Ready, set, drum roll please…. Finally, after weeks of anxious anticipation it is here as promised: my new and improved recipe for Swiss Buttercream. Yay!
Okay, so the final installment of my Battle of the Buttercreams 2.0 series almost took forever to post. But I’m officially still on maternity leave, so I guess I actually delivered this recipe to you a bit early…? Just joking. Speaking of maternity leave, mine’s almost over. And Baby Boy is getting so big! He’s just learned to grasp things. <– proud momma moment! 😀
But let’s not digress too much. Just a little more. To remind everyone why I’m posting this again. I guess we can all use a little reminder right about now…
So. This is the thirteenth post of my Battle of the Buttercreams 2.0 series. As trusty readers know, I already posted about American buttercream, Flour (or Ermine) buttercream, French buttercream, German buttercream, and Italian buttercream. I also posted recipes for several delicious buttercream variations, including pumpkin spice, chocolate and caramel buttercream. As far as I know, there are six different kinds of buttercream, which makes Swiss buttercream (also known as Swiss meringue buttercream) the last type of buttercream I’ll be discussing in this series.
Swiss buttercream is a delicious buttercream with a pleasantly light flavor and a velvety texture, which is made by beating cubes of softened butter into a Swiss meringue. Hence the alternative name ‘Swiss meringue buttercream’. Obvs…
Anyway, if you’re not sure about how to make a Swiss meringue, hop on over to this post before reading on!
Because Swiss buttercream is made by mixing butter into meringue, it’s very similar to Italian buttercream. In fact, the only difference lies in the preparation method of the meringue. While Swiss meringue is made by gently heating egg whites and sugar in a double boiler, Italian meringue is made by mixing hot sugar syrup into egg whites. The Swiss method allows you to pasteurize the egg whites by bringing the whites up to a temperature of 71°C/160°F, while the Italian method does not actually pasteurize the whites. In other words, when it comes to meringue-based buttercreams, the Swiss one is the salmonella-safe option!
In general, I don’t worry about salmonella too much when using raw eggs, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind when baking for a party. I know pregnant women aren’t too keen on raw eggs, for example… 😉
But anyway, what do you need to make Swiss buttercream? I’ll tell you: everything you need to make Swiss meringue, AND unsalted butter. Which means: egg whites, sugar, and butter. And maybe a bit of vanilla, if you’re making vanilla Swiss buttercream.
The first thing you need to do is combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a double boiler (aka: a bowl set over a pan of simmering water) and gently heat the mixture, stirring continuously, until either the sugar has completely dissolved, or the mixture has reached a temperature of 71°C/160°F (if you want to pasteurize the whites and thereby make the buttercream salmonella-safe). And yes, if you want to pasteurize the whites you’re going to need a sugar thermometer or multimeter.
You then take the bowl off the heat and whip, whip, whip the mixture until the meringue holds medium to stiff peaks. Like so:
Next up, incorporating the butter. First of all, make sure the butter you use is at room temperature and nice and soft. That means 18-20°C/65-68°F. So remember to take the butter out of the fridge anywhere between 30 minutes to a few hours before you want to use it, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. Oh, and don’t try heating the butter in the microwave. You don’t want melted butter. That would just ruin your buttercream.
Oh, and use unsalted butter for this buttercream. For some of my other buttercreams recipes, such as the one for American buttercream, you can use the same amount of salted butter instead of the called for unsalted butter, as these recipes call for an extra pinch of salt anyway. However, this buttercream just tastes better without any salt. So, no salted butter and no extra sprinkle of salt.
When it comes to actually combining the butter and the meringue, I prefer to use the cubed butter method for this buttercream.
Although the beaten butter method works best for most buttercream recipes, I think Swiss buttercream (and Italian buttercream, for that matter) comes out fluffier and lighter when you use the cubed butter method.
For the cubed butter method, you cut cold butter into little cubes which you then allow to come to room temperature so that they’re nice and soft. You then mix the soft cubes of butter into the meringue one by one, until the buttercream comes together. Super easy…
Oh, and if the buttercream looks like it may be separating, don’t panic! Just keep mixing and eventually the buttercream will come together.
