How to Make Chocolate Cloud Italian Meringue Buttercream
Step-by-step tutorial on how to make fluffy, mousse-like, light-as-air Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream, that feels like biting into a chocolate cloud.
Almost one year ago, on a trip to San Francisco, I had one of the best chocolate experiences of my life.
It was in the form of the unforgettable Chocolate Velvet Cupcake from Kara’s Cupcakes, a San Francisco Bay Area premier artisan bakery. As an annoyingly picky dessert enthusiast, I’m normally not one to be impressed by bakery cupcakes, until this one came along. It blew my mind!
And it looked something like this…
Whereas most bakery chocolate cupcakes can be generally dry, heavy and cloyingly sweet (with a few exceptions of course), Kara’s Chocolate Velvet Cupcake is on the other end of the spectrum. Moist, light-as-air, chocolatey without being an overkill and perfectly sweet. In fact, I remember it being too light, that I went back and bought several more. One on these fluffy little nuggets was not enough for this chocolate lover! Plus, calories don’t count on vacations amirite? The whole experience was like biting into a chocolate cloud.
The cupcake itself is super moist and fluffy with a deep chocolate flavor, but its the frosting that intrigued me the most. I’ve never tasted anything like it before. As I sat down on the bench right in front of the bakery, I dissected it like the food nerd that I am, trying to make sense of the deliciousness in my hand. In terms of appearance, it looked whipped with lots of air pockets and had the color of rich milk chocolate. The texture was UN.REAL. Airy and fluffy like chocolate mousse, soft and creamy beyond belief, light and ethereal and not gritty to the slightest. Though the pale brown color may not indicate this, but the frosting packs an intense chocolate flavor, that is just sweet enough and chocolatey without being overpowering.
What was it? I was itching to know!
Whipped ganache? Naaaah! It’s lighter than that.
Some kind of meringue buttercream? Naaaaaah! It’s less buttery and less rich than that. Possibly though?
One way to know…Google!
My web spying efforts brought me to this:
Kara’s Cupcakes website describes their Chocolate Velvet Cupcake as “chocolate cupcake with a velvety bittersweet chocolate buttercream.” So hint number one: Bittersweet Chocolate! No wonder why the chocolate flavor is SO intense.
Then in this YouTube video, Kara Haspel Lind, owner and executive pastry chef of the famed bakery, describes it as “delicious, moist chocolate cake made with Scharffen Berger cocoa powder, and then on top of it you get an Italian Meringue Buttercream, rolled in French Chocolate Callebaut Sprinkles” She said it! She said it! She gave away the secret! It’s Italian Meringue Buttercream! Although it didn’t feel like it. I mean I’ve had desserts made chocolate Italian Meringue buttercream before, but this was so much better. Lighter, yet more chocolatey.
Proud of my discovery, I snapped a couple of photos of Kara’s epic cupcake, posted it on Instagram and pledged to come up with a homemade version. So there we are…one year later and after more trials than I could count, I think I nailed it. I will not claim this to be a Kara’s copycat recipe nor a clone but an inspiration, because let’s be real, I only had it once it my life and now its half the globe away from me to be able to compare them side be side. One thing for sure though, is that its every bit as delicious as I remember the original to be and will conjure up the same feelings of chocolate bliss!
The cupcake portion is moist, light, fluffy and chocolatey, and the buttercream is like a big fluff of chocolate cloud.
This post is dedicated to the buttercream portion of the cupcake. Because unlike your typical American frosting where you throw everything in the mixer with your eyes half shut, this type of buttercream is a little more involved and so it requires some extra visuals.
Don’t fret though! Making Italian Meringue Buttercream does not require any super powers. All you really need is some alertness, FAITH, a candy/food thermometer (sorry but it’s kinda important here) and a sprinkle of pixie dust✨ Totally made that last one up, but why not?
Let’s talk ingredients. You’re gonna need sugar (some in a saucepan and a little reserved on the side), water, egg whites, butter, vanilla and chocolate. Not pictured: A pinch of salt ?
Now SUPER IMPORTANT! The egg whites MUST be at room temperature. Just place your whole eggs in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes before separating them. That shall do the trick.
Also SUPER DUPER IMPORTANT! The butter MUST be soft but still slightly cool. You don’t want it to be too soft to the extent of being melty; waxy consistency is perfect. Cool room temperature is the right word here.
You might come notice that the amount of butter I’m using here is half as much as most recipes for meringue buttercreams. That’s intentional. I often find this type of buttercream tasting way too rich and buttery that even a butter lover like myself can’t handle. They tend to taste like a slightly sweetened stick of butter! Me can’t do! And also Kara’s did not taste that buttery, so I’m assuming theirs is shy of the butter too. Not sure though! Kara please correct if I’m wrong and just handle your secret recipe will ya? While testing different amounts of butter, I also noticed that the full amount of butter muted the chocolate. So I cut down the amount to just enough to make the buttercream come together.
Let’s talk chocolate! Use the good stuff. Remember when I mentioned that Kara’s make their buttercream using bittersweet chocolate? Yup! Do that too! Bittersweet chocolate is high in cocoa solids; about 60% to 70%, so a little goes a long way. That means that you won’t need that much to produce a chocolatey frosting. While semisweet chocolate around 52% cocoa can be substituted, the frosting will have a slightly less chocolatey punch to it. When I tested out semisweet chocolate, I found that I had to increase that amount to get the same chocolate flavor as the bittersweet. While it tasted incredible, I found that the frosting firmed up more than I wanted to as it sat and has a less cloud-like texture.
