Meringue buttercream how-to and cupcakes!
Here is the long promised buttercream frosting recipe and details. I’ve had so much to do the past couple of months that I’v ebarely had the time to log on and reply to the comments here. But I have been baking quite a bit and hopefully I can catch up on my much-neglected postings the next few weeks! *fingers tightly crossed*
I love this meringue buttercrem recipe becuase it has so far, been quite failproof. I managed to get the hang of it after just one or two tries, tweaking it abit here and there to get the consistencya nd flavor I like. It’s a play on Martha Stewart’s swiss meringue buttercream. The first time i tried hers, i absolutely fell in love with the consistency of the frosting. It is silky smooth and fluffs up so beautifully to adorn cupcakes and cakes in all the most perfect old-fashioned swirls and rossettes. It pipes like a dream too, even if the weather is uncooperatingly muggy. But I did think her version called for waay too much butter, and tad too little sugar. The taste got cloying after a few servings and I thought it was way too heavy for light sponge cakes, and conversely, it also made rich cakes a tad too OD-ed. So I played around with the proportions a bit and I’ve managed to come up with a frosting that is lighter but still retains the unmistakable mouthfeel and luxurious taste of buttercream. Here is my take on the swiss meringue buttercream:
(this makes enough to cover and decorate a 8″ or 9″ cake, and about 15 reg cupcakes)
3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
(use white sugar for traditional buttercream, or brown for a caramel version)
150g butter, softened to room temperature
(cube the butter and blitz in the microwave at 7 seconds shots on high power to speed up the process. It is important that the butter be very soft but not melting. Also, tradition calls for unsalted butter but I’ve used salted on occassion and dare I say it, I like it even more. Do use the best butter you can afford. I often splurge on French butter, with the highest butterfat content I can find)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla or any flavoring you want
food coloring, if desired
Double boiler, if not a small saucepan and a stainless steel bowl which fits over the saucepan’s rim withour touching the bottom of the pan (see below)
Wire/ Silicon whisk
Electric beaters/ stand mixer
Plastic/ Silicon spatula
1. If you have a double boiler, set it up by boiling some water in the bottom bowl. If not, don’t fret, even I don’t own one and it is super simple to improvise. You need a small saucepan. Find a stainless steel bowl that fits over the saucepan without sinking so low as to touch its bottom. The bowl should rest on the rim of the saucepan. Set aside the bowl and bring some water to boil in the saucepan.
2. While the water is boiling, carefully seperate the egg whites with clean, dry hands into the clean, grease-free stainless steel bowl that you are going to place atop the saucepan or double boiler. It is easier to seperate eggs when they are out of the fridge and cold. Add the sugar and whisk lightly to combine.
3. When the water comes to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer. Using oven mitts, carefully place the bowl over the saucepan, making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. The idea here is to give the whites and sugar gentle heat from the steam of the simmering water, to dissolve the sugar.
4. Stir the contents of the bowl lightly with the whisk. Stir continously because you do NOT want the whites to get cooked- that would give you very yucky bit of scrambled egg in your buttercream. And make sure you keep a hold on the bowl. Remember to keep on those oven mitts.. the bowl gets hot! Stir the whites until they get foamy and very very warm to the touch. To check the teperature, and to see if the sugar is dissolved, dip your -clean- thumb and forefinger into the mixture. It should be very warm and when you rub your fingers together, the mixture should be smooth and not have any grainy sugar crystals. This should take about 4 minutes from the time you place the bowl on the saucepan.
5. Once the whites are ready, remove the bowl from the saucepan and wipe the condenstaion off its bottom. Turn off the flame. Now it’s time to whip the whites. Get your electric beaters, or whisk attachment if you’re using a stand mixer, ready, making sure they are clean and free of grease and water.
7. While the whites are still warm, start whisking them, first at a low speed to allow them to froth up and then slowly moving up to high speed.
8. Whisk the whites until they have tripled in volume, are glossy and hold stiff peaks when you lift the beaters up.
9. Add the softened butter in tablespoonfuls. Beat until thoroughly combined before adding the next tablespoonful.
10. The previously shiny and stiff meringue will now look disastrously soupy. Do not despair. This is normal.
11. Now, is the time to place your faith in the kitchen gods (they do exist you know). Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until it thickens. This can take anywhwere from 7 to 15 minutes, sometimes even longer. Ever so often, scrape down the bowl with your spatula. If you’re using a stand mixer, you want to do this step with the paddle attachment on medium speed.
12. As much as you may think it impossible, the mixture will and does thicken and comes together to become that fluffy concoction we know as buttercream.
13. Now, at this stage, you can add vanilla, flavoring and/or food coloring to the buttercream. Add in small amounts and blend in with the beaters on low speed. The frosting can be used immediately, or if the weather is very very hot and humid, bung the bowl in the fridge for a few minutes to stiffen up the buttercream before using. It also can be refridgerated for 4-5 days in a clean, airtight container. If storing in the fridge, let the buttercream soften at room temperature for about an hour, and then whisk or beat until it becomes fluffy again before using.
*I hope this helps! I know the recipe seems never-ending, but that is just because I have tried to be as detailed as possible with the instructions. (except for that bit about the baking gods. That was just me having a religious moment. ahaha) In reality, this buttercream can be whipped up in a jiffy and is very simple to do. Do try it out and don’t hesistate to ask if you need any clarifications!
Filed under: Chocolate, Cupcakes, Frostings | 102 Comments