Do not tell anyone that is actually French about this recipe. My methods might get me burned at the stake for my heretical behavior. This recipe does not solely include egg yolks (sacrilege!) and instead of carefully cooking a temperature-specific sugar-water syrup on the stove top, I have skipped steps and used a microwave (sacré bleu!). While the methods may be unconventional, this French Buttercream is a rich, creamy, and flavorful and easy enough for anyone to enjoy.
If you have never made a French Buttercream now is the time to try it. French buttercream has a flavor profile that is much different from Swiss Meringue Buttercream, bordering on custard-like with rich, warm notes. The fat and emulsifiers from the yolks also make this buttercream smooth and silky like no other. When I let my children try a small taste they both said they wanted a bowl full for Christmas; yes it’s that good.
You can flavor this buttercream in endless ways. I am going to show how to make the chocolate version, but the recipe will describe the vanilla option as well.1. Mix: Combine the yolks and the sugar in a microwave-safe bowl and whisk well. Add the whole eggs and corn syrup and whisk thoroughly, really thoroughly. Be sure your egg yolks do not sit long before you whisk them with the sugar. They can start to thicken and coagulate if they are not readily mixed and then will be difficult to incorporate smoothly.2. Heat: After the eggs and sugar are well combined heat the mixture on high in the microwave in 30 second intervals to dissolve the sugar (about 2-4 minutes total). Whisk well in between to prevent the eggs from cooking.
3. Check: When you can no longer feel grittiness in the bottom of the bowl when whisking, check the temperature with an instant read thermometer to ensure your mixture has reached a salmonella-safe temperature (above 160 F/72 C). Then carefully taste the mixture to see if it is truly sugar crystal free. If not, continue to heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.
4. Chill: Pour the mixture in a cake pan or shallow metal bowl and place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes until it feels cool. If the hot mixture appears to have any lumps of egg, strain the mixture before chilling.5. Beat: When the egg syrup is almost cool enough, cream the butter until smooth. Add the cocoa powder if making the chocolate variation and beat for 2 minutes until light and creamy. 6. Combine: Add the cooled egg syrup to the butter in 2 intervals beating for 1 minute after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat for 30 seconds until smooth. Now frost or fill your bakery product of choice!About this recipe:
- Egg whites-I have added egg whites to this recipe in order to add some stability to the buttercream but also to aid in dissolving the sugar. The egg yolks contain so little water that it is difficult to get the high concentration of sugar to dissolve in them without major coaxing(hence the traditional use of a sugar-water syrup).
- Corn syrup-The inclusion of corn syrup adds an element of sweetness without sugar’s crystalline characteristic to contend with. It also helps prevent recrystallization of sugar molecules.
- Cocoa-Traditional European buttercreams use melted chocolate to add chocolaty flavor, but the effect is minimal. Because of the mixing method, you can add a hefty dose of cocoa powder to the butter before the syrup is added for a lovely, pronounced chocolate taste.
- Stability– French-style buttercreams are less stable at room temperature than egg-white buttercreams because they contain less protein and more fat. If you are not going to use this buttercream immediately it will need to be rewhipped and it is best if this buttercream is kept relatively cool once it is applied to a project. It becomes very firm when chilled.
I hope you enjoy this delicious, simple buttercream!
- 6 large egg yolks
- 14 ounces (397 grams/2 cups) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 ounces (57 grams/3 tablespoons) corn syrup
- 16 ounces (454 grams/2 cups) unsalted butter, soft but cool
- 3 ½ ounces (99 grams/1 cup) high quality cocoa powder (such as Pernigotti or Callebaut) (optional)
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) vanilla extract
- Whisk egg yolks and sugar together in a microwave-safe bowl; whisk in the eggs followed by the corn syrup. Make sure the mixture is well mixed so the sugar can protect the eggs from cooking. Heat the mixture in the microwave for 2-4 minutes on high in 30 second intervals whisking well after each 30 second heating. Heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches 160 f/72 C. Pour the syrup into a cake pan or shallow metal bowl (straining the mixture if any lumps are present) and chill in the freezer for 15-20 minutes until it is cool.
- Meanwhile, beat the butter in a mixer until smooth, about 30 seconds. If using the cocoa add it to the butter. Continue to beat for 2 minutes on high until the butter is lighter in color and aerated. Add the cooled syrup in two additions to the butter beating 1 minute after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat 30 seconds until smooth; use immediately.
- You can store this buttercream at room temperature for 2 days, in the refrigerator, tightly sealed, for 2 weeks or in the freezer for 2 months. If you have stored this buttercream, you will need to rebeat it before using. This works best if it is barely cold.