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    Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing

    Robin's Egg Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing

    When I make cakes, I rarely ever make then from scratch. Boxed-cake mixes are my friend. However, when it comes to icing, I will almost always make it homemade. I feel like you can get away with a box cake mix, but you can spot a canned icing a mile away. This Swiss Meringue Buttercream is my go-to icing for cakes, cupcakes, or even inside macarons. It’s silky, creamy, buttery and just delicious.

    This Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe was inspired by one in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. Over time, I’ve adjusted it a little bit to increase volume, and decrease sweetness — just a little. This cookbook has been loved well — you can see by the messy pages. 😉

    Martha Stewart Baking Cookbook
    Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Martha Stewart

    This is a classic buttercream, but lighter and fluffier than most other buttercreams because it starts with a meringue. The time and effort is worth it. And over time with practice (you will want to make this icing a lot!) it will become like second nature and will take less than 10 minutes to make.

    Here what the icing looks like as a meringue – after you’ve cooked the egg whites over the double-boiler and whipped in the mixer with a little vanilla. You can actually use this as an icing at this stage – it is delicious! It’s especially tasty on top of a rich, devil-foods cake!

    Swiss Meringue icing’s soft peaks

    Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing

    Print Recipe
    Serves: 10-12 Cooking Time: 20 minutes


    • 6 egg whites
    • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
    • 1 tbsp. light corn syrup
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1-1/2 cups unsalted butter (room temperature)
    • Food coloring (optional)
    • -------
    • Recommended kitchen tools: whisk, food thermometer, mixer (or hand-held mixer), double-boiler (optional)



    Separate egg whites from egg yokes. Place egg yokes in large, stainless steel mixing bowl. (Set yokes aside to discard, eat, or freeze.) Add sugar to egg whites and whisk together until well combined.


    Fill a medium-sized saucepan with water, about a 1/3 of the way high, and turn heat to high. Carefully place stainless steel mixing bowl, containing egg whites and sugar, over bowl of water. Bring water to boil while constantly whisking egg whites. You should to whisk continuously to keep the eggs from curdling. The tempurature of the egg whites should reach about 150 degrees, to ensure safety of eggs. (A food thermometer is recommended.) This takes about 3-4 minutes.


    Once eggs come to temperature, remove mixing bowl from boiling water and place in mixer. Using whisk attachment, whisk at high speed for 2-3 minutes until soft peaks form. Add corn syrup and vanilla. (Corn syrup is optional, but it gives the icing more structure.) Continue whisking at high speed for a few minutes until stiff peaks form. Stiff peaks are when you pull the mixing attachment away from the bowl and the peaks maintain their shape. They don't droop.


    Add sticks of room temperature butter one at a time. Mix well in-between. You will see that the icing will become a little "gloppy" at this state. That's ok. Just keep mixing until it comes together as a shiny, creamy, fluffy white icing.


    At this time, you can add food coloring, or grated bits of chocolate, like I did in the image above (for a Robin's egg cake.) You can also add tbsp. of cocoa to give it a hint of chocolate flavor.