This recipe appears in:The World of Buttercreams: 6 Varieties to Try at Home
Swiss buttercream is silky-smooth, incredibly creamy, and unbelievably delicious. Because it's made with Swiss meringue, it holds up pretty well in warmer temperatures. The meringue base also makes it a lot lighter in color than most buttercreams. In fact, it looks almost pure white against a dark chocolate cake.
Why this recipe works:
- By whisking the sugar into the egg whites before placing the mixture over a pan of simmering water, there's little risk of accidentally overcooking the eggs.
- By measuring the egg whites by volume rather than count, the meringue base is more likely to come out exactly right.
Note: All buttercreams must be served at room temperature in order to experience their velvety smoothness.
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!
- 1/2 cup egg whites from about 4 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature
- Pinch of salt
In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Place the bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water, making sure the water doesn't touch the bowl. Continue to whisk until sugar has dissolved (you can check by rubbing a bit of the mixture between your fingers; the mixture shouldn't feel grainy). If you're not worried about salmonella, you can take the mixture off the heat and proceed to Step 3.
If you want to pasteurize the meringue, keep whisking until the mixture registers 160°F on an instant-read thermometer, then remove from heat. Using a hand-held or a stand mixer, beat the warm mixture until the meringue holds stiff peaks and has cooled to room temperature.
Beat in vanilla. Add butter one cube at a time, beating well with the electric mixer after each addition. Sprinkle with salt and continue to mix. The mixture may start to look as if it’s separating during this process but don't panic: just keep beating and the buttercream will come together and become smooth.
Use 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 when refrigerated in an airtight container. Allow buttercream to come to room temperature before serving.