6 Tips For Successful Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Swiss Meringue buttercream is silky, buttery, and tastes less sweet than American buttercream. If you are a beginner at baking and making frosting, I suggest you start with American buttercream frosting. You can read my 7 Secrets to Smooth American Buttercream and download the recipe.
If your eye is set on Swiss meringue buttercream, the recipe involves beating egg whites and sugar over a double-boiler until the sugar has melted. Next, whip it into a meringue until it cools, and then add the butter and flavoring. I would advise you to use a stand mixer for this recipe because you will beat the frosting a lot, so keep that in mind.
Meringue buttercreams are tricky because you need to ensure that the meringue and butter temperatures are similar before mixing them together. After some time and practice, you will know the proper temperatures and consistency. Here are the most important tips to keep in mind while making Swiss meringue buttercream. These tips apply to any meringue-based buttercream like Italian or French. My advice is always to read the recipe carefully, follow the instructions step by step, go through these tips, and troubleshoot if the buttercream is not coming together.
6 tips for successful Swiss meringue buttercream
- Wipe down all tools with lemon juice or vinegar
You must make sure that everything that comes into contact with the egg whites is completely grease-free. Otherwise, the meringue will not create stiff peaks.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a simmer (1-2 inches of water)
You’ll want a pot that’s big enough to place your mixer bowl onto comfortably but not so big that the bottom of the bowl touches the water. Bring this to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer.
- Separate your egg whites into a small bowl, then transfer them into your mixer
Do not separate the egg whites directly into your mixer bowl. If you do that and have one cracked yolk, you will ruin the whole batch of whites. Also, note that the eggs do not need to be at room temperature since you’ll be cooking them anyhow.
- Cook your egg whites & sugar until dissolved
This process will take 2-3 mins, depending on the number of egg whites you’re working with. You’ll know the egg whites are done when the mixture is no longer grainy to the touch or once it reaches 43ºC (if you have a thermometer). I still do both tests; I check the temperature and touch a drop to check for sugar grains.
- Soft but cold butter
You will know your butter is the right consistency when you can press it with your finger and leave a bit of a dent in it. Then, while the meringue is whipping, cut the butter into cubes, about 1 Tbsp each.
- Switch from whisk to paddle attachment
When you start whipping egg whites to create a meringue, you use the whisk attachment, but when your meringue is thoroughly cooled and you’re about to add the butter, switch to the paddle attachment because the whisk can incorporate too much air into the buttercream.
Here are some common issues you may run into while making Swiss meringue buttercream and how to fix them.
- The meringue won’t whip up. This is either due to grease or egg yolks coming into contact with the egg whites. Make sure your kitchen tools are clean and wiped down with vinegar to avoid grease.
- The buttercream looks curdled. That’s absolutely normal. Just keep whipping and whipping until it comes together.
- The buttercream still looks curdled. If the temperature of the butter was too cold, it could be harder to get it to come together. You can try to microwave 1/4 cup of the buttercream for a few seconds, then pour it back into the buttercream with the mixer on low speed until it comes together.
- My buttercream is liquid. This is the opposite problem of a curdled buttercream. It occurs because either the meringue was too warm when you added the butter, or your butter was too soft. Place the bowl of buttercream into the fridge for 10 – 15 mins and then re-whip.
- The buttercream gets hard in the fridge. This is normal. Like butter, it will firm up to the consistency of butter in the refrigerator. When you let it come to room temperature, it will soften again.