Creme Mousseline (German Buttercream)
Creme mousseline, aka German buttercream, is a style of frosting and pastry filling that is made with a custard base that is beaten into butter. It is pale yellow in color, is very soft and fluffy, and slightly sweet.
Creme Mousseline (German Buttercream) Recipe Overview
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Techniques Used: Making a Custard
- Characteristics: Pale yellow in color due to using whole eggs, softer than meringue buttercreams or american buttercreams, does not hold up well in hot temperatures, lightly sweet in flavor, very silky smooth, tastes like a custard
What is German Buttercream?
German buttercream, also known as creme mousseline, is a style of buttercream that starts with a thick custard base. Whole eggs are cooked with cornstarch and milk to create a rich custard. This custard is then cooled and beaten into butter.
German buttercream is by far my favorite flavor of buttercream. It is slightly rich in flavor and has the perfect texture and level of sweetness.
How Does German Buttercream Compare to Other Styles of Buttercream?
German buttercream has a very different flavor compared to the other styles of buttercream. It tastes very much like a custard- almost like ice cream. I feel like this is the perfect buttercream for people who don’t like buttercream!
It is softer and less stable than meringue buttercreams, like swiss meringue buttercream. It pipes very well on cupcakes but won’t do well for very intricate piping work.
How to Make Creme Mousseline
Step 1: Heat the Milk
Add the milk to a saucepan over medium heat. If you wanted to make a flavored buttercream, you could steep things in the milk at this point like a vanilla bean, coffee beans, or fresh mint.
Step 2: Whisk Eggs with Sugar & Cornstarch
While the cream is heating, whisk the eggs with the sugar and cornstarch until well combined.
Step 3: Temper the Eggs
Once the milk comes to a simmer, turn off the heat. Slowly stream about half of the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking continuously. It helps to place a wet towel under the bowl to help stabilize it while you whisk.
Step 4: Cook the Custard
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and place it back over medium/low heat. Whisk continuously while the custard cooks and comes to a boil.
Once the custard starts boiling turn the heat down to low and cook for 2 more minutes while whisking. It will become a little chunky at first and then will smooth out. It will be very thick.
Step 5: Cool the Custard
Spread the custard out in a thin layer to help it cool faster. Place it in the refrigerator for one hour to cool.
Step 6: Beat the Butter
Beat the butter in the stand mixer all by itself on medium/high speed for about 5 minutes. This will make it very light and fluffy.
Step 7: Add the Custard to the Butter
With the mixer running, add one spoonful of custard at a time. Continue mixing until it has all been mixed in.
Switch to the whisk attachment at the end to whip it and lighten it.
Tips for Success when Making German Buttercream
- When you are cooking the custard it is important to whisk continuously!
- Be aware that the custard will be extremely thick. It won’t be as thin as a pastry cream.
Creme Mousseline (German Buttercream)
German buttercream, aka creme mousseline, is my all-time favorite style of buttercream. This style of buttercream uses a custard base that is then beaten into butter. This makes it taste like ice cream in my opinion!
- 1 1/2 cups (355 ml) milk (can be any percent)
- 1 cup (200 gr) granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup (38 gr) cornstarch
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 TBSP (15 ml) vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- 2 1/2 cups (5 sticks, 570 gr) unsalted butter, room temperature
- Place the milk in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and eggs until well combined.
- Slowly pour about half of the milk into the egg/cornstarch mixture while whisking continuously. It can be helpful to nestle the mixing bowl in a damp kitchen towel to stabilize the bowl so you can whisk with one hand.
- Pour the milk/egg mixture back into the pot with the remainder of the milk and cook over medium/low heat, whisking continuously, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, turn the heat to low, and continue whisking vigorously for 2 minutes. The mixture will look lumpy at first but will smooth out as it cooks. This will be a very thick custard.
- Remove the custard from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. Pour into a shallow dish and press a piece of plastic wrap right on the surface of it. Chill for 1 hour or up to overnight. If you chill for longer than an hour remove it from the refrigerator enough for it to come up to about 50 F (10 C). The custard will become a solid mass as it cools.
- In the bowl of the stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium high speed for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add the custard to the mixing bowl one spoonful at a time while the mixer is still running. Scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically as needed. Continue mixing until all of the custard has been added.
