Perfect Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Vanilla SMBC Title Card

I love Swiss Meringue Buttercream so much that I’ve already blogged about it. It is my absolute favorite frosting recipe, the one I turn to 99% of the time I make cakes or cupcakes. I’ve made this basic icing recipe so many times that I no longer need to reference the recipe during cooking. I have it memorized. I wonder how many times I whipped it up before it became stamped in my mind forever…that’s a lot of frosting…

For all of you visual learners, I’m now sharing my SMBC* love via video. Check it out, and let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to help you out!

*SMBC is what all of us “serious” cakers call Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Because who’s got time to say all 7 syllables when there’s cakes to be baked, and stacked?

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

6 egg whites
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 pounds butter, softened and cut into tablespoons
2-3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites, granulated sugar and salt. Set over a double boiler over simmering water and whisk frequently until the mixture reaches 150°F on a thermometer.

Whip the hot mixture at high speed with an electric mixer until the outside of the bowl is cool to the touch. Switch to paddle attachment on mixer. While beating on medium-low speed, add the butter, one chunk at a time, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and beat until well combined.


Pumpkin Caramel Torte

From time to time, I write for the blog, A Piece of Cake.

And from time to time, I make something so tempting, something so ooey-good, something so delicious that I feel the need to share it twice.


That’s exactly how I feel about this Pumpkin Caramel Torte, which is nothing short of fall decadence on a plate. Swooooooon over all of that lovely caramel! Head over to and check out my beautiful baby. And please, if you make it, let me know how it turns out for you!

Tropical Honeymoon Cupcakes

Post Update: I’ve made a video for this recipe and you can watch it on my YouTube channel!

tropical cupcakes covertropical cupcakes cover

Ever since my episode of Cupcake Wars aired, people have been asking me for cupcake recipes. Someone on Twitter asked me for the BEST cupcake recipe. That’s a hard one! If your favorite cake is chocolate, but my favorite cake is lemon, then my BEST cupcake recipe is going to differ from yours.

I can confidently say that our recipe for Honeymoon Cupcakes that Milette and I did on Cupcake Wars uses the best coconut cake I have ever tasted. The recipe is unique because it incorporates cream of coconut (the stuff that you use to make pina coladas), sweetened shredded coconut, and coconut flavoring together for a super robust, tropical flavor. Coconut extracts are not all created equal. The imitation stuff you’ll find in the red-labeled bottles tastes just like tanning lotion smells, and that’s just downright nasty. I like Frontier Coconut Flavor. It’s all-natural, so it tastes natural. You can buy it directly from Frontier or at Whole Foods.

We filled the coconut cupcakes with a homemade mango curd, which is easily made with a thick natural mango juice, like Naked Juice Mighty Mango. Top it all off with a tangy cream cheese icing flavored with orange zest and a piece of fresh pineapple for an overall flavor that will transport you on an island vacation…well, not literally, but you get what I’m saying!

Here’s the recipe. You can also get a sweet, printable version at

Tropical Honeymoon Cupcakes

©Beth Somers, 2012

Coconut Cupcakes

1 egg + 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cream of coconut (Cook’s note: Stir cream of coconut before measuring it, as it tends to settle as it sits)
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut, coarsely ground in food processor
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pans with baking cups.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, cream of coconut, water, coconut extract, and vanilla extract until well combined.

In a large bowl, mix flour, ground coconut, sugar, baking powder, and salt with electric mixer on low speed until combined, about 15 seconds. Add butter 1 tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat on low speed until mixture looks dry and crumbly and the largest chunks of butter are about ¼ in. in diameter, about 2 minutes.

Stop the mixer and add half of the liquid mixture. Beat on low speed until the flour mixture is moistened, about 15 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds. With the mixer still running, slowly stream in the remaining liquid. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Beat on medium speed for an additional 30 seconds.

Fill baking cups 2/3 full with cake batter. Bake 19-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in centers of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before filling and frosting.

