Today I’m bringing you a wonderful recipe for the smoothest, silkiest, best mint Swiss meringue buttercream around.
Adding a touch of green food coloring and a few drops of peppermint oil to Swiss buttercream may be the best thing that ever happened to mint frosting!
Give it a try, and see if it is not the best! It goes perfectly as a frosting for this mint chocolate sheetcake, and if you love buttery minty goodness, you may love my easy buttermints recipe too.
Different Types of Buttercream
The buttercream many Americans are familiar with is American buttercream. This is butter-based and contains a lot of powdered sugar and some flavorings. Maybe a touch of additional liquid to achieve a nice spreading consistency.
French buttercream is made by cooking whole beaten eggs with a hot sugar syrup while whipping them. To that whipped base, you slowly add bits of softened butter until it comes together in a very rich, smooth, silky buttercream.
Italian buttercream is where you make an Italian meringue and then whip butter into that in the same way as described for French buttercream.
Swiss buttercream is identical to Italian buttercream except that you start with a Swiss meringue.
German buttercream is based on whipping cooled butter into pastry cream.
Ermine frosting, which is arguably the traditional frosting for red velvet cake, is made very similarly to German buttercream, except it does not contain eggs. It makes me wonder if the person/people who developed ermine frosting were German and just didn’t have any eggs on hand.
I guess that is a post for another day!
If There are So Many Types of Buttercream, Why Choose Swiss?
I am an equal opportunity buttercream lover. I really am. I even like some of the grocery store bakery frostings.
So I’m not coming from any kind of place of snobbery when I say this.
Swiss buttercream is the sweet spot between light, buttery, and pipability. If that’s a word.
French buttercream is pretty magical and has long been a favorite of mine, but there is no denying that it is super super rich from all the butter plus all the egg.
Another issue with French buttercream is it is harder to get pure flavors because the egg flavor is so distinct.
Any flavoring you add to French buttercream will get a little “muddied” because of the egg.
To an extent, the same can be said for German or custard buttercream.
For purest flavor, my vote is to leave the egg yolk out of the equation altogether.
And that leaves us with Swiss or Italian meringue.
Swiss and Italian buttercreams are super similar, but I come down on the side of Swiss because it’s easier to make.
It’s the difference between whisking your meringue over hot water (Swiss) versus cooking a sugar syrup and then beating that into whites (Italian).
What Temperature to Cook the Meringue?
Older recipes will tell you to whisk the sugar and whites over hot water just until the sugar all dissolves. We’re talking maybe 115-120F.
If you have very fresh eggs and have no health concerns, you’ll be fine.
But, if you are a bit concerned, there are two other temperatures to note.
Whisking your whites/sugar over hot water until they reach 140F gets them out of the temperature danger zone and will result in killing most bacteria that might be lurking.
I go one step further and whisk my meringue until it reaches 165F. This is the temperature at which eggs are cooked, and therefore your resulting buttercream will be that much more stable.
It’s your choice. 120F, 140F, or 165F.
The ingredients for mint Swiss meringue buttercream are basic and you may already own everything you need:
- egg whites: provides the structure for the buttercream
- salt: tempers the sweetness and brings out the butter flavor
- sugar: sweetens and keeps whites from overwhipping
- butter: provides body and mouthfeel; carries the flavor
- flavorings (in this case, mint, but you can flavor it in all sorts of ways)
- green food coloring: completely optional, but it visually reinforces the mint flavor
The process of making Swiss buttercream takes some time, but it is straightforward.
I do strongly recommend that you not try to make Swiss or other classic European frostings without a stand mixer.
They really are the right tool for this job.
- Whisk egg whites, sugar, and salt in your mixer bowl set inside a pot of water, making sure the bottom of your bowl doesn’t touch the water itself.
- Whisk and whisk until you reach your desired temperature (about 120F to dissolve all the sugar, 140F to get it out of the temperature danger zone, or 165F to ensure the egg whites are cooked)
- Remove the bowl from the pot of water and attach it to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Whisk on medium high to high speed until the meringue is thick and billowy and at room temperature.
- Add the soft but still cool butter, a piece at a time, whisking thoroughly between each addition.
