I’ve been craving a really great frosting for a couple months now. My old go-to (pre-paleo) was the usual: powdered sugar, butter, cream. You know, classic buttercream. I had mastered it. Enter paleo, and not a single one of those ingredients is on the “ok” list. So I was back to square one.
In my research for a powdered-sugar-less frosting, I came across meringue-based frostings. Since then, I’ve made both French Buttercream and Swiss Meringue Buttercream. What’s the difference, you ask? A lot, actually.
French Buttercream is made by whipping raw egg yolks until fluffy, then beating in hot sugar syrup (or in my case, maple syrup), then adding shortening/butter. This makes a super thick, dense, creamy frosting and it tastes incredible. BUT, it was just too heavy for me. And I really love frosting. Also, the egg yolks were uncooked, which can be a problem for some people. I wanted a frosting everyone could safely eat.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream is somewhat the opposite. It uses egg whites that are cooked with a sweetener, whipped into a meringue, and then shortening/butter is added to it to make the buttercream frosting. This results in a much lighter, less sweet frosting that is also safe for everyone to eat, even kids.
The only problem with Swiss Meringue Buttercream is that it’s a little finicky. I won’t say it’s easy to fail at (it’s not), but it does require a little extra work to get it just right. I thought I failed at it a couple times, but it turns out I was just being impatient. Temperature and time are key ingredients to the perfect frosting. But the good thing is that if you fail at those (as I initially did), it’s an easy fix and you don’t have to throw away all your hard work.
So now that you’re mentally prepared to take on the Swiss Meringue Buttercream, what will you put it on? Might I suggest the Grain-Free Chocolate Mud Cake? It makes fabulous cupcakes too.
- 4 Large Egg Whites, about 160g
- 1-1/4 cups Mild-Flavored Honey* or Maple Syrup
- 1 cup Spectrum Shortening, room temperature, cut into Tbsp size chunks
- 1/2 cup Ghee**, room temperature, cut into Tbsp size chunks
- 1 Vanilla Bean, split and scraped or 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
- Add egg whites and honey/maple syrup to the bowl of a stand mixing. Place over a pot with about 1" of gently simmering water.
- Slowly heat the egg white mixture to 160°F (reduce 2°F for every 1,000ft in elevation), whisking occasionally.
- Immediately remove from heat. With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed until it nearly triples in size, is bright white, and has stiff peaks. Add in the scraped vanilla bean seeds (discard the pod) or vanilla extract and beat just until incorporated. If the meringue is still warm (feel the outside of the bowl, it should be cool), wait to add the shortening/ghee.
- Once the meringue is cool enough, using the paddle attachment, beat in the shortening/ghee one chunk at a time. The meringue will deflate and maybe even look curdled or soupy. Just keep beating it, and it will eventually come together in a thick, creamy frosting. It may take about 5-ish minutes.
- Worst case, if it's still not coming together and is too runny, put it in the fridge for about an hour, let it firm up, and then beat it again.
- Frost your cooled cake or cupcakes right away, or store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- If refrigerating, set out at room temperature for a few hours and then re-beat the frosting to get it spreadable.
- Store frosted cakes in the fridge if not serving same day.
* We prefer maple syrup over honey, since the honey flavor can be a bit overpowering. A combination of both maple and honey is good as well.
** Ghee adds a great flavor to this frosting, but if you don't have any, can't get any, or don't want to use it, you can use all shortening instead.
Nutrition Information:Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g