (4 Sticks) Unsalted Butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoon sized pieces
- A Pinch of Salt
- 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
- Using a double boiler method, heat approx. 2 inches of water in a pan and nest a second mixing bowl containing egg whites and sugar on top of pan. Make sure the bottom of the mixing bowl doesn't touch the water.
- Whisk gently, but consistently until egg whites are frothy, sugar is dissolved, and temperature reached 160 degrees.
- Remove from heat. Whip egg whites and sugar on medium high for approximately 8-10 minutes until the side of the bowl is cool. Mixture will double in size.
- With the mixer still on medium high add your butter pieces in, one every 5 seconds.
- When butter is thoroughly incorporated, add salt, vanilla, and any other flavorings you'd like.
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream is best enjoyed at room temperature since it can get hard. If frosted items are refrigerated, leave them at room temperature for 1-2 hours before eating.
- This buttercream can be left at room temperature for 1-2 days (I rarely leave it out longer than a day), refrigerated for about 1-2 weeks, and frozen for 6-8 weeks. Bring back to room temperature and whip before use.