Before starting, I’m going to bow to the authority of Sweetapolita for Swiss Meringue buttercream and say that prior to reading her fantastic tutorial I never would have attempted to make it myself. However, I’ve now made it manymanymany (in microbiology we say “TNTC”: too numerous to count) times I feel like I’ve gotten a great system down and maybe a couple of tips to share. My pictures will never be nearly as beautiful as hers so enjoy hers…
One note about this recipe. If you do not have a stand mixer I believe it will be exceptionally difficult to do. I recommended it to a friend and her feedback was “I mixed until my mixer was dead and it still didn’t come together right”. I didn’t realize at the time that she did not have a stand mixer, and I felt awful. So, heads-up.
Start with 10 egg whites. She recommends rinsing the bowl and utensils out with lemon juice to reduce any fats that could be present to decrease the amount of volume you get out of your meringue. I’m not sure that’s 100 percent necessary but it’s like voodoo to me not to do it.
Add 2 ½ C. sugar.
Bring the egg whites up to 140 degrees slooowwwwly in a double-boiler or some version of a double boiler. SLOWLY. The last thing you need here is a very sweet egg white omelet. Whisk pretty regularly or continually while you’re doing it.
Here’s where my technique differs just the tiniest bit from Sweetapolita. I pull the egg white pan off and let it come to room temperature in a cold water bath. I’ve found that having all the ingredients at the same temperature really helps it come together more quickly at the end (usually. Not this time)
Cut 3 cups of butter (a pound and a half) into small cubes and allow it to come to room temperature. I believe she recommends all unsalted, I use half salted and half unsalted and don’t add salt at the end. It would probably be whatever I had though. I have found that all salted makes it too salty (it was all I had at the time but I won’t do that again).
When the egg whites reach room temperature whip them until they form stiff peaks (but not dry).
After the stiff peaks are formed slowly add the (hopefully by now room temperature) Mt. Buttermore . You can change to a paddle at this point but if the butter is at room temperature the whisk works just fine.
Beat until all is incorporated. During this period of time you may run into the dreaded scrambled egg stage. There is despair. There is angst. WHAT is going on here. If you get it you’ll know what I’m talking about, it looks a bit like this.
Do not despair, just keep mixing and mixing. Eventually it will come together, making that beautiful smooth that we all know and love. Add a T. and a t. vanilla and salt if you need it. If you’re coloring, I recommend paste color which you can get at Michael’s crafts or the place that sells everything, Amazon.
A couple of notes about this frosting. If it gets cold (either in the refrigerator or stored at room temperature, which you can do for several days), you will need to bring it back to room temperature and re-whip it. It’s a good idea if you’re leaving overnight to just assume that you’re going to have to do that. You can use right away (unlike American buttercream which I feel really needs to sit overnight) but I do find that the flavor is just a bit better the next day.
I probably wouldn’t expect it to be too stable in very warm weather. Typically this is not an issue in Wisconsin…
I have heard that Italian Meringue buttercream is more stable. I will try that out and let you know!
Use the yolks to make a huge whopping batch of Hollandaise sauce…that’s a recipe for another day.