There is nothing better on a cake than a perfect frosting, and this how to make chocolate buttercream frosting recipe and tutorial will set you up for the most fluffy, silky, epic chocolate frosting ever!
I’m not too proud to say that frosting is my favorite part of a cake. Of course a good cake is important, but I think that a frosting can make or break it. Too thick, it doesn’t spread over the cake right, and gets crumbs in it. Not the right butter? It can feel greasy and like shortening. Is the sugar not mixed in enough, and grainy? Gross. I’ve made enough cakes to know the keys to the best chocolate buttercream frosting recipe requires three things – good chocolate, good butter, and beating it in the mixer for a very long time.
There are a few things that will make or break your chocolate frosting recipe. A couple of handy tips and tricks will help you get a smooth, and fluffy buttercream frosting that will beat anything you can get in the store
Butter is a key component to a stellar buttercream. And if you want it to stand up to any bakery, you need to invest in a good quality butter. Generic brands, I have found, lack a depth of flavor, and the churning process incorporates too much air into the mixing process. Bad butters will feel greasy, and more like shortening than a rich butter. For buttercream frosting use an unsalted butter so that you can better control the richness with a hint of salt versus the nearly 1/4 teaspoon of salt in every 8 Tablespoons of butter. That adds up!
Not all powdered sugars are created equal. Look for a good quality pure sugar cane powdered sugar. I use C&H. Using lower quality powdered sugars in your chocolate frosting can give an artificial sweetness, and not get the smooth results you want.
How to Make Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Melted chocolate bars make the best and richest chocolate buttercream. Using a double boiler, you can melt chocolate with maximum control. Melt it over simmering water until the last chunks are nearly melted. When only a couple of larger chunks remain, remove the bowl from the heat and continue to stir until the chocolate is completely melted. For more detailed instructions click on my how-to melt chocolate flawlessly tutorial!
I also recommend removing your butter from the fridge one to two hours before you are ready to make your chocolate frosting. Softened butter whips up better. To test your butter, gently press your clean finger into the top. If it leaves an indentation, you are ready to go! Whip the butter in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. A paddle attachment with a scraper edge (affiliate link) makes this very simple.
To reduce the risk of lumps in your frosting, an investment in a sifter is a great idea! Or, use a mesh strainer and shake the powdered sugar through to remove any lumps.
Then once all of these ingredients are ready to go, and the butter is whipped, pour the cooled chocolate into the mixture and beat them together. Scrape the bowl once or twice to ensure that no chocolate or butter remains at the very bottom. Add in your vanilla extract, and then the powdered sugar one cup at a time, allowing the sugar to disappear before adding more. The mixture will look dark and thick and chocolatey. But not for long!
For this ever perfect chocolate buttercream, the key is to let the mixer beat the living daylights out of it! You will see a huge transformation from a thick and deeply rich chocolate, to a fluffy and airy buttercream frosting. They key here is time, upwards of 7 to 8 minutes or more depending on the speed of your mixer. Near the end, taste test your frosting and add a pinch or two of salt to your taste. It will deepen the overall flavor and even make it taste more sweet!
Then, it’s ready to use!
Can I refrigerate my frosting?
It is always best to use it right away so that it is easiest to spread and in it’s best shape. If you do need to save it for later, cover it with plastic wrap, and gently press the plastic directly on top of the frosting so it does not develop a crust. Before you need to use it, allow it to sit out at room temperature for at least one hour, and whip it again in the stand mixer to ensure it is fluffy again.
Want more cake ideas?
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 13 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
- 2 1/4 cups Unsalted Butter, softened
- 3 cups Powdered Sugar, sifted
- 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 tsp Salt, adjust to taste
In a double boiler, gently melt the chocolate until it is smooth. Remove it when there are a couple of chunks that remain and use the residual heat from the chocolate melt the remaining chocolate. Set it aside to cool slightly.
In a stand mixer outfitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until it is completely smooth and slightly whipped, about 3 minutes. It may take longer if the butter is still cool. It should make a slapping sound on the sides of the bowl and lighten in color slightly.
With the mixer on low, add the slightly cooled chocolate into the bowl with the butter. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure that the butter is completely incorporated and none is left on the bottom of the bowl.
Adding in one cup at a time of the sugar, slowly mix the powdered sugar. The mixture will look dark to begin with. Once all the powdered sugar is incorporated, bring the mixer to a medium speed and allow the buttercream to whip vigorously for about 5-7 minutes. It will look like it sinks into the bowl, before it expands and errates to a fluffy light brown buttercream. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl once or twice during this process to ensure nothing is missed in the bottom of the bowl.
Add in the salt at the end and adjust it to taste. It will just provide a slight new dimension in the flavor, deepening the sweetness and making it richer. Just a touch is all you need!
Use right away or store in an airtight container in the fridge. If you do refrigerate it, be sure to let it come to room temperature for about an hour, then rewhip it in the mixer to ensure the consistency is maintained!