Pipe Dream #88: To Feel My Way Places – Swiss Meringue Buttercream

My dad is good at driving. He is less good with following directions while driving. We’ll get to talking about how the head gasket is breaking for the third time this year, and suddenly he’ll realize that we’ve missed our exit. The thing is, my dad never gets lost. He feels his way places. It annoys some people, but it’s really not such a bad way to live. You always end up where you’re supposed to be.

Some people are intimidated by bain-maries. I count myself as one of them. I don’t think this is because I am bad at using them necessarily, it’s just that all the things that require double-boiling are usually delicate and easily wrecked.

That being said, I’ve made this frosting three times with perfect results, even though this recipe is more of a feeler recipe than a lab recipe. It doesn’t require an exact temperature for the sugared egg whites and you just have to whip it ‘til it’s good. And by “perfect results,” I mean an extremely smooth, light and buttery frosting. It kind or reminds me of a boiled buttercream, but I would say that this is even more fine.

I flavored the frosting for the brownies with peppermint (because it is winter and I’m addicted) and flavored the frosting for the walnut blondies with vanilla.

With vanilla and feeling,


Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Adapted from smitten kitchen

For a 9-inch cake and filling:

1 cup sugar

4 large egg whites

26 tablespoons butter, softened (3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a big metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk occasionally until you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.

Transfer mixture into the mixer and whip until it turns white and about doubles in size. Don’t get any water in the bowl, now.

Add the vanilla.

Finally, add the butter a stick at a time and whip it ’til it looks like frosting and not a curdled mess.

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