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WHAT IS RAINBOW CHIP FROSTING?
From a what-you-can-buy-at-the-grocery store standpoint, rainbow chip frosting is a flavor of vanilla frosting swirled with colorful chips made from white chocolate. The beauty about making it at home, though, is that you can actually turn any frosting into rainbow chip frosting, which is what we’re going with this homemade rainbow chip frosting recipe.
The recipe you see below makes traditional vanilla buttercream, but in the first step of making the buttercream, you’ll see suggestions for turning any frosting recipe into rainbow chip frosting.
THE PROBLEM: RAINBOW CHIP FROSTING IS DISCONTINUED
Believe it or not, Berry Crocker launched Rainbow Chip frosting in the mid 80’s, but unfortunately discontinued the product in the summer of 2013.
Since then, folks have turned to Pillsbury’s Funfetti frosting as a substitute, but in reality, nothing beats those little rainbow chips. Rainbow sprinkles are an ok replacement for the real deal, but when it comes to that smooth, white chocolate flavor and the melting of the white chocolate in every bite, there is no other choice than to make homemade rainbow chip frosting.
Lucky for you, this recipe for rainbow chip frosting is so simple, and you’re going to love making rainbow chip cake, rainbow chip cupcakes, and putting this fun rainbow frosting on everything from birthday cakes to frosted sugar cookies to take any celebration to the next unicorn level.
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE RAINBOW CHIP FROSTING FROM SCRATCH
The ingredient list for this homemade rainbow chip frosting is short. You only need 7 ingredients, and one of them is food coloring!
For this rainbow chip frosting recipe, you will need:
• high-quality white chocolate
• food coloring in desired colors (I prefer gel coloring– linked in the recipe below)
• unsalted butter
• powdered sugar
• milk or cream
• vanilla extract
CAN I USE CANDY MELTS FOR THE RAINBOW CHIPS?
We’ll be using the white chocolate and food coloring to make the rainbow chips, because white chocolate actually has delicious flavor alongside a smooth, melty texture. While I do love candy melts in my cake pops recipe, candy melts harden to a much firmer texture, and we want these little magical rainbow chips to be smooth and melt in our mouths with every bite.
You will want to make sure you’re using baking chocolate that comes in a bar or vanilla melting wafers. I prefer Ghirardelli or Baker’s brand whenever I am melting chocolate.
HOW TO MAKE RAINBOW CHIP FROSTING
There are two portions to this rainbow chip frosting recipe, and while it might seem like a lot of work, the rainbow chips can set up while you make the buttercream.
MAKE THE HOMEMADE RAINBOW CHIPS
Start by melting 4 ounces of white chocolate until it is nice and smooth. Always take care to do this slowly as white chocolate tends to seize (we’ll talk about how to handle this in a second but also in the “tips for success” below).
Next, separate the white chocolate into 4 small prepared bowls. I used ramekins because you want to make sure they are small bowls so the chocolate doesn’t cool too quickly.
Working with one portion of white chocolate at a time, add a tiny bit of color to one portion, then stir to blend.
If the chocolate starts to harden, don’t panic: simply add a few drops of vegetable oil (or other neutral oil) or a tiny bit of vegetable shortening to bring it back. You may have to heat it again ever so slightly to encourage smoothness, but don’t heat it too much or too quickly, or it will seize again.
Once your white chocolate is colored, spread it into a thin layer on a lined baking sheet. My rectangles were about 6″ x 4″ but this does not need to be exact. You just don’t want the chips to be so small that they are paper-thin.
When all of your colors are spread onto the baking sheet, pop the baking sheet in the fridge so the colors can set up while you make the buttercream.
MAKE THE CREAMIEST HOMEMADE VANILLA BUTTERCREAM RECIPE
To get started on the frosting, beat the the butter on medium-high until smooth.
Turn the mixer to low, then slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until everything is combined. Add the vanilla extract, milk or cream, and salt, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until combined.
Turn off the mixer and use a spatula to stir the buttercream by hand to remove air bubbles and make it smooth and creamy. This usually takes about 3-5 minutes.
This will remove air bubbles and make it smooth and creamy, Bonus points, it only takes about 3-5 minutes and will make a giant difference in the aesthetic of your buttercream.
ADD THE RAINBOW CHIPS TO THE VANILLA BUTTERCREAM
Remove the colored white chocolate from the refrigerator, and chop each color into very small pieces to create rainbow chips.
Once you have all of the chips chopped, mix them together, then add desired amount to the vanilla buttercream keeping in mind that you will wind up with about 1 cup of chopped colored white chocolate, and this homemade rainbow chip frosting has the best distribution of chips with about ¾ cup of the chips.
In my experience, adding in the very tiny flecks that come with chopping any kind of chocolate tend to bleed into the white frosting because they start to dissolve with the moisture of the frosting. Try to leave those tiny pieces out and keep them in the ¼ cup of chips you don’t add to the frosting but rather use for sprinkling on top of the frosting like you would sprinkles.
While rainbow chips would work best with a white or light colored frosting, there is no reason you couldn’t make a chocolate rainbow chip frosting, just understanding the colors won’t pop as much against a darker background.