IMPORTANT! (ALSO SUPER DUPER): Make sure that after you melt the chocolate, to allow it to cool until its no longer warm to the touch but is still fluid before adding it to the buttercream. If there are any solid chocolate pieces, you’ll end up with tiny chocolate shards throughout your frosting. Likewise, make sure that its not warm, or it will melt the frosting.
Phew…If you’ve made it this far without closing the website tab or falling asleep, here’s a virtual high-five✋? Thanks for sticking by and hang in there, we’re almost done. Actually we’re just beginning the buttercream but we’re almost done with the post.
So let’s do this!
So first, you want to wipe the bowl and whisk attachment of your mixer with a paper towel dampened with a little lemon juice or vinegar to eliminate any traces of grease. Then pour in the egg whites along with a pinch of salt and forget about them for a second. Also take 2 tablespoons of the sugar and put them in a tiny bowl and keep near the mixer; we’re gonna need them later
Now in a small saucepan, combine the remaining sugar with the water and set over high heat. Do not stir,
do not collect 20, do not pass Go. Cover the saucepan with its lid and allow the mixture to come to a boil, swirling the saucepan a few times to combine. (Covering the saucepan will cause condensation that will help wash away any sugar crystals that may have stuck to the sides).
Once the sugar mixture has reached a boil, remove the lid and attach or hold a candy/food thermometer to the side of the saucepan.
Cook until the sugar mixture reaches 230F/110C.
Once the syrup reaches about 230F/ 110C, immediately begin to whip the eggs whites on high speed until foamy, then gradually add in the reserved 2 tablespoons of sugar.
Continue to whip until stiff, but not dry peaks form, about 30 more seconds.
Meanwhile, continue to cook the syrup until it reaches between 240F/ 115C and 245F/118C. Typically (and ideally), the syrup will reach this temperature by the time the whites are whipped.
Once the syrup reaches between 240F/ 115C and 245F/118C, remove it from heat immediately and with the mixer still running on high speed, pour the hot syrup into the egg whites in a thin, steady stream. Try to avoid getting the syrup on the sides of the bowl.
Beat until the bottom of the bowl has cooled to room temperature.
The egg white mixture will triple in volume, turn super white and glossy and holds stiff peaks. This is now basically marshmallow fluff or meringue frosting. It’s SO good and you could stop there and slather it over Tres Leches Cake and call it a day, but you’re here for the chocolate cloud aren’t you?
It is very important to make sure that the meringue is at room temperature and not warm one bit at this point. Then with the mixer running on high speed, add the butter one piece at a time. Remember, the butter should be slightly cool and not too soft.
Whip well between each butter addition.
And VOILA! A beautiful, smooth buttercream is now ready to be used. Just kidding?
The buttercream will look like a total flop. It will deflate, curdle and lot like a depressing soupy mess. You might shed a tear and throw a little curse, probably at me. Worry not my friend! This is where FAITH comes to play. Just keep whipping! It will come together in no time I promise. Or maybe up to 5 minutes or so.
And there we are! The buttercream is now thick and fluffy.
If that doesn’t happen, then chances are that either the meringue was warm or the butter was too soft when you added it. It’s not the end of the world! Just place the bowl in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes (do not get it too cold), then rewhip.
Add in the vanilla and continue whipping for another 3 minutes.
Congratulations! Now you have a fluffy Vanilla Italian meringue buttercream. You could use that as is, if you like, although I’d add a vanilla bean in there if we’re going all vanilla. But for now, let’s turn it into a chocolate buttercream cloud.
Finally, you’re gonna add in your melted and cooled chocolate, then give it few folds with your rubber spatula.
Continue to whip it some more until smooth and uniform in color.
Mmmmmmmm…heaven I tell ya!
Creamy, whipped, billowy heaven.
Let’s take a moment to appreciate all the air pockets whipped into the buttercream. That’s fluffiness baby!
It’s creamy, soft yet stable enough to be piped, and tastes like a cross between chocolate mousse, whipped ganache and a less sweet American frosting without the sugar grit. The best of all worlds really.
And now…I can finally say that you’re ready to frost.
Here’s a quick video of exactly how I pipe the buttercream on my Instagram!
Be sure to check the cupcake part recipe by clicking here. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this one.
How to Make Chocolate Cloud Italian Meringue Buttercream
Fluffy, mousse-like, light-as-air Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream, that feels like biting into a chocolate cloud. The perfect crown to these Chocolate Cloud Cupcakes.
- 4oz/ 114g good quality dark chocolate (preferably 60% to 70% cocoa), chopped or callets/discs (*see note)
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2oz/ 100g) granulated sugar, divided
- 1/4 cup (59ml) water
- 2 large (1/4 cup/ 60g) egg whites, at room temperature
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup (4oz/ 114g) butter (cut into tablespoon pieces), at cool room temperature (not too soft)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place the chocolate in a medium, microwave-safe bowl. Heat the chocolate in the microwave, stirring with a silicone spatula every 15 seconds, until almost completely melted. Remove the chocolate from the microwave and continue stirring until fully melted. Allow it to cool until it is no longer warm to the touch but is still fluid. Meanwhile, make the buttercream base.
