Swiss meringue buttercream is a silky, smooth frosting that is perfect for any confection. This frosting is made by whipping egg whites and sugar into a glossy meringue before adding cubes of butter and flavoring ingredients. However, the process of making Swiss meringue buttercream can be tricky, and it’s not uncommon for beginners to encounter problems such as the butter melting or the meringue not reaching stiff peaks.
In this post, I will share my tips and tricks for making perfect Swiss meringue buttercream every time. I will guide you through the process step-by-step, from heating the egg whites and sugar to adding the butter and flavorings. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced baker, you’ll find everything you need to know to create a luscious, creamy frosting that will take your desserts to the next level. So, let’s get started!
Understanding Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a type of buttercream frosting that is smooth, creamy, and velvety, making it perfect for frosting cakes and cupcakes. It is made by whipping together cooked egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form, then adding softened butter and vanilla extract. This results in a frosting that is light, airy, and not too sweet.
One of the main benefits of Swiss Meringue Buttercream is its stability. Unlike other types of buttercream, Swiss Meringue Buttercream can hold its shape well and is less likely to melt in warm temperatures. It also has a crust-free exterior, which makes it perfect for decorating with fondant or other cake decorations.
To make Swiss Meringue Buttercream, it is important to use a double boiler to cook the egg whites and sugar. This ensures that the mixture is heated evenly and doesn’t cook too quickly. It is also important to let the mixture cool completely before adding the butter, as adding the butter too soon can result in a runny frosting.
When making Swiss Meringue Buttercream, it is crucial to use room temperature butter. This allows the butter to incorporate more easily into the meringue mixture, resulting in a smoother frosting. It is also important to add the butter slowly, one tablespoon at a time, while continuing to beat the mixture. This helps to ensure that the frosting is smooth and creamy.
As you can imagine, Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a delicious and versatile frosting that is perfect for any occasion. It is easy to make, stable, and has a light and airy texture that is sure to impress. Whether you are frosting a cake or decorating cupcakes, Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a great choice for any baker.
To make the perfect Swiss meringue buttercream, you need a few essential ingredients. These ingredients include:
- Egg whites
- Granulated sugar
- Unsalted butter
- Vanilla extract
(Don’t worry about the measures and directions yet, the exact recipe will follow soon.)
For those who want to experiment with different flavors, Swiss meringue buttercream can be customized with various ingredients such as chocolate, lemon, almond, mint, vinegar, peanut butter, vanilla bean, and more. The possibilities are endless!
However, it’s important to note that the quality of the ingredients used can significantly impact the taste and texture of the final product. So, I always make sure to use high-quality ingredients when making Swiss meringue buttercream. This luxurious frosting deserves the best ingredients!
For instance, I prefer using pure vanilla extract over artificial vanilla flavoring, as it lends a richer and more authentic taste. Similarly, I opt for unsalted butter instead of salted butter, as it allows me to control the amount of salt in the recipe.
To make the perfect Swiss meringue buttercream, you’ll need a few essential pieces of equipment. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
A stand mixer is the best tool for making Swiss meringue buttercream. It allows you to mix the ingredients thoroughly and consistently, without getting tired arms from holding a hand mixer. You’ll want to use the whisk attachment for the meringue and the paddle attachment for the buttercream.
A thermometer is essential for making Swiss meringue buttercream. You need to heat the egg whites and sugar to a specific temperature to ensure that they’re cooked properly. A digital thermometer is the most accurate and easiest to use. Well, thermometer is not an absolute must, but it will make your work much easier and help you come up with a perfect buttercream.
A double boiler is a pot with a bowl that fits over the top. It’s the best way to heat the egg whites and sugar without cooking them too quickly or burning them. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can use a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
Electric Mixer or Hand Mixer
If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use an electric mixer or hand mixer to make Swiss meringue buttercream. It will take a bit longer, and you’ll need to hold the mixer for a while, but it’s still doable.
If you want to pipe your buttercream onto cupcakes or cakes, you’ll need a piping bag. You can use a plastic or reusable piping bag, whichever you prefer. You’ll also need piping tips to create different shapes and designs.
Making Swiss Meringue Buttercream may seem intimidating at first, but with the right technique, it’s actually surprisingly easy to whip up a silky smooth and creamy frosting that’s perfect for piping and spreading. Here’s my step-by-step recipe:
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional but strongly recommended)
- In a heatproof mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar until combined.
