Old-Fashioned Chocolate Frosting

I’m pretty sure something biological happened to me about the same time I became a mother.  At least that’s when I remember it happening.  That was the point when I realized I couldn’t live without chocolate.   I found myself thinking about chocolate, craving chocolate, scouring my pantry for spare chocolate chips that may have fallen out of a bag at some point and landed in some random corner.  And I wouldn’t by any means call myself a chocolate snob (because I’m pretty sure anyone who makes that proclamation wouldn’t be on their hands and knees in the pantry looking for old chocolate chips)  but I do have an appreciation for quality chocolate.  And I don’t like it overloaded with sugar- the darker the better in my book.  I even love bittersweet chocolate.  But when it comes down to it, if it’s got chocolate in it- I’m down.  So needless to say, a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting pretty much rocks my world.

Everyone in  my opinion needs a great, basic, go-to chocolate cake recipe.  And while there’s a time and a place for boxed cake mixes, everyone needs a good homemade, from scratch recipe.  I’ve used this Hershey’s recipe quite a bit over the years, and I still love it.  But several years ago I bought the “Best Recipes” issue of Cook’s Illustrated, partially because this cake was on the cover.  I finally had a great excuse to make it last month and I wish I would have done it years ago.  It’s definitely one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever tasted.

I started going through the pictures for this cake and realized the post would quickly turn into a novel, so I’m splitting it into two installments.  Frosting today, cake on Wednesday!  Don’t be turned off by the number of steps here.  I almost was and I’m so glad I stuck with the recipe and made this frosting.  It’s more labor intensive than beating some butter, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder together but it’s sooo worth it.

Start by melting some chocolate.  The glass bowl you see in the pictures is sitting on top of a pan of simmering water.

After the chocolate is melted, set the bowl aside and dump out the water that was in the pan.  Now you’ve already got a warm pan for the next step (butter melting).  Remember that when you read the recipe and it tells you to use 2 pans.  I’m all about one less dish to  have sitting in my sink for days wash.

To the melted butter, you’ll add a little corn syrup, vanilla, and granulated sugar.

As soon as it’s all melted together and the sugar is dissolved, add it to a large bowl along with…

the chocolate.  The beautiful, glorious, melted chocolate.  And no I did not stick my finger in that as it was pouring down like a chocolate waterfall just begging for someone to stick their finger in it…

And also some heavy cream.  You know, for good measure.

You’ll stir this all together and have sort of a chocolate sauce consistency. Place your bowl in a bowl of ice to bring the temperature down, and just keep stirring until the mixture starts hardening against the side of the bowl.  Then you can pop the paddle attachment on your mixer and start whipping.  Magically it turns thick and fluffy.

I was actually super impatient when I made this and didn’t wait for it to cool enough that the mixture was sticking to the sides of the bowl.  So my whipped frosting was reeealy soft.  I just popped it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes and it was perfect.

The flavor is so perfect.  It’s sweet, but not too sweet, so the great chocolate flavor really shines through.

and when combined with the chocolate cake, it’s perfection.

I should also note that the texture is so light and soft, and whippy, that this frosting would probably be best for slathering- like smeared all over a cake, or just plopped on top of cupcakes, as opposed to piping.  If you’re looking for a good chocolate icing for piping- try this one!


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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. OHG, I loved the cake and I absolutely love this frosting, do you think it would hold its shape to be piped onto a cupcake???… I cant wait to try it!!!! THanks . Bea

    1. It’s very soft Bea. You’d have to refrigerate it for a bit to pipe it. If it were me I’d just spread it on.

  2. It reminds me of the cake on Pollyanna. Evey time I watch that movie I crave a homemade Chocolate Cake.

  3. I could not wait for the cake recipe to post. I used the Hershey’s one you referenced. OMG the cake and frosting we UNREAL. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  4. It’s good that you didn’t post the recipe for the cake today as well. And that I don’t have the stuff to make the frosting. I am already trying to think of an occasion to make this!

  5. Sara, this chocolate frosting looks out of this world delicious! Wonderful job on it, and thanks for sharing. I’m glad to have found your beautiful blog and am going to explore more of your recipes! 🙂 – Georgia

  6. Just in time for my 10 year old’s “Golden” birthday tomorrow. I already made the cake but was just checking your site for a great chocolate frosting recipe, you read my mind.

