Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe and Tips for the Best Buttercream
A fluffy and delicious Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe to add to cakes and other treats, plus tips for the best buttercream frosting.
In the world of all things sweet a fabulous fluffy buttercream frosting really takes the cake (pun very much intended). A well made buttercream can elevate a cake to a place where angels sing. Of course, the opposite can be true too. But we won’t let that happen because making buttercream, specifically an American buttercream, is super easy. With the correct tools and ingredients, plus a little attention, you can whip up a perfect batch of fluffy buttercream that will have all the bare cakes in the universe lining up at your door just waiting to be frosted.
Like that could happen. It could. Maybe. In the cartoons.
Anyway, let’s talk buttercream.
Essentially the deal with making a really good buttercream frosting is beginning with quality ingredients and then beating the daylights out of them. That just about sums it up. It makes me think of Michael Jackson’s song “Beat It” and that red leather jacket he wore in that video and then I think of my best friend from high school, Charlotte, who knew the choreography to all of Michael Jackson’s songs, and how we spent countless hours together with her trying to show me how to dance, and man did she have the moves down. That moonwalk. Dude.
Beat it until it’s fluffy. And when you think it’s fluffy, beat it some more. Just beat it. Beat it.
Beating it, and at a high speed incorporates air into the butter, making it lighter in color and fluffy too. To do that, an electric mixer is really necessary. An electric standup mixer is even better. I have made good buttercream with a handheld mixer. It just takes a bit longer, but it’s totally doable.
Other than an electric mixer and a sturdy mixing bowl, I can only think of another tool that would make the task easier: a rubber spatula (or spoonula thingy, for all of you Pampered Chefers out there) for scraping the mixing bowl down. It’s handy. I would even go so far as to say essential. You will notice in the recipe below how many times it’s noted to scrape the bowl down. I know. It’s redundant. But there is a reason for it. Do it. Stop and scrape the bowl down. Scraping the bowl down is a good thing. Beat it. Scrape the bowl down. Beat it. Scrape the bowl down.
In addition to an electric mixer and a rubber spatula/spoonula, don’t skimp on the ingredients. We don’t make buttercream everyday, at least I don’t. That would be crazy. Crazy good, but crazy nonetheless. Unless you make cakes for a living, making buttercream means something special is happening and when something special is happening make sure to get the best ingredients you can. Buttercream is not diet food. So if you’re going to enjoy it, make sure it’s worth it. Buy good ingredients.
Okay, so you have your mixer, your spoonula thingy, the quality ingredients are all ready to go. Now what? Oh, you know what’s now. Beat it, that’s what. And then beat it some more. Beat it until it’s light and fluffy. Turn on some Michael Jackson and get down to it.
A few tips for making the best buttercream:
- Use quality ingredients. Don’t skimp on butter, cocoa powder or vanilla.
- Begin with room temperature butter.
- Sift or whisk cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar to remove any lumps.
- When beginning, start on a slow speed to incorporate the dry ingredients so you don’t end up with a huge cocoa powder cloud or sugar cloud, then you can crank it up and beat the heck out of it.
- Take time to stop and scrape the bowl down while beating the buttercream.
- To store buttercream transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 1 week or store in the freezer up to 2 months. If refrigerating or freezing, bring buttercream to room temperature, then beat until smooth before serving.
- Take note: buttercream will be a bit challenging to perfect in a super cold or hot environment.
Be sure to check this comprehensive rundown on the many types of buttercream from Serious Eats. There’s a whole wide world of buttercreams to try!
A few cakes to enjoy this Chocolate Buttercream Frosting on:
- 12 ounces, weight (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- ¾ teaspoon salt*
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream (or whole milk) as needed
- Using an electric mixer, slowly mix together butter and cocoa powder until cocoa is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high, and beat for about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down bowl as needed.
- Reduce speed to low and gradually add confectioners’ sugar until incorporated. Beat on high for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down bowl as needed. Add vanilla and beat for 1 minute on high. Scrape down bowl. Beat on high and add 1 tablespoon of heavy cream (or milk) at a time until desired consistency is reached. Like it thicker? Add more confectioners’ sugar.
- Use right away or store in airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week or in the freezer up to 2 months. If refrigerating or freezing, bring buttercream to room temperature, then beat until smooth before serving.
This makes enough to frost a 2 layer 9-inch cake.