- Wipe the bowl and whisk attachment of an electric mixer with a paper towel dampened with a little lemon juice or vinegar to eliminate any traces of grease. Put the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl, then set aside. Place 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a tiny bowl and keep near the bowl of egg whites.
- Place the remaining sugar and water in a small saucepan and set over high heat. Do not stir. Cover the saucepan with its lid and allow to come to a boil, swirling the saucepan a few times to combine. (Covering the saucepan will cause condensation that will help wash away any sugar crystals that may have stuck to the sides). Once the sugar mixture has reached a boil, remove the lid and attach or hold a candy/food thermometer to the side of the saucepan and cook until the sugar mixture reaches 230F/110C.
- Once the syrup reaches about 230F/ 110C, immediately begin to whip the eggs whites on high speed until foamy. Gradually add in the reserved 2 tablespoons of sugar, and continue to whip until stiff, but not dry peaks form, about 30 more seconds.
- Meanwhile, continue to cook the syrup until it reaches between 240F/ 115C and 245F/118C. Typically (and ideally), the syrup will reach this temperature by the time the whites are whipped.
- Once the syrup reaches between 240F/ 115C and 245F/118C, remove it from heat immediately and with the mixer still running on high speed, pour the hot syrup into the egg whites in a thin, steady stream. Try to avoid getting the syrup on the sides of the bowl.
- Beat until the egg white mixture triples in volume, turns super white and glossy, hold stiff peaks and the bottom of the bowl has cooled. This is now basically marshmallow fluff or meringue frosting. It is very important to make sure that the meringue is at room temperature and not warm one bit at this point.
- With the mixer running on high speed, add the butter one piece at a time. The buttercream will now deflate, curdle and lot like a disastrous soupy mess. Don't worry; its supposed to happen. Just keep the faith and continue whipping until the buttercream comes together and is thick and fluffy. It may take up to 5 minutes to reach this point. If that doesn't happen, then chances are that either the meringue was warm or the butter was too soft. It's not the end of the world! Just place the bowl in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes (do not get too cold), then rewhip. Add in the vanilla and continue whipping for another 3 minutes. Congratulations! Now you have vanilla Italian meringue buttercream. Now let's turn it into a chocolate buttercream cloud.
- Make sure that the melted, cooled chocolate is completely fluid without any solid pieces or you'll end up with chocolate pieces throughout your frosting. Likewise, make sure that its not warm, or it will melt the frosting. Pour the melted chocolate over the buttercream and fold it in with a rubber spatula. Return the bowl to the mixer and beat until smooth and uniform in color; 1 to 2 minutes. Woohoooooo! Your chocolate cloud buttercream is now ready to use!
- The buttercream will keep covered at room temperature for 1 day, refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Bring the buttercream to room temperature before using. Rewhip to restore the spreadable consistency, but, to avoid curdling, not until the buttercream has reached room temperature.
- Use as desired or frost on top of these Chocolate Cloud Cupcakes.
- Bittersweet chocolate around 60% to 70% cocoa is preferable for this recipe. Due to its high percentage of cocoa solids, a little goes a long way, so it will produce a frosting with a more intense chocolate flavor. Semisweet chocolate around 52% cocoa may be substituted, but the frosting will be slightly less chocolatey. If using semisweet chocolate, you may want to consider increasing the chocolate to 6oz/ 170g to achieve a stronger chocolate flavor, but note that frosting will firm up slightly as it sits and will be less cloud-like; delicious nonetheless.
Measurements Note: All recipes of this site have been developed using weight measurements. Although US volume measurements have been included for your convenience, it is highly encouraged that you weigh your ingredients using a kitchen scale to get the best possible results. Due to the sensitive nature of baking, kitchen scales are proven to yield more accurate and consistent results than measuring cups. Enjoy!
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Omg, is it bad that right now at 10am in the morning here in the UK, I want a bowl of this frosting as a mousse?! It looks so good – I had a disaster with a meringue buttercream a few years back so will definitely be giving yours a try, insha Allah. P.s. it’s so nice to see you back posting regular recipes! 🙂
Not bad at all! I mean there’s egg whites in it so it’s practically breakfast food ?
hey I’m from the uk and if your ever in Norwich Norfolk you “neeeeeeed” to go to the Waffle House and have the chocolate mousse it’s incredible iv been going for at least 20 years!! I’d drive 100 miles just to go and eat it!! ?
Aaaaaahhh thank you so much for this valuable recommendation. It sounds good enough to travel to the UK just for it ?
I’m so in love with your blog ❤️❤️.. Thanks for sharing the recipes
Thank you so much Salwa! I’m so happy you like it around here. Hope I always keep things interesting for you 🙂
Looks toooo good. Have started making swiss meringue buttercream recently which is nice but not ventured into italian yet!! Is it much different in taste to swiss one? Will have to give it a go. Looks amazing. Cant wait fir the choc cupcake recipe tomo!!
Thank you Aneesa! They are mostly the same in terms of ingredients & taste but the method is different. The Swiss type, you heat the egg whites & sugar over a double boiler to make the meringue, whereas the Italian type is made by cooking the egg whites with a hot syrup. Personally, I prefer Italian over Swiss because I find it fluffier, slightly sweeter & more stable.