  7. I may have to invent a reason to make some cake and frosting. It’ll be my peace offering to all this blasted wind! Please tell me it ends!

  8. so i do not have a kitchen scale (I KNOW, I KNOW!) so how many cups of chips is that please 🙂 i just want to make it and eat it by the spoon full! thanks sooooo much for the tips, i hope the cake isnt to hard cause my Boyfriends bday is coming up and he will love this! 🙂

  9. This frosting looks to die for! I’m drooling at my keyboard and trying to figure out a reason to make this that will satisfy my husband who is trying to eat healthy and keeps getting mad at me when I make treats. What’s a girl with a chocolate craving to do though? It must be satisfied.

  10. Okay, this looks fabulous! However, I went to check out the chocolate cake recipe from “Cooks” and there are to many to count. How about some help as to where to find the recipe-better yet, can you send it my way? Thanks. I LoVe, lOvE, LOVE your blog and book! I also made lots of mother day cans for friends, family and my nursery kids “kissed” the pre-made cans leaving lipstick “kisses” from them to mom. They were a hit! What to do about 2 big bags of fruit cocktail is my dilemma now! Thanks

  11. I’m surprised at the comments, which is why I always take the time to read them. Yellow cake never occurs to me. Not when I could make chocolate. It sounds good though and I might have to give it a chance, after I make the chocolate one, of course. I got my chocolate tooth when I started having kids too, but only in baked form. No chocolate bars here. Cake is so much healthier right? 🙂 I’ll be trying this as soon as I get the chance. I wanted to share a link with you though: http://www.amazon.com/SideSwipe-KitchenAid-Bowl-Lift-Stand-Mixers/dp/B0027YOW8S/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1304973463&sr=8-3.

    This is a SideSwipe blade. It’s just a paddle attachment (available for most mixers) but it’s like having a rubber spatula and paddle in one. No more stopping to scrape the sides. I bought one about a year and a half ago, and it’s the only thing I ever use, even for lighter breads! I sound like a commercial, but it’s seriously my favorite part of my KitchenAid.

    1. Angie, you’re right, these are great! I use mine ALL the time. Do you think we can get compensated for our endorsements? Probably not.

  12. I think you could use sweetened condensed milk instead of corn syrup. I made a fudgy frosting with just sweetened condensed milk and melted chocolate chips, similar to an easy fudge recipe I have.

  13. I don’t have a stand mixer or anything. Could I use a regular egg beater to do the last step?

  14. So I’ve been wanting to get your book for a while now and yesterday my mom got it for me and my sisters! We spent about an hour pouring (drooling) over all of the wonderful recipes! So excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. I just want to eat it by the spoonful! How many calories you suppose? Nevermind, I’d rather not know. Thanks for the recipe 😉

  16. I am sooo excited for the cake recipe! I have to do a chocolate cake this weekend and need a good recipe. Do you think the cake recipe is sturdy enough to stack and do a 3 tier? I hope so!!! 🙂

  17. Ah! I need the cake recipe NOW! LOL! Tomorrow is my hudband’s birthday, I can’t wait until Wednesday! I guess I will have to try the frosting with my old chocolate cake recipe 🙂 and try this one next time.

      1. Oh, if you get this tonight, I would appreciate it so much if you would PLEASE email it to me. Thanks!!!

  18. love the look of this cake frosting!! i have noticed that you cook it with corn syrup…is there a substitute for the syrup that wont make the food your cooking taste different, i thought honey, but honey has a pretty distinct taste..just wondering cuz we don’t use or eat any corn syrup..thx so much!

    1. Lol- Denelle I made a prediction when I wrote this post that someone in the fist 10 comments would ask for a substitute for corn syrup. I’m so good! In this recipe, honestly, nope. I mean, you could probably use honey, but like you said, it’s going to affect the flavor.

    2. How about trying Agave nectar? It has the same consistency as corn syrup but supposed to be better for you…not sure that it really is though 🙂 The brand I used was Xagave and I found it at the Bosch kitchen store but I’m sure it’s sold in lots of other stores too. Good Luck!

    3. Use Lyle’s Golden syrup. It is an import from England available in most grocery stores (just ask them to help you find it). I substitute with it all the time and like it just as well, if not better. It is more expensive though. I hope it helps!

