Friday, November 16, 2012

Fluffy Chocolate Buttercream (The Best!)

This is the birthday cake I made for myself a few weeks ago. It is a simple yellow cake made with buttermilk, but the best part was the fluffy chocolate frosting. It's crazy good. I'm calling it the best, because it's the best for me. There are plenty of different types of chocolate frosting, and different ways to make it, but this is my favorite. It's light, fluffy and smooth in texture with deep chocolate flavor. It's incredibly easy to work with too.

To arrive at this dreamy version, I cobbled together two recipes from a blog I really enjoy, Sweetapolita. She also loves fluffy, whipped-to-the-heavens frosting. This is a very easy American buttercream, but what makes the flavor is top-notch chocolate that's melted and beat into the butter and powdered sugar base. I wrote all about what I used in the recipe headnote, but you can make the same frosting with different chocolates (milk, white), depending on what you want.

The cake itself was great. It is from the book Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne, but I got the recipe from Cookie Madness, where it was used to make terrific cupcakes. It makes a 3-layer 8-inch cake; I have 9-inch pans, so I made two 9-inch layers and 9 cupcakes (filled 2/3 full). It baked up beautifully, with a fine, tender crumb. I think I would double the vanilla for a little extra oomph if I made it again. But, it's a great cake that keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator, and it's a very straightforward recipe.

Do you have a favorite homemade frosting? Tell me in the comments!

Fluffy Chocolate Buttercream
Adapted from Whipped Vanilla Frosting and Nutella Cloud Frosting by Sweetapolita. Makes more than enough to frost a 2-layer, 9-inch cake.

For the chocolate, I used a mixture of 3 different types I had on hand: Callebaut Dark Callets 53.8%, Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Chips 63%, and Ghirardhelli bittersweet chips 60%. I recommend keeping the chocolate in the 53 to 63% range if you want this exact version, but it would work with any kind of chocolate you like, including white.

I used a little more chocolate than the original recipe called for in my version below, to account for the chocolate that inevitably ends up on the spoon, on the spatula, on the bowl you use to melt it--so don't worry if you get chocolate all over the place. The melted chocolate does NOT need to be completely, totally at cool room temp. If it gets too cool, it will start to solidify; do not put it in the refrigerator, you'll have condensation, and it will seize.

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), at room temperature
2 1/4 cups (285 grams) confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces dark chocolate chips or chopped bars (see recipe headnote), melted and cooled slightly
1 to 2 tablespoons whole or 2% milk, IF NEEDED

Add butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium ("4" on a Kitchen Aid mixer) for 6 minutes, or until very pale, creamy and fluffy. Add vanilla and salt and beat on medium for 6 minutes more. Add melted chocolate and beat on medium until smooth, light and very fluffy, 2 to 5 minutes. If during this final mixing, frosting seems too thick, slowly add milk, as needed (I didn't need it). Start frosting your cake right away--it spreads like a dream.

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