Edited 09/29/15 – Change in recommendation of carton egg whites
Edited 01/16/15 – Tips on using SMBC under fondant added at end of post.
Edited 12/22/14 – New flavor variations added and cream cheese version modified.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tutorial with Step by Step Pictures and over 16 delicious flavor variations | dessertdesignlife.com

Many clients I’ve worked with swear they hate buttercream because they think it’s so sickly sweet and everyone just scrapes it off their cake… until they try my buttercream. This is nothing like the “buttercream” you most likely associate with, made out of powdered sugar and Crisco. It is a european meringue buttercream (oooh fancy!) that actually uses real butter and egg whites.

It can only be described as light, satiny smooth, velvety, not super sweet, and just plain luxurious. Allow me to introduce to you swiss meringue buttercream.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tutorial with Step by Step Pictures and over 16 delicious flavor variations | dessertdesignlife.com

Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream

There is also an italian meringue buttercream which also has the same end result, but for all intents and purposes, is more difficult to prepare at home for someone making it for the first time because it requires boiling sugar to a specific temperature, etc. etc. The italian meringue buttercream is what we used at the bakery I used to work at and it’s more conducive to making in larger batches in my opinion.

Instead I’d like to share with you my recipe for swiss meringue buttercream (also known as SMBC) in this tutorial, which is what I make at home and use exclusively for my clients (even underneath fondant covered cakes! – see end of post for tips!). It’s easier to handle when working in smaller batches and is a bit more forgiving. Plus, I feel more comfortable making sure I heat the egg whites thoroughly to the bacteria killing temperature.

People have asked about fresh eggs vs carton egg whites. I’ve used both successfully but I prefer to use the fresh eggs simply because they’re cheaper. (Edited 9/29/15: I’ve tried several brands of egg whites from cartons recently but I’ve had issues with the meringue not whipping properly and causing an extra soft, unstable buttercream. The only carton egg whites I can recommend now are from restaurant suppliers like Cash and Carry as these have an additive to allow it to whip up). I never waste the yolks because I freeze them individually in ice cube trays and use them all the time. (yellow cake, custard, creme brûlée, lemon curd/bars, are just some things that come to mind). Even if I did waste the yolks, it’s still comes out much, much cheaper.

Another note: When I make this swiss meringue buttercream, because I double and triple it frequently, I always use a scale and weigh my ingredients out. I know many people don’t have a scale so I’ve added standard volume measurements as well.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tutorial with Step by Step Pictures and over 16 delicious flavor variations | dessertdesignlife.com

I prefer to weigh all the ingredients (see my scale under the mixing bowl?)

So here we go…

Ingredients:
6 egg whites (180 g)
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar (300 g)
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (284 g) at room temp (about 72-78 degrees), cut into small chunks
1 stick salted butter (113 g) at room temp (about 72-78 degrees), cut into small chunks
flavoring (see variations at end of post)

1. Make sure the bowl, whisk attachment, and hand whisk are completely clean and grease free. I just make sure to scrub them really well and use really hot water when washing. I’ve heard of other people wiping the bowl and whisks down with lemon juice.

2. Put an inch of water in a small or medium saucepan and place on stove. Heat to a simmer.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tutorial with Step by Step Pictures and over 16 delicious flavor variations | dessertdesignlife.com

Place a saucepan with 1 inch of water over medium heat until it begins to simmer.

2. Separate the egg whites into your mixer bowl being careful to not get any yolks into bowl. (At this point I like to place the egg yolks in an ice tray, one in each cavity, and freeze to use for other recipes)

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tutorial with Step by Step Pictures and over 16 delicious flavor variations | dessertdesignlife.com

Separate the egg whites into the mixer bowl (Make sure there are no yolks!)

3. Add sugar to egg whites and place mixer bowl over saucepan with simmering water.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tutorial with Step by Step Pictures and over 16 delicious flavor variations | dessertdesignlife.com

Egg whites and sugar over in mixer bowl over simmering saucepan of water.

5. Stir egg whites and sugar constantly with whisk to prevent eggs from cooking until it reaches 150-160 degrees fahrenheit on candy thermometer. (If you don’t have a thermometer, rub egg whites between your fingers. If it’s hot to touch and sugar has dissolved, it’s ready.)

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tutorial with Step by Step Pictures and over 16 delicious flavor variations | dessertdesignlife.com

Stir with whisk constantly to prevent egg whites from cooking.

6. Transfer bowl to mixer and begin beating using whisk attachment until glossy stiff peaks form and bowl is cool.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tutorial with Step by Step Pictures and over 16 delicious flavor variations | dessertdesignlife.com

Beat egg whites until stiff glossy peaks form.

7. Set to lowest speed (I usually keep my whisk attachment on but you can switch to the paddle). Add butter slowly, one piece at a time.. **Important – butter must be room temp. Because that’s an arbitrary temperature, I suggest between 72 degrees – 78 degrees fahrenheit. Do NOT microwave butter to soften, instead, cut into small chunks before starting recipe and it will come to room temperature faster. 

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tutorial with Step by Step Pictures and over 16 delicious flavor variations | dessertdesignlife.com

Cube butter into small pieces

8. Mix on lowest speed and butter and meringue will slowly but surely emulsify and make the silkiest buttercream you have ever had. Warning: it make look scary as it mixes, but be patient and I promise it will come together!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tutorial with Step by Step Pictures and over 16 delicious flavor variations | dessertdesignlife.com

First it will get soupy and curdled… but keep mixing on low!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tutorial with Step by Step Pictures and over 16 delicious flavor variations | dessertdesignlife.com

Now it looks like cottage cheese… keep mixing!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tutorial with Step by Step Pictures and over 16 delicious flavor variations | dessertdesignlife.com

Once you finish mixing the flavoring in, you’ll have the silkiest buttercream ever!

9. Add your flavorings! (or 2 tablespoons vanilla extract if you’re not planning on flavoring it anything else). I used chocolate hazelnut swiss meringue buttercream on the cake below:

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tutorial with Step by Step Pictures and over 16 delicious flavor variations | dessertdesignlife.com

Chocolate hazelnut variation featured above! Yum!

Here’s a printable version of the recipe.  (Flavorings/Variations after recipe)

4.9 from 16 reviews
Swiss Meringue Buttercream with flavor variations
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A silky smooth buttercream using, egg whites, butter, and sugar. Also adapts well to almost any type of flavoring. Can easily be doubled or halved depending on how much you need.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert, Icings, Frostings
Serves: 6 cups
Ingredients
  • 6 large egg whites (180g)
  • 1½ cup sugar (300g)
  • 2½ sticks (1¼ cups) unsalted butter at room temp cut into small chunks (284 grams)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter at room temp cut into small chunks (113 grams)
Instructions
  1. Important! Make sure you thoroughly clean your whisk attachment, handheld whisk, and mixer bowl (anything coming into contact with egg whites) to remove all traces of grease/oil.
  2. Place medium saucepan with 1 inch of water onto stove and heat to simmering.
  3. Separate the egg whites into mixer bowl.
  4. Add sugar to egg whites and place mixer bowl over saucepan with simmering water.
  5. Using handheld whisk, stir egg whites constantly to prevent cooking and until temperature reaches 160 degrees fahrenheit on candy thermometer. (If you don't have a candy thermometer, rub the egg whites between your fingers. If egg whites are very warm/hot and sugar is dissolved, you're good to go.)
  6. Attach mixing bowl to mixer and begin beating using whisk attachment. Beat egg whites until glossy, stiff peaks form and bowl is cool to the touch. Better to overwhip than underwhip at this stage!
  7. Turn mixer to lowest speed and add the butter once piece at a time, slowly. (Wait about 3 seconds between pieces.)
  8. Continue mixing on lowest speed until meringue and butter have emulsified into a silky smooth buttercream. (Mixture will look soupy and curdled at one point but be patient! It will come together, I promise! This may take 5 minutes or 15 minutes, but it will come together.)
  9. Add flavorings as desired.
Notes
- Keep in air tight container until ready to use.
- Can be kept at room temperature up to 2 days, re-mix with paddle attachment until smooth.
- Can be refrigerated up to 1 week. When needed, allow to come to room temperature on counter, then re-mix with paddle attachment on low until smooth.
- Can be frozen up to 2 months. When needed, allow to thaw overnight on counter, then re-mix with paddle attachment on low until smooth.
- If mixture doesn't want to come together and smooth after coming from refrigerator or freezer, microwave about 1 cup of the buttercream 8 seconds, add back to the rest of the buttercream and continue mixing.
- If buttercream is too soft, place in refrigerator 10-15 minutes and remix.
- To use under fondant: Ice cake as smooth as possible. Place in refrigerator until buttercream has hardened before covering in fondant.


