Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting #Basics

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (or SMB as it’s popularly known in the baking community) is super smooth and has a silky, luxurious velvety texture. It’s just the right sweetness too (unlike the tooth-achingly sweet American buttercream). I’ve declared it my new favourite frosting :). It is a perfect blank canvas for ANY flavour additions!

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In the world of meringue buttercream, there are basically 3 main types: Swiss, Italian and French. What is Swiss Meringue Buttercream exactly? Essentially, SMB is a meringue-based buttercream in which copious amounts of butter (it isn’t called buttercream for nothing) are whipped into a sugary whisked meringue base, followed by pretty much any flavour.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Italian Meringue Buttercream are almost identical, but the difference lies in the method: SMB is created by heating and whisking white sugar and egg whites over a bain marie (double boiler) to about 140 degrees F (this cooks the egg whites), before whipping the meringue. It might sound technical, but it’s totally doable!

Italian Meringue Buttercream is created by adding a heated sugar syrup into an already whipped meringue base, followed by the addition of butter and flavours.

There is also French Meringue Buttercream, which is created by whipping the egg yolks while adding a steady flow of white sugar, until it thickens, followed by adding the butter and flavourings.

Some of the popular flavour customizations include – vanilla bean, chocolate, mocha, strawberry/raspberry, caramel/dulce de leche,  almond, citrus, Nutella (!!!), pineapple jam and countless others.

Here are some other popular frostings on my blog – American Buttercream, cream cheese frosting & Ermine Frosting.

This recipe of SMB makes more than enough to frost 24 cupcakes or a 9-inch two layer cake. I divided the recipe by 4 to make a small batch of 6 eggless red velvet cupcakes I had made.

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Also, check out these layer cakes I frosted with Swiss Meringue Buttercream – one is flavoured with pineapple jam and one with caramel 🙂

Ingredients –

5 egg whites (about 150 g)
250 g granulated white sugar
340 g unsalted butter – cubed and at room temperature
1/4 tsp fine salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
ANY additional flavours or puree as desired

Procedure – 

1. Prepare a large steel bowl (or a heatproof glass bowl) – clean it with a little lemon juice or vinegar on a tissue paper to remove any trace of grease. This is important to ensure the meringue whips up.
2. Make a bain marie (a fancier term for a double boiler) by placing your bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
3. Add the egg whites & sugar in the bowl and whisk until the sugar is dissolved (you can take a little mixture between your fingers and check if you feel any sugar granules left). You can also use a thermometer for better accuracy – temperature should be 140º F / 60ºC. This will ensure the egg whites are cooked.

4. Remove the bowl from bain marie and add the mixture to your stand mixer bowl with the whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer for this). Beat the egg white mixture on high speed till it’s thick & glossy and the bowl is completely cooled down. This should take about 5-8 minutes.

5. Change to your paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter one cube at a time and mix well after each addition. Continue beating until it has reached a silky smooth texture. If it curdles simply keep mixing and it will come back to smooth.

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6. Add the vanilla and salt and mix until well combined. It should look smooth & glossy.
7. At this stage, you can switch back to your whisk attachment and add your additional flavours or purees and mix well for few minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy. Frost as required 🙂

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8. SMB can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let it come to room temperature and re-whip a little before using.

Nutella Buttercream that I made recently 🙂

Additional Notes –

1. Measure everything out before starting. Also, make sure your bowls are clean and grease-free, or else the meringue won’t whip up.
2. You want the butter to be soft yet cool. I usually take a small piece and squeeze it between my fingers before putting it in. Make it hands-on literally! 😉
3. If your mixture curdles after adding butter, simply keep mixing and it will come back to smooth.
4. This recipe gives about 4-5 cups of buttercream. I usually go by taste when adding flavours. Since the buttercream has lot of fat, we need to be careful while adding liquid based flavours like purees etc. Start with couple tablespoons at a time.

For Nutella buttercream, I used almost 3/4th of a Nutella 290g jar.
For chocolate buttercream, this recipe can take 250-300g of melted dark chocolate.
For pineapple buttercream, I diluted some pineapple jam and used pineapple essence as well till I got the right flavour through.
For a strawberry buttercream (or any other fruit), add about 1/2 cup of puree per 5 cups of buttercream.

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