WHAT SHOULD I SPREAD RAINBOW CHIP FROSTING ONTO?
If you’re going the sprinkle/birthday/confetti/funfetti route, please allow me to direct you to my favorite funfetti recipes that would be top notch with some extra rainbow happening on top!
WHAT IF I NEED A SMALLER BATCH OF HOMEMADE RAINBOW CHIP FROSTING?
I do not recommend making any less than 4 ounces of rainbow chips, as 1 ounce per color is the minimum amount of white chocolate I would suggest using to avoid making too concentrated of a color that would cause the white chocolate to seize.
If you want to make a smaller batch of rainbow chip frosting, I recommend making the 4 ounces of white chocolate rainbow chips, then using a smaller portion of the chips. Since there is no rainbow chip amount written in stone for this frosting recipe, you can be the judge of how many rainbow chips to actually add.
While I would not recommend adding the entire cup of rainbow chips to a smaller batch of frosting, you are the judge and you know your tastes! You can always add more, so start with a small amount and go from there.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
DO NOT USE WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIPS: you need very smooth white chocolate to get the smoothest white chocolate rainbow chips. White chocolate chips contain stabilizers that will not lend well to melting + coloring.
DON’T PANIC IF YOUR CHOCOLATE SEIZES: a small amount of vegetable oil or vegetable shortening can do a lot to seized chocolate. And guess what? Even if your chocolate isn’t silky smooth after coloring it, it will still spread just fine and you won’t be able to tell it had any issues after it’s all chopped up and floating around in that buttercream. Work slowly, be patient, and don’t panic.
DON’T USE THE TINY PIECES OF CHOPPED CHOCOLATE: the very tiny flecks of colored white chocolate will start to dissolve in the frosting, possibly tinting your white vanilla buttercream. Keep this in mind when you are tempted to add every single bit of chopped chocolate to the frosting. Try to reserve the tiny flecks for adding color to the top of the cake or whatever treat you’ve made.
RAINBOW CHIP FROSTING FAQS
Homemade Rainbow Chip Frosting Recipe
- 4 ounces (113g) white chocolate1 coarsely chopped
- food coloring2 in desired colors
- 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 4 to 5 cups (480-600g) powdered sugar
- ¼ to ⅓ cup (60-80mL) milk or cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
- Set out 4 small bowls and 4 spoons or spatulas for each color of white chocolate (or however many colors you'd like to make– do not make more than 4 colors). Set aside.
- Use a double boiler, a small saucepan over medium-low heat on the stove, or the microwave to melt the white chocolate. Melt it slowly, as white chocolate has a tendency to seize, and stir excessively through the process to distribute the heat and prevent hot spots.
- When your white chocolate is fully melted, pour about 1 ounce into each of the prepared separate bowls.
- Working with one bowl and color at a time, add a tiny bit of coloring to one portion of melted white chocolate, then stir to distribute the color. If the white chocolate seizes, do not panic. Add a few drops of vegetable oil, canola oil, or other neutral oil or about ¼ teaspoon of vegetable shortening and stir to smooth it out again.
- Once the chocolate is colored, spread it into a thin, even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Each of my rectangles were about 6" x 4" but this does not need to be a perfect measurement.
- Repeat with remaining colors, then place in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the frosting.
- In reality, you can turn any white frosting into rainbow chip frosting. In fact, I have made rainbow chip cream cheese frosting! If you are looking for a comprehensive collection of my favorite frostings, consider this frosting section on my website or my cookbook, The Home Baker's Guide to Basic Buttercream.
- In a medium size bowl with a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the the butter on medium-high until smooth.
- Turn the mixer to low, then slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until everything is combined. Add the vanilla extract, milk or cream, and salt, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until combined. Turn off the mixer and use a spatula to stir the buttercream by hand to remove air bubbles and make it smooth and creamy. This usually takes about 3-5 minutes.
- When your buttercream is smooth, cover it and set it aside.
- Remove the colored white chocolate from the refrigerator, and chop each color into very small pieces to create rainbow chips.
- Once you have all of the chips chopped, mix them together, then add desired amount3 to the vanilla buttercream. Use on your favorite cake or cupcakes or my favorite, on my funfetti cinnamon rolls! Store leftovers at room temperature up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator or freezer up to 3 months. Keep in mind that the color may bleed as the frosting sits.
- White chocolate: it is imperative that you use quality white chocolate like bar baking chocolate or vanilla melting wafers. I do not recommend using candy melts or white chocolate chips for this.
- Food coloring: I prefer gel food coloring and my favorite brand is AmeriColor.
- Add chips to frosting: you will wind up with about 1 cup of chopped colored white chocolate, and this homemade rainbow chip frosting has the best distribution of chips with about ¾ cup of the chips. In my experience, adding in the very tiny flecks that come with chopping any kind of chocolate tend to bleed into the white frosting because they start to dissolve with the moisture of the frosting. Try to leave those tiny pieces out and keep them in the ¼ cup of chips you don’t add to the frosting but rather use for sprinkling on top of the frosting like you would sprinkles.
All nutritional values are approximate and provided to the reader as a courtesy. Changing ingredients and/or quantities will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.