What Is Dark Chocolate Frosting?

Megan Shoop

Dark chocolate frosting, like many other frostings, starts with a butter or shortening base. In this recipe, dark chocolate cocoa powder and dark chocolate pieces replace flavoring extracts and milk chocolate pieces. Some dark chocolate frosting recipes only use cocoa powder, some use only melted dark chocolate, and some use a combination of the two. The choice is up to the baker and may depend on which ingredients he or she has on hand when making the frosting.

A cake with dark chocolate frosting.
A cake with dark chocolate frosting.

Only a few types of dark chocolate are unsweetened. Cocoa power doesn’t usually contain sweeteners, and unsweetened and semi-sweet dark chocolates are usually true to their names. Many dark chocolate bars and pieces have enough sugar in them to make them pleasantly sweet. This is often the kind of chocolate cooks should use in their frosting recipes. Semisweet chocolate is acceptable, but too much unsweetened chocolate in the mix can create a bitter frosting.

Dark chocolate pieces can melted for use in frosting.
Dark chocolate pieces can melted for use in frosting.

A basic dark chocolate frosting recipe using dark chocolate cocoa powder starts with about 1/2 part each of softened butter and vegetable shortening. The cook must mix these two ingredients together with an electric mixer until they’re relatively smooth. In a separate bowl, the cook should mix about 1 part dark chocolate cocoa powder and 3 or 4 parts confectioner’s sugar. He or she may then slowly pour the cocoa mixture into the butter mixture, turning the electric mixer on low to fully incorporate the ingredients. If the frosting doesn’t taste sweet enough after it is fully mixed, a capful or two of vanilla flavoring should highlight both the sweetness and the chocolate.

Those interested in making dark chocolate frosting with dark chocolate candy require the same proportions of butter, shortening, sugar, and vanilla as above. The cook must simply replace the dark chocolate cocoa powder with 1 part chopped dark chocolate. This solid dark chocolate must be melted in a microwave-safe bowl or over a double-boiler and allowed to cool for about one minute. Letting the chocolate cool a bit typically helps it become slightly dense and prevents it from melting the butter and shortening. This kind of dark chocolate frosting should come together just like cocoa powder-based frosting.

A third type of dark chocolate frosting uses both dark chocolate pieces and cocoa powder. The cook has two choices here. He or she may use 1/2 part each of melted chocolate and cocoa powder, or a full part of each ingredient. Using a full part of each typically creates a very rich, intense frosting. Chocolate lovers that just can’t get enough may prefer this last version of the recipe.

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Discussion Comments


I like the idea of the contrasting flavors of a white cake with dark chocolate frosting Talentryto. Thanks for the tip!


Heavanet, I think the cake you choose to make will depend if you want similar or contrasting flavors. For example, you could make a devil's food cake that will be as bold as the dark chocolate frosting. Another option is to make a white or yellow cake that will have a sweeter flavor than the frosting, but will compliment its boldness.


I need to make a unique cake for a very special occasion. The person who is going to be honored at this event loves dark chocolate, so I want to use it on the cake. I'm looking for some advice about the best cake to use with this type of rich, bold frosting.

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