See flavor variations, step by step pictures, and additional tips at dessertdesignlife.com

 

If you find the recipe as written is not sweet enough to your taste, feel free to add up to 1/2 cup (100 grams) more sugar (up to 2 cups – 400 grams total). However, if the buttercream is already made but you feel it needs to be sweeter (in general or to balance some of the flavors below, such as coffee) I’ve added sifted powdered sugar and mixed it in successfully. Do not use granulated sugar as it will not dissolve and your buttercream will become grainy! 

Variations: scaled for the 6 cups of swiss meringue buttercream this recipe makes (all require mixing on medium-low speed). These variations are not only great for icing cakes, but cupcakes and cake fillings as well!

Add the following to finished buttercream:

  • Vanilla: add 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • Vanilla Bean: add 2 tablespoons pure vanilla bean paste or the scraped seeds from 1 bean.
  • Chocolate: add 2/3 cup cooled melted bittersweet chocolate
  • White Chocolate: add 3/4 cup cooled melted real white chocolate
  • Almond: add 1 teaspoon almond extract or emulsion
  • Chocolate Hazelnut (Nutella): add hazelnut spread (I prefer Nutella) to taste (edited to add: I usually add around 1/2 – 3/4 cup nutella)
  • Hazelnut: add 1 teaspoon hazelnut extract
  • Peanut Butter: add store-bought peanut butter to taste (I like to use half crunchy and half creamy to give it texture)
  • Coffee: dissolve 2 teaspoons instant coffee in 2 tablespoons warm water, add to buttercream (edited to add: you can add more coffee – dissolving in water first – if you want a stronger coffee flavor)
  • Caramel: add 1 cup caramel to buttercream
  • Cream Cheese: I make my favorite cream cheese icing (here’s a good recipe) and then fold an equal amount of swiss meringue buttercream into it. (edited: lately I’ve been using a different method to streamline the process and avoid making 2 icings – beat softened cream cheese in mixer on med speed. Scrape bowl down, then on low speed, mix in the finished SMBC until combined. 6oz for a half batch and 12oz for the full batch. I also add 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice for a half batch/1 tblsp for a full batch to highlight the tanginess of the cream cheese – if you want it sweeter, you can mix in some sifted powdered sugar to taste)
  • Strawberry: add 1/2 cup fresh pureed strawberries with a squirt of lemon juice to prevent browning (alternatively you can use 1/3 cup strawberry preserves.)
  • Blackberry: puree 1/2 pint blackberries and push through strainer to remove seeds. Add to buttercream. (alternatively you can use 1/3 cup blackberry preserves.)
  • Raspberry: puree 1/2 pint raspberries and push through strainer to remove seeds. Add to buttercream. (alternatively you can use 1/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves.)
  • Apricot: add 1/3 cup apricot preserves (edited to add: you can also use pureed apricots, up to 1/2 cup)
  • Lemon: add lemon curd to taste (or you can use 1 teaspoon lemon extract).
  • Mint: add 1 teaspoon peppermint extract and a tiny bit of green food coloring (mix with mini chocolate chips to make a mint chip buttercream!)
  • Irish Cream: add 1/4 cup irish cream

New Flavors added 12/22/14:

  • Speculoos/Biscoff (hints of gingerbread): add cookie butter/biscoff spread to taste (I usually add about 3/4 cup to this size recipe)
  • Dulce de leche: add 1 cup prepared dulce de leche (I buy the premade can by Nestle in the hispanic section of the grocery store)

New Flavor added 1/16/15

  • Brown Sugar: substitute the white sugar for brown sugar in the recipe.

As you can see the flavor possibilities are endless! I love this buttercream and hope you do too!

 

Edited 1/16/15 to add:
Using SMBC underneath fondant:

I just realized that I have never addressed the issue of using SMBC underneath fondant and the funny part about that is, that was my number one question when I first started using it!

Like I mentioned earlier, I use SMBC exclusively, including underneath fondant, but there are several tricks in order to be successful:

  1. Ice the cake as smoothly as possible. I like to put about a 1/4″ – 1/3″ thick layer of buttercream over the whole cake. Any thinner, I start to get ugly bulges as the cake settles.
  2. Use an icing smoother for final smoothing of the sides (I use a bench scraper or a putty knife). Any imperfections usually show up even after covering with fondant.
  3. Place iced cake in refrigerator for buttercream to harden. This is how you get the smooth sides and top and crisp edges to stay when covering the cake in fondant. It also allows you to have a full thickness of buttercream under the fondant.
  4. Cover cake in fondant straight from refrigerator. I like to use fondant smoothers to get as crisp a look as possible.
  5. Condensation may appear on fondant as cakes come to room temperature, but the condensation will evaporate, and as long as you don’t touch it (and leave fingerprints), it will dry just fine.

 

Have any questions about any part of the process, flavorings, or anything else about this buttercream? Please leave a comment below and I promise I’ll do my best to answer it as soon as possible!

– Aileen

140 Thoughts on “Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tutorial with delicious variations

  1. Excellent tutorial!! I love the flavor variations you provided, I want the coffee version now! 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for a fantastic tutorial! Pinned for many return visits!

  3. I love swiss meringue and this tutorial is fantastic

  4. I love swiss meringue, just made for the first time….. your tutorial is excellent and easy to follow I have a question, I love dulce de leite , how much should I add to make it as a cake filling?
    Thanks in advance for your help.
    Maria

  5. Maria A Dufault on June 4, 2014 at 4:38 pm said:

    how much do I need to add of dulce de leite to make a cake filling variation.
    loved your tutorial, easy to follow and delicious.

    • Oooh.. that sounds absolutely delicious! I would treat it just like the caramel. I would start by adding 1/2 a cup to the recipe above and then up to 1 full cup according to your taste.

      I’m already imagining ways to try it!! Would it be okay to add that flavor variation to the list?

  6. Elizabeth on June 5, 2014 at 6:30 pm said:

    Thanks for the recipe! I’m intrigued by the use of both butters. I was planning on trying this for some cupcakes for an outdoor party but I was wondering how this buttercream would hold up to warm temps. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated : )

    Thanks again!

    • After much trial and error, I find the small addition of salted butter gives a little more depth to the flavor without making it taste like sweetened butter (I never really achieved that flavor by adding salt to an all unsalted butter recipe.)

      Because it is all butter, I wouldn’t use it for an outdoor party with temperatures over 78 degrees. I never recommend anything iced with swiss meringue buttercream for outdoors in the summer. What I have done in this instance if they really insist is stabilize the buttercream a bit by substituting the 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter with 1 cup shortening (yes I know it’s not converted equally, but I find it’s more stable this way). Therefore the remaining butter amounts would be 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter and 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter.

      If you have access to hi-ratio or icing shortening, that’s what I use because it tastes better (found in cake supply stores), but if not, crisco should work, it just might have a bit of a greasy mouthfeel.

      Alternatively, you can keep the cupcakes in the refrigerator until you have to transport it then put it in a cooler with ice packs.

      When is your party? I’d like to try an experiment by freezing an iced cupcake tonight and seeing how long it holds up in the heat tomorrow (it’s supposed to be really hot out) and I can get back to you to see if that might be an option.

      • I tested the frozen swiss meringue buttercream (all butter) by putting the frozen cupcake in a box (as insulation) and set it outside in the shade (thermometer right next to it read 91-94 degrees during this time) and it held it’s shape for a little over 2 hours. It looked a bit oily and was softer than usual but when I tasted it, the texture was fine.

        So if you have room to freeze the iced cupcakes, it seems to hold up even longer.

        Hope this helps and good luck!

  7. Lois on June 8, 2014 at 4:33 am said:

    Is this buttercream too soft to decorate an ombre cake?

    • Absolutely not! I use this buttercream for everything (and we used a very similar icing at the bakery) – icing cakes (even under fondant), decorating, making flowers, etc.

      It’s definitely softer than an american buttercream (made with powdered sugar and butter/shortening) and is closer to the texture of stabilized whipped cream.

  8. Kavitha on June 8, 2014 at 8:44 am said:

    Quick question – which type of sugar did you use in the recipe? TQ!!

  9. Tessa Huff on June 15, 2014 at 6:07 am said:

    How much should this recipe cover? I have a 9 inch 3 layer cake to fill, frost, and decorate. I wanted to do rosettes all over it. Great tutorial!

    • This recipe makes approximately 6 cups.

      How much you need would depend on how thick of a filling you put in between the layers as well as how tall the finished cake is going to be. (When I think 3 layer, I’m wondering if it’s a “sky high” height =) ) Personally I would either do 1.5 times the recipe or even double it just to be safe. I’d rather have extra since whatever’s left over can always be frozen for later use.

  10. Gael on June 24, 2014 at 4:51 am said:

    Hi,
    Thanks for this tutorial.

    May I check how much nutella to be added for 6cups of buttercream? I’m afraid the thick consistency of the nutella would spoil the meringue, any tips on this?