      1. Thx for the help and ideas! I also just googled corn syrup substitute and It said I can just take however much light corn syrup it asked for and put that much white sugar.in then add water…and same with dark cs..just use brown sugar and water…I will check actual mesurments if anyone else would like to know…also if I make this frosting..and im pretty sure I will since my 2 yr olds bday is this sat. Ill let you know how it turned out and tasted..

  19. Seriously, are you totally trying to sabatoge my diet??? Hee hee, I am also more of a yellow cake fan, but this is making my mouth water.

  20. Awesome! Just the other day, I made a chocolate cake and I was looking for a recipe for chocolate frosting that uses melted chocolate chips and of course, couldn’t find one. I knew I could count on you! 😉

    1. I just read somewhere not to use chocolate chips, cause it is different from semi sweet chocolate. I am guessing it is in the form of bars. So I need to go back to the store to look for it.

      1. I know I’m way late but going to post anyway… The reason for “no chocolate chips” is they can have a wax like coating to keep them from sticking together. That being said, I have often used chocolate chips and *I’ve* never had a problem. I don’t cook gourmet stuff but in something like frosting it should be fine. The concern would be with chocolate that needs tempering (truffles, chocolate coated anything when you want a snap when you bite into it) and even then, my husband has made chocolates and had no problems with the chips.

  21. I just laughed so hard while reading this because my dishes would also just end up sitting in the sink for days.

  22. It looks like this originally came from the March 2006 issue of Cook’s Illustrated. With your recommendation, I believe I will give it a try. thanks!

    1. Thanks Holly- my issue is a “Best Of” so they obviously collect recipes from different issues. Try it, you’ll love it!

  23. I’m more of a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. This recipe makes me want to make one, NOW! I’m also a huge fan of Cooks Illustrated.

    1. I agree with you, yellow cake with chocolate frosting is where it’s at! Can’t wait to try this on it!

      1. So girls, in this same recipe book, on the very next page, is a recipe for their ultimate yellow cake with “no fail chocolate frosting”. I literally spend HOURS staring at both recipes trying to decide which to make. The yellow one is totally next on my list!

        1. Ben and Jerrys has a yellow cake batter ice cream with chocolate frosting swirls… Just sayin’!

        2. Sounds like the perfect cake!

          No lie, yellow cake with chocolate frosting is such a tradition in my family, it’s what my sister and her husband had for their wedding cake. Best cake ever!

  24. This looks great and I will definitely be trying it out, but I’ve got a question for you. I recently whipped up a red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting (of course!) i assembled my layers with frosting between each. By the time the cake reached its final destination it was leaning to right! The layers were sliding because of the frosting! The layers were completely cooled. . .any tips on preventing this? Maybe a way to make stiffer frosting. . .

  25. This looks amazing! I have yet to find a chocolate frosting recipe that I love. I absolutely know what you mean about searching for chocolate chips in corners of the pantry. There was a blue M&M lodged under our computer desk for a while and I have to admit I thought about eating it often. But don’t worry. I just threw it away. I think . . .

  26. Yummeroos! I think I should make this and dip graham crackers in it! Or apple slices? or, or or maybe strawberries .. forget the cake! LOL 🙂 can’t wait to try this (but I don’t have a paddle attachment for my mixer, what can be used in place of one)

    1. No joke, this would be SO good for dipping stuff into. Graham crackers all the way! When I was a kid my Mom would always make graham cracker chocolate frosting sandwiches for treats. So good! Do you have the whisk attachment? I’m sure that would work fine.

      1. My mom did the same thing- graham crackers and chocolate frosting. I failed my own children as I did not give them that “gourmet” treat as often as my mom did for me!
        I’m just wondering how in the world did you refrain from sticking your finger in the chocolate waterfall? The only way I resisted while reading this post is because my finger couldn’t go through the monitor. You have mighty willpower, Sara!

  27. This looks so yummy! But here’s my question: whats the difference in taste/texture between this recipe, and the other chocolate frosting you have on the site (I use that one ALL the time, and everyone LOVES it).

    1. Good question Stacia. I haven’t made that other one in a long time so I think I’d have to see them side by side to make a really good comparison. But I would say this one (in terms of texture) is lighter, more billowy, more whippy? Lol Totally a word! Because it has cream in it, the flavor is very luxurious. I’d say this one is better for smearing on a cake or cupcake whereas the other would be better for piping.