- Place the mixing bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
- Whisk the egg whites and sugar constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture reaches a temperature of 160 °F (71 °C).
- Remove the mixing bowl from the saucepan and attach it to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
- Whip the egg white mixture on high speed until it reaches stiff peaks and the bottom of the mixing bowl no longer feels warm.
- Switch to the paddle attachment and begin adding the butter, one cube at a time, with the mixer on low speed.
- Once all the butter has been incorporated, add the vanilla extract (if using) and continue to mix until the buttercream becomes smooth, creamy, and glossy.
- Your Swiss Meringue Buttercream is now ready to use!
- Make sure your mixing bowl and whisk attachment are completely clean and free of any grease or residue before starting.
- Use unsalted butter to control the amount of salt in the frosting.
- If your buttercream looks curdled at any point, don’t worry! Just keep mixing until it becomes smooth again.
- To add flavor to your buttercream, you can use different extracts, such as almond or lemon, or even add melted chocolate or fruit puree.
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Just bring it back to room temperature and re-whip it before using.
More tips and answers to frequent questions at the end of this post.
Texture and Consistency
When it comes to Swiss meringue buttercream, texture and consistency are key. You want your buttercream to be silky smooth, creamy, and glossy, with a texture that’s just right. Achieving the perfect texture and consistency can take a bit of practice, but with a few tips and tricks, you’ll be able to make Swiss meringue buttercream that’s just right every time. Moreover, I can guarantee that practicing — and eating your frosted goods — is a pure pleasure!
Well, but first, it’s important to whip your egg whites and sugar to stiff peaks. This will give your buttercream the structure it needs to hold up and maintain its shape. When you’re whipping your egg whites and sugar, you should be able to turn the bowl upside down without anything falling out. This is a sign that your egg whites are at the right consistency.
Once you’ve whipped your egg whites and sugar to stiff peaks, it’s time to add the butter. You’ll want to add the butter gradually, one cube at a time, while continuing to whip the mixture. This will help ensure that the butter is fully incorporated and that your buttercream is smooth and creamy.
If your buttercream is looking a bit grainy or lumpy, don’t worry. This can happen if your butter is too cold or if you add it too quickly. To fix this, simply continue to whip your buttercream until it becomes smooth and silky again.
Finally, it’s important to pay attention to the consistency of your buttercream. If it’s too stiff, you can add a bit of milk or cream to loosen it up. If it’s too thin, you can add more butter or powdered sugar to thicken it up. The key is to make sure that your buttercream is the right consistency for your needs.
Swiss meringue buttercream is a versatile frosting that can be customized to suit any flavor preference. Here are some flavor variations that I love:
- Vanilla: The classic Swiss meringue buttercream flavor is vanilla. Use high-quality vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste for the best results.
- Chocolate: Add a pinch of cocoa powder or melted chocolate to the buttercream for a rich, chocolatey flavor. Use high-quality chocolate (like Valrhona or Callebaut) for the best results.
- Lemon: Add lemon zest and 1 teaspoon lemon extract to the buttercream for a bright, citrusy flavor. This flavor pairs well with berries and other fruits.
- Almond: Add almond extract or finely ground almonds to the buttercream for a nutty, slightly sweet flavor. This flavor pairs well with fruit and chocolate.
- Mint: Add peppermint extract or finely chopped fresh mint to the buttercream for a refreshing, cool flavor. This flavor pairs well with chocolate.
- Peanut Butter: Add 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter to the buttercream for a rich, nutty flavor. This flavor pairs well with chocolate and banana.
- Cream Cheese: Add 1/4 cup cream cheese to the buttercream for a tangy, slightly sweet flavor. This flavor pairs well with carrot cake and red velvet cake.
- Strawberry: Add 1/4 cup pureed strawberries to the buttercream for a sweet, fruity flavor. This flavor pairs well with vanilla and lemon.
- Citrus: Add orange or grapefruit zest to the buttercream for a bright, citrusy flavor. This flavor pairs well with berries and other fruits.
- Coffee: Add instant espresso powder or a dash of strong brewed coffee to the buttercream for a rich, coffee flavor. This flavor pairs well with chocolate.
- Caramel: Add caramel sauce or caramel extract to the buttercream for a rich, sweet flavor. This flavor pairs well with chocolate and apple.
