French buttercream is a gorgeously smooth, velvety and rich buttercream. Because it's made with an egg-yolk foam (technically called pâte à bombe), it naturally has a bright yellow color.
Why this recipe works:
- Using a thermometer ensures that you end up with perfect results every single time.
- By drizzling the hot syrup close to the whisk attachment of the mixer instead of onto the whisk attachment, the syrup better incorporates into the mixture.
Note: This buttercream contains raw eggs. However, you can pasteurize this buttercream by using the Swiss method and thus making a (Swiss) French Buttercream.
About the Author: Nila Jones is a gutsy home baker-turned-blogger who secretly prefers cake batter over cake and who has made it her personal goal to demystify so-called difficult recipes so that everyone, even the most ignorant novice baker, can bake like a master. Make sure to check out her blog The Tough Cookie for more amazing recipes!
- Yield:makes about 1 3/4 cups, enough to generously frost 7 cupcakes
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:20 minutes
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring with a metal spoon, until sugar has dissolved and the syrup is clear. Increase heat to medium-high and allow syrup to come to a boil.
Meanwhile, place yolks in the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the whisk (or, if using a handheld mixer, in a medium mixing bowl) and beat until thick and foamy.
Cook syrup until it registers 235°F, then immediately remove from heat. With the mixer running, slowly drizzle hot syrup into the bowl with the yolks: don't pour the syrup onto the whisk, or the syrup may splatter against the sides of the bowl; instead, aim for a spot close to the whisk.
Once all the syrup has been added, keep mixing until the bottom of the bowl feels cool to the touch and the yolk mixture has cooled to room temperature.
Add butter one cube at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and salt. Continue mixing until the buttercream looks smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. (If the buttercream separates, keep mixing: it will come together eventually.)
Use buttercream immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container or a zipper-lock bag for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months. To use buttercream that has either been refrigerated or frozen, first allow to come to room temperature then beat until smooth and spreadable again. Cakes or cupcakes decorated with buttercream generally keep up to 3 days, stored in an airtight container in the fridge.