    • I honestly have added the better part of a 13oz container at times. (It’s crazy how much I love nutella!) I would say around 1/2 to 3/4 a cup, depending on how much nutella flavor you want (I’ll edit the post to reflect this). Don’t worry, you won’t spoil the meringue =). Just make sure to add it after the buttercream is finished, as with all the other flavoring variations.

      This buttercream can take a lot of additions, especially more stable ones like, peanut butter, and of course, nutella. I would only be cautious about over-adding items with a high water content, like fruit purees.

  11. rhaiza on August 13, 2014 at 11:16 am said:

    hi! first and foremost your name sound like your pinay…

    I just like to ask, since this is meringue… will this harden if not covered? like royal icing? im just new in baking…

    • Hi Rhaiza, yes I am pinay =) but I was born and raised in California.

      No, this will most definitely not harden because there is fat (butter) incorporated into it. It won’t even crust a little bit (unlike powdered sugar based buttercreams).

      Royal Icing will harden because no fat is incorporated. This is why, when making Royal Icing, it is important to make sure there are no traces of oil or grease because it may not set up properly.

      I hope you try the recipe and let me know how it goes!

      – Aileen

  12. Viviana Villani on October 29, 2014 at 9:11 am said:

    I was hoping to make a cream cheese buttercream but hate traditional and love SMBC – you mentioned above to mix the two recipes, I was hoping to ice some cupcakes with it be stiff enough to hold up?

  13. Hello: thank you for the wonderful tutorial! Will the swiss meringue become runny after the variations of caramel or dulce de leche? Will it be stable enough to pipe onto cupcakes?

  14. Merideth Cohen on January 14, 2015 at 1:33 pm said:

    Hi Aileen, I am a baker and have my own little at home business. I having been having so much trouble with the consistency of my SMBC lately, that I really want to give your version a try. I am making a peanut butter and jelly cake tonight and I would normally prefer to use real peanut butter, the kind that separates and you have to mix it up. I wonder what that would do to the consistency or would you recommend using something like Jiffy or the other brands that don’t separate?

    • Hi Merideth,

      Thanks for contacting me! I’m so sorry you’ve been having trouble with your SMBC recipe lately! If I may ask, what exactly is the issue you’ve been experiencing with the consistency? Maybe I can help address that issue directly?

      MMmm.. peanut butter and jelly cake!!

      As far as using real peanut butter that separates vs no-stir varieties, I can’t speak to that directly as I’ve always used the “natural” skippy brand (no-stir) variety. I would think that it may cause the buttercream to break down and it may “weep” oil as it sits.

      If you really want to use real peanut butter, I would suggest pouring out the oil on top and use the solid stuff to mix into the buttercream. (Just pour the oil into a bowl and return it to the jar for future stirring of the peanut butter).

      Good luck and I hope to hear from you about your issue with the SMBC and hopefully I can help you find out a solution!

      – Aileen

      • Merideth Cohen on January 15, 2015 at 1:41 pm said:

        Hi Aileen, I didn’t have a chance to reply last night. I made the PB&J cake last night and it turned out wonderfully. I did have a problem with the buttercream being a little too soft when I tried to pipe a ruffle pattern on the side, but over all, very delicious. I did use the real peanut butter and followed your suggestion about pouring out the oil first. The real peanut butter is very flavorful and you could smell it as I was mixing it up. Together with some strawberry preserves, it tasted like a delicious PB&J sandwhich. It would be a super cute idea for a little one’s birthday. Thanks for the help!

        • Thanks for letting me know and I’m so glad it worked out well using the real PB (I may start doing that as well when I make PB buttercream!).

          I haven’t had a problem with making ruffles using this buttercream, but if you do wish to make it a bit stiffer for piping, you can throw it in the fridge to allow the butter to harden a bit, stirring every few minutes to check consistency (and keep it from hardening it too much).

  15. I love this recipe! I was skeptical of Swiss meringue buttercream before because I didn’t really want to hand whisk (so lazy!) and the whole double boiler thing seemed kind of a bit of pain. But really, it’s actually easier, and probably more forgiving than Italian buttercream. Thanks for posting.

    • Hi Tash!

      I’m so excited you tried the recipe and love it!

      I’ve made Italian buttercream several times before, but the whole boiling sugar syrup to an exact temperature was too much for me to keep an eye on with everything else going on in the kitchen, plus I always seem to have trouble pouring the hot syrup into the mixer at *just* the right spot. SMBC is definitely easier and more forgiving, just like you mentioned =)

      Thanks for commenting!

      – Aileen

  16. Dear Aileen,

    Just a quick question,
    is this buttercream can be used for frozen buttercream transfer technique?

    • Hi Yooza,

      Yes, however you just need to keep the buttercream cold in between colors so it doesn’t smear. What I would do it lay one color down, freeze for a minute or two, then add the next color, freeze, etc.

      Good luck and I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      – Aileen

      • Great! I’m going to try it out first before making the real one on top of my cake 🙂

        I have always used american buttercream for my transfer (not as my cake fillings nor frosting), but I am not really fond of the taste so maybe I should try with my fav. swiss meringue buttercream 😀

        I’ll tell you when I make it! Thank you!

  17. You’re right! It finally came together. I almost gave up with my little GE hand mixer! First stab at this. Great post.

  18. Hello 🙂 when making a variation – so I whisk in that ingredient at the end or do I fold it in? Just concerned about changimg the texture of the Swiss meringue if I do it incorrectly lol 😉 thank you

    • Great question! With the exception of the cream cheese variation (which has specific directions), you can just add it at the end into the mixer bowl and just continue mixing with whatever attachment you have on, or you can mix it in by hand if you already have finished buttercream and want to flavor a small amount.

      The only issue I’ve had just recently is that fruit purees may cause the mixture to separate/look like cotteage cheese sometimes due to the water content. It is easily remedied by microwaving about a cup of the frosting in a bowl for 8-10 seconds, then slowly pour it back into the bowl while mixer is on low. Then increase the speed and beat it until comes together.

      Good luck!!

      – Aileen

  19. Allysia on March 14, 2015 at 10:51 am said:

    I have made this several times in different flavor variations you’ve listed and it always turns out perfect. Thank you so much for the great recipe and all the different options for finishing it off!

  20. Pm112 on March 29, 2015 at 6:16 pm said:

    Help! I just made this buttercream but used mostly salted butter and only a little unsalted butter by accident. It tastes pretty salty and more buttery than normal. Is there anything I can do to save it? I really hope I don’t have to start over again.

    • Oh no! This response is probably too late, but what I would do to save it is to make another batch that is ONLY unsalted butter, then mix the two together. You can always freeze the extra and thaw it out whenever you need it!

      Good luck!

      – Aileen

  21. Jacqueline on April 1, 2015 at 10:07 am said:

    Hi,

    Will it affect the consistency of the butter cream if I cut out the amount of sugar? I tend to reduce the amount of sugar by about 30% to 50%, because I don’t like the cream to be too sweet. Will by adding white chocolate makes the butter cream more stable? I am from Singapore and the temperature is always humid with temperature ranging between 30°c and 32°c. The cake will be out under a shelter for about 3 hours. Will the butter cream hold its shape?

    Thank you for taking time to answer my questions.

    Jacqueline

    • Hi Jacqueline,

      It may affect the formation of the meringue if you reduce the sugar by 50%. However, reducing it by 30% should be okay, I would just keep a closer eye on the meringue.

      That being said, this buttercream recipe as written is really not that sweet to being with. Should you find the need to make it slightly sweeter, you can always add some powdered sugar.

      I haven’t found that adding white chocolate makes the buttercream more stable.

      I would really be concerned with having this buttercream out in 30-32 degrees C (86-90 degrees F) as there is a good chance it may melt being exposed for that long, even under some sort of shelter. I have never attempted to keep a cake out in that type of heat (it regularly reaches those temperatures here in Sacramento during the summer – though without the humidity).

      If you really must use this buttercream, I would substitute some vegetable shortening (or hi-ratio/icing shortening which is much better, if available) for the butter as it has a higher melting point. Therefore, I would change the recipe to: 1 cup shortening, 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter.

      Good luck!

      – Aileen

  22. LindaB on April 3, 2015 at 5:32 pm said:

    Can this icing be made in advance and frozen? If so, does it need to be rewhipped again, or just thawed out?

    • Hi Linda,

      This icing does great in the freezer! I like to make lots of it ahead of time whenever possible and thaw as needed on the counter.

      It does need to be beaten in order to smooth it out after being thawed (I recommend the paddle on the lowest speed for about 5-10 minutes). Actually, I recommend beating the buttercream after coming to room temperature from the fridge as well or if it sits on the counter overnight in order remove air bubbles and help achieve a smooth finish more easily.

      – Aileen

  23. Hi! I love swiss meringue buttercream! I try not to use shortening. However, whenever I pipe my swiss meringue buttercream, it tends to soften pretty fast! I always wanted to pipe roses or flowers or the ruffles at the sides of the cakes. But my buttercream soften quickly and could not get the sharp edges during piping, and the appearance of the piping always looks wet. Is it the temperature problem of my working environment? It’s room temperature, hot tropical, about 33 – 34 degC.

