I get a lot of compliments on my buttercream - I've heard many people say that it's the best they've ever had! Swiss meringue buttercream is wonderful to work with, and has just the right amount of sweetness - it's by far my favorite type of buttercream. It does take a little bit of work to make, but it is well worth the effort. If you bake regularly, I highly recommend that you make large batches and freeze your leftovers - my 6-quart mixer whips up triple batches frequently.
Swiss Meringue ButtercreamYield: About 4 cups
- Stand mixer: I love my 6-quart KitchenAid mixer so very much - so much that I have 2 of them! You *can* make meringue based buttercream with a regular hand-mixer, but it's really, really not very fun. I highly recommend a stand mixer for making buttercream. As noted above, I can make a triple batch of buttercream in my 6-quart mixer (and I usually do).
- Beater Blade: I also love my Beater Blade! It continuously beats, scrapes, folds and mixes ingredients - which helps to ensure that your ingredients are mixed thoroughly, and cuts down on mixing time. It also pretty much eliminates the need to constantly stop your mixer to scrape the sides of the bowl, which saves quite a bit of time. They sell models to fit all different mixer sizes.
- Digital thermometer: Making any meringue-based buttercream requires a thermometer to monitor the temperature of your egg white-sugar mixture (Swiss meringue) or sugar syrup (Italian meringue). I prefer using a digital thermometer over a candy thermometer.
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 sticks butter (1 1/2 cups), room temperature, cut into tablespoons
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer (or any heatproof bowl). Set bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture registers 160F on a thermometer.
- Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and forms stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.
- Switch to the paddle attachment. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don't worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined.
- Beat on medium speed until the butter is completely incorporated, and the buttercream looks thick and soft. Reduce mixer speed to low, and beat for about 5 minutes, to eliminate any air pockets. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. If not using right away, transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days (buttercream can also be frozen for several months). Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.
- Chocolate: Follow instructions above, reducing sugar to 1 cup. After butter has been incorporated, add 8 ounces of melted, slightly cooled, excellent quality chocolate (bittersweet, semisweet, or milk - your choice, depending on what flavor you're after).
- Lemon creme: Follow instructions above, omitting vanilla extract. After all butter has been incorporated, and buttercream is light and fluffy, stir in 3/4 cup of your favorite lemon curd.
- Cappuccino creme: Follow instructions above, omitting vanilla extract. Dissolve 1 T instant coffee in a small amount of warm water. After all butter has been incorporated, mix in coffee mixture.
- Vanilla bean: Follow instructions above, omitting vanilla extract, and mixing in the seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean.
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
Now that you've made some delicious buttercream...time to make a cake - or cupcakes!