As much as I love the fluffy buttercream frosting I’ve been making near constantly for almost 2 years, it was time to make a new friend in the frosting world. Maybe a wordly, sophisticated frosting that isn’t so reliant on powdered sugar? Swiss meringue buttercream frosting is that new friend and possibly a friend for life.
Swiss meringue buttercream is my new favorite frosting and it should be yours as well. The fluffy buttercream has been pushed aside for the not-too-sweet, super smooth and shiny Swiss meringue buttercream frosting. While the buttercream I’d been making called for about a million cups of powdered sugar, the new Swiss meringue buttercream calls for barely a cup. It’s a healthier option…if you can look past the copious quantities of actual butter in this frosting. I have. And so should you.
As my first venture into this new frosting world, I made the frosting to go with a batch of mini chocolate cupcakes. Both the cupcakes and the frosting recipes are from Martha Stewart‘s relatively recent Cupcakes cookbook. Just so you know, the One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes are pretty killer…and the recipe yields a LOT of mini cupcakes. 58 to be exact. It yielded so many cupcakes that we kept a bunch and both the boyfriend and I took lots of them to our respective offices…where they were met with high praise. Praise like “This is my favorite thing you’ve ever made!” and “It was so good, it made you want to slap your mother.” And it’s not like these people haven’t had lots of baked goodies from me in the past…the cupcakes were just that good.
Back to the frosting. For the mini chocolate cupcakes, I made a coffee version of the frosting following Martha’s careful instructions. Since then I’ve also made a batch of white cupcakes with a chocolate version of the frosting. Both versions are super-duper-amazingly delicious. Next I’ll try a plain version.
Let it be known that I made the frosting despite some old fears of screwing up what looks to be a fussy recipe. In fact, it was not a fussy recipe. It’s a little time consuming only because the mixer has to whip the meringue for a long time. Other than that, it couldn’t have been easier. I should probably note that in order to really make this frosting successfully, you should use a stand mixer. A hand mixer might work but you’ll be awfully tired of using it by the end. With the stand mixer, you can walk away and do other things while it’s whipping. If you’re like me, the other things you’ll do will probably be the dishes.
For the number of mini cupcakes I made, I prepared just a half batch of the frosting recipe shown below. Everything divided in half well other than the egg whites…so I used three of those. If you’re planning to use this frosting for a regular cake, make the full recipe. Or if you like your normal sized cupcakes heavily frosted with a bowl of extra frosting just to eat, make the full recipe.
One more comment: If you (or your office mates) love coffee, definitely try the coffee variation. My office mates actually ate their cupcakes in the morning…with their coffee.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes
Makes about 5 cups
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water.
- Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
- Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form.
- Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
- With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla.
- Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth.
- Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month.
- Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.
Coffee Variation: Mix 2 tablespoons good quality instant espresso powder (do not use instant coffee) with the vanilla extract. Stir until espresso powder is mostly dissolved and add to frosting in step 6.