Simply the Best Buttercream Frosting
I have to be honest here, I have never liked frosting. Even as a child, I have always been the person who scrapes it all off and just eats the cake. But in my adult life, I have been on a mission to find frosting that I don’t hate. I’m here to tell you, this frosting is it. This is the buttercream for buttercream haters and lovers alike!
My reservations with every buttercream I have ever eaten is that it is always sickeningly sweet and too rich in butter flavor. I just said that. “Too rich in butter flavor.” Who am I? But as much as I LOVE butter, and I do really love butter, there truly is such a thing as too much butter flavor.
So I am here to present to you the buttercream for people who don’t like buttercream. This is also a buttercream for people who love buttercream, because if you like frosting in general you are going to love this!
This truly is the best buttercream for several reasons: it is insanely silky smooth and fluffy, has just the right amount of sweetness, can be piped and hold its shape, and has a good balance of butter flavor without being overwhelming. I may be well on my way to becoming a frosting person with this one! And I want to show you how to make it perfectly!
Use Real Butter
The idea that you should use real butter when you want to make really good buttercream may sound like a no-brainer. But I am a child of the 80’s/90’s who honestly didn’t know until I was in college that the big tub of spreadable “butter” in our refrigerator growing up wasn’t really butter, it was margarine. Please don’t use margarine in this recipe!
Buttercream is one of those recipes with very few ingredients. Whenever you are making something that only requires a couple of ingredients, the quality of those ingredients becomes much more important. Use real, unsalted butter for the best buttercream. Though not absolutely necessary, this is also a very acceptable time to use high quality European style butter. I used some unsalted Kerry Gold for this frosting and it was a great decision!
Use Mascarpone (Optional, but HIGHLY Recommended)
If you are already a buttercream lover, using mascarpone in this recipe is totally optional. I think you should try it once and see how you feel about it, because it is so dang good! But that is your call, you could use all butter if you prefer.
If you are like me, and are on the hunt for a buttercream frosting that doesn’t make your stomach churn, then this is not optional! The mascarpone in this recipe is key and is the ingredient that really helps to balance the flavors of this frosting. It ends up tasting rich and luxurious, but not overly sweet or buttery. I first learned about using mascarpone in buttercream from an interview with the owners of the famed Robicelli’s Bakery in Brooklyn. They are definitely onto something!
For this buttercream, the fat is split between butter and mascarpone cheese 60% to 40% respectively. I find that this ratio truly does give the perfect balance of buttery richness that you are looking for in a frosting without overwhelming your taste buds. I keep thinking that this frosting tastes almost like a hybrid of buttercream frosting and whipped cream frosting. And that actually makes a lot of sense since mascarpone is essentially a solid version of heavy cream.
Make Sure Ingredients Really Are at Room Temperature
The key to making any buttercream frosting successfully is to start with truly room temperature ingredients. You don’t want ingredients that are almost room temperature but still have a little chill on them. You also don’t want ingredients that you nuked in the microwave a little too long and are warm or even hot. All of this is a recipe for disaster with buttercream!
The very best way to ensure you have perfectly room temperature ingredients for your buttercream is to leave them out on the counter overnight. I’m fully aware that it requires planning, but if at all possible, do this! Ideally, you will let your butter, mascarpone (if using), and cream sit out for 2 hours at the very least before making your beautiful fluffy buttercream. It is the best way to ensure your buttercream success.
However, if you absolutely have to, you can use your microwave to get your ingredient temperatures down. To bring your ingredients to room temperature in the microwave, set it to 30% power and heat each ingredient separately in 10 second bursts, checking the progress after each 10 seconds.
Baking Science Tip: Butter is an emulsion, meaning it is a stable mixture of two ingredients that will not mix (fat and water). If the butter is too cold or too warm when you begin whipping it, it will cause the emulsion to break and the fat and the water will separate.
Do Not Rush the Creaming Process
Before you start the process of adding the sugar into your buttercream, you really want to cream the fats together for a good amount of time, about 5 minutes. The process of creaming the butter, and mascarpone in this case, serves a couple of purposes. This process whips air into the fat and creates a much lighter and silkier texture for your buttercream. This process is also what helps make your buttercream appear more white. You will notice as you whip your butter that the yellow color becomes more and more pale.