    • Hi Bell,

      Unfortunately, you’re absolutely correct about the temperature. This buttercream doesn’t do well in temperatures over 80°F (or about 25°C). With this recipe, shortening is the best way to to stabilize it for higher heat as butter has a melting point of 90-95°F (32-35°C) but shortening has a melting point of 115-119°F (46-48°C).

      If you truly don’t want to replace some of the butter with shortening, I would try using margarine instead of the shortening as it has a slightly higher melting point than butter (but not as high as shortening) and that may give you more stability.

      Good luck!

      -Aileen

  24. genia on April 27, 2015 at 5:31 pm said:

    When using the salted butter is it hard to achieve emulsification due to the water content in salted butter? Which brand of salted butter are you using? Thanks again

    • Hi Genia,

      No, I don’t have any problems with emulsifcation at all due to the higher water content in salted butter and quite honestly never really thought about it. I actually just set my Kitchen Aid stand mixer to the lowest speed and let it run until it’s all emulsified. I’ve used nearly every brand of butter out there (from Walmart’s store brand to Plugra and everything in between) and they’ve all come together just fine. For my business however, I do use a European Style butter from my supplier.

      Hope this helps!

      – Aileen

  25. Wildflower on April 30, 2015 at 3:39 pm said:

    I would like to try your Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe, and am curious about the taste. I do find American ( homemade “Wilton”) Buttercream a bit heavy, and would like something with a rich, super creamy taste. I love the flavor of real whipped cream, and recently learned how to stabilize it. However, it is so light and airy, it just won’t work for my denser cake, or to pipe decorations.

    So my question is, what exactly does Swiss buttercream taste like, and how light is the texture? Does it have a rich, creamy taste, or taste more like royal icing? (Not a favorite.) Also, could I mix it with American buttercream if needed? Thanks so much for your advice!

    • Yes, Wilton (American) buttercream is definitely richer and heavier (and much sweeter). I wouldn’t say that this buttercream is extremely rich and super creamy, but quite light and closer to the texture freshly whipped cream (but slightly richer and more creamy than that).

      It’s really hard to describe what the icing actually tastes like, so I would really urge you to give the recipe a try – but I guarantee, it tastes NOTHING like royal icing. It’s not that sweet and really smooth, velvety, and melts in your mouth. No grittiness at all.

      As far as working with denser cake, I haven’t had a problem with it and I also haven’t had any issues piping with it. That being said, I have used this buttercream for many many years and I did have to get used to the different texture in regards to piping decorations as it’s quite a bit different from the American (Wilton/Powdered Sugar based) buttercream.

      You can definitely mix this with American Buttercream, and I have done so in the past for those that really liked the supersweet icing. As a forewarning however, it will not crust nor will it get hard once placed in the fridge.

      *Also, a tip for piping/decorations in general – in all of the bakeries I worked at, the piping/decorations were done in buttercream, even on whipped cream cakes.

      Hope this helps!

      – Aileen

  26. Carissa on May 1, 2015 at 8:55 am said:

    Hello!

    I am making cupcakes tomorrow for a ‘cupcake wars’ my girlfriends and I are holding. My ingredient is basil, and I’d love to use your buttercream and add both basil and lemon (since my cupcake will be lemon blueberry).

    Is it possible to add chopped up basil pieces and fresh lemon juice at the end or will this break the frosting? Or maybe add in a basil lemon syrup?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Carissa,

      Either way would work, however I would recommend that you go with the chopped up basil as too much liquid may break the buttercream. I would actually brush the lemon basil syrup on top of the cupcake to give it an added punch. For the lemon aspect, if you don’t want to use the lemon curd for the lemon aspect of the buttercream, I would use a combination of lemon extract in addition to the lemon juice – I find the lemon juice by itself doesn’t really give enough flavor.

      Good luck and I’d love to hear how it goes!!

      – Aileen

  27. Rona on May 2, 2015 at 5:20 am said:

    Hi! I love your tutorial and today was the first time I tried making an SMBC! I super love the creaminess of it. I always played safe with the cooked flour frosting as I needed stability for the really hot weather now in Manila (40 degrees Celsius). Anyway I needed to flavor the frosting with guava juice for my guava cake. With the cooked flour frosting, I add guava juice to the flour-milk-sugar mixture. Can you suggest a way for me to incorporate the guava flavor to the SMBC. Thank you. Hope to hear from you soon, I have an order for the guava cupcakes on Tuesday.

    • Hi Rona,

      To add guava flavor, I would suggest trying one of three things:

      – Reduce the guava juice/nectar to a syrup in a pot over low heat to concentrate the flavors and allow to cool before adding to finished buttercream.
      – Add guava puree to finished buttercream
      – Add guava jam to finished buttercream

      I haven’t actually done this particular flavor myself, but that is how I would do it. With any of the options, I would do it little by little, checking for flavor and consistency of the buttercream.

      Good luck and let me know how it goes!!

      – Aileen

      • Rona on May 3, 2015 at 8:19 pm said:

        Thank you Aileen! Yup I still need to find guava jam as most of the stores here just offer guava jelly which is sooo thick and sticky it might not mix with the Buttercream. I’ll try your first suggestion and let you know how that goes. 🙂

        • Guava jelly should work as well!

          Transfer some into a bowl first and stir it to loosen it up. Then add some buttercream and stir it by hand to “thin” it out. When it’s not so sticky and thick, add the buttercream/jelly mixture to the rest of the buttercream. Repeat until you get the flavor intensity you want!

          Of all the options, the jelly or the puree will give you the most intense flavor.

          I always try to find ways to make whatever is readily available work if I can =)

          – Aileen

  28. noris on May 8, 2015 at 8:51 am said:

    Hi aileen..

    Ive tried this smbc and its awesome but my experience is as such.. it is too soft to pipe even though ive substitute some shortenings in it. What could be the problem despite working in an air conditioned environment.

    Also, should i keep it in the fridge once im done decorating? When i did that, the cake sweats n start to form color streaks… shall i keep it in room temperature till the next day’s delivery?

    • Hi Noris,

      The shortening will not make it stiffer, it only stabilizes it from heat. I’ve never had a problem piping with it (filigree, borders, roses, flowers, etc.), but in full disclosure, I am used to it as I’ve been using this recipe for many years. As I mentioned in a previous comment, piping with it is a lot different than piping with powdered sugar based icings because it is softer. One option is to make the buttercream ahead of time and allow it to sit overnight. The buttercream has a chance to set and stiffens up a bit. Another way is to put the buttercream in the refrigerator and stir it periodically until it’s the texture you need.

      I always like to keep my cakes in the fridge once I’m done decorating (makes it easier to handle). My cakes do sweat a bit when I first take them out but once it comes to room temperature, any condensation evaporates. That being said, I haven’t had any real issues with colors streaking. The only time I have issues is when I try to re-smooth colored buttercream and unfortunately, this happens with every meringue buttercream I have used (Italian and Swiss).

      If you’d like to email over a picture of what you’re describing to aileen@dessertdesignlife.com, maybe I can get a better idea of what you’re talking about and can better help address your issue.

      – Aileen

  29. Jess on May 8, 2015 at 11:46 am said:

    Hello! I am making this for the first time. What did I do wrong if my frosting never goes through the curdled stage?! I added the butter and it just became pretty soupy like. Has been mixing on slow speed for about 6 minutes now and still only soupy! 🙁

    • Hi Jess,

      I don’t know if this is too late, but just keep mixing! Sometimes it takes as long as 15 minutes depending on the temperature in the house and temperature of the butter I used. If it’s still soupy, you can add some more butter to help it come together.

      Good luck!

  30. Hello Aileen 🙂
    SO, I’ve always been terrified of SMBC. But, your recipe gave me all sorts of hope, and I braved my way into making it.
    First, I live in India, and right now I have temperatures of about 36C- 40C. So, making any sort of frosting is almost asking for punishment.
    However, I braved the weather conditions and followed your recipe to the T.
    I didn’t allow the butter to come to room temperature (because then it would be a melted pile of gloop).. and once the sugar+egg whites had reached the desired consistency I removed the butter from the fridge and cubed them up and started adding them in.. I was all ready for the soupy-to-curdled-to-cottage-cheese processes, but NONE of that happened.. Finally, all the butter was mixed in and I added in white chocolate.
    I eventually had to chuck it in the fridge, ’cause really, 36C and SMBC? It was a bit softer than I imagined (weather gods, you punish me.), but after a quick round in the fridge, it was PERFECT.
    I piped it onto my white chocolate cupcakes, and By far, the best SMBC I have ever made. So, THANK YOU!!!

    Also, I have a question: how would things like Kahlua, Bailey’s and other alcohols like Creme De Menthe, Rum etc work? Can we make a swiss buttercream using alcohol? If yes, how would I have to adjust the quantities?
    thank you again!! I am so glad I stumbled upon your website!

