While I love Swiss Meringue Buttercream, sometimes there just isn’t enough time to make it. This faster version of buttercream is a good substitute; it’s still buttery and creamy, but without all of the effort.
- 2 cups [452 g or 4 sticks] unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Pinch salt
- 3 cups [340 g] confectioners' sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Food coloring (optional)
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and salt on medium until creamy. Scrape down the sides turn the mixer to low, slowly adding the confectioners' sugar (a little at a time), mixing until combined, and stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and food coloring (if using) and mix on medium-low 5 to 8 minutes, until the buttercream is light and creamy. Add the heavy cream (if using) and beat on low until combined (see notes below about adding heavy cream).
I like to add a little heavy cream at the end; I find it makes the buttercream a little lighter and creamier. However, it does make the frosting more "loose", so if you are wanting to pipe with the icing, you may want to omit it. If you want a stiffer icing (for piping) you can add more confectioners' sugar, but note that the more you add, the sweeter the buttercream will be.
When adding food coloring, add a few drops at at time, scraping down the sides and letting the color combine completely before adding more.
Variations: Espresso Buttercream: Omit the heavy cream. Add 3 tablespoons espresso or strong coffee (room temperature) to the buttercream at the end. I like to also add 1/4 teaspoon of ground espresso along with the salt (I like the little espresso flecks in the buttercream).
Citrus Buttercream: Omit the heavy cream. Add 2 teaspoons of citrus zest (lemon, lime, orange) along with the salt and 2 tablespoons of citrus juice at the end.
Peanut Butter: Add 1/2 cup [140 g] peanut butter along with the butter and salt. Note: this buttercream will be much softer.
Berry Buttercream: Add 4 to 5 tablespoons [35 g] of your favorite berry jam to the buttercream at the end.