Faux French Buttercream · GF (8 cups)

When setting out to conquer the macaron, people often fail to anticipate the inevitable result of their quest: a near infinite supply of egg yolks. Indeed, anyone with a fondness for mile high meringue, angel food cake or pavlova has faced that same problem. Standing in front of the fridge and staring down a bowlful of egg yolks, we’ve all thought with dispair, “not another batch of lemon curd.”

Some may have the fortitude to dump a dozen yolks down the drain and call it collateral damage, but the rest of us have to face the Egg Yolk Dilemma. Put simply, after transforming egg whites into some lovely dessert, no one wants to make another dessert. With a chocolate meringue pie already on the counter, crème brûlée doesn’t have quite the same allure. But it doesn’t make pitching the yolks any easier.

© 2012 Oculus Studios

Enter French buttercream. It tastes (and looks) like French vanilla ice cream and solves the Egg Yolk Dilemma elegantly. A single batch will clean out your stash of egg yolks and then wait patiently in the freezer until you need it. Having a supply of read-to-use buttercream makes layer cake a weekday affair and cupcakes faster than ever.

So how come most people have never tasted, much less made, French buttercream?

Because professional kitchens have an insatiable appetite for egg yolks. Squandering them on a buttercream just doesn’t make sense when Swiss or Italian will get the job done while using up the less desirable egg whites instead. Meanwhile, cookbook authors and bloggers hesitate asking readers to undertake a recipe that involves pouring molten sugar syrup into the bowl of a mixer whipping on high speed. Especially considering said danger-syrup will burn the crap out of human flesh yet fail to cook the egg yolks enough to eliminate the risk of salmonella.

Rather than give up on French buttercream as too fussy and too potentially risky, I wanted to fix it. Maybe in the tradition of renaming French titled foods I should call the result “Freedom Buttercream” since some less than traditional methods liberate you from the tyranny of boiling syrup and food poisoning.

My friends at Oculus Studios stopped by the restaurant for an impromptu video shoot and a chance to peek in the kitchen. Unlike the Cylons, we didn’t have a plan…or a script. They did their thing while I did mine. My “thing” just so happened to be white chocolate cream cheese (pseudo) French buttercream. I didn’t do a voice over, so don’t think of this as a traditional “how to” video but rather a visual guide to the main points of the recipe, which I’ve detailed below. You can check out another video how to crumb coat a cake for more details on how to use the finished buttercream too.

P.S., The song in the video is called 5 Years Dreaming, by The Hope Circuit. It’s available to stream or download here.

Faux French Buttercream
This recipe yields enough to generously frost and decorate a 3 layer cake or approximately one million cupcakes. Skip to the bottom of the page for details on the white chocolate cream cheese variation.

1 vanilla bean
10 1/2 ounces sugar
10 1/2 ounces egg yolks (from about 15 eggs)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
32 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature (very soft)

Split and scrape the vanilla bean, rubbing the seeds into the sugar.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the vanilla sugar into the egg yolks, along with a pinch of salt.

Place the bowl over a pot of water, set over a medium low flame. If the water starts to boil vigorously, turn the heat down. All you need is enough heat to make the water steam.

The price of eliminating the sugar syrup from the recipe is that you must babysit the yolks over the water bath, stirring and scraping the bowl frequently, if not constantly. Don’t multitask or you’ll wind up with a bowl of sugary scrambled eggs.

Heat the yolk mixture until it reaches 150° then transfer the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed until the bowl is cool to the touch. It will roughly double in volume.

This is ridiculously important: do not, under any circumstance, begin adding the butter until the egg yolk mixture and bowl have cooled to room temperature.

Your butter should be at room temperature and quite soft, but because that’s a bit of a subjective description, here’s a test. If the butter is too firm for a knife to pass through it effortlessly, it’s too cold. Zap it briefly in the microwave to soften.

With the mixer whipping on medium low speed, begin adding in the butter, one chunk at a time. When you’ve added all the butter, shut off the mixer, scrape the bowl down, then mix just a minute longer.

If the mixture starts to look broken or curdled, it’s generally because the butter is too cold. Simply place the bowl of buttercream over the water bath again for 10-15 seconds, until it gets a little melty around the edges, then continue whipping until smooth.

If using vanilla extract, now’s the time to splash some in; or any other flavoring, if you like.

Use immediately or transfer to a heavy duty zippy bag and stash in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Cream Cheese Buttercream

To make the white chocolate cream cheese variation, whip in 12 ounces of cream cheese after adding the butter and 12 ounces of melted and cooled white chocolate and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste. If you like your cream cheese buttercream a little tart, also whip in the juice of 1 lemon at the end.


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Any questions?