Wow.. how perfect is that buttercream!
Thank you Thalia! It’s so good to hear from you.
This looks aaamaaaaaaaaaaaaazing. (and i laughed my ass off wuth the “later alligator” joke)
just a little question: does this tastes like… coffee, chocolate icecream? or chocolate just that in a fluffy way?
Hahahaaaaa LaVerne! It just sounded right at the moment ?
I tastes just like chocolate, more towards the milk chocolate side than dark but fluffy. No coffee at all, but you could add some coffee to it of you want 🙂
Hi cleo, loving his recipe! I want to make them but i dont have chocolate at home. Could i replace it with cacoa powder?
Hi M! I wouldn’t recommend it as cocoa powder is unsweetened, so it will make for a very bitter tasting buttercream. Sadly, it just wouldn’t be the same.
I just “tried” to make it. And well yeah a big mistake. The syrup got too hot so i tried to cool it and then it became too cold and then i tried to heat it up and it became caramel. Ughhhh and then i got a lumpy and crispy meringue. Woops ? And then I didnt have any eggs left. The end. ? What a sad story.
Oh my! What a story?! Well we learn from our mistakes right? I’m sure the next time you’ll nail it. Here’s a link to a YouTube video for Italian meringue buttercream (without the chocolate) that I think you’ll find very helpful.
I had a late night emergency while baking a chocolate bundt cake. It split in half coming out of the pan. I was not planning on icing it, so I didn’t have enough powdered sugar on hand for the American buttercream I initially chose to repair the cake. I stumbled across this recipe and had all of the ingredients–except bittersweet chocolate. I did have a bar of unsweetened chocolate. I substituted 2 2/3 oz + an additional 2 T + 2 t granulated sugar. Unfortunately, I subbed the sugar in the wrong place and realized my mistake as soon as I did it. You should add the additional sugar w/ the reserved sugar to the egg whites I think, not to the chocolate. I didn’t have enough to scrap it and melt more chocolate, so I just went with it. The result was a very good buttercream with some grit. Not a fun texture, but it tastes good. So, add the sugar at the right time and it should be fine.
Oh Angela sorry to hear of your buttercream mishap. I’m sure your bundt was delicious enough to make up for it. Thanks for the advise on where to add the sugar.
Hi! Love this recipe! But I have a problem with getting it right! Everything seems to work perfectly for me until I add the butter. Then everything, all the fluffiness just turns into goo. Im not sure what im doing wrong. I tried it two times now. First I tried with softer butter, then when it happened it tried a cooler butter. As thats what it says in the recipe. But no luck! It still turned into goo 🙁 what am i doing wrong you think?
Hi Rem:) You’re not doing anything wrong hon. It’s a normal part of the process. As soon as you start adding the butter, it will deflate, become soupy & curdle. You’ll notice from the step-by-step pictures that it has to happen. You just need to continue whipping after that. It will take about 5 minutes, possibly more, for it to come back together but it will, I promise. If it’s not, then stick the bowl in the fridge for about 10 minutes then whip again. Don’t stop whipping till it comes together.
If you used a thermometer for your syrup & made sure that your meringue is at room temperature before adding the butter then all should go well. A standmixer is not a must, but it does make things easier so you don’t have to whip with a hand mixer that long.
Wishing you best of luck ?
Salam … I’ve just finished making the buttercream but unfortunately it didn’t look the same as yours ; and I expected to have the texture of a melted marshmallows!! I used a large bowl to whip in the egg whites with the salt and then the sugar, it took a longer time to have that fluffy white texture – I guess that is because of the size of the bowl. The other thing is that I overheated the sugar “122C” so while I was pouring the syrup, some stuck in the bottom of the saucepan And the syrup was thick ??. I’m trying to find out why my meringue turned like this . Please I need your help .
Hello Salwa. I think the main issue you had here is overheating the syrup. Unfortunately Italian meringue is very finicky when it comes to temperature. Overheating the syrup will turn it into candy and that’s why it stuck to the bottom of the bowl and most likely created brittle pieces. I strongly recommend watching YouTube videos on how to make Italian meringue such as this one http://youtu.be/cTYXDpbfxX0 it will really help if you see it in action. If this is the first time for you making Italian meringue, please don’t give up & lose hope, it might just take you a couple tries for you get used to it and perfect your timing.
Concerning whipping the egg whites, are you by any chance using egg whites sold in cartons? As these don’t whip well at all. Please make sure that your whites come from eggs that you separate yourself and that they are room temperature and they don’t have the slightest hint of yolk. All this could slow down & even inhibit the process of whipping.
Please let me know if you need any further help, we won’t give up till we get this right and when you do, I promise it will SO worth it ??
Thanks habibte for replying that fast.. So as I guessed.. It’s the syrup’s fault ☺️. I’ll make sure next time- yes there’ll be next time- the heat will be under control. And concerning the egg whites, I separated them.
That’s my girl ? So if you found that whipping the egg whites are taking longer than usual then start cooking your syrup later. It’s all about time coordination and what works for you. Also make sure that the whites are at room temperature as they don’t whip well when cold.
Here’s another great video tutorial http://youtu.be/reQQKAR-uZI
I have faith that you’ll nail it next time ??
