When frosting leaves the grainy, gritty world of straight buttercream and becomes fluffy clouds of yum

Standard

Once I started making the slightly more complicated Swiss meringue buttercream frosting rather than the standard buttercream, I could not see myself turning back. Sure, I still do it sometimes when I have to whip something up quickly. But for the results it produces, there is no substitute for the Swiss meringue buttercream.

Standard icing is just butter, powdered sugar, whatever flavor you are making and maybe some liquid to achieve the desired consistency (milk, coffee, etc.) Many people love it, but it has always seemed lacking to me. Texture matters, and even though I don't like any frosting or the cakes frosting goes on, I still want a certain measure of smoothness.

Swiss meringue buttercream is the best way to get this. It is beyond fluffy and soft and smooth… none of the graininess you get in standard buttercream because you dissolve the sugar on the stove.

Here are the recipes for the two varieties of Swiss meringue I made lately:

Mint Swiss meringue buttercream
3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Mix the egg white and the sugar over a double boiler. The sugar should be completely dissolved when you remove it from heat. Pour the mixture into a large bowl (preferably the mixing bowl of a stand mixer — Swiss meringue is mixing intensive, so a stand mixer works best). Whisk on high speed until stiff but still wet peaks form. Continue to beat for about five or six minutes after these peaks form.

Switch to the paddle attachment and turn the speed to medium low. Add the butter in one or two tablespoons at a time. The mixture might start to look lumpy and curdled. Don't worry. Keep mixing. When things start to come together, beat in the peppermint extract and keep beating for another two minutes. It might take some time to get to the right texture. You will know when it comes together in a solid, fluffy, frosting-like consistency.

In my case, I added some green food coloring to achieve a light green tint for this pre-St Patrick's Day bake.

Baileys Swiss meringue
3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons Baileys

Follow the same instructions as above.

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