Smooth, fluffy chocolate frosting is such a dream! This Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting is super easy to make, with a richer flavor than a lot of chocolate buttercream frosting recipes. This frosting recipe is going to become of your favorite ways to top layer cakes and cupcakes!
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Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Having a go-to homemade frosting recipe like this one is a must for any home baker. And this is the best frosting, sure to become one of your go-tos when making classic chocolate cupcakes!
- This frosting is super chocolatey and fluffy, making for the perfect topping for your cakes
- The best part about this frosting is that it's ultra smooth
- Can easily be adapted into milk chocolate frosting by substituting the dark chocolate for milk chocolate
Ingredients & Substitutions
This dark chocolate buttercream frosting recipe is made like most American buttercream recipes, so you will need a stand mixer or electric mixer. A hand mixer will also work.
I prefer to use the paddle attachment vs the whisk attachment, however, both will produce good results. I find the paddle attachment creates smoother buttercream.
This decadent frosting uses simple ingredients. There are a couple of additional ingredients, such as melted chocolate and a bit of coffee, that really amp up the chocolate flavor.
Here is what you'll need to prepare this easy chocolate frosting recipe:
- Dark Chocolate: I highly recommend using real dark chocolate in the form of a chocolate baking bar, such as Ghiradelli, Baker's or Scharffen Berger, rather than chocolate chips if you can avoid it. Chocolate chips tend to include stabilizers that help them retain their shape when heated or baked. In this case, we want chocolate that melts well to help achieve an ultra smooth consistency. The dark chocolate may be substituted for milk chocolate to make milk chocolate buttercream frosting
- Unsalted butter: An important step in achieving a creamy texture for your frosting is to ensure that you use room temperature butter. I recommend removing it from the fridge at least an hour or more before you being making the frosting. You want butter that is soft, but not melted. I like to leave my butter on the counter overnight. This ensures you will not have cold butter, which tends to leave chunks of butter throughout the frosting.
- Heavy cream or heavy whipping cream: If you only have milk, that may also be used
- Vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar: Otherwise known as confectioners' sugar. If your sugar is particularly lumpy, you may want to sift it to help create smoother frosting without clumps of sugar in it
- Instant coffee granules: Don't worry, your frosting will not taste like coffee at all! The instant coffee gets mixed with a bit of hot water and added to the frosting. Coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate. If you are a fan of dark chocolate, this is a must! If you prefer not to include coffee, it can be easily omitted
- Sprinkles: optional, but fun!
You'll notice this recipe does not include dark cocoa powder or unsweetened cocoa powder like some other chocolate frosting recipes. I have found this recipe makes for a wonderful frosting with a great chocolate frosting taste without this additional ingredient. And fewer ingredients is always a good thing in my personal opinion!
How To Make Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Chop the chocolate and place it in a heatproof bowl over a pan set over simmering water (be sure the bowl is not touching the water so your chocolate does not scorch). Stir the chocolate until it's just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes.
Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the powdered sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy.
In a separate bowl, dissolve the coffee in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. With the mixer on low speed, add the chopped chocolate and dissolved coffee to the butter/sugar mixture and beat until blended and smooth.
Spread immediately on the cooled cake and top with sprinkles, if using.
Pro tips to achieve the right consistency for buttercream frosting
- Achieving the right consistency to your frosting is important. This will ensure the frosting is easy to pipe and holds it's shape when piped. If the frosting is too soft, it will not hold its shape and will slide off your cupcakes or cake layers. If the frosting is too stiff, it will be difficult to pipe or spread
- The temperature of your butter is one of the keys to success in making smooth, delicious frosting. I recommend removing it from the fridge at least an hour or more before you begin making the frosting. I like to leave my butter on the counter overnight. This ensures you will not have cold butter, which tends to leave chunks of butter throughout the frosting. If the temperature of your kitchen is very warm, you may end up with melted butter, though, which will yield soupy and/or greasy frosting. You want butter that is soft but not melted or greasy
- If you find that your frosting is too loose or not as stiff as you would like, add a little more powdered sugar, ¼ cup at a time, until the desired consistency has been reached. If you find that your frosting is to thick, stiff, or difficult to pipe or spread, add a little more heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is achieved
- There's a quick trick you can use to tell if your frosting is the right consistency. I learned this from Chelsweets. After you have finished mixing the frosting, dip a rubber spatula straight into the middle of the frosting and pull it straight out. Hold the spatula right side up. The frosting should create a small curl at the tip that's coming off the spatula. If the frosting is sticking straight up without that curl, it's a bit too stiff and needs a bit more heavy cream. If the frosting flops over and doesn't have that curl, it's too loose and needs a bit more powdered sugar
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Yes! Simply substitute the chocolate for semisweet chocolate or milk chocolate to change the flavor of the frosting.
Oftentimes the terms frosting and icing are used interchangeably. Technically speaking, frosting is typically thicker and fluffier than icing. Icing is often thinner, runnier and glossier than frosting and is used to top or decorate cookies or glaze cakes.
Absolutely! This frosting can be made up to one month ahead of time and stored in the fridge in an airtight container. When ready to use, bring the frosting to room temperature by leaving it on the counter for a couple of hours before using. Stir really well with a rubber spatula before adding to your piping bag or spreading on your cakes.
Store prepared frosting in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one month. Frosting may also be frozen for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw at room temperature and give a good stir with a rubber spatula before using
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- 8 ounces dark chocolate baking bar not chocolate chips if you can avoid it
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules + 3 teaspoons hot water optional
- sprinkles optional
- Chop the chocolate and place it in a heatproof bowl over a pan set over simmering water (be sure the bowl is not touching the water so your chocolate does not scorch). Stir the chocolate until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes
- Add the heavy cream and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes
- Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the powdered sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy
- In a separate bowl, dissolve the coffee in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water
- With the mixer on low speed, add the chopped chocolate and dissolved coffee to the butter/sugar mixture and beat until blended and smooth
- Spread immediately on the cooled cake and top with sprinkles, if using
- This recipe makes enough frosting to top 24 standard cupcakes or a two-tier 8-inch layer cake
- The recipe is easily halved to make frosting for a one layer 8- to 9-inch cake
- Store frosting in an airtight container in the fridge up to one week. If preparing the frosting ahead of time, store in the fridge and allow to come to room temperature for a couple of hours before using. Stir really well with a rubber spatula before adding to a piping bag or spreading on a cake/cupcakes
- Frosting may be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature and stir really well with a rubber spatula before using