Jun 11, 2012 ·  1:46 AM

wow! just what I needed hoping to nail the art of macarons in my upcoming holidays

 · Tina · http://foodfortina.blogspot.com

Jun 11, 2012 · 10:02 AM

Oh no. Not another buttercream I’m going to fall in love with!

Thanks, Stella

 · Kasha the FarmGirl · http://www.thefarmgirlcooks.wordpress.com

Jun 11, 2012 · 10:23 AM

@Tina, this is definitely the perfect companion for macarons! Use up those leftover egg yolks and make your buttercream at the same time.

@Kasha, I know, what is my deal with obscure buttercreams?!


Jun 11, 2012 · 11:53 AM

Great video, loved the way it was shot, as well as the music. I’d been doing the sugar syrup into the egg yolks method but I might switch to this one instead…!

 · amrita · http://www.thesweetart.com

Jun 11, 2012 · 12:06 PM

This sounds de-lish! Do cakes frosted with this buttercream need to be refrigerated, then brought to room temp before serving? Thanks!

 · SamCyn · 

Jun 11, 2012 ·  1:10 PM

You’re one sweet genuis I must admit I’ve washed my fair share of egg yolks down the kitchen sink…no more! And I love a reason to test out any new frosting recipe. French buttercream is somehow so rich and so light to me – my absolute favorite method for chocolate frosting.

 · kate · 

Jun 11, 2012 ·  2:02 PM

Great post! I have had difficulty with curdling and now I know that my butter was too cold. Thanks Stella. You rock!
PS Loved the video!

 · saltandserenity · http://www.saltandserenity

Jun 11, 2012 ·  2:02 PM

@amrita, I think I’d have to do a side by side comparison to discern any difference. Such a time saver and fewer dishes too!

@SamCyn, refrigerate the cake if it’ll be a few days before you get to it (refrigerate until hard, wrap in plastic, then back in the fridge. remove plastic and bring to room temp.). But if you’ll get to it within 48 hours, room temp is fine. Or at least I’ve been doing it that way for years and haven’t seen any negative results yet.

@kate, French buttercream with chocolate is really the best chocolate buttercream out there. Absolutely agree! Happy to meet someone who’s made it before, too.

@saltandserenity, thrilled to help you get to the bottom of the problem. Hurray!!


Jun 11, 2012 ·  2:42 PM

I tried this when you made a comment about it in your Swiss buttercream post. About wasting the egg yolks, you said just switch the whites in your Swiss recipe for yolks and do it exactly the same. It was fabulous, better than the Swiss, in my opinion.

 · cgs9267 · 

Jun 11, 2012 ·  3:49 PM

Since I started making macarons I have been making more ice cream/custards than we can eat. This is awesome…can’t wait to try it.

 · Nate00117 · 

Jun 11, 2012 ·  4:51 PM

I didn’t realize you could freeze the buttercream! That makes me so happy for those times when I make some and have some leftover.

 · Aly · http://fudgingahead.wordpress.com

Jun 11, 2012 ·  4:56 PM

This looks amazing! Is it a good fit for filling the macarons you just made its all those whites?

Also, any tips on keeping buttercream in hot, humid weather? How well does this hold around room temp? I’ve been experimenting with gelatin, but the trial and error process takes so long!

 · Brianna · 

Jun 11, 2012 ·  5:17 PM

Hey Stella,

I found a site that gives recipe recommendations for leftover egg yolks based on how many you have – its been invaluable since the macaron baking frenzy your blog inspired in my kitchen

Recipes to use up extra egg yolks.

 · Tanya · http://intermittentblogger.wordpress.com

Jun 11, 2012 ·  6:55 PM

@cgs9267, ever since I told you about it I’ve been meaning to type up a proper recipe and I finally have! I’m glad you were able to give it a shot anyway, glad you liked it.

@Nate00117, ice cream is great, but it’s nice to be able to mix it up a bit!

@Aly, yes, yes, yes! Frozen buttercream is a godsend when it comes to last minute cakes…

@Brianna, it is wonderful with macarons. I haven’t experimented with this buttercream in a wide variety of situations, but I’d say it’s as stable as Swiss (which I’ve used for outdoor wedding cakes in July). I don’t like to keep buttercream around longer than 48 hours at room temp.

@Tanya, awesome, thanks for sharing!


Jun 12, 2012 ·  4:53 AM

Stella, frist of all thank you for so many wonderful recipes, tips and ideas. I love your blog but I guess that’s no news because it’s just sooooo good! I just have a doubt about this type of buttercream, is it pipeable? Thnx!

 · Tesei · 

Jun 12, 2012 ·  8:58 AM

I can’t wait to try this! A couple of questions, though. For the white chocolate cream cheese variation, the amount of butter remains 2 lbs? Also, do the variations listed in your swiss buttercream recipe work for this as well (i.e. peanut butter, chocolate, etc)? Thanks for all you do!

