Chocolate (Swiss Meringue) Buttercream

There are many versions of buttercream: American, Swiss, French and Italian. There are subtle differences in overall texture, but beyond that each has its own advantages and disadvantages. With similar ingredients like sugar and butter, it comes down to technique and execution. This recipe is for a Swiss (meringue) buttercream. Swiss meringue buttercream is one of the easier, stable buttercream to execute (compared to Italian and French). Compared to American, it is definitely less sweet and has more of a velvety texture. This recipe adds dark chocolate at the end and is used to top my version of a Deep N’ Delicious cake.

The process of making a Swiss meringue buttercream is pretty straightforward: combine egg whites along with sugar, heat with a bain-marie to a specific temperature. Whip the egg white and sugar mixture to stiff peaks, slowly add your butter and then the chocolate.

Ingredients:

  • 200g sugar
  • 200g egg whites
  • 454g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 200g chocolate (dark)
  • 1 tsp flavouring (vanilla)
  • salt to taste

Tools Required:

  • small pot (2L)
  • whisk/ spatula
  • stand mixer fitted with whisk and paddle attachment

Instructions:

  1. In a bain-marie, whisk egg whites and sugar and heat to 71°C/ 170°F
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, slowly whip the egg white and sugar, gradually increase speed until the mixture becomes a meringue with stiff peaks.
  3. Continue to mix on medium speed until it cools to room temperature. Once it reaches room temperature, slowly add butter, a little at a time, until all the butter is whipped into the meringue.
  4. Scrape down the sides and continue to whip for a few minutes.
  5. Crystallize dark chocolate to roughly 32°C, turn mixer to lowest setting (stir) and slowly pour in the chocolate. Mix until it is homogenous.
  6. Add flavouring of choice and season with salt (if desired)

Variations:

  • For a plain buttercream, this recipe is works without the additional chocolate
  • You can substitute different chocolates to achieve a similar result
  • You can substitute margarine and shortening for butter (to stabilize, to reduce cost, or achieve a more “commercial” flavour)

FAQs, Tips, Troubleshooting:

  • On bain marie – in a small sauce pot, fill the pot with roughly 2 inches of water over low to medium heat, the water should be a low simmer. Be cautious not to use too much water and/or too high of a temperature, otherwise your eggs will coagulate at the sides of the bowl.
  • On margarine and shortening – using a bit of margarine and shortening stabilizes the buttercream (good for hot humid days), but too much will affect the overall taste and texture of the final product.
  • There is a point where it will seem like the butter is not being incorporated into the Swiss meringue – just keep adding and whipping, it will come together.
  • On storage – it can be kept a room temperature for 3-4 days or weeks in the refrigerator and even in the freezer for longer. Regardless of having the buttercream in the fridge or the freezer, it just come to room temperature before re-whipping.
  • My meringue didn’t whip up. What went wrong? Perhaps some grease/fat snuck in with the egg whites (grease will prevent the meringue from whipping up)
  • My buttercream is separated. What should I do? Two options: 1) warm slightly over simmering water, (or with small, short bursts in the microwave) and stir vigorously until smooth and shiny. Be careful not melt the buttercream; or 2) place the separated buttercream in the mixing bowl in with a paddle on low speed, and use a blowtorch to warm the side of the bowl.

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