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Need your very best chocolate frosting recipe

I'm a fair baker, but good chocolate frosting has so far eluded me. It's either too grainy, too fluffy, too gray, not chocolate enough . . . What I'm looking for is a very chocolatey, somewhat dense frosting that doesn't harden too much on the cake. I don't want a ganache or a glaze-type icing (I don't think), but rather something that can be piled up on top of a cupcake. Buttercreams welcome as long as they're not greasy. (You know that feeling you get when your lips are coated with butter? Not my favorite mouthfeel for a frosting.) Thank you so much for any tips or recipes you can provide!

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  1. Ok, you have me looking in my Mommy's cookbook! Ummm...keep this quiet not supposed to give these recipes out ;p Just joking this is one she got from a friend who did catering for a while...and I'm allowed to give it away...it's really good...not too sweet either !! It's really easy and simple to make and tastes very chocolaty even though it uses cocoa and not chocolate...


    2 cups icing sugar
    2 oz butter
    3 Tbsp cocoa
    3 Tbsp hot water or milk

    Mix all together and whip until fluffy

    1. This one has a really nice, fudgy texture and a lot of chocolate flavor. Melting the butter first does seem to make a difference.

      1 lb. box powdered sugar
      1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
      1/2 cup butter, melted
      1 tsp. vanilla
      1/4 to 1/3 cup milk, as needed

      Sift together sugar and cocoa. Mix with melted butter. Add vanilla and enough milk to get the right spreading consistency.

      1. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
        1/2 cup granulated sugar
        1/3 stick unsalted butter
        1/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream

        Comine all ingredients in a small, heavy saucepan and stir over medium heat until one thick bubble breaks the surface. This is less solid than a ganache, even refrigerated; it will stay liquid (though very thick) spooned over ice cream, but it makes a great frosting too.
        (Adapted from Paula Peck's The Art of Fine Baking.)

        1. Cook's illustrated has a recipe for a classic american chocolate frosting that is basically chocolate chopped in the food processor, then cream heated with a bit of corn syrup poured in, powdered sugar added and then butter added piece by piece to make a glossy, satiny frosting. it's the best chocolate frosting i've ever had. the recipe calls for milk chocolate but i usually use half milk half dark.

          Unfortunately, I can't find the recipe, nor can i get on the website to get to it, so i can't give ingredient measurements. Anyone have access to cook's who can paraphrase it here?

          1 Reply
          1. re: missmasala

            Oops, I posted the recipe I have out of Best Recipe below but it's not the same as the one you're mentioning. Oh well, another one to try.

          2. Wow, thank you, everybody! I'm looking forward to trying these out. It's weird how different chocolate frosting recipes can be. I might have to do a side-by-side comparison, on cupcakes maybe, of several of these. Thanks so much for writing them all out and describing them in detail.

            1. Here's the CI recipe:
              1 1/2 c. heavy cream
              16 oz. bitter or semi sweet choc, chopped into pieces
              1/3 c. corn syrup
              1 tsp. vanilla

              Heat cream to boil, pour over chocolate pieces. Add corn syrup, let rest 3 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Refrigerate 1-1 1/2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes, until spreadable.

              I wonder how that compares to Rosie Beranbaum's milk chocolate frosting that I usually make (really rich):

              1 lb milk chocolate
              8 oz. dark chocolate
              12 oz. butter, softened

              Break choc. into squares and melt in double boiler. Remove and stir until completely melted. Cool. Beat butter w/ mixer at medium speed. Beat in cooled chocolate until uniform in color.