- Switch to the whisk attachment and whip on medium/high speed for about 4 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Use the frosting immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Re-whip before using.
*This is enough buttercream to frost about 24 cupcakes, or to frost a 2 layer 8" or 9" cake or a 9x13" sheet cake.
*Recipe adapted from the German Buttercream Recipe in The Professional Pastry Chef
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27 Comments on “Creme Mousseline (German Buttercream)”
If you were to add cream of tartar or another stabilizing component would that help?
Hi Charlie, good question. Cream of tartar isn’t a stabilizing agent for everything. It is an acidic ingredient which when added to egg whites increases the amount of volume they can hold when being whipped. But it doesn’t actually stabilize other things. What were you wanting to use this for? I did have someone try it for a layer cake this week and it worked well for her!
Just to better stabilize the buttercream.
wow! I never tried German buttercream. Looks equally delicious as the other buttercreams. Gotta try this recipe. thank you for sharing with us! I hope you will have a great day!
Let me know if you try it Olivia! It is delicious!
Today I tried a different German butter cream recipe today and the custard separated while it cooled. While reading your recipe I realized the error in that recipe, there wasn’t nearly enough corn starch, only 1 tbls for a total of 2 cups of frosting. The custard wasn’t as thick as what you had pictured. I’m going to give this one a try and see what happens. So much for Pinterest.
You’ll have to let me know how it goes for you! This is my favorite buttercream. It is so darn delicious!
How do I half this recipe
How odd! I recognized this as Stella Parks’ recipe from Serious Eats… but then read that you adapted it from The Professional Pastry Chef. Very interesting! None-the-less, I have made it and it’s a great recipe!
So glad you like it! Yeah, it looks like they are all very similar!
Can you use powdered sugar in place of regular sugar
You can in other buttercream recipes but for German Buttercream you need to use granulated sugar.
I’d like to only make half of this recipe and I can just half some of the ingredients but it’s the eggs that I don’t know how many to use. Can you please let me and the other person who asked this question? I’m excited to try it but 6 cups is entirely too much for what I need. Thank you!
Is this as sweet as other buttercreams? I am always looking for something fluffier and less sweet! Thank you!
Try my Italian Meringue Buttercream! It’s less sweet than other buttercreams and VERY fluffy.
I’ve made this several times and love it! Just wondering about colouring it…. At what point could I add food colouring…. I’ve tried at the end and it seems to split a bit….
I always add at the end without trouble. Are you using liquid food coloring? I would avoid that for buttercreams. I suggest using a gel food coloring.
how much ratio of pastry cream to beat with how much butter into german buttercream?
What a fantastic find this was!! I was looking for something less sweet than American Buttercream and came across your video comparing buttercreams (awesome). Subbed in dairy-free butter and tapioca starch (same amounts) and it worked beautifully! I did add melted chocolate after to give it a light chocolate flavor, which complemented the large sheet cake (gf german choc) I sent into school with my kids for class and the boys told me it was devoured. (The melted chocolate was about 1/2 c choc chips and 1 tsp margarine, melted, and then added 1-2 T water to thin. I didn’t measure anything with that; sorry. Just going for chocolate consistency that could be streamed in while mixing.) Thank you!!
That sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing!
This is the most delicious buttercream I’ve tried. I actually can’t stand traditional American buttercream due to the sweetness. This German variety is a lovely creamy texture and a more subtle sweet, I’m also in love the the punch of butter flavor that other buttercreams don’t give me because of how overwhelming the sweetness is.
I did alter the recipe by using cream instead of milk and substituting an erithritol based non-sugar sweetener so that it could frost a keto desert. It performed beautifully.
Would this be suitable to fill cream puffs? We have a German restaurant sorta near that makes an awesome cream puff, the filling is thicker than regular pastry cream. I am hoping this will give me a close facsimile so that I don’t have to drive an hour for dessert Thanks!
Yes! Great idea!
I saw that you have a chocolate ganache frosting that could be used in place of buttercream. Can this German buttercream recipe be turned into a chocolate German buttercream by adding chocolate somewhere in the recipe? How would you do it?
Hi, yes you can add cocoa powder to the frosting at the end. I don’t have an exact measurement so just add a little at a time and taste it until you are satisfied.
Hi! I am making this for the first time, can I add lemon or lemon zest? if so when should I add it?
You can! You can add both at the end.