Hi Tasbih, is it okay if I increase the amount of sugar, bit use unsweetened chocolate? Also is this freezable?
Hi Natelie 🙂 I wouldn’t recommend doing that because there’s only too much sugar the egg whites/meringue mixture can handle. If you increase the sugar of the syrup, the proportions will all blow out and you’ll end up with a very thick syrup. Likewise, if you increase the sugar whipped into the whites, it might not dissolve. I think it’s safer to stick with dark chocolate here?
Yup! It freezes really well. Please refer to step 10 of the instructions for freezing tips.
Thanks so much! (Making this next week for a get together)
Hello from Australia. I just finished off a batch of your chocolate Italian meringue frosting. It came out absolutely fantastic! I love it and I doubt I will be making any other chocolate icing ever again! Thank you for sharing?
Yaaaaaay!!! I’m so excited to hear that you loved it that much! Thank you so much for sharing your feedback.
Hi Tasbih, Thank-you so much for sharing this recipe. I’ve been looking for another type of chocolate buttercream recipe but all of them are too buttery and I love the fact that now I can incorporate my dark chocolate into the Italian meringue. I can’t wait to start making these cupcakes and cakes. Keep on sharing your incredible recipes and ideas.
Oh Karina I hope you love this one! You’ll feel like eating chocolate cream and won’t feel the heaviness of butter.
Hi! I want to make his frosting for a cake but im not aure want to sandwich the middle with. I want to do a combination of this buttercream with something else. Any suggestions?
Hello Iman:) You could use this buttercream to fill the cake layers with and then cover the cake with chocolate ganache. The combo would really compliment each other.
OK, WOW!! So I went through the “this is awesome”, “this looks like soup”, “OMG, I made cottage cheese” stages and can now say that I am back to the “this is awesome” stage. I really did not believe that it could go from that incredible mess to something so beautiful and delicious, but it did. It took almost 10 minutes, though. I am so glad because today is Valentine’s Day and didn’t have any alternative plan. Aiyee!! So thank you! To everyone that is doing this for the first time, it really does work. hang in there. 🙂
Hahahaaa? Love your very “technical” descriptions of the buttercream phases. They should replace boring terms like curdled & emulsified. Couldn’t have said it better. Thanks for passing on the faith in the this recipe ?
How about using white chocolate instead of dark.. i will be making cupcakes for a my friend’s wedding I need white frosting. Shukran
Hi Maria! Hope my reply isn’t too late. You could use white chocolate, but expect the buttercream to be slightly softer.
Best of luck!
Hi Tasbih, I wanted to frost a layer cake with this frosting. Does this recipe make enough to frost the outside and to put a layer in the middle? Or should I make a double recipe? Thank you for posting! This looks amazing! I cant wait to try it.
Hi Megan! A double batch would be just perfect for a 2 layer cake. Enjoy ?
I frequently bake and have made my fair share of cupcakes… just gotta say this is the BEST chocolate buttercream I’ve ever made or even ever tasted. I do not like overly sweat frostings. I can handle American butter creams in small-ish doses, like on a cupcake. But if it’s a large slice of cake, especially if it’s multiple layers, it gets too sweet for me to enjoy. Your take on Italian buttercream may be my new go to for all of my baking needs! Smooth, creamy, light and flavorful without being sickly sweet. Thank you for sharing! Have you frosted a cake with this recipe or only cupcakes? Just curious!
I’m so happy you enjoyed this buttercream as much as I do Jamie! I have the same exact feelings about frosting, so I totally get you. And reading your mouthwatering description for this one, makes me crave it so much.
I’ve only ever tried frosting cupcakes with this particular chocolate one, but I’ve used the vanilla base (sans chocolate) to frost layer cakes many times.
I just can’t say enough good things about this recipe! I served them at my son’s birthday party and recieved rave reviews! Will definitely being making it again and again and cannot wait for to make a cake with it! Thank you so much for sharing this one!
It’s my pleasure Jamie! Please keep posted with how well it holds up in a cake.
Happy baking ?
Hi, it looks yummy, my question is a bit silly, but I want to know how did u melt your chocolate and without it ending up chunky in the buttercream? I have made it once from another recipe and I added melted chocolate to the buttercream and all I saw were a few chunks of chocolate in the buttercream, it was yummy but it was chunky for the cake be coated with it…
Hi Madiha! This is not one bit a silly question. I know what you mean about those little hardened specks of chocolate in buttercream. I fell victim of them several times and learned the hard way. This means of 2 things: either you melted chocolate or your buttercream mixture was too cool or both, that as soon as the chocolate hit the buttercream, it solidified. The trick here is to get the temperature of the chocolate just right…not too warm that it melts the buttercream base nor too cool that it hardens quickly. You want it to be at a warm room temperature. I hope you that helps ?
Thank you for your reply, I tried again and it worked… and kind of also figured out the reason too which is quite similar to what I was doing wrong:) this time I tried to melt the chocolate and keep it away from fans and air conditioner coz they were solidifying my chocolate, kept it to room temperature. The only problem was that it was a bit softer as compared to the plain one…probably because of the addition of too much chocolate. Buttercream served its purpose well, but would have loved a bit more stability to it, do u think I added too much chocolate? I doubled your recipe
Happy to hear that it worked out well this time around!