 · Amy McConnell · 

Jun 12, 2012 ·  9:42 AM

Thx for connecting with me on foodbuzz. I just subscribed to your blog feed and can’t wait to see what your next post will be!

 · CJ at Food Stories · http://www.foodstoriesblog.com

Jun 12, 2012 · 10:12 AM

@Tesei, absolutely pipeable! It won’t crust of course, so it may not be ideal for roses, but you can certainly pipe boarders and swags and such.

@Amy, Yeah, I like adding in the cream cheese on top of the butter. You can reduce the butter by 12 ounces, but the result is a little less stable. I’ve found a good squeeze of lemon brings out the cream cheesiness even though there’s ultimately not that much. And yeah, all the variations for the other recipes will work here too!

@CJ, aw, thanks so much! It may not be the very next post, but the guys from Oculus shot with me all day, so I’ve got several more videos yet to come.


Jun 12, 2012 ·  2:03 PM

I just had a mini heart attack watching you slap that butter into the mixing bowl, yet strangely I want to eat that entire bowl of buttercream.

 · hungry rabbit · http://hungryrabbitnyc.com

Jun 13, 2012 · 12:22 PM

I’ve recently been following your blog—your recipe index is a black hole that I fall into and can’t seem to get out of! So far I’ve tried the German Buttercream and the Strawberry Reduction – yum! When I read this post, I feel like it might not be entirely respectful, but I’m mentally classifying this as “Swissified French Buttercream.”

 · Kristin · 

Jun 13, 2012 ·  6:18 PM

They Cylon reference? Genius!!! I laughed out loud!! LOVE your blog! I never waste a yolk or egg white, my friend. Just not in my DNA. Keep the beautiful recipes coming!

 · 3petitsprinces · 

Jun 13, 2012 ·  6:38 PM

I have enjoyed your site so I’ve nominated you for the Illuminating Blogger Award for illuminating, informative blog content. If you’re interested, you can check out the details here … http://foodstoriesblog.com/illuminating-blogger-award/ … Hope you’re having a great day!

 · Rollin' Momma · http://rollinmomma@blogspot.com

Jun 14, 2012 · 10:15 AM

@rabbit, haha, yeah, my heart tightens a little every time too. Fortunately, it makes a ton of servings so it’s not too bad. Right?

@Kristin, I love it! Swissified has a nice ring to it and is a totally accurate description of the process.

@3petitsprinces, so say we all.

@Rollin’ Momma, you sweetheart! Thank you so much.


Jun 18, 2012 ·  2:07 PM

What a great easy to follow video! I must try to tackle different macaron filling flavors now with all the buttercream variations. I enjoyed reading about you in Food and Wine magazine and I can’t wait to see what you post next.

 · The Culinistas · http://twitter.com/#!/TheCulinistas

Jun 19, 2012 ·  9:43 AM

@The Culinistas, ahh! Thanks for coming by! I’m glad you caught my be-sprinkled debut. This really is a great way to clean those yolks outta your fridge; hope you try it out!


Jun 19, 2012 ·  1:37 PM

Hi, what a great post! I love making buttercreams and will definitely give this one a try. To turn this recipe into a chocolate buttercream, would you recommend adding chocolate in the same way as you do to your Swiss buttercream? I was looking at the “chocolate” variations in that post and wondering if I should follow the same guidelines and proportions listed there?
Thank you, Cat

 · Cat · 

Jun 19, 2012 ·  2:26 PM

@Cat, you’ve got it! You can follow any of those variations with this recipe. Thanks for mentioning it, I will edit this recipe later to include a link so others can check out all the variations too. Or maybe just paste ‘em on here. The only thing to keep in mind with this buttercream is that some flavors don’t jive as well with the custardy flavor. Chocolate and vanilla, yes! Green tea, not so much (or at least, in my opinion). Let your taste buds be your guide.


Jun 22, 2012 ·  3:16 PM

Pinned! What a great way to use up excess yolks so you don’t have leftovers when making macarons.

Our issue at work, however, is we use a lot of yolks in the current lot of dessert recipes so we have a backlog of whites. We already do macarons and “quiffs” (meringue treats) to try to use them up but need other single-serve goodies to eat up the rest.

Any suggestions you find really fly off the dessert shelf?

 · Yumarama · http://Yumarama.com

Jun 22, 2012 ·  3:29 PM

Hi, I was wondering, is this a good recipe to frost a cake? How long does it hold up on a cake? Please let me know because I would love to try this frosting recipe for a babyshower cake I am making. Thanks!

