I’ve spent years trying to master frosting. For some reason, the frosting that most excellent bakeries produce has been elusive. The frosting Betty Crocker hawks are full of powdered sugar which is okay-ish to start with but gets hard and a little crusty post-application, not to mention it can be pretty challenging to pipe.
One day a friend came over with a glorious batch of cupcakes. The frosting was a deep color and shiny in a way that could only be from butter…lots and lots of butter. I inquired about the recipe and she said she’d have to “show me” one day. It almost felt like a magician revealing tricks; if she told me she might have to kill me. Well, I had to continue to harass this friend for a while to get the information out of her, but I finally did and since I am under no magician or baker’s oath (nor was I required to take an oath to obtain this recipe), I would like to share it for posterity…it is called Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting.
5 large egg whites
2 Tbs sugar
Pinch of salt,
1 pound of room temperature butter (4-sticks)
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
The first step is to combine the egg whites, a pinch of salt, and sugar in a heat-resistant bowl. You will create a double boiler (add a separate, larger, bowl full of boiling water beneath your bowl with the egg white mixture). The bowl with your mixture is in should not touch the boiling water but should sit just slightly above. Constantly whisk the mixture until the sugar has melted in and no longer creates a grainy texture (this will be approximately 175◦F).
From here, move your mixture onto a stand mixer and, using the whisk attachment, beat at a medium speed until stiff peaks form (approximately 10 minutes). Once you’ve created the stiff peaks, slowly add room temperature butter into the mixture a tablespoon or so at a time using a medium-low pace. The goal is to create a luxuriously creamy-looking frosting. After all the butter has been incorporated, it is time to add the vanilla (or almond or peppermint or whatever makes you happy!). You could also add melted semi-sweet chocolate or orange zest or anything really to flavor your frosting at this point. Pro tip: if your consistency is a little runny, your frosting is likely too warm. Stick the bowl in the fridge for 20 minutes and give it another go.
Frost away and be prepared to soak up all of the compliments associated with one of the most delectable frostings of all time.