Vegan “Italian or Swiss Meringue Style” Buttercream

(Picture: Strawberry Vegan Buttercream)

A few weeks ago, I posted a quick instagram snapshot of a small dollop of some experimental Vegan “Italian or Swiss Meringue Style” buttercream on the tip of my spatula. Since then, I have received numerous emails from folks requesting the recipe and the picture itself has hit serious numbers on internet searches. All for a dollop.

I considered this buttercream “experimental”, as I had never made it, nor, based on my endless internet and book searches, had discovered anyone who had found their attempts successful.

Why create and search for a new vegan buttercream recipe with all of the recipes available on the internet?  I can only assume that it is because so many of us hate, hate, HATE powdered sugar and shortening. While I haveeee had to use powdered sugar once or twice to make a cream cheese buttercream (which I regret) before discovered the beauty of creaming granulated sugar, I, since then, have vowed never to use it again in my baking. As for shortening… I will discuss that later.

Unfortunately, this vegan buttercream experiment has caused me to do something I also very much hate… to be wasteful of food, especially the sweet variety. In the past few weeks of experimenting, I have gone through quite a bit of Earth Balance vegan butter. I was successful at creating a number of tasty recipes for sturdy vegan meringue…. but that success was before the addition of butter. These whipped experiments were made with a number of ingredients (in no particular order or combo: soy flour, xanthan gum, soy milk powder, potato starch, agave syrup, soy milk, guar gum, etc etc etc). I never once used Egg Replacer, as the taste would have destroyed any buttercream from the get go. However, somehow after the addition of the EB butter, the chemical make-up of the meringue caused the butter to turn into soup (or pudding consistency) and never never whip back into a firm buttercream. (yet, the addition of shortening would improve the consistency drastically) What can you do with a soupy sugary mess? I can’t very well feed it to our fish. I have tried my best to understand why it always ended this way, but I guess I will never know. So, after multiple failed attempts at adding EB butter to a vegan meringue base (like the process seen for an Italian or Swiss Meringue Buttercream), I gave up on the meringue idea and decided instead to add the elements found most suitable and tasteful directly to the sugar before boiling on the stove. (This will be discussed later)

Throughout the past 3 years, I have learned a tremendous amount about baking through my online searches. Those of you who have shared your horror stories through blogs, tutorials and youtube videos, have saved me from many potential trial and error experiences. Because I would not be where I am with baking without the help of folks like you, I have decided to share my recipe for this Vegan Buttercream (Powdered Sugar and Shortening FREE). I am incredibly tired tonight and have not yet had an opportunity to type of the recipe, but will be doing so this week.

I did say that I would discuss the shorting issue later. Butter/shortening is an issue/concern that I have had throughout this whole process. There is currently no company making UNSALTED vegan butter, or at least a company that provides vegan supplies to the stores that I traffic (please tell me if you know of one). This is an enormous problem in baking, especially for the overall taste of a not-so-sickening-sweet buttercream like an Italian Meringue style. EB Shortening, while not ideal in my recipes, DOES have the benefit of being unsalted without that overly soy/flax taste like that of the EB butter. In addition, the EB shortening is less prone to melting in higher temperatures, more suitable for an outdoor party. Unfortunately, the shortening leaves its fun oily mouth feel and congealing in your tummy effect. Yet, for the sake of salt content and overall flavor, and for those of you who do not mind a little bit of shortening, I may have 1 stick of EB shortening as a optional replacement for one of the EB butter sticks. I will finalize my recipe tomorrow and determine if I feel it is necessary or not.

So…stay tuned this week for my Vegan Buttercream recipe.

Ingredients: Super Fine Granulated Sugar, Agave Syrup, Soy Milk Powder (NOT to be confused with soy flour), water, Vanilla extract, Earth Balance Butter Sticks and optional Earth Balance Shortening Stick.