Monday, September 26, 2011

Rich Vanilla Buttercream Recipe

I must admit that when it comes to icing, I really like a plain, old, basic buttercream icing. (One like my Basic Decorator's Icing.) It's sweet, sugary, everything I think icing is supposed to be.
However, there is also another kind of icing, known as Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Before trying it, I'd been told this icing is just the most wonderful thing since sliced bread.

I will admit that this icing is, indeed, decadent. It isn't as sweet as your basic butter, powdered sugar and vanilla buttercream. My husband thinks it's at least a million times better than "regular" icing. It doesn't have to be refrigerated, which is nice. I don't know. I'm not 100% sold on it. But... it's growing on me. Try it. Let me know what you think!

*Update: I am sold on this icing now... a few months after trying it for the first time. It is really good, and what I love about it is that I can change the flavors of it SO easily. I've made it strawberry, pineapple, caramel, chocolate... It's great!!

What You Need:
4 Egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) Unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
Special equipment, etc.:
Candy thermometer
Saucepan with about 1/2 inch water
Lemon juice or vinegar & paper towels

Before you begin, you want to wet a paper towel with some lemon juice or vinegar, and wipe out your mixer bowl, wipe off your mixer blades, and wipe off your spatula(s). This takes the grease off, and helps the meringue whip up better and higher.

Separate four egg whites, and place into a heatproof bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer.
(If you don't separate a lot of eggs, I recommend separating each individually in a small bowl, rather than all into the large bowl as seen here. If you get any yolk into the whites, the recipe won't work as well.)

Add 1 cup granulated sugar to the egg whites. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water (about 1/2 inch of water set to medium heat). Whisk the sugar into the egg whites, and place the candy thermometer into the mixture.

Whisk constantly for about 7-15 minutes until the candy thermometer reads 160-degrees Fahrenheit. If you do not constantly stir, the egg whites will set, and you will have to start over!
How long it takes to reach temperature will depend on a lot of things: how warm were your eggs to begin with? How hot is your stove? etc. So watch the temperature, not the clock.
*Note: 160-degrees is the recommended temperature for killing any possible bacteria. I've read some recipes that call for you to heat it just until the sugar dissolves, but I don't want to take any chances with salmonella. I've seen how nasty that can be! So, I always heat mine to 160-degrees.

Move your mixer bowl to the mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form.

This is what you want the mixture to look like when it's done whipping. It took me about 4 minutes-- with a Kitchen Aid on high power.

Add 1 Tbsp. vanilla and whip to combine.

Switch to the paddle attachment.
Have your 3 sticks of butter cut into about 4 pieces each - (about 2 Tbsp. chunks). Add those a few at  a time with the mixer on medium speed with the paddle attachment.

Your beautiful, stiff meringue will turn into a soupy, chunky mess, like you see above. That's okay. Be patient.

Continue to mix the icing on medium-high until it becomes stiff. You won't get the same "peak" effect that you got on the meringue itself, but you can see the smaller peaks all around. That's when you know it's right. Again, mine took about 4 more minutes in the mixer to get to the right consistency.

You can use this icing just like any other. It pipes well, covers the cake well, however, it does not "crust" like my decorator's recipe does, so you won't get the perfectly smooth finish with it.

Click the Links Below to See:
My Recipe Index
Other Icing/Frosting Recipes & Tips

Enter your email address below to receive the latest recipes, tips and ideas in your email inbox:

Delivered by FeedBurner


  1. Are you doing this one in class on Feb 16th?

  2. Yes, Stacy, that's the plan! See you then!

  3. Ok now I want to eat a bowl of this! I guess I'll be making a cake soon :)

  4. Hello, I am wondering if this will work with out a candy thermometer, and when and if I was to add colour and/or flavour when should I do so please.

    Sorry i posted anonymously I didnt have any of the accounts needed to post

    1. You probably could do it without a candy thermometer, but you wouldn't know 100% that you'd heated the eggs far enough. You can't really go by "look" because they look the same for about the last 20-30 degrees, I'd say.
      Now, I have read on other SMBC recipes that you heat it until the sugar is fully dissolved, that you don't feel the sugar crystals if you touch it... but I don't think that's necessarily the food-safe way to go. (You can usually get a candy thermometer for like $5 at the grocery store.)

      If you want to add flavor, add it when you add the butter.

      For coloring, you would color it as you would any icing. I usually color out of the mixer, in smaller bowls, using a spatula to stir it.

      Hope this helps.
      - Beki

  5. Thank you so much for the tip of wiping off bowl, etc! I love SBC but my meringue never seems to 'peak' quite enough! Will definitely try this next time :)

  6. Can I just use a regular mixer or do I need one with a paddle? All i have is a hand held mixer.

    1. I have not yet tried it with a hand mixer, but I can't imagine why it would not work. Just be prepared for it to take longer, since the motor on a stand mixer is so much more powerful.
      Let me know if you do try it!!
      - Beki

    2. I just got done using my hand mixer!! Too much longerrrr!! But still worked!

    3. I made this for my boyfriends birthday. I think just regular buttercream would be better choice of icing. The stawberry icing was very bitter.

    4. I'm very sorry to hear this. I have never had the icing turn out bitter in any way. I'm not sure why this happened. The strawberry icing is my absolute favorite.
      - Beki


Please note that comments containing profanity or those that are spam will not be approved on this website.