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Chocolate Buttercream (American Style)

A simple chocolate buttercream that is smooth, not overly sweet, and beginner friendly. This chocolate frosting is what I consider to be light in chocolate (if using regular cocoa powder) which I love. It's perfect for a vanilla cake, or any cake for that matter. But this recipe specifically reminds me of the classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Such a perfect combination that remains untouchable. I made a quick video tutorial showing how I make this frosting but there are some tips that you should know along the way...

Whisk or Paddle Attachment? Always a paddle attachment. The whisk incorporates larger pockets of air. This makes it much harder to get a smooth finish when decorating a cake.

Why the salt? Not only does it cut the sweetness, but it brings out the flavors of chocolate and vanilla.

Do I need the shortening? Of course not, you can add butter instead, however shortening also cuts the sweetness down, and makes for flufflier and heat stable frosting.

Milk or Cream? I always prefer cream, just as the word states it makes a creamier frosting that tends to hold up a little bit better. I rarely use regular milk at all when baking.

Now that we've got those out the way, let's get to it.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting


1 Stick (4 oz) unsalted butter - room temperature

1/2 C Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

2 C powdered sugar

1/3 C of whole milk of cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 C vegetable shortening (optional)

1 pinch of salt


1. In a large mixing bowl cream room temperature butter for 3 minutes until soft and fluffy.

2. In the same bowl, sift cocoa powder and powdered sugar together. Add milk or cream, vanilla extract, and salt. I like to mix by hand for one minute to begin incorporating all ingredients. This just helps me prevent a dust cloud of sugar and cocoa powder from hitting me in the face, but if you're brave skip that step.

3. Use an electric mixer to beat the frosting for at least 5 minutes. Scrap down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add shortening. Continue to mix for 5 minutes or until soft and fluffy.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or the freezer for up to 2 months.

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