My favorite flavor variation is lemon Swiss meringue buttercream. The brisk citrus flavor pairs well with elegant and mellow buttercream.
Comparing with Other Buttercreams
When it comes to buttercream, there are different types to choose from. Some of the most popular ones include American buttercream, French buttercream, Italian meringue buttercream, and Swiss meringue buttercream. Each type has its own unique characteristics and flavor profile.
American buttercream is the simplest type of buttercream to make. It is made by creaming together butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Vanilla extract is usually added for flavor. This type of buttercream is very sweet and has a heavy butter flavor. It is often used to frost cupcakes and cakes.
Italian Meringue Buttercream
Italian meringue buttercream is made by whipping egg whites and sugar into a meringue, and then adding butter. It has a light and fluffy texture and a delicate flavor. This type of buttercream can be tricky to make because the meringue must be whipped to the correct consistency. It is often used to frost wedding cakes.
French buttercream is made by whipping egg yolks and sugar together, and then adding butter. It has a rich and creamy texture and a slightly sweet flavor. This type of buttercream is often used to fill pastries and cakes.
Italian buttercream is similar to Italian meringue buttercream, but it is made by whipping egg yolks and sugar together, and then adding butter. It has a rich and creamy texture and a slightly sweet flavor. This type of buttercream is often used to frost cakes.
Compared to the other types of buttercream, Swiss meringue buttercream is less sweet and has a light and fluffy texture. It is also more stable than some of the other types of buttercream, which makes it easier to work with.
Storage and Make-Ahead Tips
For storing your Swiss Meringue Buttercream, it’s important to keep it in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out or absorbing any unwanted flavors. The buttercream can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, but it’s best to use it within three to four days for optimal freshness.
If you’re looking to make Swiss Meringue Buttercream ahead of time, it’s definitely possible! You can make it up to a week in advance and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. When you’re ready to use it, simply take it out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature before re-whipping it to restore its smooth and creamy texture.
Another great option for making Swiss Meringue Buttercream ahead of time is to freeze it. To do this, transfer the buttercream to an airtight container and freeze it for up to three months. When you’re ready to use it, simply thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and then let it come to room temperature before re-whipping it.
As with any recipe, sometimes things don’t go as planned. But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with these troubleshooting tips for Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
If your buttercream is too runny and not holding its shape, it may be too warm. Try chilling the bowl in the fridge for 10—15 minutes and then re-whipping the buttercream. If that doesn’t work, your butter may be too soft. Pop it in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up before trying again.
If your buttercream lacks that beautiful glossy finish, it may be due to over-whipping. Try whipping it less next time and see if that helps. Another possible cause is adding too much butter. Make sure to add the butter slowly and in small pieces, and don’t add more until each piece is fully incorporated.
A grainy texture can be a sign that your buttercream is overworked. Try whipping it less next time and see if that helps. If it’s still grainy, your butter may be too cold. Let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes before trying again. If all else fails, you can try re-melting the buttercream over a double boiler and then re-whipping it.
These are just a few troubleshooting tips for Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Remember, practice makes perfect!
Application and Use
When applying Swiss Meringue Buttercream, the sky is the limit! This versatile frosting is perfect for cakes, cupcakes, and even desserts. It can be piped into beautiful designs or spread smoothly over a cake. The buttery taste of Swiss Meringue Buttercream pairs perfectly with vanilla cupcakes, but it can also be flavored with any extract or fruit puree (check the tips above).
When using Swiss Meringue Buttercream to frost a cake, it’s important to apply a crumb coat first. This thin layer of frosting will help to seal in any crumbs and create a smooth surface for the final layer of frosting. Once the crumb coat has set, apply the final layer of frosting in a thick, even layer.
For piping designs, use a piping bag fitted with a tip of your choice. Swiss Meringue Buttercream holds its shape well, making it perfect for beautiful and detailed designs.
As much as I love Swiss Meringue Buttercream, it can be quite sweet. If you’re looking for a less sweet alternative, here are a few options to consider:
Reduce the Sugar
One simple way to make Swiss Meringue Buttercream less sweet is to reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe. You can start by reducing the sugar by 1/4 cup and adjust to taste. Keep in mind that reducing sugar can also affect the texture of the buttercream, so you may need to adjust the amount of liquid and butter accordingly.
