Have you ever tried making vegan Swiss Meringue Buttercream?? If not, you may be asking yourself – how can I make meringue without using eggs? Well, I’m here to tell you that it is super duper possible. I was so excited when I first learned about vegan SMBC. Swiss Meringue buttercream is known for being silky smooth and creamy, unlike a typical simple style buttercream. From beans to buttercream – we got this!!
Vegan Swiss Meringue Buttercream Ingredients
Back in the olden days, I’d crack open a can of chickpeas, dump the beans into a strainer and wash down the thick viscous liquid that remained right down the sink. When I think back upon those days, I cry inside thinking of all that LIQUID GOLD I wasted! Yes, my friends. That thick liquid from your can of chickpeas can whip up into a beautiful, thick billowy meringue. Just like eggs! The liquid from your can of beans is more widely known as aqua faba, which is a delightfully fancy name, don’t you think? My vegan Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe uses aqua faba, granulated white sugar, icing sugar and cream or tartar, as well as unsalted plant-based butter in block form, and a pinch of salt.
Making It Jiggle: Prepping Aqua Faba
I’ve experimented a lot with vegan SMBC, and I’m going to share with you my favourite method! Many folks use the chickpea liquid straight away and find success with whipping their meringue. I like to reduce the chickpea liquid on the stovetop to concentrate it – I learned this trick from Gretchen’s Vegan Bakery. From there, I let it cool slightly, pour it into a container (such as a multi-use deli container) then I whisk in one cup of granulated white sugar. I cover it and set it in the fridge for a minimum of two hours and oftentimes, overnight. When I remove it from the fridge, it has become this gelatinous jiggly thickened syrup. I’m sure there’s some brilliant science behind all of this, but all I know is that I’ve never failed to whip up a thick billowy meringue from this amber-colored, jelly-like bean syrup (I should market that name, haha)!
Room Temperature Butter
Room temperature butter is your friend when it comes to SMBC. However, I’ve found that some vegan butters can be more melty or temperamental, so I try to find the space between room temperature, and not a melting mess on the countertop. Experiment with the plant butters available to you. In Canada, I use Becel unsalted plant-based butter, or even President’s Choice plant based butter alternative. Just make sure your butter is unsalted.
Flavouring Vegan SMBC
For any type of SMBC, I am paranoid about messing up the equilibrium of meringue and butter, so I like to use as little added liquid components as possible. My classic go-to is the speckly, fragrant insides of a vanilla bean pod, though that can be expensive. Vanilla bean paste is a great alternative, as is classic pure vanilla extract! Another fave is using freeze dried strawberries or raspberries, or any freeze-dried fruit for that matter! Just make sure you blitz it in your food processor, if it doesn’t already come in powdered form. Otherwise you’ll have some chunky monkey pieces in your buttercream which can be a pain.
If you are using freeze dried fruit to flavour your buttercream, it will add a hint of pretty colour. I use gel based food colouring when it comes to adding colour to my buttercream! Start with a small toothpick’s tip of gel colour and add more as needed. You can also use natural powders to colour your buttercream, made from fruit or vegetables.
Making Meringues from Vegan Swiss Meringue
You may be wondering if you can pipe vegan Swiss Meringue, to make meringue kisses, or cookies? INDEED YOU CAN! Vegan Swiss Meringue can be piped and baked, just like regular meringue. I’ll save the details for a future post.
Troubleshooting Vegan Swiss Meringue Buttercream
If you’ve never made Swiss Meringue buttercream before, you may encounter some textural changes in your buttercream. The first few times this happened to me over a decade ago, I absolutely panicked. WHY WAS MY BUTTERCREAM BECOMING SOUP!? OR, on the other hand, WHY WAS MY BUTTERCREAM CURDLING AND BECOMING CHUNKY BITS IN LIQUID!? I honestly thought I had ruined my buttercream. Thankfully, and almost shockingly, you can bring your buttercream back from these two situations.
Why Does My Swiss Meringue Buttercream Curdle?!
This is definitely the more gross looking of the two problems one can run into when making SMBC. Basically, your buttercream curdles because there was one element that was too-cold. Usually the culprit is butter that still has a chill on it from the refrigerator. To remedy this, I take my entire mixing bowl and set it on top of my gas stove top burner in 5 to 10 SECOND increments. I don’t have a microwave, but removing a cup of your buttercream, microwaving it in a short burst to warm it up and adding it back to the cold buttercream can also work! Alternatively, you can try to just… keep… BEATING! Eventually the beating will warm up your buttercream, and re-emulsify your curdled buttercream into smooth, creamy dream-town frosting.
Why Is My Swiss Meringue Buttercream a BIG OLD SOUP?
Hope you turned off your mixer in time! (I’ve been splattered with my fair share of SMBC soup.) When your Swiss Meringue buttercream takes on a liquid soup consistency, it usually means things got a little bit too warm. Try refrigerating your mixing bowl to cool things down a bit – I usually do 5 to 10 minute increments before whipping again.
Okay, my friends. Are we ready to give vegan Swiss Meringue Buttercream a try!? Here’s a quick video of how it’s made, and the recipe below.
Vegan Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 1 stand mixer whisk attachment and paddle attachment
- 2 (540ml) cans chickpeas, unsalted
- 1 cup granulated white sugar, organic
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 2 cups unsalted plant butter, 1 pound, 453g, at room temperature
- 1 vanilla bean pod, or 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract, optional
- pinch fine sea salt
- Strain the chickpeas over a medium bowl, reserving chickpea liquid. Rinse chickpeas and save for another use.
- In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, reduce the chickpea liquid to approximately one cup (250ml).
- Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Pour into 1 one quart container. Add one cup of granulated sugar and whisk to combine. Refrigerate for two hours, or overnight.
- Remove aqua faba syrup from fridge and allow to come to room temperature.
- In a small bowl, whisk to combine the confectioner's sugar and cream of tartar.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the aqua faba on low speed until foamy, about one minute.
- Increase to medium speed and begin whipping the liquid until it begins to volumize, about three minutes.
- Increase to high speed and allow the meringue to whip until medium peaks. Begin adding the confectioner's sugar mixture, one teaspoon at a time, about five minutes.
- Continue whipping until meringue reaches stiff peaks. Note, this can take up to 15 minutes.
- Reduce to low speed and begin adding the unsalted butter, slicing off small 1 ich pieces and adding to the meringue, about two minutes. Once the butter has been added, increase to medium speed and whip for one minute.
- Add the seeds from the vanilla bean pod, or vanilla paste, and pure vanilla extract, and pinch of salt and whip to combine, one minute.
- Turn off the mixer and swap out to the paddle attachment. Beat the buttercream on medium high speed until thick and creamy, about one to two minutes.
- Use immediately, or store covered in the fridge for up to three days. Bring to room temperature and re-whip before using! See troubleshooting above.
I can’t wait for you to try this recipe and method. Please let me know how it goes for you – I’m right here waiting for you!! xo Lyndsay