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Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Summary

Yield
Enough to fill and frost one 8" or 9" layer cake
SourceAdapted from KitchenSideCar
Prep time30 minutes
Cooking time
Total time30 minutes

Description

Sometimes cream cheese frosting is just better than plain buttercream. This is the frosting for those occasions. It's softer than regular buttercream, but just as delicious.

Ingredients

4  
egg whites (large, about 160 g)
140 g
sugar (granulated, NOT powdered)
200 g
butter (at room temperature and cut into small pieces)
200 g
cream cheese (at room temperature and cut into small pieces)
1⁄4 t
lemon extract
1 t
vanilla extract

Instructions

Equipment needed for this recipe:

  • A double boiler, or a bowl large enough to sit on a pot of simmering water without the bottom of the bowl touching the water
  • A heavy-duty stand mixer. You can use a hand mixer instead, but be forewarned - this recipe requires A LOT of beating, and a hand-mixer just isn't the ideal tool.

I actually prefer the bowl/pot combination for this recipe, as there's a lot of stirring and checking of temperatures, both of which are a little difficult in my deep, narrow double boiler. Combine the egg whites and sugar in the top of your double-boiler/bowl, and heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until the temperature reaches 140 F. Keep the whites at 140 for three minutes, lifting the bowl off the water if it starts to get too hot. Transfer to the mixing bowl, and whip with the whisk attachment on high until the whites form stiff, glossy peaks (5-7 minutes). Feel of the side of the bowl - if the mixture seems hot enough to melt butter, wait a few more minutes for it to cool. Swap out the whisk for the flat paddle, turn the mixer to medium, and start adding the butter in 1- to 1-T chunks. Wait until each chunk seems incorporated before adding the next. DON'T PANIC if your icing all of a sudden clots up and looks soupy - keep adding butter. After all butter is added, add the cream cheese in the same way. If you don't get shiny curds and some clearish liquid at this stage, you're a lucky, lucky person. Again, don't panic.Turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until it forms a smooth frosting. This can take as little as a minute or two, or as long as over 10 if you've got a bowl of curd soup. Keep beating - it will come out okay. The clotting happens when the butter is too cold. If it looks like your butter is melting when you add it, or the frosting is smooth but looks too soft, you may have added the butter before the meringue cooled sufficiently. If so, set it in the fridge for a while, then beat again (you'll probably go through the curd soup stage) until it's a nice frosting consistency.
 
I really like the lemon/vanilla combination for cream cheese frosting, but you can try other flavorings. Add them to your frosting and beat to mix. I've sprinkled in some powdered ginger (about a teaspoon) with good results. I'm sure you could do this one in chocolate, too.
 
Use to cover and fill layer cakes, sheet cakes and cupcakes. This frosting is very fluffy and threatens to slide right off your cake, but the heaven piggy cake sat out for 24 hours at room temperature, and nothing slid around. I'd hesitate to recommend it if your cake will be sitting for long periods in hot, humid or sunny conditions. It's great for cupcakes, though - while it can be piped, it's just as easy to dollop.

Notes

I find that cream cheese buttercream frosting tends to have more clotting problems than regular buttercream. I'm not totally satisfied with my results thus far - I think the butter/cream cheese ratio probably needs to be higher than 50% for reliable stability, but I haven't investigated this in any systematic way so far.
 
The flavor and texture of this one is markedly different from all-butter buttercream. Which one is appropriate depends on the application. I like them both a lot, though, and will never go back to cheater buttercream for cakes and cupcakes.

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