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Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

March 26, 2011
Swiss Meringue Buttercream (or SMBC, as it’s called among the more srs bsns type) is legitimately scary. Why? I’ll… explain later. While searching for a strawberry frosting without icing sugar, I found this one which is originally from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes. At first I was like YEAY PRETTY and then I was like OH WAIT because I remembered all the things I’ve read about SMBC. And thus I present to you,
SMBC; How Much Do You Scare Me, Let Me Count The Ways.

1) A recipe I had previously read made it seem like this was the most temperamental frosting ever. Like if even a gram of egg white was off (Gram! I’m supposed to weigh my egg whites? Weigh them?!) then the frosting would probably be ruined and I would have failed as a human being.
2) I seriously read a user comment somewhere where she spent an hour trying to beat the frosting back into stiffness after adding the butter. AN HOUR. I’m using a hand mixer okay, I ain’t got an hour!
3) Way too many comments about this frosting ending up soupy for my liking
4) The last time I made a frosting with eggs in it, it tasted like EGGS.

But I really, really wanted to make a frosting with strawberries in them that didn’t use icing sugar so I decided to be fearless for once and try it.

And it turned out so freaking amazing. Exception to the rule, what what!


Let’s start with the cupcakes. No pictures because the ones at the main source would have pawned mine.


The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever. from Pioneer Woman
*adapted to make 30 cupcakes*
3 cups Flour
3 cups Sugar
½ tp Salt
6 tbsp (heaping) Cocoa
3 sticks Butter
1½ cup Boiling Water
¾ cup Buttermilk
3 whole Beaten Eggs
1½ tsp Baking Soda
1½ tsp Vanilla

-Preheat the oven to 350˚f/175˚c
-In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.
-In a saucepan, melt butter.
-Add cocoa. Stir together.
-Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat.
-Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.
-Mix the buttermilk , beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla.
-Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture.
-Divide batter into cupcake liners about 2/3 full
-Bake for 20-25 minutes.
-Let cool fully before frosting


And now for the magical frosting!


Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, as seen here
1½ cup fresh strawberries (8 oz.), rinsed, hulled and coarsely chopped
4 large egg whites
1¼ cup sugar
1½ cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature


-Puree the strawberries in your food processor until completely smooth.

-Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer (or any heatproof bowl) and set it over a pan of simmering water. Heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved – you can test with your fingertips, if the mixture feels grainy, it’s not ready yet.

-Attach the bowl to your stand mixer (or transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer if you used a separate bowl) fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 10 minutes. (The bowl will be cool to the touch.)

-Reduce the mixer to medium-low speed and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time. Let each addition incorporate before adding the next. (The frosting may look soupy or curdled once you add the butter – just keep beating and it will come together.)

– Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then add the strawberry puree to the bowl.

– Beat until combined (the mixture will probably look curdled again when you add the strawberries, keep beating!)

-Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes (I used a 1M tip), and garnish with extra strawberries, if desired.


These cupcakes were mostly for my mom’s colleagues so here they are…

… packed nicely in a wannabe cupcake carrier.


Of course I kept some for myself! Mostly for photography reasons, obviously. Yeah. For photos.

Look at those little strawberry bits in the frosting! Such details make me so happy.


I won’t go into details how this is the easiest and best chocolate cake/cupcake recipe…

…because I’ve already done so. I will say that it has the texture of a really great, moist pound cake.


Unlike that one time when I made cupcakes that looked pretty but tasted blah, this one delivered!

I loved how the strawberry taste was subtle yet “effective”. Everyone, please don’t be like me and almost miss out on a great frosting because of cowardice skepticism because well, at the very worst you get frosting soup and at the very best you get something like this. Fair game, no?

25 Comments leave one →
  1. March 27, 2011 8:41 PM

    I was scared of SMBC too!!! but I did it about a month ago and I loved it! I made it adding cherry jam, though. I loved it. I wanted to take a spoon and eat it, no need for a cupcake.

    • rebelwithoutasauce permalink*
      March 27, 2011 10:41 PM

      Yeay for overcoming our fears! And that is a great idea, adding jam instead of pureed fruits, I will totally do that the next time I make this :)

  2. March 28, 2011 12:01 AM

    Great job on overcoming your fear! And beautifully, to boot ;)

    I used to love SMBC until I met flour frosting, and well, as they say, the rest is history. But now that I’ve just got myself a punnet of strawberries, strawberry smbc sounds pretty good right now!

    • rebelwithoutasauce permalink*
      March 28, 2011 12:31 AM

      i think this, flour frosting and plain ol’ ganache are all my favourite… note the lack of icing sugar!
      and i’m soooooo happy strawberries are cheap (for now that is), yeay for korean strawberries!

  3. March 28, 2011 8:13 AM

    Hi – I found this on FoodGawker and just wanted to congratulate you on your 1st SMBC. And it’s martha’s – my all-time favorite. These look superb – I’ve made her strawberry SMBC as well – can’t beat it! Have you ever tried BAKED’s flour-based SMBC? I’m assuming it’s the same proportion, etc, as the flour frosting you’re talking about in above comments!

