This recipe is extremely versatile and can be used with any flavored extracts. Or, if you prefer to make a natural vanilla bean buttercream, use the seeds scraped from the inside of a vanilla bean. If your flavoring does not impart color, this recipe is great for adding color too. I recommend gel color instead of liquid food coloring, because it contains less liquid and you don't need much to get the results you want.
Note: To measure grams, Serious Eats' recommended kitchen scale is the Oxo Good Grips Scale with Pull Out Display.
Learn The Technique!
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- Yield:frosts and decorates one 8 inch cake
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:30 minutes
- 165 grams egg whites
- pinch cream of tartar
- Pinch of salt
- 285 grams sugar
- 453 grams butter, cold and pliable, cut into 1 inch pieces
Set a pot of water to simmer over high heat. In a mixer bowl from your stand mixer, combine the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar. Whisk vigorously for about 1 minute, until the egg whites are frothy and the solids are completely dissolved. Slowly add the sugar, a little at a time, whisking vigorously as you go. The mixture should turn light and grow in volume slightly.
Once the water begins to simmer, set the mixer bowl containing the mixture over the pot of simmering water. Whisk the mixture vigorously. Periodically remove the bowl from the pot to take the temperature of the mixture, then return it to the pot and continue to whisk. Repeat until the temperature reaches 140° Fahrenheit. Remove from heat.
Carefully set the mixer bowl up on the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip the mixture on high speed for 7 to 10 minutes, until the meringue becomes very thick, shiny, and holds firm peaks. The mixture and bowl should feel cool. Add the butter a little at a time, mixing thoroughly between additions and scraping down the sides of the bowl. The mixture will look loose, but continue to whisk and it will firm up again. Once the mixture has reached the desired consistency, so it stands up on it's own, add the flavoring and whisk to combine. If coloring the buttercream, add gel color a little at a time and whisk well before adding more until you reach the desired color.
The buttercream may be stored for 2 days, covered in the fridge (warning, it will absorb the odor of anything else around it). When ready to use, allow it to soften a bit at room temperature, then re-whip to desired consistency before use.