 · Sheila · 

Jun 22, 2012 ·  3:31 PM

Also, I forgot to ask…can the vanilla bean be eliminated and just use vanilla extract? I’m not sure where to find vanilla bean, but I already have vanilla extract on hand. Please let me know if just vanilla extract will do. Thanks.

 · Sheila · 

Jun 22, 2012 ·  7:02 PM

@Yumarama, most of my whites go toward macaron making and Swiss buttercream. Beyond that, I’ve done pavlova, but no doubt you’ve already gone down that path! I don’t do them now cos of our storage problems, but mini-baked Alaskas (covered in Swiss meringue) are another good solution…

@Sheila, this is a great buttercream to frost a cake. It will keep for a day or two at room temperature, or four or five days in the fridge. If you refrigerate it beforehand, just chill the cake down until the buttercream firms up, then wrap it well with plastic and re-refrigerate. The buttercream is very good for absorbing odors in your fridge, so it’s important to wrap it! Before you’re ready to eat the cake, take it out of the fridge, remove the plastic wrap and let it come to room temperature. Depending on the size of the cake, it can take four to six hours.

And yes, you can absolutely use vanilla extract. Just whip in a tablespoon or so during the final mixing. Happy baking!


Jun 22, 2012 · 11:05 PM

Stella, thanks so much for your quick reply. I have another question. Can this recipe be done with just a hand mixer? Also, I cannot seem to find how much frosting this makes. It will be helpful to know so I’ll know if I need make a double batch. I’ll be frosting a 1/2 sheet cake.

 · Sheila · 

Jun 22, 2012 · 11:54 PM

@Sheila, ah! apologies for the lack of concrete info; it makes about 10 cups, I think. I don’t think you’ll have any trouble with a hand mixer, it’s mostly a matter of convenience.


Jun 23, 2012 ·  1:56 AM

Thanks so much! Sorry with my never-ending string of questions, but I have one last question. What is the color of this frosting? I’m looking for a white frosting, but I’ve read many french buttercream frosting recipes and mostly all of them say that the frosting is slightly yellow due to the egg yolks..so, I was just wondering, is your recipe noticeably yellow or just slightly yellow? or is it not yellow at all? I’m trying to keep a color theme of white and blue.

 · Sheila · 

Jun 25, 2012 · 12:22 PM

This sounds like a great recipe to try! I have a question though. Can you please specify what kind of sugar I should use? In the ingredients list, you write “sugar” but in the instructions, you refer to a “vanilla sugar”, so do I just use regular sugar or vanilla sugar? Please let me know. Thanks!

 · Cindy · 

Jun 25, 2012 ·  3:00 PM

@Cindy, it’s just regular sugar. I say “vanilla sugar” in the instructions because in the first step the vanilla seeds are mixed into the plain sugar, making it all vanilla-y. Happy baking!


Jul 01, 2012 ·  3:41 PM

could i use dark choclate in the recipe instead of white chocolate? i am not a huge fan of white chcolate.

 · Adjey · 

Jul 01, 2012 ·  8:09 PM

@Adjey, absolutely! The white chocolate truly doesn’t lend much flavor, it’s there for stability more than anything else. If you use dark chocolate, you may want to use much more. The quantity given will only yield a very subtle flavor.


Jul 02, 2012 ·  3:43 PM

could you recommend a cake turntable to purchase? i do not make cakes too often but i can see they would make things easier.

 · Adjey · 

Jul 02, 2012 ·  4:02 PM

@Adjey, absolutely! I love and adore my Ateco turntable. It’s made of cast iron and is incredibly heavy, which is exactly what you need when decorating a cake. Other cake tables are cheaper but because they’re lighter you wind up scooting the cake across the counter as you try to apply the buttercream. Supremely annoying! Ateco is absolutely worth the money.


Jul 09, 2012 · 11:51 AM

Thank you for this! I no-longer have to make countless portions of scrambled egg yolks and custard. I tried the buttercream before storing it away, and have to say that it really was delicious.

 · Janine at Cake Of The Week · http://www.janinebakes.blogspot.co.uk

Jul 09, 2012 ·  4:38 PM

@Janine, oh, I’m so glad to hear it!! It’s such a handy thing to have in the fridge for cake emergencies. Like, surprise, I forgot my in-law’s birthday tomorrow…. Haha.


Jul 10, 2012 ·  9:08 AM

Pulling out the butter right now!

 · Cathey · 

Jul 18, 2012 ·  3:37 PM

Stella I just love your blog – it’s so full of great ideas. I just taught a class on making 5 different kinds of buttercream last night and we had to use pasteurized yolks because of the salmonella issue. It’s been a while since I’ve made French buttercream but either I heated up the sugar too high or got my ratios messed up (checking the recipe today) but it seized up and got a little grainy. This is a really clever solution to simplifying French buttercream and make it food and safety acceptable without having to spring or hunt for pasteurized yolks. Keep sharing your insight and I can’t wait for your cookbook!! And you better tour when it comes out too, because I definitely want mine signed!!

