So today I’m sharing a total culinary adventure with you. After binge watching some Craftsy classes on Labor Day, I was introduced to a buttercream I’ve never made before… French Meringue Buttercream.
French Meringue Buttercream
After watching a few demonstrations of how to make this buttercream, I thought I had it down no problem. I often make Swiss meringue buttercream and have pretty much mastered it over years. I’ve even had a mini heart attack seeing a baker on Cupcake Wars throw a batch of Swiss meringue in the trash because it had curdled. As if she could hear me… I yelled at the TV “but you could’ve tried to fix it!” LOL
Anyway, Swiss meringue uses a meringue that you make by dissolving sugar in egg whites over a double boiler. You heat the egg whites up so they are safe to eat once cooled and mixed in with the butter. French meringue buttercream uses pasteurized egg whites so there is no need for a double boiler, but you beat the egg whites to just a soft peak. This step differs from Swiss meringue where you beat to stiff peaks.
Another big difference between the 2 is that French meringue buttercream uses powdered sugar… about what you would see in a standard American buttercream. So if you’re looking for a less than American buttercream sweet then this is probably not your first choice. Swiss meringue or traditional French buttercream or a flour and milk based buttercream are all less sweet.
Where there is buttercream there must be butter. When I made this I used all butter in lieu of using part butter, part shortening… because I’m a rebel. Well actually, I didn’t have any shortening on hand, but also because I am a little bit rebel where that is concerned. If you are in need of a pure white buttercream than yes, you will need shortening to achieve this. I personally prefer the flavor of butter over shortening and I have not yet had the need to create a pure white buttercream.
I decided that I would not create an official recipe in this post because I’m basically sharing with you my experiment. So here is my ingredient list:
- 2 c (4 sticks) butter, room temperature
- 1 c pasteurized egg whites
- 2 tsp real lemon juice
- 6 c powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp vanilla
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with 5 c of powdered sugar and the lemon juice. Beat on medium high speed stopping occasionally to scrape down the bowl to make sure that the sugar is getting completely incorporated. You will need to beat for about 10 minutes or so until soft peaks form.
- Once the meringue is at a soft peak, move it to another bowl and set aside. Replace the whisk attachment with the paddle attachment and beat the butter with 1 c of powdered sugar and salt. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Now fold the meringue into the beaten butter gently by hand in three additions.
- Replace the bowl back on the mixer and switch back to the whisk attachment. Beat the buttercream on medium to medium high speed until it comes together. Don’t forget to stop to scrape the bowl down occasionally. Switch back to the paddle and add the vanilla. Beat the buttercream until nice and fluffy, add more powdered sugar 1/2 c at a time if you need to thicken.
A few notes:
Here is a recipe video that I watched to learn this recipe and the process. You’ll notice that in the video he finishes the buttercream by using the whisk attachment. I did start with the whisk, but then finished using the paddle attachment because I thought that my buttercream could be more fluffy and the paddle attachment usually does a great job doing just that.
I also had to do some troubleshooting. One of the tutorials I watched stated that just like other buttercreams you can refrigerate this one, but be sure to fluff it back up with your mixer after it comes back to room temperature. Well I did that and it started to separate. womp womp 🙁 Thankfully, I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I could apply to try to fix it.
Trick #1 was to put a few tablespoons of the messed up buttercream into a small microwave safe dish and microwave for 15 seconds. Then with the mixer on a low speed pour the melted buttercream into the bowl and gradually increase speed and mix until it comes back together. This is a trick I learned when I made Swiss meringue buttercream and it curdled/separated when I added fresh fruit to it. It sort of worked when I did this for the French meringue buttercream so I moved on to…
Trick #2 corn starch. I saw that the buttercream still appeared a bit “wet” even though it seemed to be coming together. I could’ve added more powdered sugar, but that just would’ve made it sweeter. By adding 1 tablespoon of corn starch at a time I could absorb some of the extra moisture without affecting the flavor. 2 tablespoons did it for me and I avoided buttercream disaster! 😀
Thanks for sticking with me on this week’s culinary adventure. Stay tuned… coming up I used this buttercream to decorate a cake for our anniversary. 😉
Stay classy my baking friends!
PS If you would like to try making traditional French buttercream, check out this post and for Swiss meringue buttercream check out this post (see the mint chocolate chip buttercream part of the recipe).