              15 Replies
              1. re: chowser

                Wow, your post is bringing back my memory of my CI frosting. It really is the best frosting i've found. texture of the stuff in a can, but much much better, if you know what i mean. it inspired me to actually dig it up in an old CI. here it is:

                1 c. cream
                2 tbls corn syrup
                pinch salt
                1 tsp vanilla (optional)
                20 oz. milk or bittersweet choc or a combo
                1 cup powdered sugar
                2 sticks butter, cut into one tbls pieces

                heat cream with corn syrup and salt on stove until simmering. meanwhile, chop chocolate in food processor. with processor running add simmering cream slowly and process for one minute, until choc is melted. add powdered sugar and vanilla and process again. Then, with processor running, add butter one piece at a time, waiting until the piece is incorporated before adding another. cool until thick and spreadable. for a lighter, more buttercream-frosting, beat with an electric mixer before spreading.

                1. re: missmasala

                  That sounds really good. I'll give that a try. Is it from their magazine? I think it's funny that CI claims to find the "best" recipe and puts it in their book but then they find another "best" recipe and put it in their magazine. I've found that with their brownies and lasagne that I've made so far.

                  1. re: chowser

                    I know this is an old posting but it came up on google for me so I just wanted to add this comment for anyone looking for a new frosting recipe. The reason for the two different "best frosting" recipes in CI is that the one chowser posts is a GANACHE, and the one missmasala has posted is a chocolate buttercream. They are both frosting of course, but different types with different textures.

                  2. re: missmasala

                    just made this recipe yesterday, delish! perfect if you want the luxury of a european buttercream but the rich texture of an american buttercream.

                    the recipe works well in a stand mixer too, whips up into nice fluffy peaks.

                    1. re: missmasala

                      I made this icing to frost a birthday cake and it was a winner, and the perfect icing for the cake (Restaurant Eve's Cake). I used a combination of Ghiardelli semi sweet and bitter sweet chips.

                      Next time I will use the food processor. The directions probably call for it because it's quicker and keeps the mixture warm longer. The stand mixer cooled it down way too quickly and I had to place the mixing bowl on the stove on low heat to bring it up to a temp to incorporate the butter twice. I then put it in the fridge to help it harden and beat it with the stand mixer before spreading.

                      Another thing - this recipe makes a TON of icing. It generously iced two 9" layers with between 3/4 and a cup left over.

                      Missmasala thanks for sharing. Come to think of it, I found the Restaurant Eve's Cake recipe on Chowhound too. This is why I always come to Chowhound first when I'm looking for a recipe.

                      1. re: Axalady

                        leftover frosting? what is that?

                      2. re: missmasala

                        This is the be all end all chocolate frosting. I do not need another.

                        1. re: missmasala

                          This is the best chocolate frosting recipe...EVER!!! I made it for a yellow cake at Thanksgiving and my family LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it! The only adjustment I made was accidental...I didn't have a full cup of cream so I put in sour cream for the remaining almost 1/4 cup. Oh and I used a combination of semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate. I'm making it again tonight for an office party and I'm keeping my "accidentals" in the recipe because it was so successful before.

                          1. re: missmasala

                            I'm glad I found this post. I just printed a version of this recipe off the CI website but it's a bit different, calling for 16 oz of chocolate, 1/2 c. cream, 2/3 c. sugar and only one stick of butter. I imagine the version I found is going to be a bit more ganache-like, given that the chocolate was only reduced by 20% while the cream and butter were reduced by 50%. Has anyone tried the version I found?

                            1. re: biondanonima

                              Bio--I know I am late but I have always used this version and it is excellent. That being said I am still contemplating using missmasala's version above. Though I am alarmed by the fact that it does have double the butter!!

                            2. re: missmasala

                              Old post, and I'm sorry, but I had to comment. I just loved this! I was looking for a creamy, almost chocolate-bar-like frosting (for a Twix cupcake), and this had all the smooth glossiness of the canned stuff, but with a much deeper flavor and great mouthfeel. I used a blend of milk and semisweet, and it turned out perfectly. I did let it cool and then beat in in a stand mixer until it was light and fluffy and then piped it onto the cupcakes. I don't know that I would want it in all chocolate frosting applications (I tend to prefer a darker ganache), but for what I needed this was perfect. Thanks for posting it...4 years ago! :)

                            3. re: chowser

                              Isn't the CI recipe just a ganache with the addition of some corn syrup?

