All you need to make the most decadent, velvety, melt-in-your-mouth Chocolate Orange Buttercream is chocolate, butter, orange liquor, and a pinch of salt.
This delicious chocolate buttercream comes together in minutes and tastes like the rich, creamy center of a really good chocolate truffle.
I created this Chocolate Orange Buttercream specifically for Chocolate Almond Cake. It's the perfect buttercream for that cake, matching the cake's not-too-sweet rich dark chocolate flavor and infusing a hit of orange into every creamy bite.
Since then, I've been slathering chocolate orange buttercream on a host of other cakes. It transforms simple vanilla cupcakes into something that tastes almost exotic and very adult. It elevates a simple pound cake to something truly special, is the perfect compliment to the rich, warm flavors of a classic spice cake, and turns chocolate brownie loaf cake into a true chocolate lovers dream.
To put it mildly: this is a buttercream recipe you want to pull out anytime the occasion calls for flavors that are grown-up, indulgent, and a little bit boozy.
Ingredients Needed to Make this Recipe
You only need 3 ingredients (plus salt) to make this gorgeous buttercream.
- Orange liquor. I used Cointreau, but you can use any kind of triple sec. I don't recommend Grand Marnier because it has a strong brandy flavor that clashes slightly with the flavor of the chocolate.
- Orange flavored chocolate. I used Lindt Intense Orange which includes slivers of dried orange and roasted almonds. I loved the little bit of texture the pieces of orange and almonds added to the creamy buttercream. But, if you want a perfectly smooth buttercream, choose a brand that doesn't include anything except orange flavored chocolate.
- Butter! While I often use salted butter in dessert recipes, it is important to use unsalted butter to make this buttercream. There is a lot of butter in this recipe and this buttercream might taste overly salty to some people if salted butter is used. Using unsalted butter means you have total control over the amount of salt and can adjust it to your personal taste.
*See recipe card for precise quantities.
Step by Step Photos and Instructions
#1. Add the chocolate and orange liquor to a double boiler.
A double boiler is simply a small pan or bowl set over a slightly larger pan filled with simmering water. Scroll down to learn more about purchasing one or making one (like you see in this photo) with two saucepans and a mesh strainer.
#2. Set the double boiler over medium high heat and bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat slightly, just to maintain a gentle simmer, and continue to stir the chocolate until it's about 75% melted.
Remove the pan from the stove and keep stirring the chocolate until it's 100% melted.
3. Scrape the chocolate into a bowl and use an electric mixer to beat in the butter. Add the butter slowly, just 1 tablespoon at a time, beating the buttercream the whole time.
4. When all the butter has been added, sprinkle in about ¼ teaspoon of salt and beat the buttercream for another 2 minutes or so.
Taste and add more salt if you like.
That's it! The buttercream is now ready to use on any cake.
What is a double boiler?
A double boiler is simply two pots (or a pot and a bowl) that are slightly different sizes so that the smaller pot (or bowl) can nestle inside the larger one.
The idea is to fill the larger pot with water and set the smaller pot over it. When you set it over heat the water begins to boil and gently heats whatever you've got cooking in the smaller pan.
Double boilers are often used to melt chocolate because melting chocolate over direct heat can cause it to scorch and seize up. In contrast, the gentle heat from the steam rising off the boiling water heats the chocolate slowly and gently, making it much less likely to burn.
Double boilers are inexpensive and can be found in kitchen stores and online:
This double boiler pot can be set over any medium-size saucepan.
This stainless steel double boiler includes a non-stick pan with a 3 quart double boiler insert.
OR - you can do what I do and make a double boiler with a couple of pans and a mesh strainer.
This is how I make a double boiler out of pans I already have in my kitchen:
How to Store and Freeze this Buttercream
Chocolate orange buttercream can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
The buttercream is difficult to work with when it's cold, so about an hour before you want to use it, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Once at room temperature, beat the buttercream for a couple of minutes which will restore it to its creamy glory.
You can also freeze chocolate orange buttercream in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Allow the buttercream to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. About an hour before you want to use it, remove it from the refrigerator, let it come to room temperature, beat it for a few minutes, and the buttercream will be ready to use.
- 4 ounces chocolate with orange flavor (See note below for suggested brands)
- ¼ cup orange liquor (Cointreau or Triple Sec)
- 12 tablespoon (6 ounces) unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
- Add the chocolate and orange liquor to a double boiler (a small pan set over a larger pan filled with simmering water). *See instructions and photos about how to create a double boiler in the post above.
- Heat the chocolate gently (keep the water at a low simmer), stirring constantly, just until it's about 75% melted. Remove it from the heat and continue to stir until completely melted.
- Scrape the mixture into a bowl and use an electric mixer to beat in the butter, adding it one tablespoon at a time while the mixer runs.
- Beat in ¼ teaspoon of salt. Continue to beat on high speed for another 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Taste and add more salt if desired.
- If not using within an hour, beat the buttercream again briefly before using.
How to Store Chocolate Orange Buttercream
Chocolate orange buttercream can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. About an hour before you want to use it, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Beat the buttercream for a couple of minutes before using.
You can also freeze chocolate orange buttercream in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Allow the buttercream to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. About an hour before you want to use it, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Beat the buttercream for a couple of minutes before using.