Why Is My Butterceam Thinning Out? Did I Do Something Wrong?
You know how when they tell you fat is the enemy of meringue? Well, in small amounts, it is.
Fat will break down a beautiful, billowy meringue into a thinner mixture that won’t hold peaks.
This is completely natural and how all European style buttercreams behave. Worry not.
The mixture will break down as you start adding the butter, and it may not come back together again until you add the last piece or two.
Don’t worry, it will come back together into a light buttercream that holds its shape on the whisk.
You can immediately frost your cooled cake/s with the buttercream and all will be well.
If for some reason you can’t get to that right away, you can store the buttercream at cool room temperature for 2 days.
You can also refrigerate the frosting for up to 2 weeks or freeze it for up to 3 months.
In any case, before frosting your cakes, bring the buttercream back to cool room temperature and then rewhip it to restore its consistency so it will spread smoothly.
If you try to rewhip it before it has warmed up enough, the frosting will sort fo look like cottage cheese when you rewhip it. If that happens, don’t panic.
Just let the frosting continue to slowly warm up to about 68F before whipping and it will smooth back out.
About the Video
The video for this recipe is a live video, and it’s long. Almost an hour long.
It takes you through the whole process of whisking the whites over the hot water, whipping the meringue in the mixer, and adding the flavorings and all the butter.
While a “hands in pans” video is fun to watch and doesn’t take up much of your time, I think a real-time video best shows how to make something, especially how the meringue breaks down and turns soupy while adding the butter.
If you do not want to watch the whole thing or don’t need to, you can always skip forward.
If you do have some questions after watching the video, I’m only an email away, and I will respond and help you. Promise.
A Note About Measurements
NOTE: Most of my recipes are written by weight and not volume, even the liquids.
Even though I try to provide you with volume measurements as well, I encourage you to buy a kitchen scale for ease of measuring, accuracy, and consistency.
This is the scale I use, love, and recommend.
I really hope you love this recipe, you guys!
A star rating and a review is also really helpful to readers, so if you make this recipe, please rate and review it!
And leave me a comment, too. I love to hear from you guys, and am always working to make the site better!
I’d also love to have you join my PCO newsletter, The Inbox Pastry Chef!
Thanks, and enjoy!
- 4 large egg whites, about 5 oz
- 1 1/4 cups sugar, about 10 oz
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6-8 drops mint extract
- 1 pound butter, soft but still cool
- 2-4 drops green food coloring, optional
- Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer.
- Place it in a pan with about 1-1 1/2" water in it. The pan should be large enough that the bottom of the bowl fits in but small enough that the bottom of the bowl does not hit the water.
- Heat over high heat until the water comes to a boil, whisking the mixture constantly.
- Once the water boils, regulate the temperature to maintain a high simmer, and continue to whisk the whites until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is at least 140F. You can continue to cook and whisk until the temperature gets as high as 180F. I like to whip mine to 165F, but as long as the sugar is completely dissolved, you are good to go.
- Once your whites have reached the desired temperature, remove the bowl from the pot and fix it to your stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Whip on medium high to high speed until room temperature.
- Add the butter, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating the mixture until the butter is completely incorporated before adding the next addition. (NOTE: Please watch the video. You don't want to rush this process. Also, the meringue will break down from the fat and get soupy. Don't worry. It will come together in a beautiful, silky buttercream that holds its shape by the time you add in all the butter.)
- Beat in the peppermint oil and green food coloring (if using). Note that the color will intensify overnight, so to keep the green subtle, lean more towards less food coloring.
Keep in a sealed container at cool room temperature for two days. Store in the fridge for up to a week. Freeze for up to 3 months.
In any case, bring to cool room temperature before rewhipping to restore the silky texture.
Once the cake is frosted, I store it in the fridge, allowing each slice to temper on the counter for 20 minutes or so before eating.
Nutritional information based on 24 servings.
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Nutrition InformationYield 24 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 187Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 41mgSodium 154mgCarbohydrates 13gFiber 0gSugar 12gProtein 1g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
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And there you have it! Enjoy the mint Swiss buttercream–I know you’ll love it.
Thanks for spending some time with me today friends. Take care, and have a lovely day.