 · Jason S · http://www.TheAubergineChef.com

Jul 19, 2012 ·  9:42 AM

@Jason, a buttercream class sounds incredible! What a great idea. I am such a lazy girl in the kitchen, a pot of boiling syrup is so annoying to me, haha. I’m glad you like my cheat! I hope, hope, hope I get to go on a book tour when the book is out. Fingers crossed!


Jul 19, 2012 ·  3:27 PM

Hi Stella! After a few batches of failed Italian meringue cream cheese buttercream, I tried your Faux French cream cheese variation, which worked beautifully! I think one more test run and then I’ll be ready to bake strawberry cupcakes for an upcoming August wedding Thanks!

 · Buttered Toast · 

Jul 19, 2012 ·  3:52 PM

Oh my god Stella… This has to be the best buttercream ever! I just made it with the cream cheese and white chocolate and wow. More than enough to fill your red wine velvet cake that I just made ( going to cover it with ganache and then with fondant) and also fill my macarons….

 · Adrienne · 

Jul 20, 2012 ·  9:31 AM

@Buttered Toast, congratulations on your success! I am such a lazy bum, I hate Italian meringue buttercream. Just way too much work. (This coming from the girl who makes her own sprinkles… Thrilled you found this to your liking, good luck with your wedding-baking!

@Adrienne, omg what is your address?! I love this buttercream with the red wine velvet!


Jul 24, 2012 ·  9:07 AM

Stella, the red wine velvet and French buttercream was a hit… It was the star dessert at Samantha’s baptism… Now I must try all your recipes that you have posted….hugs!

 · Adrienne  · 

Jul 24, 2012 ·  4:28 PM

@Adrienne, I’m so thrilled to hear it!! That was probably the fanciest baptism cake anyone’s ever had, haha. Happy baking!


Jul 26, 2012 ·  3:05 PM

Oh this looks so delicious, I was planning to take a break from baking cakes and hit the gym… but I can’t anymore. I need to bake a cake just to use this marvelous recipe! Thank you for sharing! This made my day haha

 · Ajda · http://askanam.blogspot.com/

Aug 26, 2012 · 10:58 PM

Hey Stella!

Made your Faux French Buttercream on the weekend, I wasn’t diligent with the instructions and after I removed the mixing bowl from the heat I didn’t start the mixer straight away (O.O).

My buttercream ended up being very very soft (100% not pipable, doubt it would even stay on the side of a cake) even after adding the chocolate and cream cheese. We’ll see what it looks like when I defrost it next February but not looking good.

Is there anything I can do to save it?

Thanks in advance!

 · TheTravellingWhisk · http://thetravellingwhisk.blogspot.com.au/

Aug 28, 2012 ·  8:29 AM

Hi TheTravellingWhisk, yeah, buttercream is one of those things where it’s very important to play by the rule. When you didn’t start the mixer straight away, how long are you talking about? Just a few minutes, or a half hour? That could make a big difference depending on how long it was.

As for the trouble you encountered, it sounds like the eggs or the bowl was still warm when you added the butter, which would have melted it into the soupy mixture you describe.

It’s often possible to save a mixture like this after freezing, but since I’m not sure what went on during whipping, it’s hard to say. For example, if the egg yolks weren’t beaten until much later, it’s possible that the yolks simply never aerated enough and there may be no saving it. Let me know and we’ll see if there’s anything that can be done.


Aug 28, 2012 ·  3:49 PM

I tried this frosting last week and made pumpkin cream cheese, it was great! I like it much more than Swiss! Question. If I were to frost cupcakes with this frosting, then store them in the fridge overnight, do you think the frosting on them would thaw okay? Thanks!

 · Kaity · 

Aug 28, 2012 ·  6:50 PM

Hi Kaity. If it’s just overnight, you don’t need to worry about refrigerating them. They’ll be fine out (since the buttercream is cooked). But if you do refrigerate them, either have them in an airtight container or refrigerate them for about 10 minutes, until the buttercream sets up. Then take them out, wrap them in plastic wrap very well, then put ‘em back in the fridge. The next day (or whenever) take them out of the fridge, remove the plastic wrap, and let them sit out at room temperature for 4-6 hours or until the buttercream has completely come to room temp. They should be fine and dandy!

The only important thing to remember is covering them or the buttercream will absorb odors out of the fridge like crazy. Hope that helps!


Aug 29, 2012 ·  3:32 AM

Thank you! That is very helpful! How long would you say is safe to leave it out of the refrigerator?

