Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The One: Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Baileys and multiple sticks of butter - it's good already, right? Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) and I have been involved in a love affair, and now I'm going to give you all the details: the good, the bad and the ugly. This takes more time than your typical powdered sugar frosting, but it's mind blowing as far as buttercreams go. You can make all kinds of variations, which is what I'm doing here. This is an Irish Cream SMBC, but the backbone is the same.

Start off mixing egg whites and granulated sugar in your stand mixer's mixing bowl, over a pot of boiling water (it should be a snug fit as double boilers go), until the emulsion is smooth and the sugar is no longer grainy.

Then start mixing with the stand mixer at medium to high speed. The egg whites will stiffen in the 8 to 10 minutes it will take the bowl to cool down.

Now we add the softened butter.

 I realized somewhere along the line, I was talking to the SMBC.

I.  was.  talking.  to.  the.  buttercream.

"You're gonna take all this butter, and you're gonna like it. Take it!"

"Oh, you didn't like it. You've curdled on me. I'm soooo sorry! Please forgive me!"

And then I realized, I'm more powerful than a bowl of butter. I was going to beat it into submission....



Once it came together again, in went the Baileys.


I wish you could smell the glorious victory.

 Baileys Swiss Meringue Buttercream
makes about 4 cups

1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup Baileys Irish Cream

Whisk the sugar and egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer over simmering water until the mixture  is smooth and the sugar is no longer grainy. Remove from heat and beat with the mixer until you have stiff (not dry) peaks. This should take about 10 minutes on medium-high speed. Once the bottom of the bowl is cool to touch, add the softened butter, two tablespoons at a time. If the butter is too cold or firm, the buttercream may curdle and separate. If this happens, continue to beat for several minutes to smoothen out the buttercream. Add the Baileys and mix. Once mixured is combined, switch to paddle attachment and continue to beat until smooth and fluffy.

This buttercream freezes beautifully to be stored for future use. Make sure to bring it to room temperature before re-beating with paddle attachment or the buttercream will curdle.


  1. Haha I am glad you showed the butter who is boss. And, oh, you had me at "Bailey's".

  2. Hi! I was looking up swiss meringue buttercream recipes when I saw yours. From the looks of the other recipes, I think the egg whites and sugar have to be melted together first and the butter has to be cold.
    But I love your sense of humor...haha. :)

  3. Hi Anonymous, thanks for the comment! This post is actually a great example of a mistake many make - that is, using butter that is too cold. I've made SMBC dozens of times and this is the first time it's ever curdled on me! You should allow the butter to soften at room temp for at least a couple hours (I was in a rush and pulled it out a 1/2 hour before). As you can see in the first picture, the egg whites and sugar are always dissolved on a double boiler. Good luck with yours!

  4. Haha This cracks me up because it reminds me of one very frustrating night when my buttercream would not come together and I beat it into submission! And thanks for the recipe, I wasn't sure how much Bailey's it could take!