Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (or: Why You Should Always Have Chocolate on Hand, and Not Just Because You Feel Sorry For Yourself)

Let’s all admit to ourselves that canned frosting is kind of gross. It’s a pretty great food for when you’re binge-watching something on Netflix and want to hate yourself, but in keeping with the “growing up means we should bake now” theme, maybe it’s time to learn to make your own frosting. Admittedly, this requires a little more effort than regular buttercream, but it tastes like VICTORY. Seriously, this shit is so good, it’ll knock your socks off.

It’s based off of a Ghirardelli recipe, but when my mom and I made it, we found that using all milk chocolate makes it way too sweet, so we cut it with bittersweet and it’s just right- not overpowering but still delightfully chocolatey. Use half of each bar, save the rest for the next time you watch Atonement.

Be careful melting chocolate. Don’t get impatient because it takes time to melt it without burning it or changing the consistency (more on how to melt chocolate just right here), but it’s worth the effort to get it right. Stir consistently, making sure to accommodate hot spots in your pan.

One thing I like about this recipe? You don’t need a double boiler like you do for seemingly every other chocolate frosting on earth! If you have a sauce pan, you can make this.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • Servings: 24 cupcakes or 1 8-inch round cake
  • Print


  • 2 ounces Ghirardelli semi-sweet baking bar (half a bar)
  • 2 ounces Ghirardelli bittersweet baking bar (half a bar)
  • 4 tbsp butter, slightly softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup hot (not boiling) milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp salt


  1. Chop up the chocolate into even-sized chunks (but not too fine, because you don’t want to melt it too fast while the butter is still working on it).
  2. Beat sugar with milk, vanilla, and salt until smooth.
  3. Over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter together, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the melted chocolate to the sugar mixture and beat until it’s frosting consistency.

Note: if it’s too dry, add a couple drops of milk, and keep doing so until it’s the right consistency, but definitely don’t pour too much at once. If it winds up too runny, that’s lame, and it’s harder to eat with your bare hands out of the pot frost the cake.




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