    • quick point to note:
      even though it didn’t reach all the soupy-curdled stages, it was silky and light and all kinds of fluffy. Forgot to add that in 🙂

    • Hi Shilpa,

      First of all, I just want to thank you for sharing your experience and how you adjusted to your environment’s temperature!! It’s one of the most common questions and since I couldn’t replicate that environment to test out workarounds, I couldn’t give tips that have been tested. So again, thank you!

      As for adding alcohol, I do it all the time, no adjustments to the recipe necessary! Add a little at a time to taste (up to 1/3 cup). With certain flavors, I like to combine the alcohol with a complimentary non alcoholic flavoring, to punch up the flavor a bit. For example, Kahlua, I add it to a coffee flavored buttercream. Amaretto to almond flavored buttercream, Gran Marnier to orange flavored buttercream, etc. I’ll add the variations to the main post!

      – Aileen

      • Shilpa on June 11, 2015 at 7:28 pm said:

        Hi Aileen!
        Me again!
        So I’ve made your recipe as my new favorite!
        So I made a chocolate caramel sauce and added it to the SMBC and it tastes like a drop of heaven. You have to add that in as a flavor combo.
        Do you think it would affect the texture if I added caramalized white chocolate? I simply love the idea of it, now I’m going to give it a shot. The only reason I’m skeptical is because once the chocolate seizes you have to add cocoa butter to it.. Will it make it too liquidy?
        Also, I wanted to dye my SMBC’s different colors. Should I used gel based colors? That’s all I pretty much use anyway, so I hope that’s cool? 🙂

        Thank you again!

  31. Sonia on May 16, 2015 at 6:08 am said:

    I’m about to attempt this without an electric mixer, just one of those old-fashioned egg beaters with the hand-crank. Is this a bad idea? I’ve made meringues and whipped cream with no trouble before.

    • I would imagine it would be very difficult as making the meringue wouldn’t be my concern, but rather incorporating the butter. Unless you have a lot of stamina to beat continuously for the 10-15 minutes (or more) it would take to emulsify the butter in, it would be extremely exhausting.

      Someone mentioned in an earlier comment how even using the electric hand mixer took a while as well.

      If you do decide to do it, I really wish you the best of luck!! (and maybe some Ibuprofen and ice for the muscle soreness afterwards!)

  32. Michelle on May 28, 2015 at 12:39 am said:

    Hi! I have made this recipe before and its my absolute favorite, but i’ve been having problems lately: too thin/liquidly and I don’t know what I have been doing differently.

    My buttercream lately has come out very thin and liquidly. The egg white/sugar mix aren’t able to lift up to a nice stiff peak. What can I do to troubleshoot the situation?

    • Hmm… my first inclination would be to make sure everything is grease-free and that no trace of egg yolks are getting into the mixture as the egg whites will not whip up if there is any trace of grease. Also, make sure you’re not using any plastic bowls/silicone utensils as they never fully get traces of oil/grease off.

      Also, what kind of egg whites are you using? Are they fresh egg whites or the ones in a carton? If it’s a carton, which brand?

      • Michelle on May 28, 2015 at 8:27 pm said:

        I rinsed out my steel bowl with hot water each time before using and i’m using fresh egg whites.

        • Do you wash the whisk/bowl thoroughly using soap? Another tip to try is to wipe down the bowl/whisk with some lemon juice to get rid of any traces of grease.

          My gut is saying the stem of the issue comes from the fact that you mentioned the egg whites aren’t whipping up to stiff peaks. I have had issues myself when they have been under beaten and the buttercream has come out softer than I would like.

          Also, when adding the butter, are the egg whites cool? If they’re still warm, it will melt the butter as you add it in, causing a runny buttercream.

          That being said, if you still have the SMBC that’s thin and liquidy around, I would suggest throwing it back on the mixer and keep mixing. Usually for me it takes about 5-8 minutes for it to come together, but other times it takes 15 minutes or longer.

          If after 15 minutes, it’s still pretty liquidy, I would suggest increasing the speed to med-high and beat it – I usually don’t like doing this on a regular basis because I find that the texture is a bit greasier/butter-like (though not noticeable to most people) and I don’t get as much yield, but in your case, since it doesn’t seem to be emulsifying properly, it wouldn’t hurt to try – I know it’s helped me in the past.

          Please let me know if you’re still having issues! Good luck!!

          – Aileen

  33. Geri on May 31, 2015 at 10:07 am said:

    Hi Aileen–Can’t wait to try your recipe. You make it sound so easy to do. I’m an at-home baker always looking for a new challenge and my current baking projects include making cakes from scratch, leveling and torting, and simple decorating. I would like to do a pistachio swiss meringue buttercream and a calamansi-flavored SMBC. Any suggestions on how I can achieve both? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Geri,

      To make a pistachio SMBC, it’s actually very simple (I use it for Macaron fillings). Grind unshelled pistachios finely in a food processor or blender to make a pistachio flour. Mix into the finished buttercream (I do this to taste – I like to put a lot in to really give it a good pistachio flavor). If you like, you can add a touch of green food coloring to enhance the natural green color of the pistachios. It will be slightly chunky so it’s better used as a filling or, for cupcakes, with a larger tip size.

      To make a calamansi-flavored SMBC, I would suggest adding calamansi concentrate or fresh calamansi juice (I would say up to 1/4 cup) to taste. Just be careful in adding too much juice as it may cause the buttercream to break from too much liquid. If using unsweetened concentrate or fresh juice, you may need to add some powdered sugar afterwards to balance out any tartness.

      Good luck and let me know how it turns out!

      – Aileen

  34. Haley on June 1, 2015 at 11:05 am said:

    I know cakes iced with buttercream can generally be left at room temperature for a day or 2 and still be ok. Is that still the case for your flavor variations that call for pureed fruit? Or would those need to refrigerated?

    • Hi Haley,

      Great question! You’re absolutely right, the versions with items that are normally refrigerated (fruit purees, cream cheese, etc.) should in fact be refrigerated if it will be out for more than a few hours..

      Personally, I don’t keep my cakes out overnight in general (but it’s because I bake from scratch so I don’t use any preservatives), but I do leave them out for hours (like a party). If storing in the fridge, let them come to room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving (cold swiss meringue buttercream is really hard and has the texture of butter straight from the fridge).

      Hope this helps!!

      – Aileen

  35. Penny on June 25, 2015 at 8:37 am said:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I hate butter cream and so do my kids, I was wondering what to use and found your website.
    I added the butter slowly over 15 minutes and then left the whole thing to beat away while I did some other bits, when I can back it was done…great recipe and thanks a million for the conversion for us Europeans 🙂

  36. Hi Aileen,
    I’ve only even used powdered sugar-based buttercreams in the past, but I have been researching Swiss meringue buttercream as a less sweet variant for my son’s first birthday cake. I’m doing a monster cake, and I’m covering the monster with fur, using the grass tip. Will this type of buttercream work with that? It’s a picnic party, but I’m already planning an elaborate cake-cooling thing, with a huge plastic bin and lots of cooling pads. But If I make huge batch of it, and it’s not stiff enough to keep the shape of the hairs, I might cry.
    Thanks!

    • Hi Liz,

      This buttercream will most definitely hold monster “fur” as I’ve done it for many cakes (in addition to grass on other cakes). If you have hot hands however (like I do), I would recommend chilling the bag periodically (if you have two grass tips, you can make two bags and switch off) just because I know covering an entire cake in fur can take a while.

      Tip for coloring the buttercream: sometimes it has a hard time taking on brighter colors (wish I knew why!) and you feel like you need to use lots of gel color to achieve the shade you want. However, I recommend placing some of the buttercream (like a large dollop using a silicone/rubber spatula) in a small microwave safe bowl then add the gel color to this. It won’t look dark enough but that’s okay. Then microwave it 8-10 seconds – the buttercream will melt a bit but the color will deepen – add more gel color at this point to achieve a DARKER shade of what you’re looking for. This is what I then add to the rest of the buttercream I’m trying to color.

      Hope this makes sense but feel free to let me know if you have any questions about this technique.

      Good luck and let us know how it goes!!

      – Aileen

      • Austin on December 9, 2015 at 4:07 pm said:

        Hi! About coloring SMBCs, I believe it’s hard to color them because of the fat content in the SMBC… I have this problem as well but people either use Flo-Coat, or candy colors, or like I do, after making the meringue, I separate some bit of that meringue, color it with gel paste, then proceed making the buttercream with the rest of the meringue before mixing the colored meringue back into the buttercream.

