Brown Sugar & Vanilla Swiss Meringue Frosting


Yesterday we asked our Facebook fans what sort of icing/frosting should we put on our Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes and we had several lovely responses ranging from mocha frosting to cream cheese. So. Many. Choices.


When all was said and done we decided to combine a few and create a deliciously unique twist on the classic Swiss Meringue.

What is a swiss meringue, you ask? Swiss Meringue is “made by combining the sugar and un-whipped egg whites, then heated in a double boiler before whipping.” This helps kill anything that may be living inside the lovely egg whites. It’s pretty important to cook out the bad stuff. Now, it should be said that with the availability of already pasteurized eggs, you can skip the whole cooking step but that’s up to you.


For this recipe I did something a little different. I tempered the whipped egg whites via the cooked brown sugar and vanilla mixture. I thought for sure it was going to deflate or mess up in some shape or form but to my amazement it didn’t.

Warning: anytime you are dealing with molten sugar be extremely careful not to get any of it on you. It burns us precious, it burns.

This frosting/meringue is daunting at first but is really pretty simple. Put your egg whites in a stand mixer and whip the FRAK out of them – till they have stiff peaks (let the puns commence). While that’s going, combine brown sugar, light corn syrup, vanilla beans, and water in a large-ish sauce pan. Basically it’s “Sugar. In Water.”Turn to medium-high heat and let it heat to the Thread stage (223-235* F). Tip: when checking to see the ‘stage’ the cooking sugar is at (and you don’t have a candy thermometer) dip your spoon in the saucepan, if the syrup drips off and forms really thin, hair-like strands then it’s ready. It will take about 5-8 minutes so be sure to stir it occasionally.


Once your syrup is at the proper temperature, remove the vanilla pods with anything but your fingers (again, this stuff is super hot!) then in a steady SMALL stream slowly add your syrup to the egg whites while they are still being whipped. Note: if you pour it all in at once you’ll end up with a scrambled, gooey mess not delicious fluffy frosting. It will look like it’s starting to deflate a little bit but just keep your mixer going. Slowly sprinkle the powdered sugar in. This will help your meringue keep it’s shape.


Keep whipping it together until stiff peaks form. Feel free to spread this lovely frosting on cakes, cupcakes and between cookies sandwiches – heck, even fruit. I love this stuff, it’s light and fluffy and not too sweet. Plus it’s shiny (thanks to the cooked sugar syrup) and you can still find little flecks of vanilla caviar in it.

Tip: when filling a pastry bag or baggie with frosting (to decorate with) place your baggie in a vase or large mouthed jar, secure it with a rubber band (or in a pinch, a black elastic hair tie) and go ahead and scoop your frosting in. Simple. Easy. And the best part is – you only have to use two hands, instead of twelve. 😉


If you’re feeling super daring – go ahead and make these delicious Chocolate Java Cupcakes. Nom nom nom!


5.0 from 1 reviews
Brown Sugar & Vanilla Swiss Meringue Frosting
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Makes about 8 cups of frosting.
Recipe type: Topping
  • 1½ cups of brown sugar
  • ¾ cup of light corn syrup
  • ½ cups of water
  • 2 vanilla beans - scrapped
  • 5 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  1. Using a stand mixer, whip up your egg whites till soft peaks form (about 10 minutes)
  2. While your mixer is working combine the brown sugar, light corn syrup, water, vanilla beans, and vanilla bean caviar in a medium saucepan.
  3. Bring to a boil and continue cooking until it's at the Thread stage (about 223-235* F), continue stirring occasionally. ~ 5-8 minutes
  4. Take the syrup mixture off of the heat and add in the vanilla extract. It will boil vigorously.
  5. While the mixer is still whipping the egg whites, SLOWLY pour in the sugar mixture in a thin stream. This will help temper the egg whites.
  6. Once that is combined, sprinkle in the powdered sugar.
  7. Keep whipping the mixture until it is glossy and stiff peaks form.
  8. Top on your favorite cakes, treats, or eat it straight out of the bowl.

Store any remaining frosting in the fridge.


Please let us know what you think in the comments below!!! 🙂


  • Brittaney says:

    I am going to have to try this! It sounds amazing!! Instead of using Vanilla Beans could I substitute it with vanilla bean flavoring?

    • Nerds and Nomsense says:

      Absolutely. Just make sure to add the vanilla flavoring right after you pull the sugar mixture off of the stove. It will start boiling violently so be aware of that.

      Let me know how it turns out!

  • Tam says:

    Looks delish! Just wondered if it was possible to substitute corn syrup with brown sugar+water? Also will this frosting hold if piped into swirls?

    • Nerds and Nomsense says:

      I have not tried the brown sugar & water theory yet. The corn syrup is mostly to give the icing a little bit of shine, you could probably use meringue powder if you had it. The frosting will pipe pretty well since it’s a pretty stiff as far as icings go. I didn’t have any of my piping bags ready when I did the cupcakes.

      Also, this stuff is actually really good just by itself when used as a fruit dip. 🙂

  • Lisa says:

    I’ve never been to this website before. I was looking for recipes and commentary for brown sugar swiss meringue buttercream. I smiled at the “precious” reference and laughed at “sugar. in water.” I thought, “Hey, I would get along with these people! Then I remembered the name of the website. AH.

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