SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
OK, this frosting is in direct response to all the people who message me asking for frosting that isn’t too sweet or grainy. If that’s what you’re after, then this frosting is for you! This frosting looks silky, which makes it perfect for frosting smooth, shiny cakes. Just be careful though, because it can be a little softer than American buttercream frosting which is firmer. So, if it’s a warm day, I’d use American buttercream frosting instead.
If you're after a frosting that's a little more firm and perfect for making buttercream roses or for Russian piping tip decorations, then try out my American buttercream frosting!
Makes 1 batch frosting / Enough for 20 cupcakes
200g (usually about 6 large eggs) fresh egg whites
200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
500g (2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Begin by filling a large saucepan one-quarter of the way with water. Let it come to a gentle boil over a medium–high heat.
Separate your egg whites from your yolks in a large, very clean, glass or metal mixing bowl. We only need the egg whites for this recipe, so you can store the yolks in an airtight container in the fridge to use for something else. If you need ideas, there are loads on the internet, but my go-to recipe for using up egg yolks is French pastry cream. Yum!
Add your sugar to the egg whites and use a hand whisk to mix them together.
Place your bowl on top of the pan of boiling water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. This is called the double-boiler method and is a very gentle way of cooking something or melting something.
Gently whisk your egg white and sugar mixture for about 3–4 minutes, or until the sugar is completely dissolved and you reach 160C. The best way to check that it’s dissolved is by running it through two fingers. If you can’t feel the sugar granules, then it’s time to take it off the heat. If you can feel the granules, continue whisking for another 2–3 minutes and keep testing until you can no longer any granules.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on high speed for about 4–5 minutes. The mixture will become thick and glossy and will begin to cool.
Gradually add the softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, while the mixer is on high speed. At first, your egg whites will deflate and look like the butter is causing them to split, but don’t panic! It will come back together. It takes a couple of minutes for the butter and meringue to become best friends.
Once you have added all the butter, add the vanilla extract and mix first on low speed to combine, then on high speed for 5 minutes.
You’ll know it’s done when the frosting has come together, has turned pale in colour (if you’re making vanilla) and is nice and fluffy.
If you find your frosting is too aerated, then mix at the lowest speed for about 10 minutes and it will become perfectly smooth again. Alternatively, you can microwave it for 5-10 seconds and use a spatula to gently mix together.
To make chocolate-flavoured buttercream, add 200g (1 cup) melted and cooled dark chocolate when you add the vanilla extract.
My cake recipes sometimes call for more than one batch of frosting. Depending on the size of your mixing bowl, you may need to split the frosting into two batches when flavouring and colouring it.
TOOLS YOU'LL NEED
Electric hand mixer (if you don't have a stand mixer)
Large heat proof mixing bowl