Did you add more chocolate than the amount suggested recipe? I don’t think that extra dosage of chocolate will cause the buttercream to soften. If anything, I always find the chocolate stabilizes frostings as it eventually solidifies as it cools. This helps give buttercream a good structure. If you find that it’s too soft to work with right away, a quick chill in the fridge will do the trick and make it stable enough to pipe.
Your recipe is a god send! I, too, have had Kara’s chocolate cupcake and fell in love with her frosting immediately! Thank you for posting this! I can’t wait to try it!
Yaaaaay so excited for you! I’m glad you found your way through this recipe. Though to be fair to your hunt for Kara’s very frosting, I recently discovered that Kara’s herself posted the recipe on her website just a few weeks after I posted mine. Aaaaah!!! Where was that when I was elbow deep in frosting research??!!! Anywhooo…I’ll link you up so you could decide which one you’d rather make. Having made both, I love them equally for different reasons, but I think I’ll just stick to mine just because it has a larger amount of chocolate in it, which is right up my alley. I hope this doesn’t confuse you. There you go:
I made this today and it worked out perfect! I used half semi-sweet & half 90% cocoa chocolate. I would recommend to put the mixer on medium speed when adding the syrup.. Mine was flying all over on the side of the bowl and left little hard sugar spots..very yummy tho. Next time I will double it so it mixes in my big bowl better.. plus I’ll have extra to eat! So much better than American buttercream!
I’m so happy to hear that you loved this buttercream Lisa! Love the idea of mixing 2 types of chocolate to get the perfect cocoa intensity. Thanks for your feedback and your mixing tip ?
Beautiful delicious italian meringue buttercream. Smooth as silk! I wouldn’t have believed it would take that much chocolate, but it did. I made double the recipe to frost a 9inch 2 layer cake for a birthday. Thanks for this great recipe and clear directions.
The first time your meringue icing separates it is very frightening, but I ‘ve never had one not come back together.
This time it didn’t break at all!
Lucky you…my buttercream ALWAYS separates & I still haven’t gotten used to that nerve wracking feeling. So happy you loved it so much! I wanted to get your opinion though…did it get too stiff on you after adding all the chocolate & rested for a bit? I’ve never had a problem with it on warmer days, but I just made it again a few days ago, where it’s pretty cold in my house around that time of the year, and it was stiffer than what I would’ve liked. I’m considering reducing the chocolate by an ounce, for a softer texture. Would love to know your thoughts about that?
Hi , Can you use this to frost a cake? will it give sharp edges?
Hi Sana. Yes it works well to neatly frost cakes and is very stable.
I tried this recipe and it didn’t turn out as it is 🙁 :(. I felt its quite tricky especially to get the sugar syrup temperature right because as I waited for the temperature to reach 110 it started caramelizing till that time I had whipped the egg whites to stiff peaks and they waited for quite a time after being whipped. Please give me tips and tricks to make it right the next time . Thank you. 🙂
Maimuna I’m sorry to hear that it didn’t turn out as expected. Not gonna sugarcoat this, but making Italian Meringue Buttercream can be tricky at first. But practice makes perfect, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll make it with your eyes shut…well not literally, but you get the point ? I’m such a visual person and I find that I learn best by watching videos, so I’ll link you up with a video of Yolanda Gump (The Sculpted Cake Queen) making the same kind of frosting. Her ingredient proportions are different but the method is identical. I hope you find it useful and helps you with the next time you attempt this.
Thank you so much for replying. But lemme tell you something , when I decided to try this buttercream , the first recipe I found Yolanda Gamp’s ?…she used a huge quantity of ingredients and it seemed too sweet. It was after looking up your Instagram post of this Cloud like frosting , I decided to make it asap cause of the fact that it looked so so soo delicious yet easy-to-follow steps..I still cant figure out what could have gone wrong. Is it necessary to use a standing mixer or a hand mixer would do?.
Because the first time I tried making was with a hand mixer
Maimuna dear…please don’t feel bad about not getting it right the first time…no one ever does ? Meringue buttercream take a bit practice to getting used to. I’m pretty sure you’ll get there quickly. A stand mixer is not a must. When I’m doing a small quantity, like half of this recipe, I use a hand mixer.
Ok people! I am not a baker and frankly I rarely even try because it is completely disastrous most of the time. But I ventured out and decided to try this frosting OF ALL FROSTINGS to try, this one lol! I can cook like a mad woman but bake? Uh no, I am not a baker. I read the entire tutorial AND watched some videos that were mentioned before even going to the store. I also printed the recipe so i had it to look at so I didn’t have to keep scrolling up and down. I looked at the order of the pictures as I went. I made sure that all my ingredients were out and ready and the proper temperature before diving in. This literally was so darned easy I cannot believe it. I checked and double checked and made sure my things were correct before moving on. I doubled this recipe and it was fine….it, however, didn’t make as much as I hoped. I frosted (piped) 13 cupcakes and had about a small cereal bowl left over. I will note this on the recipe. When I got the marshmallow fluff stage I screamed from excitement because not only was it beautiful to look at, I could eat the whole bowl it was so good! And because I read about the deflated process I didn’t panic and kept whipping right along. These instructions are very thorough and if you just slow down and read them, follow precisely, make sure your items are laid out prior to start, you cannot screw this up. This is the most divine thing I have ever eaten, literally. I will never use another frosting!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!
