Probably the last thing I should tell you is that the first time I made this I failed miserably. Like curse words thrown around my kitchen and it all ending with me dumping the whole batch in the trash. That would be a bad idea right?
But stick with me on this. My failure with this frosting is your gain. Because since that first time and every time since then I have picked up some tips and tricks to nail this frosting. I'm like a swiss meringue buttercream ninja now. Ok that's a stretch but I'm come a long way baby. And that all works in your favor. Because when you have success at this frosting, your life will be forever changed. That's not a stretch.
Seriously it's that good. I friggin' love this stuff. It's like American Buttercream lighter and creamier cousin. Like a cloud. It should be called cloud frosting instead.
What is Swiss Meringue Buttercream?
Swiss Meringue Buttercream is very different than American buttercream. Swiss meringue buttercream is velvety and smooth, and less sweet than American buttercream. There is no confectioner sugar in this frosting unlike American style frosting. In this buttercream, egg whites and sugar get heated over a double boiler. Then once the sugar has dissolved, the butter gets added to the mixture in a stand mixer. This frosting is a smoother buttercream than American style buttercream and has a more pronounced butter flavor. Swiss Meringue Buttercream is very easy to pipe with but can be a bit trickier to make than American buttercream. I'll give you some tips and tricks so you can master this buttercream!
How To Make Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Here is a step by step photo tutorial on how to make swiss meringue buttercream
Step 1: You want to cube your butter up and bring to room temperature before you start. If you need a few ways to soften your butter quickly (because you forgot to take it out ahead of time like I do all the time) then you can read this post.
Step 2: In a metal heat-proof bowl, whisk your room temperature egg whites and granulated sugar together. Think of this step as a quick arm workout. Heat over a pan of simmering water, being sure the water does not reach the bottom of the bowl. Continue to whisk the egg whites and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has reached a temperature of 160F.
Step 3: Remove the bowl from the heat and place in your stand mixer. I use my stand mixer bowl for this whole process. If your stand mixer has a glass bowl you will have to transfer this mixture over. Using your whisk attachment, whisk on high speed until stiff peaks forms. Try to resist licking the beater. I know it's going to be tough.
Step 4: When the bowl is cool to the touch, add your butter one tablespoon at a time. Be sure the butter isn't too soft (aka melty spots) or it will deflate the egg whites you just whipped. And you will be sad. Trust me.
Step 5: Continue to add your butter one piece at a time, with the mixer on medium speed. At this point, the buttercream may begin to curdle and separate, but just keep mixing. It will come together, promise! Have faith in the buttercream!
Step 6: Add your flavoring and a little bit of salt! I added 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Now at this point you can stop and call it vanilla buttcream. Or add in some fun. I gave some suggestions in a little bit of how to jazz it up. My favorite? Peanut butter. Dear god, wait until you try the peanut butter version.
Troubleshooting Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Swiss Meringue buttercream can be sometimes tricky, so here a few tricks I've learned along the way.
- Be sure to clean your bowls, mixers, attachments- all of it. Any grease will prevent the egg whites from whipping up to their full glory.
- Be sure your egg white mixture has been heated enough before removing the from the stovetop. One trick is to make sure the mixture is thin and warm. You can rub the mixture between your fingers to see if you feel any sugar crystals. If you do, it needs to be heated a little bit more. You can also use a candy thermometer to ensure it has reached 160F.
- Before you add your butter, be sure your bowl has cooled down. Feel the bottom of the bowl with your hand. If it's still warm, then give it a few minutes. If you add the butter when the mixture is too warm, you will melt your butter and deflate your egg whites.
- If when you do add the butter, the buttercream begins to separate and curdle. Give it some time. It will come together. If you do find the mixture is still not coming together and you think it was too warm when you first started adding the butter, place the bowl in your refrigerator for a few minutes to chill the bowl. Then try mixing it again, it should come together. I once left the bowl mixing for over 10 minutes, but it did finally come together! So don't give up on that buttercream!
How To Store Swiss Meringue Buttercream
If you are using the buttercream within a few hours, then leave at room temperature covered with plastic wrap. Otherwise you can store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, just re-whip before using. If you are not going to be using in 3 days, then be sure to freeze. Leftover swiss meringue buttercream can be frozen for up to 3 months. Just place in an airtight container with a lid. Before using, bring to room temperature and re-whip before using for about 5 minutes.
How To Flavor Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Try mixing up your swiss meringue buttercream from vanilla to these flavors! These are of course suggestions- you can always adjust to your liking!
Vanilla Bean- Instead of vanilla extract try either 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean
Chocolate- Add 4 ounces melted and cooled quality chocolate
Almond- Add 1 teaspoon almond extract
Brown Sugar- Substitute the white granulated sugar with equal amounts of brown sugar
Peanut Butter- Add 3/4 cup peanut butter
Nutella- Add 3/4 cup Nutella
Raspberry or Strawberry- Add 2/3 cup seedless jam that has been pureed in a food processor. Or two tablespoons freeze-dried strawberries or raspberries that have been pulsed into a powder.
Espresso- Add 4 tablespoons cold espresso. (Make your own: add 1 teaspoon espresso powder to 1 cup boiling water and then measure from there)
- 5 egg whites, room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 3 sticks butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1. Place the egg whites and sugar in a large metal mixer bowl set over simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar melts and the mixture is very thin and warm. Be sure the bottom of the bowl does not come in contact with the water.
- 2.Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Continue beating on low speed until cool.
- 3.Beat in small pieces of cool but soft butter on medium speed. The mixture may curdle before coming together. Add the vanilla extract and salt.
- If using right away, keep at room temperature covered with plastic wrap. It can be kept in the refrigerator covered for up to 3 days, just re-whip before using. If not using within 3 days, then freeze in an airtight container with a lid. Just bring to room temperature and re-whip for 5 minutes before using.