                              1. re: paulj

                                Looks like it. I haven't made that one. I happened to have my cookbook handy and since missmasala asked someone to post it above, I thought I'd tack it on (though it's not even the one she was talking about as it is).

                                On the same note, I have made regular buttercream and added chocolate ganache to it and it was good.

                              2. re: chowser

                                This CI recipe is very similar to a traditional chocolate ganache, which is my favorite thing to use for chocolate frosting.

                                However, I would omit the corn syrup -- it's not necessary for texture and for me it would make the result too sweet. If you use very high-quality semi-sweet chocolate, cream, and vanilla it's unbelievably delicious and very easy. In fact you can vary the amount of chocolate according to your tastes, and, just by using an eating chocolate that you love, you will be guaranteed and fantastic result.

                                No recipe -- just break up semi-sweet chocolate, 4 - 16 ounces per cup of heavy cream (probably around 8 or 9 ounces is the "normal" amount to use), heat the cream (don't boil), pour it over, whisk it all together, refrigerate. Then take it out and whip it. You can add vanilla or rum or any liquid flavoring you like, or more cream to thin. That's it. FOOL PROOF!

                                1. re: visciole

                                  Oops -- I just noticed the part where you said you don't want ganache. While I personally can't imagine ever not wanting ganache, I guess it's your right ;)

                              3. The Barefoot Contessa's chocolate buttercream is fabulous. I didn't see the recipe on the Food Network's site, though I know she's made that on her show. I can email you the recipe if you don't have it.

                                It's so good I took a picture of it, lol: http://areyouhungryyet.blogspot.com/2...

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                  I'm also on the hunt for a great chocolate frosting, and am interested in this recipe. I'm assuming that I can start with a basic buttercream and add chocolate, but should it be cocoa powder or melted chocolate? Thanks for any advice/guidance!

                                  1. re: sll

                                    The BC recipe uses a combination of melted bittersweet and semisweet chocolate, and she adds a little instant espresso (reconstituted). It doesn't taste like coffee, but the espresso highlights the flavor of the chocolate. Let me know if you'd like the recipe.

                                  2. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                    I am very intersted in Barefoot Contessa's chocolate buttercream recipe. could you send it to me at paintilady@yahoo.com Thanks

                                    1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                      Hi Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten) chocolate buttercream recipe is listed on the foodnetwork under BEATTYS CHOCOLATE CAKE

                                    2. My personal favorite chocolate frosting is chocolate sour cream frosting from epicurious. I like how it has a strong chocolate flavor, but the sour cream keeps it from being too sweet. Also, it is amazingly easy - just make sure to stir in the sour cream before the vanilla, otherwise the melted chocolate will seize (I know from experience that after adding the sour cream it will be okay again, but it was pretty scary when it happened since it was late at night and I was baking a birthday cake...).


                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: LauraB

                                        Oh, boy. I was going to ask about sour cream frostings. This and the one Nyleve provided below both sound excellent. My mom sometimes mixes just a pinch of powdered sugar into sour cream and drizzles and dollops it over pineapple upside down cake. I love that the tang contrasts with the hypersweetness of the cake. Now I'm leaning toward one of these for my husband's birthday cake(s).

                                      2. This is so delicious and so stupidly easy. It never gets grainy or crunchy and like LaruaB said (above) the sour cream balances the sweetness of the chocolate so it's not at all cloying.

                                        Fudgy Sour Cream Frosting
                                        2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
                                        1-1/2 cups sour cream
                                        1 tsp. vanilla

                                        In a double boiler, or in a saucepan set over a pan of hot (not boiling) water, melt the chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

                                        Add the sour cream and the vanilla and beat, with an electric mixer on medium speed, until smooth and creamy. Let cool just slightly - until the frosting begins to thicken. But don’t wait too long because it will quickly thicken beyond spreadability. Spread frosting evenly over cake or brownies, then chill until set.