 · Kaity · 

Aug 29, 2012 ·  6:02 PM

Kaity, when baking at home for birthdays and what not, I’ve left the buttercreamed cake out for about 48 hours all together. Generally, the cake itself starts to dry out and get yucky around that time anyway… If you’d like to more info on storing cake & buttercream, I had a chance to answer a bunch of different questions about it over at <a href=“http://www.thekitchn.com/expert-advice-how-to-wrap-stor-151924”>the Kitchn</a>.


Sep 06, 2012 · 11:25 AM

I made this today, and to ensure that it would set in the humidity of the monsoon season (I’m in India) I added a lot of dark chocolate. I made SMBC as well, and my personal preference is for the French Buttercream, it is just so yummy! Thanks for simplifying the process of making this buttercream.

 · Preet · 

Sep 06, 2012 ·  6:22 PM

Preet, that’s so cool you tried both! I’m glad to hear you like this one, I think the flavor is a lot deeper compared to SMBC, such a good canvas for flavor. But sometimes the simple, clean flavor of the Swiss is nice too (especially for flavors like lemon or cranberry). Good luck in the monsoon!


Oct 03, 2012 ·  6:26 AM

I was wondering can I make it with a hand held electric mixer ? thank you can’t wait to make it.

 · Anaweb · 

Oct 03, 2012 ·  9:28 AM

Hi Anaweb! You shouldn’t have any trouble making it with a hand mixer, just don’t get impatient; it’ll take a while. You have to whip the yolks until they are fully cooled before adding the butter, so it might get a little boring standing there and whipping, whipping, but hang tight!


Oct 24, 2012 ·  5:20 PM

Great recipe. The buttercream came out silky, smooth like swiss buttercream. Thank you.

 · denis · 

Oct 24, 2012 · 11:03 PM

Hi Denis! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed it. It’s a great change of pace from Swiss, I think.


Oct 26, 2012 ·  5:55 PM

Hi Stella!

Thanks for posting the recipe! That video was really awesome…. so professional! I was wondering… would it be ok if I make the buttercream about 2-3 weeks in advance and freeze them? Are there any tricks in defrosting? Thank you for your help!

 · Ann · 

Oct 28, 2012 ·  1:43 AM

Hi Stella! Thanks for the wonderful recipe and video. I was wondering if the firmness of this buttercream is comparable to that of SMBC or if it’s a bit softer? -Xiaolu

 · 6bittersweets · http://www.6bittersweets.com

Oct 28, 2012 · 10:57 AM

Hi Ann! Absolutely, the buttercream holds up fabulously in the freezer. To thaw, I like to leave it in the fridge overnight, then microwave in a few short bursts until it’s semi-soft throughout. If the mixture is roughly room temperature when you whip it, it will turn out nice and fluffy. If it seems curdled, don’t stress. Just scoop out about a cup of the buttercream and melt it completely. Then add it back into the curdled looking buttercream and rewhip, it should smooth out. If not, just keep melting little bits to add back in until it’s warmed the mixture enough to whip smoothly. Sounds complicated, but it’s just about warming the buttercream so it’s not too cold.

@xiaolu, hey girl! It’s totally comparable to Swiss in every way. The cream cheese version is, naturally, a little softer but with all butter they’re pretty much texture twins.


Nov 22, 2012 ·  1:30 PM

Hi Stella,
I was planning to make a chocolate layer cake, but couldn’t make your Nouveau-German, because it had to be nut-free.
Do you, by the way, have a classic chocolate cake that you may be willing to share?
But I kept seeing the caramel buttercream and had to at least make that.
So I made a sour cream cocoa layer cake instead, and prepared your caramel sauce (can’t thank you enough!) for a Swiss buttercream variation. But then I started thinking that some folks in the crowd might find the Swiss too buttery, and that maybe I should switch to French.
Could you please tell me if there’s a way to make a caramel version of this one?
How much caramel sauce should I add?
And looking for other variations, is it possible to make a dark chocolate one? Do you know how much should be added?
Or if I wanted to use the white chocolate one, but had to leave out the cream cheese (some are adamant that cheese and dessert do not belong together), could I?
Sorry about taking so much space, and hope you may be able to help.
Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving!

 · mics · 

Nov 24, 2012 ·  1:01 PM

Hi mics! Sorry for the delayed response! Oh yeah, the nouveau German chocolate is definitely a death trap for someone with a nut allergy.

All the variations listed under my Swiss buttercream recipe will work for the German and French recipes too. Swiss buttercream usually tastes its butteriest when in a simple form, like vanilla or almond. But once you start loading it with caramel or chocolate, then the butterieness instantly takes a back seat to those dominate flavors.

