I have made multiple attempts to make Swiss meringue buttercream. I know you have to heat the egg whites and sugar to at least a 140 while stirring the mixture over lightly simmering heat. I know you then have to put it in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and whip until stiff peaks form. I know you have to add the butter while it's still slightly cooler than room temperature one tablespoon at a time, pausing between additions to make sure it is all incooperated. I have done this 3 times and failed all 3 times. I don't know what I'm doing wrong and I really want to get this right because I really don't like American butter cream. Please help. Is there a secret that I missing?? I tried different recipies, read about it, and watched so many Youtube videos. I am an intermediate baker with years of experience so this is REALLY frustrating. I'll take all the help I can get!
I don’t make Swiss Meringue very often, but I did see a few things that I do differently. I heat the sugar and eggs to 165 degrees and don’t wait for the butter to blend before adding more. Other than that I make it the same as you. How does yours turn out?
The only thing I do differently is add smaller amounts of butter at a time, but I don't think it would make that much difference. You may need to let the egg whites whip a bit longer until the bowl is cool to the touch before adding the butter. That being said, you probably did not fail. You probably just needed to beat it longer. The first time I made it, I had to beat it for almost an hour before it came together like it was supposed to, but eventually it did. After that first attempt, it didn't take nearly as long, but still a whole lot longer than I would have expected. Next time, just set your mixer on medium and let it do it's magic. I am betting it will work for you.
You didn't exactly say what was going wrong. The most common problem that folks have is that after adding the butter it "curdles" and won't come together. This happens if the butter is too cold. If you end up with a bowl full of curdles you are just one step away from success. Don't throw it out! Walk away and let it mix until it comes together, assuming your room is reasonably warm and it will warm enough on its own. Or warm the bowl slightly while the mixer is running, until it starts to come together. Everyone has their own technique for warming the bowl, but I just use my blow dryer gently on the outside while the mixer is running, and it usually takes just a matter of moments to start to come together. Also, make sure your meringue is really whipped up nice and stiff and is mounding up in the bowl before adding the butter. I Don't think the meringue temp matters. I have gone from mid 140s F to low 160s F with no difference. As long as it is pasteurized and the sugar is dissolved on the one hand, and the eggs don't cook on the other, it is flexible. I have just gradually edged higher over the years for safety. Next time, let your butter come fully to room temp. I don't think I have ever had a problem with butter being too warm. If the frosting is a bit soft when completed, chill it slightly after it is finished if needed. If you refrigerate or freeze your frosting, allow it to come fully to room temp before mixing it up again, otherwise it will curdle once again, and need to be warmed up a bit. I had one I was defrosting that was still too cold when I tried to mix it up and it separated into chunks of butter in a clear syrup which sloshed out of the mixer all over the place and I still saved what was left of it! HTH