Cooking with Alison

Swiss Meringue Buttercream with Flavour Variations

In Cake Decorating, Cakes, Cupcakes, Other Desserts on September 15, 2011 at am

Swiss merginue buttercream is so good and versatile that it truly deserves its own post.  Think of it in this way:  swiss meringue buttercream is to buttercream frosting as Egyptian cotton is to 200 thread count bed sheets.  Swiss meringue buttercream is stiff enough for piping and cake decorating, but it feels and tastes light, satiny, smooth, elegant, and luxurious.  I love it when people taste it for the first time and turn to me with wide, adoring eyes, to ask, “What is this?”.  🙂  This is the stuff that the professionals use and you can easily make it yourself.  It will take your baking to a whole new level.  Although swiss meringue buttercream is slightly tedious and time consuming to make, it is definitely worth the effort.  You can make a large batch and store it in the refrigerator or freezer.

I have used swiss meringue buttercream for strawberry cupcakes, mini chocolate cupcakes, chocolate cake, and a wedding cake with great success.  I originally shared the recipes for strawberry and vanilla swiss meringue buttercream in my yellow cupcakes and favourite moist chocolate cake posts, respectively.  I recently made chocolate swiss meringue buttercream for my dad’s chocolate birthday cake and it instantly became my new favourite chocolate frosting.

I would like to refer you to Sweetapolita’s Swiss meringue buttercream recipe, because she has provided the best step by step photo instructions and invaluable trouble shooting advice.  She also has different flavour variations for you to try.  I highly recommend that you read through her post before starting.  Below are my additional notes.

  1. Her recipe makes approximately 15 cups.  You will need a stand mixer and at least a 5 quart bowl for this.  I only have a 4.5 quart bowl, so I make the full recipe until it’s time to add the butter.  By this time, the frosting is just starting to overflow.  Then I halve the meringue and finish off the buttercream (ie. add the butter) in two separate batches.  This also makes for a great opportunity to make two different flavours of swiss meringue buttercream.  I have also quartered this recipe before (yielding approximately 4 cups) and the recipe still worked beautifully.  That was enough for me to generously frost about 22 cupcakes.
  2. The swiss meringue buttercream is a bit too sweet for my taste, so I add more butter to taste at the end.
  3. If you are making vanilla swiss meringue buttercream, try using Mexican vanilla extract for a lovely and unique flavour.
  4. The swiss meringue buttercream holds liquid very very well.  I added pureed fresh strawberries 1 tbsp at a time until I achieved the desired colour and taste (see a photo here).  When I made 1/4 of the full 15 cup recipe, I used a total of 12 tbsp of pureed fruit for approximately 4 cups of frosting and I could have added more if I wanted to.  The frosting still held up beautifully – something that would have been impossible to do with regular buttercream or cream cheese frosting (I know this because I’ve tried).  So use this type of frosting if you want a fruit puree flavoured frosting.
  5. I highly recommend that you make the chocolate swiss meringue buttercream.  Use high quality (if you can) bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate.  Melt 1 1/2 cups of chopped chocolate and allow it to cool completely.  Then beat it into 5 cups of vanilla swiss meringue buttercream.
  6. If you are making this ahead of time:  When it comes time to use it for frosting your cake or cupcakes, be sure to allow enough time for it to completely come to room temperature.  Only then should you beat it in the stand mixer for 5 minutes and only then should you use it.  Otherwise, the butter will melt and separate from the meringue no matter how long you beat it for.
  7. If you are storing frosted cakes or cupcakes in the refrigerator, be sure to allow them to come to room temperature before serving, because the swiss meringue buttercream hardens when it cools.
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