Really, adding caramel or chocolate is pretty subjective and you can pretty much just keep adding until you get the flavor you like. But use the ratios listed under the variations on the Swiss buttercream recipe as a starting point, if you like. I hope that answers your questions, let me know if I can help any more.


Nov 25, 2012 · 12:46 PM

Thank you, Stella!
I ended up doing just that. Hoping that with added chocolate, even the Swiss Buttercream won’t taste all that buttery, I made the milk chocolate variation. Now I can’t wait to try the dark! Thank you for sharing it. I really enjoyed the whole process of making it.
I decided to keep the caramel, so I have to try that one pretty soon too. And since I’m definitely in the cream cheese-dessert camp, I really want to taste the white chocolate-cream cheese variation, as well.
Too many frostings, and no cake. Is there a nut-free, no-fruit (difficult people!), basic cake you can recommend?
Thank you so much for replying!
Have a good week!

 · mics · 

Nov 25, 2012 ·  8:33 PM

Hi mics! So glad you had a good time making the buttercream, yay! I’ve got a recipe for bourbon buttermilk layer cake, which is a pretty solid “basic cake” although there are probably a few too many steps for it to be truly basic. What can I say, I’m trouble.


Nov 27, 2012 ·  1:27 PM

With a capital T… You’re the best, Stella
I would have made this cake ages ago, if it weren’t for the, well, Bourbon… But anything over one or two tablespoons might be too much for some. Now, there’s trouble…
Is there any chance I can make it using all buttermilk, 17 ounces in total?
Thanks again, Stella, for all your help!

 · mics · 

Nov 29, 2012 ·  9:20 AM

Hi mics! Are you talking about the bourbon buttermilk layer cake? It’s really not very bourbon-y at all, believe it or not. By the time the bourbon is heated and then left to steep overnight, there’s significant evaporation. The end result is that you can’t just replace it with the same amount of buttermilk because that would be too much buttermilk. The real deal with the bourbon is that you’re making your own micro batch of vanilla extract, essentially. The bourbon is just a vehicle for the vanilla, and very little of its flavor winds up in the finished cake. You may taste it in the batter, but after baking and cooling, it’s all but gone. Hope that helps!


Dec 23, 2012 ·  4:57 AM

Long time reader, first time poster. Your macaron recipe has inspired a new found passion in my kitchen! Quick question though, is the 150 degrees C or F? I’d assume F, because I live in ‘murica, but can’t assume everyone does. Happy holidays!

 · Aimee · http://homemademacarons.tumblr.com

Dec 23, 2012 · 11:27 AM

Hi Aimee! Yes, I’m a ‘murincan too so you can count on Fahrenheit from me!


Jan 26, 2013 ·  8:16 PM

Thanks for sharing, Stella. This is a lovely recipe. I just used it on a carrot cake. Any advice for how to avoid little lumps of cream cheese? It was very soft, but still left a few lumps, and I didn’t want to overwork the buttercream for fear it would become soupy.

 · Stanza · 

Jan 28, 2013 ·  9:34 AM

Hi Stanza! Cream cheese can often be soft even when it’s still cold, and that might have been the problem. It may just need more mixing; no need to fear overworking, I’ve never heard of that (or experienced) problem with buttercream.

In a future batch, you can beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth and creamy, then add that mixture to the custard base. It’s not a necessary step, but I’ve found it’s a good way to homogenize the ingredients if you’re new to the technique. Hope that helps!


Jan 30, 2013 ·  1:31 PM

Do you have an opinion on the “custard” style French buttercream? 4 yolks, 1/3 to 2/3 cups sugar, 1/2 cup hot milk: stir constantly over direct heat till very thick, beat until cool, then add 2 sticks of butter and flavoring.

I like it because you thicken it over direct heat and it goes very quickly (I’m impatient and hate whipping eggs over a bain marie), you can make it very thick without using a lot of sugar and I find it has a more velvety mouth-feel. I have long preferred it to the yolks/whites and sugar syrup versions.

I’ve also found that you can make Pierre Hermé‘s justifiably famous lemon tart filling (which I use as a lemon butter cream) by heating the egg, sugar, and lemon juice mixture over direct heat as long as you stir vigorously and constantly. That beats whipping it for ten to fifteen minutes over steaming water to reach the required 180 degrees.

 · candide · 

Jan 30, 2013 ·  3:05 PM

Hi Candide! I haven’t tried the anglaise method, though a pastry chef friend of mine swears by it. I do something a little similar with German buttercream, which also uses cornstarch for thickening. Whether I’ve got a meringue over a bain marie or a cooked custard, I’m stirring at the stove so it feels pretty equivalent in terms of time and work (I crank the heat up on the bain marie). I’ll have to give the anglaise method a shot so I can compare them directly.