Sift the Powdered Sugar
One of the things that I am so impressed with when I make this buttercream is just how silky it is. The texture feels quite luxurious! The process of creaming the butter and mascarpone is a key part of that, but sifting your powdered sugar is also an important part of this! Measure out your sugar first, and then sift it. If you do not have a sifter, you can also use a whisk to break up any clumps. It isn’t quite as effective as sifting, but it will do the job!
Slowly Add the Sugar & Adjust to Taste
Once your butter, mascarpone, and cream are fully whipped, then you can start adding in your sugar. I suggest doing this slowly with the mixer running. This will help ensure that you don’t end up with a gritty texture to your buttercream and also ensures that your powdered sugar won’t go flying everywhere!
You will notice that this recipe lists a sugar range for how much to use. This really depends on your preference for sweetness and what you want to do with the buttercream. Once you get to the minimum amount of sugar, 2 cups, stop, taste, and add more sugar as desired.
More sugar will give you a more stiff buttercream that might be more suitable for piping intricate designs. However, I used the minimum amount of sugar and it still worked well to successfully pipe a buttercream rose! It is quite a soft and airy texture though, which I love! And even at the full amount of sugar I didn’t find this buttercream to be as sickeningly sweet as many other recipes out there.
Add Flavorings if Desired
Once your buttercream is whipped up and sweetened to your preference, you can flavor it as you like! Vanilla is an obvious choice, but you could use this recipe as a base to make many other flavor options. Almond extract, coconut extract, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, or any other extract or spice would all be great addition. See the notes section of the recipe for a few variation ideas!
- 3 sticks (12 oz, 336 gr) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 oz (224 gr) mascarpone cheese, room temperature (*see note for substitution)
- 1/4 cup (2 fl oz, 59 ml) heavy cream, room temperature
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2-4 cups (9 oz-18 oz, 252 gr-5o4 gr) powdered sugar (also known as icing sugar or confectioners sugar)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, mascarpone cheese, salt, and heavy cream together on medium speed for 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl at the halfway mark. It is extremely important that your ingredients are at room temperature before staring this process or your butter will break.
- Meanwhile, sift your powdered sugar.
- With the mixer running on medium speed, add your powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time until you have incorporated 2 cups of it. Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl, and taste your buttercream. Continue adding sugar slowly until it is at the sweetness you prefer. More sugar will create a more stiff buttercream, but it will still hold its shape well with only 2 cups of sugar.
- Use immediately, or you can also put it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. If you refrigerate your buttercream, let it come to room temperature and whip it again at medium speed for 1-2 minutes until fluffy!
Note: Because this buttercream does use mascarpone in it, it does need to be refrigerated. It can stay out for a few hours when serving your cake or cupcakes, but then the baked good does need to be refrigerated.
Notes: : *If you do not want to use mascarpone cheese you can leave it out and increase the amount of butter by 8 oz.
Flavor Variations: Vanilla Buttercream Add 2 tsp vanilla extract after you have added your sugar and beat until incorporated.
Chocolate Buttercream Measure out 1 cup of cocoa powder (you can use natural or dutch-processed cocoa powder) and sift it. After all of your sugar has been incorporated, slowly add the cocoa powder while the mixer is running on medium speed until all incorporated.
Almond Buttercream (perfect for wedding cakes) Add 1/4 tsp almond extract after you have added your sugar and beat until incorporated.
Pumpkin Spice Buttercream Add 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice after you have added your sugar and beat until incorporated.
Espresso Buttercream Stir 1 TBSP instant espresso powder into your heavy cream until it is dissolved. Continue onto step 1 of the recipe.
Mocha Buttercream Stir 1 TBSP instant espresso powder into your heavy cream until it is dissolved. Continue onto step 1 of the recipe. While your butter, mascarpone, & heavy cream are whipping, measure out 1 cup of cocoa powder (you can use natural or dutch-processed cocoa powder) and sift it. After all of your sugar has been incorporated, slowly add the cocoa powder while the mixer is running on medium speed until all incorporated.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0