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Piping swirl of buttercream on top of a chocolate cupcake
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Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Nothing smooths over a cake or pipes onto cupcakes as beautifully as this buttercream will. I love how it melts in my mouth. It is like satin without the gritty taste or feel of confectioners sugar. It’s a rich and luscious dream.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword how to make swiss meringue buttercream, swiss meringue buttercream, swiss meringue buttercream recipe
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 12 servings
Calories 296 kcal
Author Janet Barton

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup egg whites 150 g
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar 250 g
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into 1 tbl. cubes or slices 340 g or 3 cubes
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

optional:

  • 1/2 cup seedless strawberry puree

Instructions

  1. In a very clean bowl of an electric mixer, add egg whites and sugar.  Place over a simmering pot of water, stirring constantly until temperature reaches 160 degrees F.  Rub a small amount of the mixture between two fingers to make sure the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Using the whisk attachment, beat until the mixture is a thick meringue and the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch.  The bowl must be cool before adding the butter.
  2. Replace the whisk with the paddle attachment.  With the mixture on medium-low speed add butter once slice at a time until all of the butter has been incorporated.  The mixture should be silky smooth and thick.  The mixture may begin to look curdled, keep mixing until it is smooth.  This can take 10 minutes or so.  Mix in salt and vanilla.  Add strawberry puree, if using.  Once puree is added keep mixing until mixture is silky again.

Recipe Notes

The beauty of Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • It can be flavored in so many ways - melted dark or white chocolate that has been cooled, Hazelnut paste, pistachio paste, any type of fruit pureé, vanilla bean, etc.  
  • It can be tinted with any food color gels, Hibiscus tea reduction, or even beet juice.
  • It's not overly sweet or grainy like powdered sugar icings.
  • Melt-in-you-mouth heaven
  • It freezes wonderfully.  Freeze in a covered container.  Thaw in the refrigerator overnight then mix using the paddle attachment until smooth and fluffy. 
  • This recipe makes approximately 4 cups of icing.  It will ice one 3 layer 8-inch cake, 1-2 dozen cupcakes (depending on how thick the icing is), one 9-inch 2 layer cake, 9 x 13-inch sheet cake

 

Troubleshooting:

  • Why didn't my meringue whip up?  If fat is present due to egg yolks bits in with the egg whites OR if grease/fat/oil are present in the mixing bowl or beaters, the meringue will NOT whip up to be tall and fluffy. Wash your mixing bowl and beaters with a bit of vinegar or lemon juice.  Make sure your egg whites are just egg whites.  No yolks allowed.
  • My Buttercream looks curdled 🙁This generally happens if the butter is too cold.  Just warm the mixing bowl a bit.  With the mixer still running wrap a warm dishcloth around the bottom and the bowl and hold there.  You may need to rewarm the towel a few times until the butter softens up to create a smooth icing.  I have, also, used a small gas blow torch.  Don't keep the flame in one area.  Keep the flame moving across the bottom of the bowl while the mixer is still running.  It's shouldn't take long for the mixture to loosen up.  No torch?  Try a blow dryer sent on med/low heat.  Once again keep the warm air moving all around the bowl.  The icing will soon become smooth and perfect.  
  • My buttercream is hard from refrigeration Yes, it sure is.  Over a cup of butter has just been added to the meringue.  The buttercream will soften right up when left a room temperature.  If you have frozen the buttercream, it will take longer to soften.  In a hurry? Break up the buttercream and put it in the bowl of a mixer and start to beat (using the paddle attachment). Use the torch or blowdryer method to soften the buttercream to spreading consistency.
  • My buttercream has sugar crystals in it and is grainy?  When whisking the egg whites and sugar over simmering water, make sure to wash down the sides of the bowl with a damp cloth if loose sugar crystals are present. Feel the mixture between your fingers before you begin beating to make sure there are no sugar crystals present.  
Nutrition Facts
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Amount Per Serving
Calories 296 Calories from Fat 207
% Daily Value*
Fat 23g35%
Saturated Fat 15g75%
Cholesterol 61mg20%
Sodium 26mg1%
Potassium 44mg1%
Carbohydrates 22g7%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 21g23%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 709IU14%
Vitamin C 6mg7%
Calcium 9mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.