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This beautiful, richly flavored, and well-behaved whipped chocolate frosting pairs well with a wide variety of cakes and cupcakes. Great for piping or spreading.

an ultimate vanilla cupcake with whipped chocolate frosting
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Why we love this recipe

Even though I develop recipes for a living, I find that in my own life we return to a handful of dessert classics again and again. This simple and simply perfect whipped chocolate frosting is among them. This recipe is:

  • Quick and easy
  • Richly flavored (especially if you use really good ingredients)
  • The perfect consistency for easy piping or spreading
  • Flexible — works with lots of cakes and flavor variations
  • Make-ahead friendly

I first published this recipe here back in 2017. I’ve since updated the post for clarity, but the recipe remains the same.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • I like to use a good quality cultured, salted butter to add the tiniest bit of additional dimension to the flavor of the frosting. It doesn’t taste salty at all — it just tempers the sweetness and heightens all the flavors.
  • I tend to use good old powdered sugar from the grocery store and give it a sift. However, if you like, you can use organic powdered sugar. It tends to be processed with tapioca starch instead of cornstarch and have a smoother, more powerful thickening capacity.
  • Whole milk is the classic move for buttercream frosting. I often sub in heavy cream, which whips up inside the frosting to give you a bit of additional lightness.
  • You can use any natural, unsweetened cocoa powder, but the better it is, the better the result. Here I’ve used Valrhona

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a dreamy batch of whipped chocolate frosting. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. First you’ll whip the butter.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder.
  3. Pour in the milk and vanilla.
  4. Whip until smooth, creamy, and light. That’s it!

Suggested variations

This flexible frosting takes well to additional flavors. You can:

  • In addition to the vanilla extract, use a teaspoon or less (depending on strength — taste as you go) of peppermint, orange, lemon, coffee, almond, or rose extract.
  • Instead of the milk, use one to two tablespoons of a liqueur like Kahlua, Baileys, Cointreau, Chambord, Poire Williams, Frangelico, Amaretto, Creme de Menthe, or any other good-quality nut-, fruit-, coffee-, or mint-based liqueur that you like.
  • Instead of the milk, add up to two tablespoons of strained fruit puree like raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, cherry, prune, or pear.
  • Add up to one teaspoon total of ground spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom (try a 2:1:1 ratio), or ground chili.
  • Add two teaspoons of instant coffee powder.

Expert tips and FAQs

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

I prefer to use this frosting right away, but you can make it up to a week in advance if you need to. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, bring to cool room temperature, and whisk again for a minute before using.

More favorite frosting recipes

chocolate cupcakes with whipped chocolate frosting

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an ultimate vanilla cupcake with whipped chocolate frosting
4.70 from 10 votes

Whipped Chocolate Frosting

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
This beautiful, richly flavored, and well-behaved whipped chocolate frosting pairs well with a wide variety of cakes and cupcakes. Great for piping or spreading.
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 cups
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Ingredients 

  • 16 tablespoons (227 grams) salted butter, at cool room temperature
  • 3 ½ cups (420 grams) powdered sugar
  • ½ cup (42 grams) cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) whole milk or heavy cream, plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk (or in a large bowl with electric beaters), beat the butter for about two minutes, until light and creamy.
  • Sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder, then add to mixer (with mixer off) along with milk or cream and vanilla.
  • Beat on low until incorporated, then on high for three to four minutes until smooth and fluffy.
  • Let sit for 10 minutes to help powdered sugar relax a bit into the mix.
  • If frosting is too thick, beat in up to two tablespoons more milk a little at a time. (It usually isn't, but it can depend on the humidity level and your measurement technique.)

Notes

  1. I prefer to use this frosting right away, but you can make it up to a week in advance if you need to. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, bring to cool room temperature, and whisk again for a minute before using.
  2. Weighing your ingredients when baking is the best method. If you're measuring by volume, watch my video about measuring and use the spoon and level method.
  3. This recipe makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes the way you see here. For a smaller batch of 12 cupcakes, halve the recipe. For a big cake, a larger batch of cupcakes, or a higher frosting to cupcake ratio, you can 1 1/2x or double this recipe. A double recipe requires a larger stand mixer or a very big bowl. (I use the 6-quart bowl lift KitchenAid for a double batch of frosting. I recommend sifting in batches.)

Suggested variations

  • In addition to the vanilla extract, use a teaspoon or less (depending on strength — taste as you go) of peppermint, orange, lemon, coffee, almond, or rose extract.
  • Instead of the cream, use one to two tablespoons of a liqueur like Kahlua, Baileys, Cointreau, Chambord, Poire Williams, Frangelico, Amaretto, Creme de Menthe, or any other good-quality nut-, fruit-, coffee-, or mint-based liqueur that you like.
  • Instead of the milk, add up to two tablespoons of strained fruit puree like raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, cherry, prune, or pear.
  • Add up to one teaspoon total of ground spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom (try a 2:1:1 ratio), or ground chili.
  • Add two teaspoons of instant coffee powder.

Nutrition

Calories: 130kcal, Carbohydrates: 15.7g, Protein: 0.4g, Fat: 8g, Fiber: 0.5g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Sweet Spreads
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

Hungry for More?
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Carolyn Gratzer Cope Bio Photo

About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.70 from 10 votes (10 ratings without comment)

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