This recipe makes about 285g (about 1½ cups) of buttercream, which should be enough to generously frost 6-8 cupcakes, but the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled if you’re baking for a party.
So what are the main characteristics of Swiss buttercream?
Color: pale ivory, and lighter than most buttercreams. It actually looks white against a dark chocolate cake.
Texture: smooth, creamy and velvety. It’s a bit denser than most other buttercreams, like flour buttercream and American buttercream.
Piping: pipes beautifully.
Level of difficulty: medium. Just as easy as making flour or German buttercream.
Fat content*: 30%
Sugar content*: 40.2%
Does it form a crust: no
* based on nutritional information.
And again I feel I need to just say something about how this buttercream compares to other buttercreams in the health department. In my previous buttercream post, about Italian buttercream, I explained that Italian buttercream is ‘healthier’ than most other buttercreams because it has less calories and contains less sugar. As my recipes for Italian and Swiss buttercream call for the same ingredients, in the same amounts, this buttercream is just as ‘healthy’!
Oh, and as opposed to Italian buttercream, you can make Swiss buttercream salmonella-safe, so I guess Swiss buttercream is the healthiest option when it comes to the six different kinds of buttercream. Nice to know, right?
But the ultimate question: how does Swiss buttercream compare to the other buttercreams, flavor-wise?
Well, Swiss buttercream pretty much tastes the same as Italian buttercream: not as sweet as American buttercream and not as heavy as French buttercream (which has a richer taste because it’s made with egg yolks). It also isn’t as buttery as German buttercream. All in all, it has a pleasantly light taste, which makes it the perfect buttercream to pair with fruity flavors. A bit like flour buttercream, but without the flour, which means it’s gluten-free.
Texture-wise, Swiss buttercream is also very similar to Italian buttercream. It’s a bit denser and creamier than American and flour buttercream, and a bit firmer than French and German buttercream, which makes it perfect for piping intricate designs and little details. And, like Italian buttercream, Swiss buttercream holds up pretty well in warmer temperatures. Although you should still keep frosted cakes and cupcakes out of the sun 😉
All in all, a delicious, versatile buttercream!
Enjoy this recipe guys! If you want to reread one of the posts in this series, just click on one of the links below:
- How to Make American Buttercream
- How to Make Flour Buttercream (or Ermine Buttercream)
- How to Make French Buttercream
- How to Make German Buttercream
- How to Make Italian Buttercream
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- 2 large egg whites (about 65g or ¼ cup)
- 120g (or ½ cup + 5 teaspoons) granulated sugar
- 113g (or ½ cup) unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Combine egg whites and sugar in a medium-sized heatproof bowl (or the bowl of a double boiler) and whisk until incorporated. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl, and gently heat the egg mixture, whisking continuously, until the sugar has dissolved. You can check whether the sugar has dissolved by rubbing a bit of the mixture between your fingers; you should no longer feel any sugar crystals. At this point, you can either pasteurize the mixture, or use the mixture as it is.
- If you want to pasteurize the egg white mixture, continue to heat the mixture, whisking continuously, until it reaches a temperature of 71°C/160°F. You will need a sugar or candy thermometer or a multimeter to properly register the temperature. If you decide not to pasteurize the egg whites, proceed with the next step.
- Remove the egg white mixture from the heat and, using an electric whisk fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture until the resulting meringue holds stiff peaks and has cooled to room temperature. The bottom of the bowl should also have cooled to room temperature.
- Once the meringue and bowl both feel cool to the touch, there are two ways of turning it into buttercream. You can use the beaten butter method or the cubed butter method.
- Add the cubed, softened butter one cube at a time, mixing well after each addition. If the mixture looks like it it’s separating after you’ve added all the butter, don’t panic. Just keep beating the mixture and the buttercream will magically come together again. If the buttercream is too soft to pipe, the butter was too hot when you added it. In that case, place the bowl with the soft buttercream in the fridge for about 20 minutes, then mix again. The buttercream should firm up.
- When the buttercream looks smooth and creamy, beat in the strained cassis or blackcurrant jam and mix until well combined. Use the buttercream immediately (or within a few hours) or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Allow buttercream that has been refrigerated to come to room temperature, then beat with the mixer until smooth and spreadable again before using it. Frosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.