Oh wow Tina! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your wonderful experience with this recipe. I’m so excited that you loved this frosting as much as we do. You are so very welcome and it’s really my pleasure.
I’m always looking for some good buttercream recipies ana this one is a winner. I have made SMBC but this was my first Italian. Your recipe is very well written and the photos were so helpful. This frosting was sooooooo yummy. Light, cloud and mousse like. It was exactly what I have been searching for ana I used pasteurized egg whites from a carton (I live in the US) and it was amazing. I totally agree that a candy thermometer is essential. Also – I did not change a single thing ingredient wise. Just amazing.
Hello! I’ve used this recipe a few times although I end up eating all the leftover with a spoon…..!
Was just wondering – is there anyway I could use this underneath fondant? Perhaps use this between layers, then cover with ganache and fondant? Or would I be able to apply fondant over this buttercream?
Thank you! And thanks for the great website, really appreciate your work.
Thank you Elena so much for your appreciation and kind words. I’m so happy you like this buttercream so much!
I’d suggest going with the option of using it to fill the layers only, then cover the outside with ganache. Since this buttercream is so light and airy, I’m worried it won’t handle the weight of fondant, but I believe it will be safe on the inside.
Hi! I have tried to perfect my favorite chocolate cake, but each frosting is too sweet, so I am excited to give this a try! I am making a two layer 9 inch cake for tomorrow and wondered three things:
-should i double recipe to cover generously two layer cake?
-Can i whip and frost tonight, refrigerate, and pull out a few hours before eating tomorrow, or will it mess up integrity of frosting?
-how necessary is candy thermometer? I don’t own one, but make simple syrup regularly for margaritas, and have never had a problem with candying.
Hi Betsy! I hope this recipe pairs wonderfully with your perfected chocolate cake.
Definitely double the recipe as it makes a little shy of 2 cups. I find that 2 cups are always needed to cover the sides of the cake alone, which will give you about 3/4-1 cup to frost the top of each layer.
As for making it in advance, I’ve found that refrigerating (and super cold weather) firms it up a little over my liking, even if left out at room temp for a sufficient time. This happens due to the large amount of chocolate in the frosting. To remedy that, I’d recommend reducing the chocolate amount to 3oz instead of 4 and using a higher cocoa chocolate (around 80%) to compensate for the lost chocolate flavor. That should help with keeping it nice & soft, even after refrigeration.
I absolutely love my candy thermometer, as it makes the process so much easier and hassle free. However, you surely could make do without it, especially that you’ve confidently made candy without it before. You just need to be sure that it reaches the firm ball stage. That is, when you drop a bit of the syrup in a cup of iced water, it should form into a firm ball, that will not flatten when removed out of the water, but will remain malleable & flatten when squeezed.
Best of luck! Enjoy ?
Where can I get the recipe for the yum cup cakes please?
There you go…enjoy:
Hi!!! I have made chocolate IMBC before, and it turned out perfectly, so the second time I needed some more, I made it a few days in advance, then left it in the fridge. I normally microwave a very small portion of the cold buttercream, and whip that with the rest of my cold buttercream to soften and whip it to the right consistency. This always works with my vanilla IMBC, but for some reason, with the chocolate one, the liquid separated from the mix. I tried warming it up again, and kept on whipping the mixture, but it still separated. I made a new batch of icing, thinking that a fresh batch would work better, but that also failed, and I ended having to make a third batch of vanilla IMBC to use for my cake.
Any idea why that happened? I used unsweetened chocolate, which I melted, and added after I added the butter. I looked at the separated buttercream the next day, and all the chocolate liquid had separated from the butter mixture and was sitting at the bottom of the bowl.
Hi Arisha! Sorry to hear that you had issues with this buttercream. Chocolate tends to be trickier to work with due to its high fat content. I’ve never tried reworking chocolate buttercream after it has been refrigerated, so I can’t tell for sure if what you’ve experienced is normal or not. But I would really advise to use this buttercream fresh, because as it seems, the high fat content of the chocolate, is what caused the buttercream to separate. Wishing you better luck next time around!
How much will this make? I want to ice a three-layer 8-inch cake and maybe some cupcakes.
Hi Peter! This recipe makes 2 cups; which is enough to frost 12 cupcakes. A 3 layer 8-inch cake usually requires 4 cups of frosting, so in that case I recommend doubling the recipe; triple if you need extra for cupcakes too.
Help! It came out too runny. I got to the stage just before adding the chocolate and it’s like very runny yogurt. What can I do to salvage??
Hi Peter! No worries; this is so normal with meringue based buttercreams. Sounds like your mixture got too warm. Just pop your bowl in the fridge for about 15 minutes then whip again. It might require a lot of whipping, so stay patient…it will eventually come together. Hope it all comes out great in the end. Best of luck!
Great recipe – very easy to follow!! I tried this with vegan butter since my daughter cannot eat dairy. The taste was oily (because of the fat source). Have you tried this with any dairy free options? I will definitely try this again with real butter, but I’m looking for options for her birthday cake next month.
It’s just so great to hear that you enjoyed this recipe and that it worked well with vegan butter. Unfortunately, I have not tried this with vegan options, but if I do, I’ll be sure to update the recipe with the results.
