December 20, 2010

Swiss meringue buttercream

These cupcakes were made in November in celebration of Yulee's birthday which I never got around to make a post. I have only made cupcakes a handful of times before and they were all before my great culinary breakthrough. I'm not a fan of the traditional buttercream which is literally butter and frightening amount of powdered sugar. I like whipped cream frosting, but it is difficult to keep outside the fridge for too long. I've used nutella before and just sprinkled some chopped almond. It was quite good, but is limited in flavor creativity. So I'm very happy to have found a new alternative that actually doesn't taste like sugar! Be warned though, it is still extremely high in butter, which makes it tastes oh silky smooth.

This post is only about the frosting and not the cake. I don't remember what recipe I used for the chocolate cupcake, but it wasn't very good anyway. I'm still searching for that perfect moist and chocolatey chocolate cake recipe.

Espresso Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(adapted from Thee Boastful Baker)

***Makes about 5 cups

5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoon of instant espresso powder
  1. Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water.
  2. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
  3. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form.
  4. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
  5. With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Dissolve the espresso powder in vanilla extract.
  7. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla.
  8. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth.
  9. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month.
  10. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.
Baking notes: The buttercream keeps very well in room temperature. To warm up the refrigerated leftover you need to bring it to room temperature, which is impossible during winter time. I usually just turn my oven on for a minute and put the frosting in there to warm up. Take it out every few minutes to stir.

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