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This chocolate fudge buttercream is one of my favorite frostings for cakes and cupcakes. This recipe comes from my second cookbook, Simple Small-Batch Baking (available wherever books are sold), and is featured on the cover, piped on top of my death by chocolate cupcakes.
I particularly love this recipe because it uses melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder, making it a tasty and decadent frosting. It's also super easy to make, and it's a small batch chocolate frosting recipe; it yields just enough to frost 6 to 8 cupcakes or an 8x8-inch snack cake. And you only need 6 ingredients in total!
Chocolate Fudge Buttercream Ingredients
- Unsalted Butter: Start with a cool, room temperature butter here. If the butter is too warm or greasy, the frosting won't come together properly. The ideal temperature is around 67°F (19°C); you should be able to leave an indent of your finger rather than your finger sinking all the way through.
- Dark Chocolate: Using melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder yields a decadent, fudgy frosting. I love using 70% cacao dark chocolate in my baked goods; but you could also opt for semisweet chocolate for this recipe. When baking with chocolate, make sure to use the highest quality one with the fewest ingredients.
- Powdered Sugar: Powdered sugar is what sweetens and binds everything together.
- Vanilla Bean Paste: Vanilla bean paste is my favorite flavor enhancer for baked goods. It's a little pricier and harder to find than regular vanilla, but it's totally worth it. You can, however, use an equal amount of vanilla extract if that's all you have on hand.
- Milk: Just one tablespoon of milk is needed to help ensure a smooth and silky chocolate buttercream. Feel free to replace it with your favorite dairy-free milk alternative.
- Salt: A pinch of salt helps to offset all the sweetness. Please don't skip it!
Tip: Make sure your butter is properly softened at room temperature. If it's too cold, you'll have a lumpy frosting that won't incorporate fully, and if it's too warm, you'll end up with a greasy and loose frosting that won't hold its shape.
How to Soften Butter Quickly
The key to a perfect chocolate frosting is starting with softened, room-temperature butter. Letting the butter rest at room temperature for about an hour or two is ideal (depending on the weather and how cool your kitchen is), but if you forget to pull it out of the fridge in time, here are my two favorite ways to speed things up.
- Fill a glass cup (that will fit over your butter) with hot water. After a few minutes, dump the water out of the cup and quickly cover your butter. The residual heat from the cup will soften your butter in about 10-15 minutes.
- Cut the butter into small cubes and spread it out on a plate. With more surface area exposed to the room's temperature and less mass to thaw, small pieces soften faster than the solid stick. Let sit at room temperature for about 25-30 minutes.
How to Make the Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
How to Get Rid of Air Bubbles in Frosting
Over-whipping any sort of frosting can create little tiny air bubbles. It doesn't change the taste of your frosting, but appearance-wise the frosting is no longer smooth and creamy. Here’s how to get rid of air bubbles in your frosting:
Ditch the mixer. Grab a wooden spoon or silicone spatula and stir the frosting by hand. It can also help to sort of mash the frosting up against the sides of the bowl to “pop” and deflate the bubbles. After 2 minutes or so of doing this, your buttercream will be velvety smooth again!
Troubleshooting and FAQ
How can I make my chocolate frosting thicker?
If you want an even thicker chocolate fudge buttercream, sometimes all you have to do is chill your frosting for a few minutes and then beat it again. Alternatively, you have two other options! You can start by adding an additional 1-2 tablespoons (7-15 grams) of powdered sugar at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Just note that adding more sugar will result in a sweeter frosting. If you want a thicker frosting without making it sweeter, you can add cornstarch. I don't recommend adding more than a few tablespoons, though, so start with 1/2 tablespoon and only add more as needed.
How should I store leftover frosting?
Cover and store leftover frosting in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. After freezing, thaw in the refrigerator, then beat the frosting for a minute or two so it’s creamy again.
Ways to Use Chocolate Fudge Frosting
- piped on chocolate cupcakes or swirled on a moist chocolate cake
- sandwiched between brownie cookies
- filled inside of macarons
- piped on top of sugar cookie bars
- on top of homemade cinnamon rolls
- wherever you would use buttercream!
Chocolate Frosting Video Tutorial
Note: I post my recipes in grams as it’s the most accurate way to bake, and it’s how I develop them. Cups are not only inaccurate, but they vary in volume worldwide! In any event, if you look at the recipe card underneath the ingredients list, you can click “US Customary” and it’ll convert to volume measures!
Remember to tag me @mikebakesnyc on Instagram and leave a rating + review below if you use this small batch 5-Minute Chocolate Fudge Buttercream Frosting recipe for any of your baked goods!
6-Ingredient Chocolate Fudge Buttercream
- 113 g unsalted butter softened
- 57 g 70% cacao dark chocolate finely chopped
- 160 g powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 15 g milk
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Begin by melting the chocolate. Place the chopped chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and set it over a pan of gently simmering water to create a double boiler; stir until the chocolate is completely smooth and melted. Alternatively, melt the chocolate in the microwave, heating it in 30-second intervals and mixing thoroughly between each interval. Once the chocolate is fully melted, remove the bowl from the heat and set it aside to cool slightly.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar, vanilla, milk, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high, and beat for 2 full minutes.
- Add the melted chocolate, and beat the mixture on high speed for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the frosting is fluffy and the ingredients are completely combined. Add more powdered sugar if the frosting is too thin, more milk if the frosting is too thick, or an extra pinch of salt if the frosting is too sweet. The frosting should be soft and creamy, but not runny.