Whenever I’m vending or talking to people about Sugar Euphoria, one of the first questions that I’m asked is “What’s your favorite cake flavor?” Now this is a really tough question for me. I’ve always been a serious chocoholic. I’m talking about chocolate cake, with chocolate frosting, topped with chocolate ice cream, and drizzled with chocolate sauce. This is an inherited trait, because my dad may be worse than me. But lately, I’ve been pretty addicted to my vanilla cupcakes. Now, it’s really hard to determine which cake I like more – vanilla or chocolate – and after much deliberation, I realized that I couldn’t decide. So instead of hurting my head over that internal debate, I turned my attention to the frosting.
There was no contest there. Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMB) is my all-time favorite. It’s so silky and has the right amount of sweetness without being overpowering. Plus, it’s really stable and you can add just about any flavor (extract, chocolate, puree) to it. My personal favorite is strawberry SMB *swoons*. It’s absolutely perfect for the summer.
Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
4 oz (about 1/2 cup) strawberries, fresh or frozen (if using frozen, thaw)
2 egg whites
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature (but not softened)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
small pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. To make the buttercream, hull the berries and cut into pieces. Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender and pass through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds; set aside.
2. Combine the egg whites, sugar, and pinch of salt in a heat-proof bowl set over barely simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water and that steam doesn’t escape, also be sure you keep the heat low so the water never boils.
3. Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are hot to the touch – when you rub the mixture between your fingers, it should be smooth, without granules of sugar. This will take about 10-15 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat and quickly wipe off any condensation from the bottom of a bowl with a towel. Transfer to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
5. Whip on high speed until the egg whites form stiff, glossy peaks; about 5-10 minutes.
6. Cut the butter into 1 tbsp. pieces and add to the running mixer, one piece at a time, until completely incorporated. Continue beating on high speed.
7. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla. Beat for about a minute, until incorporated. Then, still on low speed, gradually add the strawberry puree and beat for 3-4 minutes, until the strawberries are completely incorporated and all the air pockets are gone.