Use Natural Sweeteners
Another way to make Swiss Meringue Buttercream less sweet is to use natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar to replace part of the sugar. These sweeteners have a lower glycemic index than sugar, meaning they won’t cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. However, keep in mind that they do have a distinct flavor that may affect the overall taste of the buttercream.
Add Fruit Puree
Adding fruit puree to Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a great way to add flavor and reduce the sweetness. You can use pureed strawberries, raspberries, or even mango to add a fruity twist to the buttercream. Keep in mind that adding fruit puree can also affect the texture of the buttercream, so you may need to adjust the amount of liquid and butter accordingly.
Use Alternative Fats
If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to butter, you can use alternative fats like coconut oil, avocado oil, or even nut butter. These fats are rich in healthy fats and can add a unique flavor to the buttercream. Keep in mind that using alternative fats can also affect the texture of the buttercream, so you may again need to adjust the amount of liquid and butter accordingly.
There are many ways to make Swiss Meringue Buttercream less sweet and healthier. Experiment with different ingredients and find the combination that works best for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I make my Swiss meringue buttercream light and fluffy?
To make Swiss meringue buttercream light and fluffy, make sure to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks before adding the butter. Also, make sure the butter is at room temperature and add it slowly while continuing to whip the mixture. This will help incorporate air and create a light and fluffy texture.
What is the ratio of sugar to egg whites for Swiss meringue buttercream?
The ratio of sugar to egg whites for Swiss meringue buttercream is typically 2:1. This means that for every 2 parts sugar, you will use 1 part egg whites. For example, if you use 1 cup of sugar, you will need 1/2 cup of egg whites.
How do I make Swiss meringue buttercream with pasteurized eggs?
To make Swiss meringue buttercream with pasteurized eggs, you can use pasteurized egg whites that come in a carton. Make sure to use the same amount of pasteurized egg whites as you would fresh egg whites. You can also pasteurize your own egg whites by heating them to 140°F for 3 minutes, then cooling them before use.
What causes Swiss meringue buttercream to be too runny?
Swiss meringue buttercream can become too runny if the butter is too soft or if the mixture is not whipped enough. To fix this, try chilling the mixture in the refrigerator for 15—20 minutes, then whipping it again until it becomes thick and fluffy.
How do I make my Swiss meringue buttercream super smooth?
To make Swiss meringue buttercream super smooth, make sure to use room temperature butter and whip the mixture for several minutes until it becomes smooth and creamy. You can also use a sieve to remove any lumps or air bubbles.
Can Swiss meringue buttercream be over-whipped?
Yes, Swiss meringue buttercream can be over-whipped. If this happens, the mixture may become curdled or grainy. To fix this, try adding a small amount of warm water or milk and whipping the mixture again until it becomes smooth.
How to store Swiss meringue buttercream?
Swiss meringue buttercream can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Before using, let the mixture come to room temperature and whip it again until it becomes smooth and creamy.
How to color Swiss meringue buttercream?
To color Swiss meringue buttercream, use gel or powdered food coloring. Add a small amount at a time and mix well until you achieve the desired color. Avoid using liquid food coloring, as it can cause the mixture to become too runny.
What does Swiss meringue buttercream taste like?
Swiss meringue buttercream has a light and creamy texture with a subtle sweetness and a hint of vanilla. It is less sweet and more buttery than American buttercream and is often used in more delicate desserts such as macarons and cakes.
As you have noticed, Swiss meringue buttercream is a delicious and versatile frosting that can take your cakes and desserts to the next level. With its light and airy texture and subtle sweetness, it is the perfect complement to any baked good.
Making Swiss meringue buttercream may seem daunting at first, but with a little practice and patience, it is a straightforward process that almost anyone can master. The key is to follow the recipe closely and pay attention to the details, such as the temperature of the ingredients and the consistency of the frosting.
One of the great things about Swiss meringue buttercream is that it is highly customizable. You can add different flavors, colors, and textures to create a frosting that perfectly matches your cake or dessert. Some popular flavor variations include chocolate, coffee, lemon, and raspberry.
When it comes to decorating your cake with Swiss meringue buttercream, the possibilities are practically endless. You can use a piping bag and various tips to create your favorite designs, or simply spread the frosting on with a spatula for a more rustic look.
So, next time you’re looking for a frosting that is both delicious and elegant, give Swiss meringue buttercream a chance!