What Is Chocolate Buttercream Frosting?

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  • Written By: Caitlynn Lowe
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 22 February 2020
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Chocolate buttercream frosting is a popular type of icing most often used for cakes and cupcakes. Its primary ingredients include butter and chocolate. Bakers making variations of this recipe may alter the type of chocolate used or add flavors that complement the taste of chocolate to further enhance the frosting.

The most basic version of chocolate buttercream frosting uses butter, melted unsweetened or semisweet chocolate, vanilla extract, milk, and confectioners' sugar. Some bakers mix in shortening, but the amount of shortening used should not exceed the amount of butter used. A buttercream frosting must be butter-based. Using an electric mixer, the baker creams the ingredients together until combined and fluffy. The finished product should stay refrigerated to allow the frosting to set and to maintain freshness.

Changing the type or amount of chocolate used in the recipe creates different variations of icing. A dark chocolate buttercream frosting, for instance, uses more melted unsweetened chocolate to intensify the bitter chocolate flavor. White chocolate buttercream frosting substitutes melted white baking chocolate in place of the unsweetened chocolate. Bakers do not typically use sweetened milk chocolate in their recipes, however, because the sweetness of this type of chocolate would likely make the frosting too sweet to appeal to the average person's sense of taste.


Instead of changing the type of chocolate used, a baker may also opt to alter the basic chocolate buttercream frosting recipe by adding other flavors that complement the chocolate. For example, coffee is a common addition. If a small amount of instant powdered coffee or espresso is used, it enhances the chocolate flavor without tasting too much like coffee. Bakers who wish to specifically include the coffee flavor alongside the chocolate flavor may either add more powdered coffee or substitute strong brewed coffee in place of the milk they might otherwise use.

Flavored oils, such as those used for adding flavor to chocolate candy, may also be added to the frosting to change the taste. The baker only needs to include a few drops of mint, orange, or raspberry oil to draw out that additional flavor. Fans of the combination of chocolate and peanut butter can create a chocolate peanut butter buttercream by swirling in creamy peanut butter to taste. The peanut butter should be added in small amounts, however, as adding too much will make the frosting too soft.

While white, yellow, and chocolate cake are the most common desserts to ice with chocolate buttercream frosting, this type of frosting works well with other options, too. A baker may use a unique cake flavor, such as banana or almond, instead. He or she may also use the icing on other types of dessert, including cupcakes, brownies, and cookies.


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