If you find most frostings to be too sweet, you might just need to check out my Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream. It’s silky smooth and uses a fraction of the amount of sugar you’ll find in traditional frosting. This frosting isn’t the quickest recipe, but you’ll love the results!
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This recipe was originally published on October 28, 2019 and was republished on May 27, 2021 with updates.
For me, “frosting” has always meant that crazy sweet American buttercream that we all know and love from countless birthday cakes and family parties. But, as my baking and tastes have matured, I have come to discover that there are so many more frosting options out there.
The most common frosting varieties are American Buttercream (ABC), Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC), or Italian Meringue Buttercream (IMBC). Most of my recipes use ABC because it’s crazy easy and what I’m used to. Myfault line cake and carrot cake both use a SMBC and it isn’t too tricky.
Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream
I’ve made this chocolate Italian meringue buttercream a few times now, and I’ve got to say, it is like eating a chocolate cloud. Well, technically, Ben said that after I gave him a spoonful. For a more intense chocolate buttercream, check out the one I used on my German chocolate cake.
The first time I made this recipe was for some mini chocolate cupcakes for myNo Kid Hungry bake sale. It was delicious! But this time around, I added some dark cocoa powder to up the chocolate punch. This is totally optional. And to go with the whole chocolate vibe, I used my vegan chocolate cupcakes because they are crazy easy to make, super moist, and have a great flavor.
Before you make this, let me give you a warning. This frosting is delicious. But it might taste different than what you’re used to because it is less sweet and more fluffy. I love that it pairs really well with chocolate cupcakes because it’s not overpowering.
Now that you’re ready, let’s dive into the details. You’re going to make an Italian meringue by pouring crazy hot sugar syrup into whipped egg whites. Once that mixture has cooled, add soft butter. Finally, finish off with flavorings and melted chocolate. See! That’s not too bad. You just have to approach each step carefully.
Top Tips for Meringue
Wipe your bowl and whisk with a bit of vinegar to remove any residual fat or grease.
Separate your egg whites one at a time into a small bowl before adding them to your big bowl. This is to prevent any stray yolk from ruining the whole batch!
Acid (like cream of tartar or lemon juice) can help stabilize your egg whites.
Whip your eggs at a medium speed for longer to create a more stable meringue and minimize the risk of over whipping.
Room temperature egg whites will whip up faster, but it’s best to separate the eggs while they’re cold.
To be honest, adding the butter is the scariest part of the whole recipe. It sounds simple, and it is, but it is going to look awful. After you add that first stick, don’t panic. Your frosting is going to be deflated and a little soupy looking. Just keep adding that butter slowly.
After that final stick, you’ll wonder why you even doubted yourself! The IMBC will be smooth and silky. While this is the part that will give you a heart attack, my son loved helping me plop each pat of butter into the bowl.
Once you break it down, it really isn’t that difficult, but there are some key points to keep in mind. The sugar syrup must hit 240℉. That is considered “soft ball” stage and it will give the meringue the right structure. Once the syrup is ready, pour it carefully down the side of the bowl. You do not want to hit the whisk.
The next most important step is to let the meringue cool to room temperature before adding the butter. Naturally, if you chuck butter into a bowl of crazy hot meringue, you’re going to end up with a mess. Let the meringue whip for 15- 20 minutes and you can even pack the bowl with ice (or frozen fruits and veggies…).
I am no expert with IMBC, but I am aware of the most common issues. The big one is adding butter while the meringue is too warm. If the frosting starts to look melted or curdled, pop it in the fridge for about 10 minutes, then continue whipping. It should come together.
After 20 minutes of beating my meringue, it still felt a bit warm on the bottom. I popped my meringue in the fridge for 3- 5 minutes before adding the butter. Now, I don’t know if this made much of a difference, but my chocolate Italian meringue buttercream frosting came out just fine!
You can make this stuff into any flavor under the sun (more or less…). For chocolate Italian meringue buttercream frosting, chop and melt 4-6 ounces of chocolate. Once it’s cooled a bit, beat it into the frosting. I like to amp up the chocolate flavor by adding in some cocoa powder as well.
I’m a HUGE fan of chocolate, so naturally I think this buttercream goes best with my vegan chocolate cupcakes or even my Devil’s food cake. But I truly think this stuff would taste great on just about anything.
No Kid Hungry Bake Sale (Back in 2019)
Bake sale, you say? I don’t know if you realize this, but I really like baking. It’s been so exciting to turn that passion into a blog and a business, but I wanted to do more. Then I saw an ad to host a bake sale to raise money forNo Kid Hungry and knew I had to do it!
I was shocked to learn that 1 in 6 children in America struggle with hunger. Luckily, just $10 can provide a hungry kid with up to 100 meals! My goal was to raise $300 through online donations and a bake sale at a community festival.
We slayed that goal! My plan was to host a bake sale every year, but then 2020 happened and the pandemic changed everything. Hopefully I’ll be able to host another No Kid Hungry Bake Sale soon.
American buttercream can be too sweet and overpowering for some people. Chocolate Italian meringue buttercream frosting is the perfect solution to this dessert conundrum. This frosting is smooth, creamy, buttery, and not too sweet. How will you use it?
I hope you loved this chocolate Italian meringue buttercream as much as I did. If you make this recipe, be sure to tag me onInstagram!
Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cover the pot for the first 2 minutes to help prevent crystallization. You will heat the sugar syrup to 240°F.
While the sugar heats, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. When the sugar syrup hits 200°F, begin whipping the egg whites on low. Once they start to foam, add the salt and cream of tartar.
Bump the speed up to medium (4 on a KitchenAid) and beat until you reach soft peaks. The whites should be ready right when your sugar syrup is ready.
Once the sugar is 240°F, the egg whites should be at soft peaks. Slowly and carefully drizzle the syrup into the bowl, being careful to avoid the whisk. Continue to beat the meringue on a medium speed until it reaches room temperature. This will take about 20 minutes. Pack the sides of the bowl with ice or frozen veggies to speed up the process.
When the meringue is no longer warm, you can begin adding the butter one tablespoon at a time. Wait about 10 seconds between additions. The mixture will deflate and look loose, but it will thicken up again. If it looks too soupy at any point, pop the bowl in the fridge for 5- 10 minutes.
Once the butter has been added, scrape down the bowl and whip on a medium high speed for 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl down, add vanilla, and whip to combine.
Place the finely chopped chocolate and cocoa powder (optional) in a heat proof bowl and melt over a double boiler or in the microwave just until smooth. Cool the chocolate slightly. Switch to a paddle attachment, add the chocolate, and beat to combine. If your buttercream is too warm/ loose, chill for up to 30 minutes, then beat again.
If the egg whites hit soft peaks before the sugar is ready, turn the mixer to low.
Makes enough to lightly frost 24 cupcakes. You can scale this recipe up if needed.
Hi there! I’m Colleen, a novice baker with a passion for learning and improving my bakes… and blunders. On Bakes and Blunders, you can find all sorts of tasty recipes that range in difficulty, but most importantly, I’ll try to explain the reason behind important steps. If you know why a recipe works, you can tweak and adapt it to suit your unique tastes, and you’ll be able to reliably produce some very delicious treats. If you love baking and want to expand and grow your skills, or if you are a casual baker and just need some pointers, my blog is right up your alley! Join me on my baking journey and we’ll learn how to make more impressive recipes together.