Chocolate buttercream frosting with (almost) any chocolate

This buttercream frosting is based on my American Dreamy Buttercream and has a beautiful chocolate flavor from melted chocolate and cocoa powder. I’ve formulated a customizable recipe for any chocolate type, including chips, bars, or callets. You can also adjust the intensity of chocolate flavor: use milk chocolate for a light chocolate flavor or go all the way up to the darkest for an intense chocolate frosting.

What ingredients do you need for my Chocolate American Dreamy buttercream?

Dutch-processed (European-style) unsweetened cocoa is a cocoa-based ingredient that gives my frosting a deeper chocolate flavor. Dutch-processed cocoa is an alkalized form of natural cocoa. It imparts a darker hue and more mellow flavor than its natural counterpart, which is slightly more acidic (some describe it as astringent-tasting) and lighter in color. 

Water is added to the cocoa powder to create a paste. Using boiling water, we can break open the starch granules in the cocoa powder, which will thicken into a paste. It also melts the cocoa butter fats, making the paste shiny.

Chocolate is the second cocoa-based ingredient used to flavor this frosting. I’ve formulated this recipe so you can use any type of chocolate (e.g., bar, chips, or callets.) The only thing you need to check is that your chocolate contains emulsifiers. If you check the ingredient label, you should see “lecithin,” “soy lecithin,” or “sunflower lecithin.” This is a very common ingredient used in chocolate products and allows us to use a higher ratio of chocolate in this recipe while maintaining a smooth and creamy texture. 

Chocolate also contains sugars and fats, adding to our buttercream’s flavor and texture. You can tailor the chocolate intensity of your buttercream by the flavor of the chocolate, which I’ll help you with below this section. 

Unsalted butter is the base fat for this buttercream. It is vital to any of my emulsion-based frostings because it contains emulsifiers. 

I always use unsalted butter in all my frostings because that allows you to customize the saltiness at the end. Not all salted brands of butter contain the same amount of salt. I’d hate you to waste an expensive recipe because your butter was saltier than mine. 

Powdered (confectioner’s) sugar is added based on your taste testing. Your chocolate may be different than mine and probably contains various sugar levels. Also, the cocoa powder adds chocolate flavor with no sugar, so we’ll have to adjust the sugar level. 

Salt is a flavor enhancer to balance sweetness and boosts chocolate flavor, and this is also tailored to your taste.

What kind of chocolate can you use in this frosting?

You can use any chocolate in this recipe and in this post, I’m using chocolate chips. I’ve tested four popular flavors: milk, semi-sweet, bittersweet, and ‘extra’ dark.

The labeling on chocolate products will vary based on where you live or even the brand type. There are a few regulations worldwide that help us categorize chocolate products. Still, the easiest way is to find one that gives you a percentage. 

This number indicates the percent weight of all the ingredients within that product that are derived from the cacao pod. If you look at an ingredient label, this will include things like “cocoa liquor” (not alcoholic, btw, just a term for the liquid that drains off), “cocoa butter,” or “cocoa solids.” Collectively, this percentage is also referred to as the “cocoa mass.”

So all you need to remember is that the higher the percentage, the more cocoa-based ingredients it will contain, which translates to a more robust chocolate flavor. 

Although you use any chocolate that you like, remember that we are adding other ingredients, such as butter, so the chocolate flavor will be slightly diluted. So if you’re looking for a mid-range general-purpose chocolate frosting, semi-sweet is a good starting point. 

You also use any combination of chip flavors. I settled on a 50:50 mixture of semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate. I enjoy intensely, not-too-sweet chocolate desserts, so adding bittersweet chocolate nudged my frosting towards the intense flavors of chocolate.

Step-by-Step

Step 1: Hydrate the cocoa powder

Sift the Dutch-processed cocoa powder (1a). Pour boiling water over the powder and stir into a paste (1b).

Step 2: Melt the chocolate

If you’re using bar chocolate, chop it into small pieces (around the size of chocolate chips is fine.) Add the chocolate to a heat-proof bowl (2a) and microwave until melted (2b, c).

Step 3: Whip butter 

Add the softened butter to the stand mixer (3a). Whisk until the butter is slightly more pale and voluminous (3b).

Step 4: Add chocolates to butter

Scrape the melted chocolate into the butter (4a) and stir to mix it into the butter a little (4b). Mix on high speed, add the cocoa powder paste (4c) and mix for another minute.

Step 5: Adjust for taste and smooth out the frosting

Taste for sweetness adjustment (5a), add powdered sugar and salt (5b), and mix (5c).

Switch to the paddle attachment to smooth out the large air pockets (5d). Your frosting is now ready to use (5e).

Use my recipe below or visit my Cakeculator for different frosting amounts:

Almost all of my frostings can be found in my cakeculator, which allows you to customize your frosting flavors and amounts based on the cake you're baking. The chocolate buttercream frosting recipe below makes 1 or 3 cups, but if you need another quantity, go to my Cakeculator here and choose "Chocolate American Dreamy Buttercream".

IMPORTANT NOTE: You can perfectly replicate all my cake and frosting recipes using gram measurements. Weighing is the most accurate way to bake and I use it exclusively.

For American bakers, I have converted grams to estimated volumes (cups, teaspoons, etc.), which are not as accurate and may have awkward proportions, but they still work. 

This is the OXO scale I use on a daily basis. If you’re interested in other tools I use for my baking, I’ve compiled a list here.

Hi! I'm Adriana.

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