  4. March 28, 2011 9:54 AM

    I made SMBC successfully for the first time today! I was one of those whose frosting always ended up soupy. But now I know how to fix it, and it is my new favorite frosting.

  5. rebelwithoutasauce permalink*
    March 28, 2011 4:48 PM

    @mike – thank you! i’ve never tried the flour frostings from baked! i’m scanning through the book now, which one do you mean cos i just realised that they have quite a few :O the one i was talking about in the above comment is this one and it’s pretty damn good!

    @kokomama – hurray for us SMBC converts! :D

  6. Chelsea permalink
    March 28, 2011 9:03 PM

    I’ve tried making that buttercream before! TWICE. The first time was awful and the second time wasn’t much better–it’s a tricky buttercream. But very nice job! They look great :)

  7. March 28, 2011 9:16 PM

    Mmm! These look delicious and so beautiful.

  8. March 29, 2011 10:33 AM

    oh how wonderful do those look!! i was looking for a good recipe for my sister in-law’s baby shower!! Thank you!!

  9. March 29, 2011 10:48 AM

    We made almost the same cupcakes on the same day!
    It was my first time with the SMBC also, and it came out great.

  10. March 29, 2011 11:40 AM

    I don’t think I would even need a cupcake to eat this frosting…off a spoon is enough!

  11. April 4, 2011 11:57 AM

    I am so glad your frosting turned out. It looks fabulous! I attempted SMBC once and it was a disaster. It never thickened up and I had to add powdered sugar to get it to the right consistency. I hear all the time about how amazing it is. Maybe I will get up the nerve to try it again sometime?

  12. rebelwithoutasauce permalink*
    April 4, 2011 7:37 PM

    @Chelsea – it definitely is very tricky, i made it again this week and it wasn’t as successful as my first time! but i will try it again soon, because it was so darn tasty :D

    @Livin’ in the Kitchen – thank you :) the sight of your ten layer cake makes me happy, it’s so cute!

    @sumika – these would be perfect for girl baby showers! pink everything :)

    @okac – high five, cupcake + frosting almost-twin!

    @foodies at home – oh dear, don’t give me anymore ideas ;)

    @Jen – i did this frosting again this week and it wasn’t as pretty as my first time but i will try it again and i hope you do too!

  13. April 5, 2011 11:56 AM

    These look amazing.

    I have awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award! The rule is that you have to tell us 7 things about yourself and then pass this award on to 7 others.

  14. April 6, 2011 1:28 AM

    Looks so delicious I just want to gobble up all the cupcakes! I recently overcame my fear of SMBC too. Well done us :)

  15. rebelwithoutasauce permalink*
    April 6, 2011 3:56 PM

    @melsara93 – thank you! :D

    @thebountifulplate – thank you! and i can’t wait to try more SMBC recipes, here’s to converts :)

  16. maryam permalink
    August 9, 2011 6:17 AM

    i tried mine but it didnt get thickened until i added a lil cream of tartar, then it turned out perfectly.

  17. August 11, 2011 6:11 PM

    These are too cute! Great cupcake photos! I absolutely love them. Looks just so delicious!!

  18. Kassia permalink
    October 8, 2011 1:53 AM

    Just a thought for all those commenters who’ve had trouble with SMBC–make sure your mixing bowl is absolutely clean and free of any grease or butter, otherwise your egg whites won’t whip to the right volume. Also, make sure your butter is soft, room temperature, but not melting. And make sure you whip your meringue long enough to let it cool to room temp, or put it over an ice bath for a little while so it won’t melt the butter.

    Great post, I am using your puree-in-SMBC idea today for my double strawberry cake!

  19. Kassia permalink
    October 8, 2011 1:55 AM

    By the way, how much total frosting did this recipe make?

    • rebelwithoutasauce permalink*
      October 11, 2011 6:24 PM

      hi kassia, thanks for the tips! this recipe makes enough frosting to frost about 40 cupcakes, not really sure how many cups that is though :)

  20. June 3, 2012 3:07 AM

    I recently made a meringue buttercream for a 7-Layer Chiffon Coconut Cake, and I wondered why it looked curdled. Thankfully, I was able to cover the ugly up with toasted coconut, and it tasted deeeee-freakin’-licious!

    This time, however, I’m making a smash cake for a FIRST birthday party. Apparently this baby loves strawberries and lemons, so a Strawberry Lemonade cake it is!

    Your humor in this post gives me the confidence to conquer the SMBC – or. . .attempt (key word here!) to conquer it! I can do it, I can do it, I CAN DO IT!

    . . .and if not, I’ll ruin a child’s first birthday. Oy vey!

    • rebelwithoutasauce permalink*
      June 21, 2012 5:44 PM

      sorry for the super slow reply but i hope the child’s birthdy cake wasn’t ruined! lol :) i’m sure it tasted good though right?

  21. Catherine Chong permalink
    March 27, 2013 2:31 PM

    i have a SMBC technique to inform u all…instead of add the butter to the meringue,beat the butter in another bowl and add 1/3 of meringue beat until smooth and add another 1/3 till finish..believe me, it works like a charm and no more fear. Hope it helps *o*

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