I will openly admit that American buttercream and I are not best friends. I want to like it. I’ve tried hard, but it’s just too sweet for my curmudgeonly nature.
Swiss meringue buttercream, on the other hand, is light, luxurious, easy to make, and perfectly pipe-able. It’s far less sweet than American buttercream and has an irresistible silky texture. I used it to frost this Chocolate Layer Cake—a crowd favorite in my family.
If you’re looking for a frosting to smooth over a cake or pipe into rosettes, a Swiss meringue buttercream is the answer to your cake decorating prayers.
This chocolate version of Swiss meringue buttercream is easy to make, is more stable than American buttercream, and stores well. You can completely frost a cake days in advance, keep it in the fridge, and bring it to room temperature just before serving for a beautiful result every time!
This frosting is for the chocolate loving planners among us.
WHAT IS SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM?
Swiss meringue buttercream has a base of egg whites and sugar heated to 160° F over a double boiler (a bowl set over a pot of simmering water). The combination is then whipped at high speed while adding butter a tablespoon at a time. Finally, fold in the chocolate. Easy peasy.
Heating the egg whites reduces the risk of any harmful bacteria from uncooked whites, while simultaneously dissolving the sugar. Couple that with the fat from butter, and you’ve got the telltale silky mouthfeel of Swiss meringue buttercream.
IS SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM SAFE?
Yes, Swiss meringue buttercream is safe to eat. For this recipe, you’ll whisk the egg whites in a bowl set over simmering water until they reach 160°F. That will kill any risk of salmonella.
WAYS TO ADJUST THIS RECIPE
When writing this recipe, I used different amounts and different kinds of chocolate. I tried both semisweet and bittersweet chocolate. I also made batches with eight ounces, 10 ounces, and 12 ounces of chocolate. In the end, I landed on 10 ounces of bittersweet chocolate.
For me, 10 ounces of bittersweet chocolate gave me the perfect balance of flavors and still provided that silky Swiss meringue buttercream texture. All of this to say: If you want to mix it up, feel free to play around with the chocolate ratios a little bit.
If you want an even richer buttercream, feel free to add up to an additional quarter cup of butter.
TROUBLESHOOTING SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
Why is my buttercream grainy?
If your chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream is grainy, it’s probably one of two things. First, you didn’t dissolve the sugar well enough while whisking the eggs and sugar over the double boiler, or you cooled your chocolate a bit too much.
- To prevent grainy buttercream: Dip your index finger into the heated egg white and sugar mixture. Rub it between your finger and your thumb. If you feel any grittiness, keep whisking, and test again in a few minutes. It should feel completely smooth.
- Check the sides of the bowl: While whisking, it’s not uncommon for some small sugar granules to get stuck to the sides of the bowl. Use a spatula to incorporate it into the mixture.
- Over-cool chocolate: You might have cooled your chocolate too much, and when the cool chocolate is folded into the cool whipped egg white and sugar mixture you could get small flecks of chocolate.
Why is my Swiss buttercream too loose?
You just finished whipping in all that luscious butter and folding in the melted chocolate, only to have droopy frosting. Don’t panic! The egg whites were probably still a little warm when you started adding the butter.
- Pop the frosting into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to let it cool down, then whip it again. It might look a little clumpy, but just keep going. You’ll probably need to re-whip it for about five minutes.
Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream is used to pipe designs on this chocolate layer cake.
CAN YOU PIPE SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM?
Absolutely!!! Pipe this homemade Swiss meringue buttercream into all the swoops and swirls your heart desires.
HOW LONG WILL SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM LAST AT ROOM TEMPERATURE?
My guess is you’re not planning to leave this cake on the counter for days on end. You probably just want to know if you can take the cake out of the fridge in the morning, because you need room for all the other party food. The answer to that question is, “Yep, you sure can!” It can sit at room temperature all day.
CAN I MAKE SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM AHEAD OF TIME?
Yes, you can! Feel free to set yourself up for success by making this frosting up to four days ahead of time and keeping it covered in the refrigerator. You will need to re-whip it to make it fluffy again before frosting your cakes.
CAN YOU FREEZE SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM?
Made the frosting, then your plans changed? No worries! Swiss meringue buttercream freezes beautifully. Pop it in the freezer for up to three months. I’ve seen people say it keeps as long as six months, but my personal experience has maxed out at three months.
Thaw it completely in the refrigerator, then re-whip it before frosting.
NEED MORE FROSTING IN YOUR LIFE? WE GET IT!
- Vegan Chocolate Frosting
- Easy Vanilla Buttercream
- Extra Rich Chocolate Frosting
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- Swiss Meringue Frosting