Friday, July 25, 2014

cream cheese swiss meringue buttercream

For those who read my blog regularly, you would have noticed that I almost always use Swiss Meringue Butterream (SMBC) to frost my cakes and cupcakes. It is the buttercream I prefer for it is easy to pipe and it holds up really well in the hot and humid weather of Singapore.

The first time I made a SMBC, I was super nervous.

No matter how many times I read the recipe, I was still worried that I may get it wrong. Although by now I have made so many pots of buttercream that I can probably make it in my sleep, I still remember how nerve-racking the process can be.

So I made a Red Velvet cake about a week ago and a traditional American cream cheese frosting to go with it. While the frosting was pretty good, it was impossible to frost it the way I like because cream cheese frosting does not behave very well.
So I was pretty determined that I was going to squeeze in some time this week to make a SMBC version. I had already bookmarked a recipe to try (after having read god knows how many recipes) and I was pretty confident that this would work.

As with a regular SMBC, I started by cutting the butter into cubes and setting it aside.
My kitchen is pretty warm, so I find that cutting the butter just before I start making the buttercream works really well for me.

In a mixing bowl placed over a pot of simmering water, I whisked together the egg whites and sugar until the sugar had melted. If you are unsure, rub some of the meringue between your fingers and if it does not feel gritty, it is ready.
I placed this on my mixer, and using the whisk attachment, I whisked this until a stiff-peaked meringue was formed. This may take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on your mixer.
This is how the meringue should look like when it is ready.
It is VERY IMPORTANT that the meringue is no longer warm before you add the butter!!

Once the meringue was cool, I swapped the whisk for the paddle attachment and added the butter, beating all the while at medium speed.
When all the butter had been added, I up the speed, and continued beating.

The mixture may start to curdle.
It is okay. Just keep beating.

Eventually, the mixture will become smooth.
If you find that the mixture is not going anywhere even though you have been mixing and mixing, then place it in the fridge for 5-10 minutes and beat again.

If you have reached this stage, then congratulations - you have made SMBC!

So now, I placed the cream cheese into another mixing bowl, and using the paddle, I beat it until it became light and fluffy. You will need to scrape the bowl a few times with a spatula to make sure this is thoroughly whipped.
I added the SMBC to the cream cheese in a few additions, and beat on medium-low speed after each addition.
After all the SMBC had been added to the cream cheese, I continued beating on medium-high speed until the frosting was like stiffly whipped cream.
I added a pinch of salt and the vanilla extract.

That's it! Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream to frost my Red Velvet Cake!
I much prefer this to the original frosting.

It is way easier to work with, and a lot less sweet.
It also makes a cake that is way prettier!

Note: If you have never made a SMBC before, I would advise that you mater SMBC before attempting to make the cream cheese version as it is a bit more tricky to make.

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Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream (Makes enough to frost a 2 layer 9-inch cake)
Adapted from sugarandsnapshots

4 egg whites
1 cup (225g) caster sugar
1 1/2 cup (337.5g) unsalted butter, cubed
12 oz (340g) softened cream cheese
A pinch of salt
2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract

1.Place the bowl over a pot of gently simmering water and heat the egg white-sugar mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is hot to the touch, about 160˚F (71.1˚C).
2. Attach the bowl to the mixer base and beat the mixture with the whisk attachment on medium speed until foamy, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until you get a stiff-peaked meringue. If the meringue is still warmer than room temperature, reduce the speed to low and stir until completely cool.
3. Meanwhile, cut the unsalted butter into cubes and let it come to room temperature while the meringue whips. The butter should be a spreadable consistency and not melty in any way.
4. Add the butter, cube by cube, to the meringue, stirring on low speed. The meringue will fall and start to look curdled, but keep adding the butter and stirring and it will come together into a fluffy frosting. 5. Scrape the frosting into a different bowl and set aside.
6. In the mixer bowl, whip the cream cheese until very light and fluffy.
7. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl several times with a spatula to make sure it is thoroughly whipped.
8. One spoonful at a time, gradually add the SMBC to the whipped cream cheese, stirring on medium-low speed. Once combined, the frosting should be like softly whipped cream. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is like stiffly whipped cream. Add a dash of vanilla and a pinch of salt. You can use the frosting right away, or chill it to firm up a bit (re-whip before using).


  1. helpful step by step pictures! I did smb before, the first two times were okay and i remember the 3rd time was a failure, cldnt remember why..

    1. Lena, it happens sometimes. This is not an easy buttercream. I think once I panicked too but after placing the bowl back into the fridge for a while and whipping again, it was alright. PHEW!

  2. Thank you so much for this! I just tried making it yesterday and it tasted great! However, I can't seem to get the smooth texture like yours. Mine turns out abit lumpy. This seems to be a consistent problem when I make buttercream. Wonder what might have went wrong. Could it be my hand mixer?

    1. Andrea, yes it could well be. I won't make this with a hand mixer - it'd take way too long!!

  3. i tried to mix cream cheese into IMBC before and it was a disaster. it became curdled. yours is the other way around. is it firm enough for piping?