1 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 pinch salt
1/2 Vanilla Bean, scraped This butter cream is made with a Swiss meringue. To make the meringue, you’ll need a stand mixer and a 2 quart saucepan filled with about 2 cups of water. Bring the water to a simmer, and place the egg whites and sugar in the mixing bowl. Place the bowl over the simmering water and whisk the mixture until it reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are concerned about egg safety, you can use pasteurized egg whites from a carton. I’ve seen in some other recipes that the eggs are brought up to 160 degrees. I’ve never done this, but do whatever makes you the most comfortable. Just be careful that the water in the saucepan doesn’t start to boil or else your egg whites will become scrambled eggs! Once the egg white and sugar mixture reaches 140 degrees (or 160 if you are going there), put the bowl on the mixer with the whip attachment and mix the egg whites on medium speed for about 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to high speed and let it run until the bowl is cool to the touch. Remove the whip attachment and replace with the paddle. Turn the mixer on medium speed and add the butter, about 1/4 stick at a time. Make sure the butter is very soft! You don’t want to end up with chunky butter cream. Add the salt and vanilla bean seeds. Switch back to the whip attachment and mix on high until the butter cream is fluffy. At first it will look lumpy and separated, but keep on whipping and it will come together. Store the icing in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. Before using the icing, let it come to room temperature and then re-whip it on the mixer to bring it back to life. If you’d like, you can add some fresh orange zest to the buttercream, as I did here in these cupcakes. I recommend the zest of one half of a large orange. These cupcakes are iced with a Wilton 1M tip. Click here for a video tutorial.