There are few frostings that I really, really, really like. In fact- there are many more that I hate. I always scrape off frosting on store bought cupcakes and cakes (even most wedding cakes) because they taste like granulated sugar bars with stale butter. Blegh. Even some ‘homemade’ recipes that I have tried end up tasting like too much raw vanilla or like a stick of whipped butter (great on a potato- not on my cupcake)
I like frostings that are fluffy- like whipped cream- and leave a hint of sweet on your palate- without sending you into a diabetic coma. Frosting compliment the cake, keep it fluffy and moist by insulating it, and allow for some piping.
Enter: Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It is fluffy, whipped perfection, with a hint of vanilla and softly sweet. Best of all? It is already the perfect consistency to pipe.
I was hesitant to try this frosting.. it requires a bit of finesse- but pays in big dividends through texture and flavor. I highly suggest making this frosting when you have time to focus (you can’t walk away from it) and enough time to spare before you need to serve the final product (my first attempt ended up not dissolving the sugar enough and had to be thrown away).
Refurbished Teacher’s Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe)
yields enough frosting to decorate apx. 100-125 miniature cupcakes
- 1 3/4 cups white granulated sugar
- 7 large pasteurized egg whites
- 4 sticks butter- room temperature cut into tablespoon pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (use the best you can afford)
You will also need:
- double boiler
- Turn on stove and bring water in double boiler to a boil.
- Separate yolks and whites. Put all the whites in a glass bowl. (You will only need whites- but can re-purpose the yolks into a quiche or add to breads etc.) *You can not have ANY yolk in your whites bowl. It will prevent the meringue from forming. If you do get yolk in your bowl, try to scoop it with an egg shell to remove from whites. If it gets incorporated, start over.
- Mix together.
- Add sugar to whites, mix briefly and the place over double boiler.You will heat the whites and sugar mixture about 4 minutes [set your timer] while CONSTANTLY whisking. It is done when you touch the mixture and it is smooth. (It will look like marshmallow fluff- shiny and smooth just a little less white). If you step away from the mixture prepare yourself for scrambled egg whites. Gross.)
- When the mixture is totally smooth, remove from heat and transfer into mixer bowl. (I use my Kitchen Aide) Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes until mixture has cooled off.
- While you are cooling the eggs/sugar mixture off, begin cutting your butter into tablespoon pieces. (Do not use cold butter. Do not use melted butter. MUST be room temperature- so plan ahead before starting this recipe). Add the butter a piece at a time while mixing on a 2 or 3 setting (low to medium speed). Wait for butter to be fully incorporated before adding more. This takes some time.
- When all the butter has been added, slowly drizzle 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract into the bowl. Mix thoroughly.
There you have it! Your frosting is complete. You can pipe it and immediately serve it or frost (refrigerate) and serve later. This frosting is best served at room temperature– so if you do refrigerate it, make sure you let it rest on the counter to bring back up to temperature before piping or eating. Need to transport your cake with delicate pipe-work already finished? Put your creation in the fridge and let the butter harden before transporting- that way any bumps in the road won’t run your art.
*Disclaimer: all eggs pose the risk of salmonella/food born illness. To ensure healthy serving- buy and use pasteurized eggs and make sure to completely heat your egg white mixture when in the double boiler.
Need a delicious cake/cupcake to put this on? Try my Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes.. they are so delicate and fluffy- they’re the perfect partner for this heavenly frosting.