Buttercream frostings are light, smooth mixtures of sugar and butter and/or shortening. They are extremely popular because of their versatility. They are wonderful for decorating and can be flavored and colored for different purposes or situations.
Buttercream frostings are made with either butter or shortening. Butter makes for a much better flavored frosting; shortening makes a more stable frosting. Especially in warm weather, a butter-based frosting may melt. Because shortening melts at a much higher temperature, it is more stable. Because it does not melt in the mouth as does butter, it has a “plastic” feel that you might find unpleasant.
A compromise of butter and shortening often works well. The butter improves the flavor and mouth feel while the shortening helps stabilize the frosting. Egg whites or meringue powder can also be used to help stabilize the frosting.
The following simple buttercream recipe uses a combination of butter and shortening plus a little meringue powder.
Easy Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
This is an easy, no-cook frosting that works very well for decorating. Because it has a high butter content, it has a nice flavor and mouth-feel.
Chocolate wafers are perfect. Most chocolate wafers are made for candy making and frosting should be nearly like candy. Of course, you can use chocolate chips.
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup shortening
1 pound powdered sugar
2 tablespoons meringue powder
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips or dark chocolate wafers
milk as needed for consistency
1. With the paddle attachment and your stand-type mixer, beat the butter, shortening, powdered sugar, and meringue powder together.
2. Add the lemon juice and vanilla. Beat the frosting, adding enough milk to reach just to reach a stiff consistency.
3. Melt the chocolate and let it cool slightly. (If the chocolate is too cool, it will solidify before combining with the frosting.) Mix the chocolate into about one-fourth of the frosting. Combine the chocolate frosting with the rest of the frosting. Add more milk, if necessary, to reach the desired consistency.
Baker’s notes: You may use one egg white in place of the meringue powder. (Meringue powder is mostly dried egg white.)
Always apply your buttercream frosting at room temperature. Your frosting may be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.