How to make Swiss Meringue Buttercream (without going through that curdled stage)
Okay, so this might not be the most appetizing photo of the infamous Swiss Meringue Buttercream. But I assure you, it is every bit as smooth and creamy and velvety as they come. 😉 Oh, and this is coffee-flavored, that’s why it is that color.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream, or SMBC for short, seems notoriously tricky to make. Especially since the usual process (adding cubes of softened butter to the meringue) undergoes a sort of curdling stage before evening out to the smooth and fluffy frosting you’re aiming to make. So you take the time to make the meringue all nice and fluffy and stiff peaky, only for it to deflate and look like curdled shit once you start adding the butter. It’s quite disheartening, really. Especially if you’re using a hand mixer like me (the ngalay is real). For a newbie (like yours truly), going through that stage can really freak you out. I mean, how is that soupy, curdled mess supposed to end up as SMBC? Okay, so being patient and whipping and/or beating the hell out of that mess will produce the heard-earned SMBC in the end. But still. Is there no other way?
To avoid that heartache-inducing stage, I looked around and found an alternative way of incorporating the butter into the meringue. This simple deviation in the process does not deflate the meringue and skips the curdled shit stage, and goes right through to fluffy SMBC territory. Ready to see how I did it?
In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, combine egg whites and sugar.
Put the bowl atop a saucepan with about an inch of simmering water.
Make sure that the bowl does not reach the water, and vice versa.
Whisk the egg white mixture until all the sugar are dissolved. Test by rubbing a drop between fingers; the mixture should feel smooth and not gritty. The temperature should be hot, but not too hot that you’ll burn your fingers.
Remove the bowl from heat.
[This step is optional and only applicable if you’ll be using a hand mixer, not a stand mixer] Place the bowl in a shallow basin with a little water and a couple of ice cubes. This helps bring down the temperature, especially if like me, you’re living in an infernally hot place.
Whisk the egg white mixture with an electric mixer until volume is about doubled or tripled and looks smooth and glossy. The resulting meringue should form and hold stiff peaks when you lift up the whisk. It should also be down to room temperature by this time.
In a separate bowl, beat/whip the softened butter until fluffy. You can use the same beater attachment, by the way.
Add the meringue to the whipped butter by teaspoonfuls/spatula-fuls, mixing well before each new addition.
Add in the vanilla and salt, and beat until the frosting is smooth and silky.
Lick the used spatula and beaters clean (or better yet, have your kid do that for you) and congratulate yourself for a frosting well done. ?
This is a small batch recipe, but can be easily doubled or tripled depending on how much frosting you’ll need.
I also use Ambassador or Emborg Cook & Bake butter, depending on which is available. These are all 80% fat, which is better suited to hot climate (like here in the Philippines). Whichever I use, they all taste great.
If you want a cream cheese variation of this, head over to this post. ?
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Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it? You’re welcome. 😉