        Some SMBCs that contain powdered sugar, however, are easier to color because the powdered sugar carries the color…

  37. Arlene AH on August 1, 2015 at 11:31 am said:

    Hi! I enjoyed reading your blog as well as the comments which answered some of my questions regarding SMBC. I have tried making a Mocha Cake with Mocha SMBC, which is actually a copy cat of Goldilocks famous mocha cake in the Philippines. I have since been looking for other flavors I can make with SMBC and I would definitely try your recipes. Thank you for sharing them:)

    • Hi Arlene,

      I am very familiar with the Goldilocks Bakery – I grew up eating those mocha rolls! When I first made the coffee SMBC, I did a happy dance in my kitchen because it brought me back to my childhood. In fact, my mocha chiffon cake and coffee buttercream are one of my most popular flavors for my custom cake business, Sweetologie.

      Thanks for sharing!

      – Aileen

  38. Vanessa on August 4, 2015 at 1:01 pm said:

    Hi Aileen!

    I’ve already made your SMBC recipe twice in the last week! Thank you so much for sharing, it’s top of my frosting list! I have a few general questions for you, and I hope you can help me out!

    1) I have to make two quarter sheet cakes for a party, how much in advance can I bake them? Party is on a Sunday, I was thinking of baking, crumb coating (after coming to room temp) and freezing on Thursday and then doing the final layer of buttercream, smoothing out corners and edges on Friday, and placing final decorations on Saturday. Is this wayy too much in advance? I don’t want the cakes to dry out, they are sponge cakes.

    2) Before serving the cakes at the party, should I ensure they are at room temp? I’m worried that the frosting will be hard. Last time I made your SMBC (white chocolate) recipe and a dark chocolate cake, my brother thought the cake was stale the next day, eating a slice right out of the fridge.

    I was hoping the SMBC would kind of seal in the moisture of the cake and not allow it dry out so quickly?

    Sorry this was so wordy! I would really appreciate any suggestions and advice!

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Vanessa,

      Hope these answers help!!

      1. If you want to stretch out the cake baking/decorating timeline, here’s what I recommend
      – Mon-Thurs: I would bake anytime early in the week that you have time to do so, allow to cool, then wrap in 2 layers of plastic wrap and freeze. If you were planning on torting the cake to put a filling inside, I would throw in freezer unwrapped for 20 minutes to make it easier to handle, split/torte the cake, then wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. I would suggest placing a layer of plastic wrap in between the two layers to make it easier to separate later. I would also make the buttercream whenever you have a chance and you can keep it in the fridge (if you do this before Thursday).
      – Thursday Night: Take out buttercream and allow to come to room temp on counter.
      – Friday: Re-smooth buttercream in mixer using the paddle attachment on low while you assemble cake. Assemble cake (with filling if you’re using) using the frozen cake, crumb coat, and put in fridge for 30 minutes to set. Finish icing cake.
      – Saturday: Decorate

      2. SMBC definitely seals the moisture in cake if it’s completely iced. However, although I always store cakes in the fridge, I always recommend that they be eaten at room temperature. I find that cakes, especially one with SMBC, eaten right out of the fridge confuses people into thinking the cake is stale because the buttercream is hard (they think it’s dried out because they’re used to shortening based icings which don’t get hard in the fridge) and cakes, especially when made with butter, have a bit of a dry texture when eaten straight out of the fridge as well as all the fats in the cake are cold and influence texture. If the cake is sliced, I do recommend placing a small piece of waxed paper over the cut surfaces (it will stick lightly) to keep it from drying out.

      Hope this helps and good luck with your cakes! Let us know how it turns out!

      – Aileen

      • Vanessa on August 6, 2015 at 5:50 am said:

        Wow Aileen! Thank you so much for your great answers, I really appreciate the time you put into getting back to me! I will definitely follow your instructions to the letter! I was hoping that serving the cake at room temperature would be sufficient, so we’ll do that. It’s an indoor family party, so I’m sure the air conditioning will be on, and all will be well! Thanks again! 🙂

  39. Shilpa on August 7, 2015 at 7:44 pm said:

    Hi Aileen,
    I’m thinking of making a coconut SMBC. Anything I’d have to adjust in particular?
    I’m planning on using coconut milk in the SMBC so if you’d be able to tell me how much I need to add to the mixture?
    Thank you xx

    • I wouldn’t use coconut milk into the SMBC because I would imagine you would need a huge amount to even get it to taste like coconut.

      What I have done is added coconut extract to achieve that flavor. If it’s for a filling, my personal favorite is making cream cheese swiss meringue buttercream, adding coconut extract to it, and then adding some toasted coconut to it. This is the filling I use for my toasted coconut macarons.

      Good luck!

      – Aileen

  40. I am going to attempt to use this recipe with cream cheese and coconut extract for carrot cake cupcakes. I read every single one of these questions and answers and I would like to know if I could pre-form the cupcake tops and freeze them then on the day of the event I could crumb coat the cupcake and stick these on top?? Also, I will be dusting with edible Wilton gold flakes and wonder if they will melt since this frosting is so smooth? My son’s wedding and I don’t want to mess up!! This will be my first trying this. Thank you so much!

    • Hi Laura,

      First of all… YUM!! That sounds so amazing! I wouldn’t freeze the buttercream “tops (because that would take up a ton of room), and cupcakes should be easy to ice. That being said, I would make all the buttercream earlier in the week and keep in the fridge. Then the day before, I would take it out in the morning, allow it to thaw, and ice all the cupcakes the night before.

      I can’t say for certainty anything about the wilton’s gold flakes as I’ve never used them. If it was regular buttercream, it shouldn’t have an issue, however, with the cream cheese version and the water content of that, it may “melt”? I would test it ahead of time and also, sprinkle them on right before I place the cupcakes out for display.

      Good luck!!

      – Aileen

  41. I am new to SMBC and im.Def a convert, I love it. Iv only yt made simple vanilla but am keen to try other flavours. Even just choc would be a start. I seen some of the comments u say that adding liquids can split the buttercream, is that true for melted choc then aswel? does the choc make the buttercream less thick and therefore not hold its shape as well as just tje plain vanilla? How much can I safely add? Sorry for all the questions and I love the idea of the coconut buttercream mentioned above. Thank you so much

    • Hi Lisa,

      No, melted chocolate (cooled) would be just fine in incorporating into the room temperature buttercream. I don’t really consider chocolate to be a liquid as it hardens when cool (it’s more of the fruit purees that can become an issue).

      The trick (and with incorporating anything into the buttercream) is to try and have them at roughly the same temperature so it remains silky smooth (adding hot/warm melted chocolate would melt the buttercream and make it too soft, adding the cooled chocolate to buttercream that is on the colder side (from the fridge) would cause chunks of chocolate that won’t be incorporated.

      The chocolate buttercream isn’t really any more soft than regular buttercream. I would add 6-8 ounces melted bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate.

      Good luck!

      – Aileen

  42. Austin on August 15, 2015 at 8:23 pm said:

    Hi! How can I incorporate Amaretto liqueur here? Would it be the same as with irish cream?

    • Hi Austin,

      This is probably way too late, but yes, you can definitely do the same as with the Irish Cream. I would however, add a tsp of almond extract as well to bump up the amaretto flavor.

  43. Suzannah Rowley on August 16, 2015 at 3:48 pm said:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this incredible recipe and terrific instructions for SMBC and the flavour variations! It is amazing! I was really nervous about making SMBC and I’ve never had much success with buttercream at all but I followed your recipe and instructions step by step and my SMBC turned out gorgeously silky smooth, light and fluffy on the first try! I also followed your instructions for adding SMBC to cream cheese and success!!!!! It is just gorgeous, a heartfelt thank you!

  44. This is a fab tutorial, thank you! Have made french meringue buttercream, but not Swiss, making vanilla and coffee versions to fill macarons later 🙂

    • Thanks! I do often use SMBC to fill macarons because I always have it around, though I love making the french buttercream for macaron fillings if I have time because it uses up all those egg yolks from making macarons =)

      Happy Baking =)

      – Aileen

      • Aileen, can you please help. I want to use your SMBC recipe to make rose rosettes on my nephew’s wedding cake. BUT it is a rich fruit cake that his 87 yr old gran wanted to make. I am novice, but wanted to modernize the cake. Will this icing hold shaped roses on fruit cake and how much in advance can I do it. I wanted to do 5-6 days before as I have other things to do. Thereafter, do I keep cake in fridge or will it dry fruit ?
        Thank you.

        • Hi Patti,

          Yes, this buttercream will absolutely hold the shape of rosettes (for an example of a cake I just did, please check out my cake company’s instagram @sweetologie or facebook.com/sweetologie). I would just do thin layer of icing first so that none of the cake would “peek” through any gaps between rosettes.

          Now if you’re talking about buttercream roses (made on flower nails or skewers), I make them all the time using this icing, however, it is much softer than a “wilton” type buttercream with powdered sugar and it takes some practice to get used to.

          I personally wouldn’t keep a decorated cake in the fridge that long in advance as my recipes are from scratch with no preservatives so I feel it would get stale/dry out if made that far in advance. That being said, I’m not too familiar with fruit cake and I would imagine it would depend on his gran’s recipe and how long it keeps.