Thank you so much!
Wow! I made a cake for my daughter last month and ended up mixing Italian meringue buttercream with whipped ganache, and it was wonderful. This looks like s much easier method – just melt the chocolate and add it in! Thanks for the notes on adding more if you use semi-sweet. I’m stacking this next cake and will do just that so that it’s a little firmer for holding the layers. What a fun site – can’t wait to check out more!
Update – I just made this and I tried with the Costco (Kirkland) brand butter. It was still not frosting after adding the full amount, so I added just another tablespoon or two of kerrygold. It turned immediately to frosting with that. Butter quality matters, folks! I think that Kirkland stuff is just too watery. Frosting is fantastic!!
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Hey! Thanks for posting this – it’s exactly what I’m looking for. I typically experiment with meringue buttercream varieties based on Ina Garten’s recipe for Kahula meringue buttercream. Her process is basically the exact same but she puts a bit of cream of tartar in with her egg whites. Would you happen to know why she does this/why you didn’t? Thanks!!! Excited to try this!
It’s my pleasure Katie! Hope you love it if you do give it a try. Cream of tartar is an optional ingredient used to stabilize egg whites as it’s being whipped and makes them drier. So it basically foolproofs the egg whites, so you end up with a perfectly whipped meringue. You can surely add it if you like as a safety cushion, but I found that it’s not necessary here, especially that its a hard-to-find ingredient in many countries.
This worked like a charm! The frosting was ridiculously fluffy and went on like silk. One thing I would note is that it isn’t a very good structural frosting because it is so fluffy, so I would recommend fortifying with more butter if you need to hold up layers, or letting each layer chill for a few hours before putting the next one on.
I tried with a Earth Balance butter substitute sticks with very poor results. I need a dairy free version, vanilla Italian meringue is my go to frosting so I am wondering if I could just add some melted bittersweet chocolate or cocoa powder and leave out the butter?
Me again! This frosting looks ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. So fluffy… so soft… so chocolatey. I don’t own a candy thermometer and was wondering if there’s any way to make this frosting without- if not, I can buy one, but I’m always looking for shortcuts to get my sweets faster. ? Anyway, thank you so much for posting this recipe!! It really does look like a frosting dream come true- especially considering that my family is a huge fan of whipped cream frostings, which I do love, but a chocolate buttercream is just necessary sometimes. This seems like a great (and hecking delicious) compromise!
First off: LOVE your blog!!! It’s super fun to read through.
Second: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this frosting. Followed the directions and it turned out great. I have the Big Kitchenaid 600 mixer, so I doubled the recipe so the egg whites would reach the whip. I think next time I will try my hand mixer and see how a single batch works out.
But it was light, and mousse like fluffiness just as described.
Thanks for posting it!!! Will definitely remake many times over!
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I LOVE this frosting! I stumbled across it while looking for recipes for Italian Meringue Buttercream – I don’t like conventional American, and I tend to find a lot of recipes have too much butter and it makes my mouth feel sticky. I used this recipe many times over this holiday season (Christmas 2019) and it was perfect every time. I pre-whipped my meringue so I could keep a closer eye on my sugar, and poured right at 240, had no issues. I folded my chocolate into my buttercream, though – i find my kitchenaid sometimes whipped too much air and made the chocolate too cold too fast!
I’ve flavoured it so far with bittersweet chocolate, white chocolate, and candy melts – no issues so far. Thank you so much for the recipe!
Oh my goodness Stephanie…your cupcakes look stunning! SO happy to know that you loved this recipe so much and that it came in handy this holiday season. Thank you so much for your wonderful feedback and beautiful picture.
This is very light and fluffy, but soooooo sweet! I used a combination of bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate, still way too sweet for my taste. I’ll make it again adding double the butter you have in this recipe, as my usual Italian Buttercream has double the butter. If using unsalted butter (as one should) I wouldn’t imagine it would taste too buttery, and it would certainly cut down on the sweetness. Beautiful to work with (but on the soft side for piping) and to look at, but definitely created for those used to sweet American frosting, not good if expecting a less sweet traditional Italian buttercream.
How would you suggest to store these cupcakes? I need to make in advance.
Hi Stephanie! If it’s cool where you live, then an airtight container at room temperature would be best. If it’s really warm, then you can either refrigerate or freeze them, then take them out several hours before you need need to serve them, to get them back to room temperature.
I made this buttercream over the weekend and it was incredible!! Will definitely be my go-to chocolate IBC. I always make Italian Meringue Buttercream anyway, but this was my first time with a chocolate one. It was fluffy and soft and the perfect accompaniment for my S’mores cake. Thanks for sharing!!
So wonderful to hear that you loved it so much Jackie! Thank you for your amazing feedback ?
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I need to make a white chocolate IBC and loved this chocolate version, do you think it would work just with a one to one substitute of white chocolate or not so much because of the different cocoa percentages? Wondering if you ever tried it yourself. Thanks in advance!
This is the best tasting frosting I’ve ever had/made. I made some with my housemate and we were both just in shock at how good it was haha
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hi there, what type of semi sweet chocolate did u use? I live in Egypt as well and I always have trouble with choosing the best chocolate for a lot of recipes. that one would be the most tricky tho