Mango Filling

2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon +1 teaspoon corn starch
1-1/4 cups thick mango juice, divided
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Pinch kosher salt

In a small bowl, whisk together  egg yolks, cornstarch, and 1/4 cup of mango juice until smooth. In a saucepan, combine remaining mango juice, sugar, and salt. Cook over medium-high heat until boiling. Slowly stream half of the hot liquid into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Add egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Cool before filling cupcakes.

Orange Cream Cheese Icing

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Add orange zest and vanilla extract and beat until fully incorporated.

Makes 13 Cupcakes

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

POST UPDATE: I’ve made a video of this recipe and you can watch it here!

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Cupcakes

Recently@solvethepuzzle_asked me about a fluffy buttercream recipe on Twitter, and it occurred to me that I have yet to blog about my very favorite buttercream icing. How is this possible? I make icing almost every day of my life, sometimes multiple times a day, so it is a subject near and dear to my heart.

First things first –in my opinion, REAL buttercream icings always involve some kind of cooking because they contain eggs. A mixture of butter, shortening, powdered sugar, and flavoring is indeed icing, and it can be tasty, but it isn’t a true buttercream.

My #1, absolute favorite, jaw-dropping buttercream recipe is a Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Don’t be intimidated by the fancy name! It takes a little bit longer to make than the aforementioned powdered sugar recipe, but it’s not difficult and the end results are “Oh My God” worthy.  Swiss Meringue Buttercream is smooth and silky because granulated sugar is dissolved and cooked into egg whites, so there is no grittiness from undissolved granules. I use all butter, all the time, because the flavor is a million times better than a butter/shortening  combo, and it doesn’t leave a grease slick on the roof of your mouth.

Speaking of butter, it should go without saying, but I use unsalted butter in all of my baking. Most recipes include salt in the ingredients list, and if you use salted butter too, you lose control of the total amount of salt in the finished item. I’m a control-freak. I need to control that salt! Plus, who wants to eat overly salty cake??? I’m not talking about salted caramel here, either…

Swiss Meringue Buttercream can be flavored a million different ways. The recipe below includes basic vanilla extract, which can be subbed with seeds from a vanilla bean or for equal parts of vanilla bean paste, which I love.  I’ve added a few ounces of melted dark chocolate to the mix after all of the butter is incorporated. I’ve done the same with caramel sauce. Both have been divine.  A shot of espresso in addition to the vanilla extract is lovely, as are citrus zests.  For Cupcake Wars, we subbed out packed dark brown sugar for the granulated sugar and added a bit of molasses to make an amazing Brown Sugar buttercream for our Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Groom’s Cupcakes. The judges loved it!

This Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe can be adapted to any flavor profile, but keep in mind that it won’t take a lot of liquid. Plan to add ½ cup or less of any liquid flavorings so that the buttercream stays emulsified. Add more, and you risk breaking that beautiful buttercream!

This formula is so basic that I’ve committed it to memory over the years. Make it a few times, and you’ll have it memorized, too!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
Pinch kosher salt
3-1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into tablespoons
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk together the egg whites, granulated sugar, and salt. Cook over a double boiler, whisking frequently, until mixture reaches 140°F. Remove from the heat and whip on high-speed until the mixture is completely cool using an electric mixer. The egg mixture will be very fluffy and voluminous. Congratulations, you’ve just made meringue!

Once the mixture is cool, reduce the mixer speed add the butter one tablespoon at a time, making sure that the last pat is incorporated before adding the next. When you have added about 2-1/2 sticks of the butter, the mixture may start to look curdled. Don’t stress! Just keep whipping and adding the remaining butter one pat at a time and the buttercream will come together. Add the vanilla extract and whip until well combined.

Makes about 3-1/2 cups, or enough to ice about 2 dozen cupcakes.

Do you have a baking question? Tweet me, or leave a comment below, and I’ll try to help you out!