This super simple, ultra-creamy, melt-in-your-mouth milk chocolate buttercream frosting recipe requires just 4 basic ingredients and about 15 minutes of your time.
I created this milk chocolate buttercream frosting for Chocolate Truffle Cake because I wanted to cover the cake in something that tasted like the creamy center of a milk chocolate truffle. And that is exactly what this frosting tastes like.
It's impossibly light and creamy with those subtle hints of caramel and vanilla that you only get with really good milk chocolate.
As you might imagine, it's the perfect buttercream for Chocolate Truffle Cake. But, I'd be hard-pressed to think of a cake this buttercream wouldn't make even better. Top of my list:
- Instead of the chocolate and orange vibe on this One Layer Chocolate Almond Cake create a double chocolate almond vibe by swapping out the dark chocolate orange buttercream for milk chocolate buttercream. Add a bit of almond extract and/ or amaretto to the buttercream for even more almond flavor.
- Swap out the white chocolate buttercream for milk chocolate buttercream on White Forest Cake at which point I don't think you can call it "white forest cake" but you can call it DELICIOUS and that's all that matters.
- Get your chocolate banana fix by covering this banana cream cake with milk chocolate buttercream.
- Make the BEST chocolate and vanilla cake ever by filling and frosting this classic Vanilla Layer Cake OR Gluten Free Vanilla Cake with milk chocolate buttercream.
- Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream is positively delicious on a classic Yellow Cake, but so is this milk chocolate buttercream which takes a fraction of the time.
- These One Hour Buttermilk Caramel Cupcakes are my favorite cupcakes with or without the caramel frosting. Topped with a thick layer of milk chocolate buttercream they become a whole new treat.
Ingredients Needed to Prepare this Recipe
You'll need only 4 ingredients to prepare this super creamy milk chocolate buttercream!
- Milk Chocolate. There's a lot of chocolate in this buttercream, so it's important to use a high-quality brand. I generally use Lindt chocolate for baking and keep several bars of semi-sweet, bitter-sweet, and milk chocolate in my freezer at all times. You can order packs of 12 Milk Chocolate Bars on amazon, which is generally what I do.
- Unsalted Butter. Ok. HUGE disclaimer here: I generally use salted butter to make this buttercream. I am specifying unsalted butter in the recipe because it will make it much easier for each individual baker to add as much or as little salt as they like to their buttercream. I really love salted chocolate and have made this chocolate buttercream enough times to know that salted butter adds the amount of salt that tastes good to me. This may or may not be true for you. If you are unsure about how much salt you'll like in your chocolate buttercream, use unsalted butter and then add salt in tiny additions until it tastes right to you.
- Salt. Salt is essential to bringing out the flavor in foods and chocolate buttercream is no exception. If you do what I usually do and use salted butter, you won't need any additional salt. If you opt for unsalted butter, a pinch of salt will make the buttercream more flavorful. Start with about ¼ teaspoon and then taste it and add more if you like.
- Pure vanilla extract. Vanilla is kind of magical in that it helps chocolate taste more chocolaty somehow. The recipe suggests using 2 teaspoons, but feel free to use more if that tastes better to you.
Additions and Substitutions
This recipe is kind of a blank slate for any kind of chocolate buttercream you'd like to make.
You can do the same thing with any flavor that strikes your fancy. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Dark Chocolate Buttercream: Swap out the milk chocolate for semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate.
- Chocolate Raspberry Buttercream: Use Dark Chocolate Raspberry bars and add 2-4 tablespoons of Chambord (raspberry liquor) after incorporating the butter.
- Chocolate Cherry Buttercream: Add 2-4 tablespoons cherry liquor to the buttercream after incorporating the butter. Even better if you can find chocolate flavored with cherries!
- Chocolate Almond Buttercream: Use almond extract instead of vanilla and/or chocolate with bits of roasted almonds in it like these Lindt Dark Chocolate Almond Bars. Or, instead of almond extract, beat in 2-4 tablespoons of amaretto after incorporating the butter.
- Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream: Use Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Bars or Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Bars and add 2-4 tablespoons of Frangelico liquor after all the butter has been incorporated.
- White Chocolate Buttercream: Swap out the milk chocolate for white chocolate bars.
- Chocolate Coconut Buttercream: Use either milk or dark chocolate and coconut extract instead of vanilla extract. You can also beat in 2-4 tablespoons of coconut liquor and a handful of shredded sweetened coconut after the butter has been incorporated.
Step-by-Step Photos and Instructions
Chop the bars of chocolate into small pieces and place them in 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 a double boiler or making one (like you see in this photo) with two saucepans and a mesh strainer.
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.
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 as you add it piece by piece.
When all the butter has been added, sprinkle in about ¼ teaspoon of salt and some vanilla extract. Beat the buttercream for another minute or two to incorporate then taste and add more salt and/or vanilla if you like.
*If you've used salted butter, you will most likely not need additional salt.
That's it. The buttercream is now gorgeously creamy and ready to use.
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 Milk Chocolate Buttercream
Milk Chocolate Buttercream can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
If frozen, let the buttercream defrost overnight in the refrigerator then set it out on a countertop for an hour or two so it can come up to room temperature.
Regardless of whether you've kept the buttercream in the refrigerator or the freezer, it's important to allow it time to come to room temperature because cold buttercream will not spread.
Once at room temperature, beat the buttercream for a couple of minutes to bring back it to a fluffy, soft, spreadable texture.
- 12 ounces (340 grams/ 2 cups chopped) of milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces
- 12 ounces (3 sticks/ 340 grams) unsalted butter (*see notes)
- ¼ teaspoons salt (to taste)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Add the chocolate to a double boiler (a small pan or bowl set over a larger pan filled with simmering water).
- 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 Milk Chocolate Buttercream
Milk Chocolate Buttercream can be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. If frozen, let the buttercream defrost overnight in the refrigerator then set it out on a countertop for an hour or two so it can come up to room temperature - cold buttercream will not spread. Once at room temperature, re-beat the buttercream to bring back it to a fluffy, soft, spreadable texture.
Why Salt is Essential for the Best Chocolate Buttercream Flavor
When added in the right amount, salt makes food taste more like itself. Because of this magical quality, a bit of salt is essential to making chocolate buttercream with rich, chocolate flavor.
But, how much salt you add is 100% a matter of personal preference. I love salted chocolate and have made this recipe enough times to know that I like a generous amount of salt in my buttercream. So, I generally use salted butter. This may or may not be the right amount of salt for you, so my suggestion is to use unsalted butter and then add salt in tiny additions until it tastes right to you.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 18 Serving Size: ¼ cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 238Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 46mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 2g