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|Type||Icing or filling|
|Main ingredients||Fats (usually butter; sometimes lard or margarine), powdered sugar|
Simple buttercream is made by creaming together fats (butter, margarine, or vegetable oil shortening) and powdered sugar to the desired consistency and lightness. Typically twice as much sugar as butter by weight is used. Flavorings, in the form of extracts and oils, may also be added. Some recipes call for cream,non-fat milk solids, flour, or meringue powder.
There are three types of meringue-based buttercream: Italian, Swiss, and American. The Italian and Swiss meringues must be cooled to room temperature in order not to melt the butter (which has a variable melting point below 35 °C (95 °F) as it is subsequently beaten in. The American meringue buttercream is a no-cook method which means there is no risk of melting the butter.
French buttercream (also known as pâte à bombe-based buttercream or common buttercream) is made with whipped egg yolks. Custard-based buttercream is prepared by beating together pastry cream and softened butter, and may be additionally sweetened with extra confectioners' sugar.