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The chocolate flavor in this easy chocolate frosting recipe comes from Dutch processed cocoa powder and boasts a rich chocolate flavor. This is my go-to chocolate frosting for my favorite chocolate cupcakes as well as my yellow cake.
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE FROSTING RECIPE
When it comes to easy chocolate buttercream frosting, I always turn to this American buttercream recipe right here. It is the closest taste you can get to what you’d buy in a can at the grocery store, but it is worlds better and I know you’ll fall in love with one lick!
This easy recipe comes together quickly, requires no cooking of chocolate (like my chocolate frosting made with melted chocolate), and boasts an intense chocolate flavor that is reminiscent of the best chocolate frosting from a can that you had as a kid, but with better ingredients and made in the comfort of your own kitchen.
CHOCOLATE FROSTING: COCOA POWDER OR MELTED CHOCOLATE?
In the world of chocolate desserts, there are a few different ways you can bring the desired chocolate flavor.
Most of the time, cakes, cupcakes, and cookies rely on Dutch-process cocoa powder or natural cocoa powder to bring chocolate flavor. By using these powdered chocolate ingredients, we can keep the crumb soft and light while still bringing plenty of chocolate flavor to whatever it is we’re baking.
When we’re looking for a deep chocolate flavor but don’t necessarily need to keep things light, some bakers turn to chocolate chips, melted dark chocolate, or chocolate ganache to bring the chocolate flavor– think dense and fudgy homemade brownies.
In this particular chocolate buttercream recipe, we’re bringing all of the chocolate flavor with Dutch-processed cocoa powder, which means we have a lighter and smoother chocolate icing when compared to the creamier chocolate taste of frosting made with melted chocolate.
This is a great recipe for topping my favorite yellow cake, a batch of cupcakes that is something other than chocolate based (like my favorite vanilla cupcakes!), a vanilla cake, or any other baked good where you’re looking for a really intense chocolate flavor all over.
While there is certainly nothing wrong with topping a decadent chocolate cake with this homemade chocolate frosting, know that the intensely chocolate flavor may compete with the intensely chocolate flavor of your cake, cupcake, or brownie. The choice is always up to you! You’ll have a delicious chocolate cake regardless of the chocolate frosting you decide to top it with.
If you’re in the market for a chocolate buttercream frosting with melted chocolate, I’ve got you covered there, too!
In fact, I am so confident in my buttercream recipes that I actually dedicated an entire cookbook to American buttercream, and it is one of my favorite resources for all of my very best tricks for making perfect buttercream frosting for any occasion.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE BEST CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
Like so many homemade frosting recipes, this particular recipe uses simple ingredients you likely have on hand if you are even a casual home baker.
For this chocolate buttercream, you will need:
• powdered sugar
• cocoa powder
• vanilla extract
• milk or cream
HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM
The process for making this chocolate buttercream is very simple. It can be ready to use in about 15 minutes, assuming your butter is at room temperature and ready to go.
We’ll start by combining the dry ingredients, as you’ll get the best results when all of the dry ingredients are incorporated at the same time. This should prevent clumpy pockets of ingredients and keep the consistency even.
In a medium size bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Set this mixture aside.
In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until smooth (about 3 minutes).
Decrease mixer speed to low, then add the vanilla extract and ⅓ cup of the milk or cream.
Slowly add the powdered sugar/cocoa mixture and continue to mix on low until a cohesive frosting starts to form. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and add more milk or cream as needed, 1 to 2 Tablespoons at a time until desired consistency.
HOW TO DECORATE WITH YOUR OWN CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM
As written and by using the full amount of liquid listed, this recipe produces a consistency that corresponds to a spreadable chocolate frosting. If you are looking to pipe it, you will want to go slowly when adding liquid to make sure it is cohesive enough for piping.
If you find that it is still too loose to pipe, you can add equal parts cocoa powder and powdered sugar to troubleshoot a thicker consistency.
HOW TO USE THIS FROSTING RECIPE
This buttercream recipe is perfect with nearly every cake, cupcake, cookie, or brownie recipe out there. As written, this recipe will top 24 cupcakes or frost a 2-layer cake (I always suggest scaling it up a bit if you want more for piping!).
SUBSTITUTIONS AND VARIATIONS
DUTCH-PROCESSED COCOA POWDER: Dutch-processed cocoa powder is my favorite cocoa powder to bake with. It has a deep rich chocolate flavor that is much smoother than that of dark cocoa powder or unsweetened cocoa powder. You are welcome to use any cocoa powder you prefer of have on hand, but know that the smoothest chocolate flavor will come from Dutch-process.
MILK/BUTTER: since cocoa powder does not contain milk, it is so easy to make this delicious frosting vegan or dairy-free. You can use plant-based milk as well as plant-based butter to make this chocolate frosting if need be.
CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING FAQs
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe
- 4 cups (360g) powdered sugar
- ¾ cup (72g) Dutch processed cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 2 and ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅓ to ½ cup (80-120mL) milk or cream
- In a medium size bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until smooth (about 3 minutes).
- Decrease mixer speed to low, then add the vanilla extract and ⅓ cup of the milk or cream.
- Slowly add the powdered sugar/cocoa powder mixture and continue to mix on low until a cohesive frosting starts to form. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and add more milk or cream as needed, 1 to 2 Tablespoons at a time until desired consistency. Frosting is ready to use right away. Store leftovers covered at room temperature up to 3 days or in the refrigerator up to 6 weeks. Frosting freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature. You may need to beat it again for a minute or two to bring it back to life.
All nutritional values are approximate and provided to the reader as a courtesy. Changing ingredients and/or quantities will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.