Making Crème Mousseline

Crème mousseline — also known as German buttercream — is a silky and decadent combination of pastry cream and butter. It’s often used as a filling, though it works just as well as a frosting, as the “buttercream” moniker implies. The proportions for crème mousseline are 2 cups pastry cream to one cup very soft butter. Yeah, I know. Wow.

Here I am adding one cup of unsalted, cultured butter to 4 cups of pastry cream that I made with the full amount of sugar and twice the vanilla. I’m getting light-headed already.

I beat that in for about three minutes and it’s looking a little curdled, which is OK. So I’m pressing on with the second cup. Steady me.

After another three minutes or so of beating, this is the result:

A perfectly smooth and glossy mousseline/buttercream. Should yours still be lumpy, it could be because the butter was too cool when you started. That’s not a problem. Just let the mixture sit and warm until the butter softens completely, then beat — or whip — the mixture some more. In extreme cases where you have lots and lots of cool butter pieces, it’s OK to heat the mixture a little. Put it in a microwave-safe container and zap it for five seconds, stir, zap another five seconds until the mousseline is slightly warmed and the butter is utterly softened. Some butter may separate out when you do that, which is completely fine. Just dump the whole mess back into your stand mixer and apply the whip until it fluffs up as seen above.

For those who are curious about buttercreams but worry about syrup making, crème mousseline makes an excellent intro to the genre. You just combine everything and beat it. It’s also a nice way to recycle leftover pastry cream because the addition of lots of butter makes crème mousseline freeze-able. You’ll need to re-whip it once it thaws, but that’s no big deal. Overall it’s an eggier taste than a standard buttercream, but since when was that ever a problem?

I should add that some German buttercream recipes call for double more butter, up to double. That’s too much for me. You’d need to revive me with smelling salts.

This entry was posted in Crème Mousseline, German Buttercream (Crème Mousseline), Pastry. Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Making Crème Mousseline

  1. Justine says:

    The texture looks awesome and perfect for so many things. Is this the same stuff in Bienenstich cake?

    • Franziska says:

      The filling for Bienenstichkuchen is usually a vanilla pudding. I have never had one with buttercream, but it might be a tasty variation to try.

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Justine!

      German bee sting cakes can be filled with whipped cream but more often have a pastry cream filling. Buttercream is not unheard of, nor is vanilla pudding.

      Thanks for the question!

      - Joe

  2. Susan says:

    I made this for a Danube Wave Cake but didn’t know that it was Crème Mousseline! I discovered it was Mousseline a year or so later when I was reading a discussion about the difference between Swiss and Mousseline buttercreams. I was skeptical about the amount of butter that was in the Wave cake recipe because it just looked like way too much, so I stopped adding butter when the mixture felt stiffer than I ever thought buttercream should be. The pastry crème called for a lot of vanilla and almond extract, too, more than I was used to using, but I used it anyway because of the amount of butter to be added. It was so delicious I’ve used it since as a filling for cake and cookies many times. Very tasty stuff!

    • joepastry says:

      Yes indeed! And you bring up an excellent point: the pastry cream you use should be good and sweet, and probably have extra vanilla since as you point out, it will be diluted by the butter. Thanks for the great comment!

      - Joe

  3. Julie says:

    I love creme mousseline and yours looks amazing. My favorite use for it is to replace buttercream on cupcakes, because that luscious swirl on top of the cupcake is almost always too much of a good thing with classic buttercream.

  4. Jey says:

    I’ve never tried creme mousseline. Certainly looks good from the pictures! What does it taste like? Is it heavy like buttercream or more of a light custardy feeling?

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Jey!

      All I can say, lamely, is that it’s somewhere in between. You need to give it a try. It’s rich, so like buttercream it’s not meant to be eaten by the mouthful. As a filling or with fruit — as in a fraisier — it’s fantastic. Let me know what you think!

      - Joe

  5. Donna says:

    This seems like it might be similar in texture to cooked flour frosting: a roux of flour and milk cooked into a paste, cooled, then sugar and cool butter beaten in until fluffy, plus vanilla and maybe chopped pecans. It’s an old-fashioned Southern thing; my grandmother used to make a version for her orange layer cake. I’m sure this is better-tasting though; more elaborate process and egg yolks and Frenchness and all…

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Donna!

      I call that “heritage” frosting here on the blog. It’s in the pastry components menu under Icings and Frostings. Mousseline is quite a bit richer than that, though not as rich as buttercream. You should try it and see!

      - Joe

  6. Susan says:

    Donna, I’ve made the cooked buttercream you’ve mentioned. It’s very tasty with a whipped cream like texture, though the texture looks more like an over-whipped cream; it’s not as smooth. I think the flour/butter roux base is to blame for the appearance. The mousseline appears very smooth but it’s a little heavier and is more buttery in flavor.

  7. Antuanete says:

    It turns out that Latvian staple frosting for rich layer cakes has fancy name :) We call it simply “boiled cream”, which is actually not precise, because real “boiled cream” is what everyone knows as pastry cream.
    I really love mousseline in genoise layer cakes, and they are not dry at all if properly assembled (enough jam and frosting between layers, and enough time before serving).

  8. Ann says:

    Chef Joe you are a genius!! thank you for sharing such great recipes! I am going to try them this week. I am making rich cupcakes so do you thing that this creme mousseline will bee too rich? do you know a lighter frosting if the creme mousseline could be too rich for may rich to be cupcakes? thank you! I am so glad I found this page!

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Ann!

      Mousseline cream will work great on a cupcake. Just use a thin layer…as you should with any real buttercream…and it should not be overwhelming. Let me know how it goes!

      - Joe

  9. Ann says:

    BTW this cupcakes I am making are for a wedding and will be out for 6 hours or so….

  10. William says:

    Awesome recipe and thank you for it. And if I had to describe the taste it would be unfrozen ice cream.

    • joepastry says:

      That’s perfect, William. You’re completely right. Mrs. Pastry, who is sensitive about richness but adores ice cream, loves this. I shall remember that in the future!

      Cheers,

      - Joe

  11. William says:

    You’re welcome . Hey Joe if I may ask a question? Do you think you could make the same recipe using a Bavarian cream? Would the resulting mixture be any more stable because of the gelatin ?

    • joepastry says:

      Hey William!

      Interesting question. I’m not sure that would work as well. Bavarian cream is a “still” custard (as opposed to a “stirred” on) that’s thickened with gelatin instead of starch. Think of what happens when you stir JELL-O, it gets loose but also stays sorta chunky. I don’t see it incorporating very well into a buttercream frosting, but then I’ve never tried it! If you do please let me know how it goes!

      Cheers,

      - Joe

      • Mary says:

        I think that if you cool the Bavarian cream in an iced water bath, stiring it occasionally, untill it sets a little and then add butter, it will work.

  12. Edie says:

    When would be a good time, and what’s the best way, to add flavors to this? I was thinking of making a caramel/dulce de leche version. :)

    • joepastry says:

      The best point is the pastry cream making step. I’d say you could make caramel out of the sugar that you’d normally add to the milk and/or half n’ half. Swirl it in a pan over high heat with enough water to moisten it. Cook it to whatever stage of darkness you want, then carefully whisk in the milk, making sure are the caramel gets melted in.

      Let me know how it goes!

      - Joe

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