          I’d also be too afraid of the buttercream absorbing any odors in the fridge over the week if you will be keeping it with the rest of your food. If you have a separate fridge you can keep it in, it may be okay, again, depending on the recipe of the cake.

          Good luck and I hope this helps a bit! Please let me know if I can help in any other way!

          – Aileen

          • Hi Aileen,
            Another alternative, – can you attach thin fondant / gum paste rosettes onto the cake that is covered with SMBC. ?
            if I pop cake in fridge to harden buttercream prior, will that help ?
            Patti

          • Hi Patti,

            Are you talking about covering the entire bottom tier with fondant rosette-like ruffles? If so, I would avoid using gumpaste and stick with fondant as it’s easier to cut/better tasting (you can add some tylose powder to it to strengthen it/allow it to be rolled thinner). I only use gumpaste for items not made to be eaten such as figures, flowers, and other topper type things… If I’m not understanding correctly, you can email me at aileenp@dessertdesignlife.com with a picture of the cake you are describing and I’d be happy to help that way!

            Depending on the thinness of the rosettes and distance of delivery, you may be able to attach it directly to the buttercream (I know I’ve done that a few times) and I would recommend placing the iced cake in the fridge to harden before working with it.

            More frequently however, I usually cover the entire cake with fondant first (see end of post for tips on using fondant over this buttercream). It just gives me a better sense of stability and security that the rosettes won’t fall off since they’re “glued” to the fondant, especially during delivery when there’s a lot of vibration from the car happening.

            Now if you’re talking about attaching smaller gumpaste roses/rosettes scattered throughout the cake (like on the ledges of the tiers), or cascading down the cake, you can absolutely attach them to the buttercream cake directly. If they flowers are not wired, I personally feel more comfortable placing it on the cake upon delivery after I assemble the tiers. However, if that’s not an option, I would actually place it on a freshly iced cake so it’s sticks, then allow it to harden in the fridge to secure it.

            You mentioned you were planning on doing this cake several days in advance. I would not place any fondant/gumpaste details on the cake too far in advance as they can melt in the humidity of the fridge.

            Hope this makes sense and helps!! Again, let me know if you have any other questions!

            – Aileen

  45. Hi Aileen, I love this SMBC but im wondering what is the best way to make it a malteeser flavour? (malted balls I think they are called in the US)
    Thank you very much
    Lisa

    • Hi Lisa,

      I would suggest using 1/4 cup malted milk powder (or more or less to taste). If you want that malt texture just add the powder directly to the finished buttercream, however, if you’re after the malt flavor but don’t want the “grittiness” of it, I would dissolve it in 2 tablespoons hot water and let it cool down a bit before mixing it into the buttercream.

      Hope this helps and I’d love to hear how it goes!

      – Aileen

      • Thank you for taking the time to reply Aileen, you are very kind and patient with answering all the questions on here but it is very much appreciated by everyone I have no doubt. I will def be giving the malt flavour a go this weekend
        Thank you again
        Lisa

  46. Ciao Aileen,

    I wondering if this butter Swiss meringue it is ok to “get dirty ” a naked cake. Does it stay ok on it? Does it stay white or it turns to that yellow butter color? I need to make a cake for a wedding ad it has to be as perfect as possible :)))

    Thank you in advance

    Greetings from Italy!

    Laura

    • Hi Laura,

      I’m assuming you mean “dirty ice” the naked cake? Yes, I’ve done many naked cakes using this buttercream. It will not change color on you as it sits, the color you see is the color you get. That being said, this icing is not a pure, bright white icing to begin with (rather, more of an off-white color) as it is made out of butter which is naturally yellow.

      Good luck on the wedding cake!

      – Aileen

  47. Hi Aileen
    I asked the question about the malt buttercream but forgot to say that it was a chocolate malt buttercream i was after. is it still just the same amount of malt and hot water ( 1/4 cup malted milk powder dissolved it in 2 tablespoons hot water) after i add the chocolate to the buttercream or would this add too much liquid?
    Thank you very much
    Lisa

  48. Hi Aileen,
    Your recipe for SMBC sounds great and I’m about to make it and use it to fill 3 layers of cake approx 1″ thick layers. Then I want to smooth coat it in SMBC and then use a fondant covering. I’ll fill and put in fridge for hardening up for a few hours. Then I will coat all over and smooth finish as best I can in SMBC, leave overnight in fridge and then fondant cover the following day.
    Can I use an a strawberry oil to flavour the SMBC instead of Strawberry preserves?
    Many thanks for taking the time to read my question.

    • Yes, you can absolutely use strawberry oil in place of the preserves or puree. I don’t know how much to add however, but I would add the oil a little at a time and taste as you go since the oils are much more concentrated than extracts.

      I don’t know how large the diameter of your cake is, but just to be on the safe side, I would recommend doing a batch and a half or even a double batch of buttercream. Any extra buttercream can be frozen anyway and thawed when you need it.

      Good luck and happy baking!

      – Aileen

  49. Enith Chan on October 1, 2015 at 5:48 pm said:

    Hi, I want to make this buttercream for a birthday party that its going to be in high temperature place( outside) Does this buttercream dry?

    • Hi Enith,

      I would definitely not recommend this buttercream if it’s going to be in high temperatures outside as it may melt depending on how high the temperature is. If you were planning on covering it in fondant over the buttercream, it may fare better.

      No, this buttercream does not dry (or crust) even a little bit. If you want a buttercream that dries somewhat, I would recommend a powdered sugar based buttercream with a high amount of shortening in the recipe. I don’t have a recipe I would recommend however as I’ve only made that type of buttercream once and would hate to point you in the wrong direction.

      Good luck!

      – Aileen

  50. leanne on October 3, 2015 at 3:38 pm said:

    Hi aileen, I have just made SMBC correctly for the first time after 3 failed attempts. I refrigerated it overnight and got it out to use this morning. When I tried to beat it before piping, it curdled….aarghhhh…..I just can’t get it to come together?

    • Hi Leanne,

      Sorry for the delayed response and I’m so sorry that it’s not working out for you. Can you please tell me how the first 3 attempts failed? This way I can help troubleshoot for you so you can make successful SMBC!!

      The buttercream will curdle if you try to beat it before it comes to room temperature. There is no need to refrigerate the buttercream overnight if you will be using it the next day. (Actually, I take out refrigerated buttercream the night before and allow it to come to room temperature overnight so it’s ready for me to beat in the mixer to smooth it out in the morning).

      I’d love to help and I’m so sorry that you’re having so much trouble with it!

      – Aileen

  51. Michele on October 8, 2015 at 3:28 pm said:

    Hi Aileen!
    I’m an avid user of SMBC – love the silky smoothness and reduced sweetness over a traditional buttercream. I’ve been making it for years, but the one time I tried to make a chocolate one (with melted chocolate, rather than cocoa powder) the melted chocolate has hardened into tiny bits throughout the icing!
    I used white chocolate melted in short bursts in the microwave, the icing has just finished being whipped so it’s not fridge-cooled…I know it’s important to have both ingredients similar temperatures but how do I ensure this, and what can I do if it separates again? Do I just have an un-save-able mess or can I somehow rescue it??

    • Hi Michele,

      I don’t know if this is too late, but if it is, hopefully this can help someone else..

      I’d like to think that SMBC can almost always be saved! I would touch the chocolate and make sure it’s not hot (or rather hot enough to melt the buttercream) and make sure the buttercream is at least room temperature (you’re right… NOT fridge-cooled) then simply add the chocolate while the mixer is running.

      My guess is that the buttercream (or the bowl) you added the chocolate too the first time you tried to make chocolate buttercream was cool enough to harden the chocolate instantly. If this does ever does happen to you, you can push the buttercream through a strainer to try and remove the “chunks” of chocolate. It’s a pain to do, but it’s a way to save the buttercream. (I’ve had to do this with a blackberry buttercream once because I forgot to strain out the large seeds in the puree before adding it to the buttercream). Alternatively – leaving those chunks in would make for a delicious double chocolate buttercream filling 😉

      As far as separating, I’ve never had this happen with a chocolate buttercream, it’s mostly with the fruit buttercreams. Can you elaborate further? Or are you talking about the chocolate chunks as the part that separates?

      – Aileen

  52. Hi Aileen,

    I am so glad I came across your page. You have wonderful and detail explanation to everyone here. I’m planning to make a fondant cake for the first time for my two years old birthday in a week. I am so new to all these, I know making the amercian buttercream would be easier and on the safe side but I know my family will hate it, so I really wanna try yours. I know you have already answered some of the questions I have, but really appreciate if you could give me more insight.