Apr 23, 2013 ·  9:41 AM

In case no one has told you today….YOU ARE AWESOME!!!! Thanks for the recipes…and the cake/cookie/dessert delish love!

 · jeaneve25 · http://www.flickr.com/photos/cakeitezy

Apr 23, 2013 ·  9:11 PM

HI jeaneve25! Awww! Thanks so much, lady. Happy baking to you!


Jul 10, 2013 ·  8:29 PM

Thank you for the instruction “Don’t multitask” because I have a very curious toddler who is eager to help. I will wait till there’s another person around for her to assist before attempting this!

 · Sarvi · 

Jul 11, 2013 ·  4:50 PM

Aw, yeah this is probably not the best job for the Littlest Helper. Hopefully you can bribe someone into babysitting by offering a slice of the finished cake!


Jul 18, 2013 ·  6:35 PM

I made this buttercream a few days ago and I absolutely love it! I think I like it more than swiss buttercream, and that’s saying something. Anyway, I’m thinking of making a salted caramel version. Would it be alright to add some caramel sauce to the buttercream for this variation?

 · Jackie · 

Jul 19, 2013 ·  3:46 PM

Hi Jackie! Yes, you can absolutely whip in some caramel! If you’re making it from scratch, scale back on the cream to make a very thick caramel; that way you get more flavor ounce-for-ounce compared to a thin, creamier sauce. Just whip it in after you add the butter! Hope you love it!


Jul 19, 2013 ·  9:20 PM

Hi! I love your blog and am a new follower. Tried the faux French buttercream. Somehow the sugar didn’t incorporate into the eggyolk mixture so much such that I can still taste the sugar beads. I did go up to 150f while cooking the yolks. Is their anyway to save this? The butter is already in. Thank you!

 · Georgina · http://Www.georginna.com

Jul 21, 2013 ·  6:30 PM

Hi Georgina! That is super weird, I have never heard of such a thing!! Just to make sure I’m on the same page for diagnostic purposes, did you use a scale to measure the ingredients? Also, plain granulated sugar? And whisking frequently while over the water bath?

Aside from those things, the only thing I can think of was that maybe your thermometer was off and it didn’t actually heat up as much as it needed to (although if it felt warm to the touch you should have been fine). The water content of the yolks is enough to dissolve the sugar on its own, even without heat, so I’m really confounded as to what might have caused such a problem. Let me know and we’ll go from there!


Sep 27, 2013 ·  6:55 AM


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 · ashiqsmi · http://ttps24.blogspot.com

Nov 03, 2013 · 11:33 AM

I made the original version yesterday. Boy, my egg yolks must have been dark yellow as it definitely is yellow in color. But that isn’t important as it tastes wonderful! I’ll be using it as a filling for a cake.

 · Miss Tori · http://mycakebytori.blogspot.com

Nov 05, 2013 · 10:11 AM

Hi Miss Tori! It sounds like you were using some top-notch eggs! It’s pretty crazy how much the color can vary depending on the eggs involved. So glad you like the flavor, though. Hurray!


Jan 06, 2016 · 12:26 PM

Hello! I’ve made this buttercream a few times now and it is amazing! I first made it for my daughters first birthday cake (a raspberry variation) and everyone loved it! (I added dehydrated raspberries that I blended into powder as you mention on your site a few times, then sifted out seeds.) it was delicious and pink for her! Anyway, her second birthday is coming up and I wanted to use this recipe again. However, I’m not sure if she might possibly have a dairy allergy so I was thinking of making your recipe but replacing the butter with palm shortening. Do you think that might work?
Thank you so much!

 · KH · 

Feb 17, 2016 ·  7:06 AM

Hi Stella!!

I always have a problem when I want to flavor my buttercream, both swiss and french. from my beautiful consistent buttercream turns out cuddle and separate!
I have try with cream cheese and fruit puree, they are the same result every time. What did I do wrong and how to fix it!!!

Thank you so much.
P.S. Love your page !!!

 · Thanya · 

Jul 06, 2016 ·  7:16 PM

I always have the opposite problem of too many egg whites! I use yolks in smoothies, to thicken gravy, and other uses. I need to find some non-sweet recipes that use whites.

 · Lisa · 

Aug 29, 2016 ·  6:14 PM

Hola, con esta receta puedo forrar con fondant una torta, no necesito usar manteca para endurecer màs la bettercream, por favor hagamelo saber

 · sara · 

Jan 22, 2017 · 11:14 AM

Would this work with frozen yolks? I’ve been whisking in sugar and freezing all the yolks leftover from my macaron practice and I have no idea what to do with them all! If I could use some of them in buttercream that would be a hugh space saver.

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May 06, 2017 ·  2:16 PM

Don’t try this with Smart Balance. Yuck. I can imagine incredible with the real thing

 · Greg · 

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