Vanilla Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

I wanted to make St. Patrick’s day cookies …cute little four leaf clover sugar cookies. Sigh, unfortunately Meijer’s does not have four leaf clover cookie cutters. This made me a little sad …then I decided to make Vanilla Cupcakes with Swiss meringue Buttercream. I have made a boiled frosting’s before and half the time I fail.

My first batch went well until I added the butter …. it curdled … and then it didn’t come back together. I thought okay fine I will try again. I set up everything and everything was going well. Then at the final part where I needed to add the butter again…utter failure. I got mad… I cried…then I cleaned. I set up for the third time. Brian did some research and apparently I needed to wait till the butter comes to room temperature and I was adding butter that was just still too cold. I then walked away while the egg whites and butter came to room temperature. Once the butter and egg whites were at room temperature I started yet again. I cooked the egg whites to 160 , whipped the egg whites to stiff white peaks, and added the room temperature butter to the egg whites. The buttercream starts to curdle and I start to panic. I then fiddled with the dial …talked to myself … and then finally walked away while waiting for it to come back together. Finally success , I was so happy … I even squeeled like a little girl.

One of my favorite shows is Grey’s Anatomy…yes I am a Grey’s Anatomy Junkie.  Well one of my favorite characters is Izzy Stevens and a great quote from her character is the following;

Izzie: If you wait a few minutes you can have a piece of cake, baked chock full of love. Actually chock full of unrelenting, all-consuming rage and hostility, but still tasty.

These cupcakes were not baked with chock full of love…but it is baked with chock full of tears, frustration, and anger. Though in the end I had a sense of pride and success. I have never had Swiss meringue buttercream before and it was a unique taste. It is silky, smooth, and buttery.


Vanilla Cupcakes


½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

zest of 1 lemon (optional)

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

¼ cup milk

1-1 ½ recipes easy vanilla buttercream frosting


Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.  Set pan aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides and beating well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest, if using.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in pan 5 minutes.  Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Prepare frosting.  Decorate cooled cupcakes as desired.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.

Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (don’t worry, it will come together!)  Stir in the vanilla extract and mix just until incorporated.  Tint with gel icing color as desired.

Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

Yield: about 5 cups

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