    1. Is it okay to use cake mix ? I have read the cake might be too soft for fondant covered cake. And that smbc would be on the softer side too, would combining both be an issUE.
    2. Is it possible to add fresh fruit like strawberry in fillings with smbc.
    3. I plan to go with your recommendation above, are my steps correct?
    Day 1. Bake cake, put in fridge overnight
    Day 2 prepare smbc , crumb coat and do final icing. (Can I add fruit filling at this stage ?)Put in fridge overnight
    Day 3 cover with satin ice fondant. And decoration. Leave in room temperature all day.

    Thanks so much

    • Hi Peggy,

      See below =)

      1. Is it okay to use cake mix ? I have read the cake might be too soft for fondant covered cake. And that smbc would be on the softer side too, would combining both be an issUE.

      Of course you can use cake mix! I actually use the vanilla chiffon cake I have posted on this blog very frequently underneath fondant cakes and this cake is much softer than cake mix. I know of many bakers that go this route as well.

      2. Is it possible to add fresh fruit like strawberry in fillings with smbc.

      Yes you can. I usually use whipped cream myself with fresh fruit, but it can be harder to deal with this way, especially if you’ve never done a fondant cake before. Just make sure you keep the fruit away from the edge at least 3/4 of an inch.

      3. I plan to go with your recommendation above, are my steps correct?
      Day 1. Bake cake, put in fridge overnight. I would allow it to cool first, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in freezer if you have the room – it makes it much easier to handle.

      Day 2 prepare smbc , crumb coat and do final icing. (Can I add fruit filling at this stage ?)Put in fridge overnight
      Prepare SMBC, fill cake (you have to fill the cake before you can ice it), crumb coat, fridge for 20-30 minutes, final icing

      Day 3 cover with satin ice fondant. And decoration. Leave in room temperature all day.
      If this is your first time working with fondant, I would try to decorate the cake (or at least cover it) the night before and keep it in the fridge as it can take longer than you’re expecting since you’ve never worked with it before. Also, if you’re putting fruit in the cake, I wouldn’t leave it out all day if you can help it. Fondant can be refrigerated until you want to place them out to display. I ALWAYS keep fondant cakes in the refrigerator until I deliver them. When you take it out of the refrigerator, it will sweat a bit, but it will also evaporate shortly thereafter.

      I hope this helps!! And good luck! I’m sure you’re child will love the cake because you made it! Good luck!!

      – Aileen

      • Hi Aileen,

        Thank you soooo much for your wonderful recipe and advise. I did it. The buttercream is super creamy and easy to make. Even though I only have a tiny hand mixer, it took me quite a while to whip up the egg white, once it was sort of stiff (not quite I think ) I blend in the butter. It was never soupy. I always hated the traditional buttercream, I’m so glad this is very similar to whipped cream, yet it is firm enough to do decoration. I would highly recommend this recipe to everyone, if I could do it, I think everyone else can here.

        I’m so glad you advised me to put on the fondant the night before. It was a disaster. I watched on you tube how to do this so many times and thought I could handle this. I was so wrong. I have iced a smooth buttercream cake and put on the fondant when its cold out from fridge. I find it so hard to handle, the fondant became wet and sticky very quickly. To make matter worst, I’m too inexperienced, I couldn’t get my fondant off the kitchen table once I had it roll out, and ended up using too much corn starch. I guess that’s what caused the elephant skin.

        also, I did add fresh strawberry to the buttercream fillings. its very stable, and not watery at all. the leftover cake after 3 days now , the cream is still in good shape.

        thanks again for your wonderful recipe.

        • Hi Peggy,

          Thank you so much for letting us know how it went!

          Covering cakes in fondant, though easy in theory and on videos can take a while to get used to, but you’ll get there! It used to take me nearly an hour just to cover a cake (with 3+ tries at times) but with practice, it gets much easier, I promise!

          You’re right, all the cornstarch could have contributed to the elephant skin. Also, if you had it rolled out for a bit and it started to dry before you got it onto the cake, it can cause elephant skin as well.

          To keep the fondant from sticking, I recommend turning it/moving it on the counter/table in between each pass of the rolling pin to keep it from sticking.

          However, my best tip to prevent sticking would be to get a silicone pastry mat (like the thin ones to roll out pastry/pie dough). I got one from Marshall’s for $5.99 and it has been THE best investment. I roll fondant out on there every single time and never have to worry about it sticking. I still use some cornstarch, but not nearly as much as before. Another huge plus for using pastry mats is that they usually have diameter measurements printed on them. An incredibly helpful feature to make sure you’ve rolled the fondant out large enough!

          Again, just keep practicing! Though not as high quality as Satin Ice, the Wilton fondant is great to work with to just get used to working with fondant, and with 40% off coupons at craft stores, it’s much more affordable than Satin Ice. I also find it’s much more forgiving as well…

          I really hope you try working with fondant again!!

          – Aileen

  53. Constance on October 10, 2015 at 9:33 am said:

    I would like to make a pumpkin shaped birthday cake. I would use vanilla bundt cakes. then i would shape it for a pumpkin. The icing needs to be colored orange and then smoothed to pumpkin shape on cake. I don’t want it too sweet. would this recipe work for that type of decorating?

    • I used to decorate pumpkin shaped cakes all the time using an icing very similar to this at my old bakery so it can definitely be done.

      You can color the icing orange using gel colors. Sometimes richer colors are hard to achieve with this icing so here’s a trick: take some of the icing and place in a small microwaveable bowl. Add the color to this icing (using the amount you think you need for the entire batch) and microwave it for 5-10 seconds until it’s melted a bit. Then add this to the rest of the icing you’re trying to color and mix. Repeat until you reach your desired color. I do want to warn you however against using too much gel color as it can get bitter and stain teeth.

      Good luck and please let me know if you have any other questions =)

      – Aileen

  54. I see you recommend hi-ratio shortening instead of butter if the frosting is going to be in warm temperature. I’ve never used Hi-ratio shortening, but found a place near me that sells it. While icing my cakes, I like to place them in the fridge, especially when adding fondant. If I use all hi-ratio shortening, will the frosting harden in the fridge or freezer enough to cover a cake in fondant? I don’t believe Crisco hardens.

    Thanks!

    • If you’ll be covering the cake in fondant, I would go ahead and just stick with the butter unless it’s going to be hot out. You’re absolutely right,the hi-ratio shortening won’t harden completely in the fridge just like crisco won’t. It will harden a bit, but if you’re used to covering a cake straight from the fridge, it will be softer than that.

      Good luck!

      – Aileen

  55. Tried the strawberry version and it was a hit! Thank u so much for sharing. Can I check if you know how do I prevent it from melting as mine melted a little

    • Hi Tracey,

      Yay! So glad you tried it! It’s one of my most popular buttercream flavors =)

      Next time, you could try putting it in the refrigerator for a little bit to help stabilize it a bit since all the liquid tends to “loosen” up the buttercream. Also, another thing to do is that if you have extra juicy strawberries/puree, you can also drain some of the excess liquid out through a very fine strainer.

      – Aileen

  56. I love this recipe. Used it as a base for marzipan and it was great. Light, yummi, but yet neutral.

  57. Pingback: White chocolate and passion fruit - Frydendal's

  58. Hi,

    I was wondering how would you add marshmallow to this recipe? And would it be able to handle a blowtorch?

    Thanks!

  59. Virginia on November 11, 2015 at 6:45 pm said:

    Hi! Love the recipe!! I’m planning on making a White Chocolate Buttercream. I’m worried I won’t be able to make twice the recipe in a standard KitchenAid stand mixer bowl with all the extra volume acquired throughout the cooking process. Do you think I’ll have to make the recipe twice instead?

    Thank you so much!

    • I ALWAYS make 2.5 batches in my 6qt Kitchen Aid mixer at a time. It would depend on the size of your Kitchen Aid bowl, but it should be able to handle a double batch just fine.

      Good luck!!

      – Aileen

  60. Hi Aileen,

    Thank you for sharing the buttercream recipe. I never have any luck making buttercream so I will give this one a try. I like piping but the buttercream I made before always melt when it comes out from the tip and make the piping design inconsistent and ugly. Is this buttercream good for piping and is there a trick to avoid the problem? Thanks.

    • Hi Cecilia,

      This buttercream is really smooth for piping, but because it is made with all butter, it is much more sensitive to heat than shortening based buttercreams. I have “hot hands” so holding a piping bag in my hand does cause the buttercream to semi-melt if it’s in my hand for too long.

      When I’m doing extensive piping I make several parchment bags and don’t fill them up with too much buttercream (just enough that most of it fits in the palm of my hand for better control). As I’m piping I rotate between the bags to give the buttercream a break from the heat of my hands.

      Hope this helps and good luck!!

      – Aileen

  61. Allysia on November 20, 2015 at 7:04 am said:

    Hello! I’ve made this now more times than I can count! Everyone LOVES it. I wanted to make a spiced smbc, do you think it would handle the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg? Or will I end up with a gritty texture? How much would you recommend? Also I would like to make a maple flavored batch using real maple syrup. Most of your addition recommendations are for 1 cup of the ingredient, would this be about the same?

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