Hi everyone… I hope you are all well? It’s been so cold and wet here in Cape Town I haven’t been out or up to very much. However my sister had a ladies night this past week-end and asked me to whip up some decadent treats – “the once on the lips, twice on the hips” kinda cupcakes. So it got me excited to try out Meringue Buttercream, which is all the rage at the moment.
There are 3 main types of Meringue Buttercream: Swiss, Italian and French. I am sure most of you are knowledgeable about these, but for those of you, who, like me, only just discovered this delectable treat, I am going to attempt to explain. Meringue based buttercream… is merely butter/shortening whipped into a sugary whisked meringue base, followed by any flavour, extract, chocolate or puree your heart desires.
It’s a great and very stable buttercream that I now, cannot get enough of… the variations and fun are limitless and it gives even the most ordinary cupcake that sophisticated flare. So how does a girl choose between these 3 options – for me it was easy, I went with the Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMB); gravitating towards this option as it requires you to heat the egg whites prior to whisking it into Meringue.
So SMB is as follows: Heating and whisking your egg whites and sugar over a bain-marie (simmering water on the stove top), until all the sugar is dissolved. Once this is done, you can whip the heated sugared egg whites until it’s light, stiff and fluffy. It looks and tastes very similar to melted marshmallow – Yum!!!!
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; this is okay, but you run the risk of flattening your meringue in the process. There is also French Meringue Buttercream, which is created by whipping the egg whites while adding a steady flow of white sugar, until it thickens, followed by adding the butter and flavourings. The issue I have with these 2 options is the fact that the egg whites are essentially raw… although they say salmonella is found in the yoke of the egg – I’d rather be over cautious.
Thanks to Gretchen at Woodland Bakery Blog for her recipe and awesome step-by-step u-tube [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-YxuBKB92U] tutorial. She really made it so easy and practical; especially for the non-classically trained baker like me.
Ingredients needed for your Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMB):
- Fresh Large Egg whites (180g)
- White Sugare (300g)
- Confectioners’ Sugar/Icing Sugar (240g)
- Shortening (170g)
- Butter (454g)
- Vanilla Extract (1 Tea spoon)
One important note I took from Gretchen is that you need to ensure all your measurements are correct. If you don’t have a great scale, do yourself a favour and invest in an electronic one – it will save you so much frustration and money in the long run.
It’s essential when working with meringue that you ensure that everything is grease-free; otherwise your meringue won’t do its thing. Trust me when I say that even a trace of grease will cause the meringue to flop. So you can take a paper towel with some lemon juice or vinegar and wipe all your equipment down. I suggest you set 1 or two plastic spatulas aside just for meringue based treats.
So now that you have all your ingredients and tools set up you can begin.
Place your 300g sugar into your egg whites in a stainless-steel bowl.
Place the bowl on top of a saucepan of boiling water, and stir or lightly whisk until all the sugar has dissolved, doing this continuously, but ensuring that the contents does not reach a temperature of higher than 100-115 ° F.
When you are happy that all the sugar has dissolved place your heated contents into the bowl of your mixer and whip on high for about 5-8 minutes or until you’ve got stiff, glossy white clouds. If you don’t have a stand mixer, don’t panic you can still use a hand mixer, it will just take a little longer for you to reach the desired effect.
Once your meringue is very firm, pour in all the sifted icing sugar and continue to whip on a low speed until it’s all blended in.
At this stage you can use the contents as wonderful meringue – as I have below, or continue to make your Swiss Meringue Buttercream by adding your room temperature butter and shortening (I used Holsum) to your meringue mixture.
Don’t add all the butter/shortening at once, do it in a steady flow, to give your mixer a chance to process the cube then add a little more and so on… You’ll see what I mean when you watch Gretchen’s video. Once you have incorporated all the butter and shortening put the mixer back onto a high speed to ensure and even mix. At this stage you can add your vanilla, or any other flavour, puree or extract that you’d like.
I really hope you enjoy this post and if you haven’t already tried it, I recommend you do… it may very well be the last time you make any other type of frosting for your cakes and cupcakes. The ideal part of it is you can freeze what you don’t use up to 2 months, just leave it out at room temperature when your ready to use it and pop it into your mixer with the paddle attachment and give it a whirl until it reaches the creamy consistence you need. It also stored 4 days room temperature and 2 weeks in the fridge… so no mess, no fuss and no waste.
I hear this buttercream is also the best pairing with macaroons; which I will attempt soon. But the joy I had with this Marshmallow fluff is undeniable… You can even use just the meringue part to pipe onto lemon-curd filled cupcakes, lemon meringue or just pop in the oven to make meringue or fruity pavlova – the creative possibilities with this versatile recipe is endless and dare I say… I’m in love.
Happy Baking Everyone