I have tried several different types of buttercream before. The first one being German Buttercream like my Omas made it. Meaning cooking a vanilla or chocolate pudding and then adding the butter afterwards. It splits and if that happens, you cannot bring it back together and have to toss it. Then I watched Great British Bake Off, where a contestant used Poor Man’s Buttercream. For this one you cook a mix of flour, sugar and milk and then mix it later with butter. It is good and tastes not as sweet, but it is really heavy due to the flour contents. I also tried American Buttercream, which is way too sweet for my European taste buds.
So, what was left? Yes, meringue… I was really afraid of making a buttercream with a meringue base though. Actually, it really scared me. Turns out, it is easy to make. Easier than I thought. I tried both the Italian and the Swiss versions, but decided I prefer the Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It is practically fool proof and can be rescued easily. It also holds up very well, it pipes perfectly. It is sweet, but really delicious and you can add flavour to it.
Perfect light and smooth frosting for your cakes and cupcakes.
- 210g egg whites
- 400g sugar
- 350g unsalted butter
- 1 pinch of salt
- Prepare: Clean out your stainless steel mixing bowl thoroughly. Best is to wipe the ballon whisk and the bowl with some lemon juice or white vinegar, this gets rid of grease. Grease is the nemesis of of meringue and prevents it from fluffing up properly. Start separating your eggs. We only need the egg whites. Make sure to not get any egg yolk into the whites (this is the second nemesis to meringue!). Also shell won’t taste very nice, we do not need any extra crunch. When you have your clear egg whites, add the sugar.
- Mixing it: Fill a small saucepan with a bit of water, 1 cm is enough. Put your bowl over the saucepan and make sure the bottom does not touch the water, this is called bain-marie. IMPORTANT: Do not let the mixture boil, otherwise you get a sweet egg white omelette! Use medium heat and whisk your egg whites and sugar mix constantly. When your mix reaches about 70°C and the sugar is dissolved (just rub the mix between your finger tips and you will feel if it is still gritty or fully dissolved), remove it from the heat, wipe the bottom and start whisking it using a medium speed. It will take some time until it forms soft peaks and increases its volume in the bowl. During that time, the temperature is decreasing. This is important for the next step.
- Mixing in the butter: Cut your butter into small cubes and exchange your balloon whisk with a paddle attachment. You do not want to beat more air into the buttercream. Also make sure the bowl does not feel hot anymore, otherwise the butter will melt. Add one cube at a time and mix it well until you have used all the butter.
- Oh noes: If the meringue was still too warm, the butter melts and the mix gets very soupy. Fear not! Remove the bowl from the mixer and put it into your fridge. 5 to 10 minutes do the trick. Get the bowl out, put it back on your mixer and whisk again at medium to high speed. It will look like it is going to curdle, but again, no panic, it just is now forming a proper mix and after about 2 minutes it looks perfect. Add the salt and quickly beat it in.
- If something goes really wrong: It can happen that your buttercream will not come together at all. Fear not, simply put the bowl over a bain-marie again and slightly warm it up. You will lose a bit of volume later on, but it is still enough to frost 12 cupcakes. You can see that it starts to look glossy now as the butter is warming up. Whisk it a bit by hand, then dry the bottom of your bowl and put it into the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes. When you try to whip it up, it will turn into a silky and glossy frosting.
- I want chocolate: If you want your buttercream to be made of chocolate, simply melt 250 grams of (semi)dark chocolate (Lindt is good quality if you only have access to supermarket products) over a bain-marie and let it cool down. Then when it is still runny, add it to your finished buttercream and mix it well. It is fluffy and light.
- Peanut butter: Oh yes, it works with peanut butter as well. Just add as much peanut butter as you want to the buttercream.