Frosting is the perfect accompaniment for cupcakes. Indeed, would cupcakes be cupcakes without them? But buttercream frosting has always been a little too sweet for my taste. A delightful treat when you’re a child but not so healthy as you get older.
I only knew of 2 frostings before this: American buttercream and cream cheese frosting. The former, just too damned sweet. The amount of sugar in a recipe is just crazy BUT reduce it to your frosting’s detriment. The sugar is necessary for the frosting to maintain its pipeable consistency.
Cream cheese frosting was an alternative which allowed for less sugar since the cream cheese could contribute some firmness to the frosting but the consistency was too unstable and required constant refrigeration.
Then I discovered Swiss meringue buttercream frosting. If you google “swiss buttercream”, chances are you’ll find The Woodland Bakery Blog. I love how raw and unscripted Gretchen Price’s videos were in the old days. And I find the interaction between her and Jason, the cameraman, just hilarious. She gives good advice and her instructional videos are really informative to a novice like me.
This is her recipe for The World’s Best Swiss Buttercream.
Gretchen also gave me (well not me personally but on her blog) one valuable advice, “I make it a rule not to ever change a recipe before I have had a chance to try it”. Fair enough. So although I was sceptical of the additional icing sugar in the recipe, I stuck to the recipe the first time. Then the next time, I omitted the icing sugar.
The consistency of the swiss meringue is just perfect. The swirls are well defined and keep their shape. Beautiful.
By the way, I added melted chocolate in the basic swiss meringue recipe for these vanilla cupcakes.
The verdict: The consistency of this frosting is perfection. It is easy to pipe, the shapes come out firm and stable. Too sweet with the icing sugar (not just for me but many of my guinea pigs at work agreed) so omit it if you want to live longer. The running joke I tell when colleagues thank me for the cupcakes is that I am actually trying to kill them one at a time with sugar so I can ultimately be the boss.
Don’t kill your colleagues. Kill the sugar.