Saturday, September 29, 2012

Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream

My pet peeve with most frosting is that it's sickeningly sweet and/or you can feel the sugar grit in your teeth. So I was ecstatic to find this buttercream recipe from Baker's Royale.

If butter makes you nervous, this is not the recipe for you. There's a reason it's called buttercream, right? Needless to say, I could honestly eat this by the spoonful. And I have. More than once.

This is a cooked buttercream recipe that requires a candy thermometer, but apparently you can get by without it. That being said, don't let the process scare you either. This is actually more forgiving than it appears. I've only made it twice and it's been delicious both times!

Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Adapted only slightly from this recipe
Makes about 3 1/2 cups

5 large egg whites (save yolks for homemade ice cream*- poor you...yes, I have an ice cream maker. We'll get there. I promise)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean

*If you won't be using the egg yolks in the next few days, you can freeze them in a airtight container. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar to prevent them from becoming gelatinous before placing in the freezer. Otherwise, place in the refrigerator.

Cut butter into approximately tablespoon sized pieces and put on a plate to come to room temperature.

Using a small knife, cut your vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the small black seeds from the inside and set aside.

Put egg whites and sugar in stand mixer bowl. Add about 2 inches of water to a small saucepan (mixer bowl should fit in it, but not be touching the water) and heat over high heat. Place the stand mixer bowl over the boiling water and clip your candy thermometer to the side so you can read the temperature of the mixture as you go.

Whisk continuously. To make sure all the sugar gets dissolved, run a rubber spatula down the sides of the bowl to push the sugar down that's clinging to the sides of the bowl if necessary. My first batch had some granules in the finished product, but not after I did my little spatula trick the second time around. 

Heat mixture to 160 F and remove from heat. If you don't have a thermometer, cook until you can no longer feel granules of sugar when you rub the mixture between your fingers. Transfer the bowl to your stand mixer and attach the whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed for about 10-12 minutes. The mixture must form stiff peaks, be smooth and glossy, and not warm enough to melt your butter when you add it. At this point, you have a beautiful meringue which can be used in many recipes, or continue on for your buttercream.

Lower the speed to low or 'stir' and add butter pieces one at a time.

What you don't want: runny, lumpy, or curdled-looking frosting. If these happen, just keep mixing, it should smooth out in a few minutes. If it doesn't, you can stick the bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes and mix again on low. 

Once you get a smooth, creamy texture, stir in the salt, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds. The vanilla extract will darken the frosting a bit to a creamy white. If you prefer bright white, use only the bean.

Use immediately (beautiful for piping) or refrigerate/freeze in airtight container for later use. Can be refrigerated for 1 week or frozen for 1 month.

When warming frozen or refrigerated buttercream, allow to come to room temperature on the counter. You may need to give it a quick spin in the mixer to smooth things out.

This is an awesome recipe for frosting cakes and cupcakes. It would pretty much work with any recipe you want. I'll be posting something soon that showcases this frosting since it's currently in my freezer. I just have to figure out exactly what...It will probably end up being chocolate cake since I adore chocolate cake with white frosting.

Anyone have a birthday they need a cake for? :)  



  1. Looks awesome! I'll have to let you know once I try monkeying with this, using xylitol... if it works or not.

  2. Yes, feel free, but for some reason I think xylitol will recrystalize once it cools back down. Pulverizing it to a very fine powder might work though...keep me posted!


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