                                        Makes enough to fill and frost one 9-inch two-layer cake, or a couple of pans of brownies.

                                        1. I was about to post exactly the same recipe as Nyleve posted, so instead I will second the recommendation. Sour cream chocolate frosting is the ONLY chocolate frosting I ever use. It is almost impossible to mess up, I always have the ingredients on hand, and it is delicious. Use good quality chocolate and you will never be disappointed.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: rogersh

                                            Ditto. Sour cream in fudge frosting adds another level of flavor to the frosting, plus the texture is ideal for icing.

                                            1. re: flipss

                                              I made virtually the same delicious frosting on Chritmas for my husband's birthday and posted a question to the hounds about whether or not to refrigerate it. Well, I just saw in an Alice Medrich book that she says you can leave the frosted cake at room temp for a few days.

                                          2. Did you ever try any of these recipes? I was wondering which you found was the best?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: BuggySer

                                              So sorry—I meant to post about this but didn't get to it. I tried the sour cream frosting recipe, and it was so good I didn't make another frosting! Very rich, and a nice smooth texture, just what I was looking for. I did it with part semisweet, part bittersweet, with a little milk chocolate thrown in. It was pretty intense, and next time I might try to ratchet the chocolate-ness down just a bit (and I love chocolate, so you know it was over-the-top). Here's the recipe I used: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                                              The cake recipe I used was excellent, too, by the way: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                                            2. BASIC BUTTERCREAM FROSTING


                                              * 2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
                                              * 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
                                              * 6 tablespoons butter
                                              * 5 tablespoons evaporated milk
                                              * 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


                                              1. In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa, and set aside.
                                              2. In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth, then gradually beat in sugar mixture alternately with evaporated milk. Blend in vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. If necessary, adjust consistency with more milk or sugar.

                                              1. This one doesn't work if you want a frosting that you schmear up the sides of the cake with a spatula but it is 100% never-fail delicious if you want a frosting that you pour on a cake in its pan, or on brownies: Fudge Glaze: Bring to a boil 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup each milk and butter. Boil 1 minute by the clock. Immediately dump in 1 cup chocolate chips. Stir until they melt. Pour over cake or brownies in pan. It sets up as it cools.

                                                1. for convenience, here is the barefoot contessa's cake and icing recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in...

                                                  1. I like the chocolate frosting from a Marjolaine recipe posted many years ago in the NY times.

                                                    2 cups crême fraiche (see recipe below)

                                                    15 ounces (or five 3-ounce bars) extra bittersweet chocolate

                                                    Bring crême fraiche to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate, bit by bit, stirring until well incorporated. Set aside until cool and thickened. It should have the consistency of thick but spreadable frosting. This can be made as much as 3 days in advance and refrigerated. If it hardens, reheat gently, beating until it reaches proper consistency. Yield: 3 cups.

                                                    Crême Fraiche

                                                    1 cup sour cream

                                                    1 cup heavy sweet cream
                                                    Pour sour cream into bowl and gradually stir in sweet cream until smoothly blended. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours. Stir again and refrigerate for 24 hours before using. Yield: 2 cups.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: RUK

                                                      RUK's recipe also worked with 2% Greek Yogurt in place of the sour cream really well and for someone who keeps Greek yogurt on hand more than sour cream these days and likes the surprise sour tang of both over sweet in a frosting, a nice substitute.

                                                    2. Seven-Minute Cocoa Frosting (Not a buttercream)

                                                      2 egg whites
                                                      1 and 1/12 c sugar
                                                      1/3 c water
                                                      1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch-processed). Will produce a medium-chocolate flavor. Increase cocoa to increase chocolate depth and darkness.
                                                      1 1/2 tsp vanilla

                                                      Combine egg whites, sugar, and water in top of a double boiler over boiling water. Beat at high speed for 7 minutes (or until frosting holds its shape). Remove from heat. Fold in cocoa and vanilla. Makes about 3 cups of frosting.