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Chocolate Cake with Italian Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate Cake with Italian Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. The easiest & best chocolate scratch cake covered in melt-in-your-mouth, luscious Italian chocolate buttercream frosting. Just outstanding!

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting on a slice of 4 layer cake

Chocolate Cake with Italian Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

Good chocolate cake may be the perfect dessert and this one does not disappoint. It deserves to be a standard in every family recipe collection.

It is the best plain chocolate frosted cake that I have ever eaten. The chocolate Italian buttercream frosting can be a bit of a challenge, especially in a hot kitchen.

Dark Chocolate Chips, to melt and dip the biscotti

Dark chocolate at least 50% cocoa is best for this recipe. 

However, it is well, well worth the effort to master this skill. It really is the best chocolate frosting ever; so luscious and so, so silky smooth.

The detailed recipe gives you step by step instructions on how to make Italian chocolate buttercream frosting like an expert.

Originally Published March 7, 2008.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting on a fully frosted uncut chocolate layer cake

Chocolate Cake with Italian Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

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Chocolate Buttercream Frosting on a slice of 4 layer cake
Yield: 16 servings

Chocolate Buttercream Cake

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

The best chocolate scratch cake ever layered and covered in melt-in-your-mouth luscious Italian chocolate buttercream frosting.


For the Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup soured milk, add a tablespoon of lemon juice to sour the milk
  • 1 cup black coffee
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate buttercream frosting

  • 1 pound chocolate, at least 50% cocoa, chopped in small pieces
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 6 egg whites at room temperature
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 cups 1 pound softened unsalted butter

For the Ganache Drizzle (optional)

  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 tbsp whipping cream


For the chocolate cake

  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer for 2 minutes.
  2. Pour into 2 greased and floured 8 or 9 inch cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  3. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting

  1. Combine the chocolate and 1/2 cup of butter and melt (but do not over heat) in a double boiler. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  2. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Continue to boil over medium heat without stirring until the mixture reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.
  4. Meanwhile beat together the egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla extract and salt to stiff peaks.
  5. Slowly pour in the sugar syrup in a thin stream, hitting the side of the bowl and not the beaters. Continue beating the frosting for 10-15 minutes until the meringue is completely cool.
  6. When completely cool, slowly begin to add the butter a few tablespoons at a time. Beat until smooth after each addition.
  7. Add the melted chocolate to the meringue mixture in about 4 additions and beat well after each addition.
  8. Continue beating until frosting reaches a spreadable consistency. This may take 15 minutes or so and you may have to chill the frosting for several minutes before beating it again to get it to stiffen. Alternatively, you can place the frosting bowl in an ice bath while continuing to beat constantly until the icing stiffens sufficiently.

To construct the cake

  1. Split the cake layers in half, horizontally, making 4 layers in total. Fill layers with frosting and spread over the entire cake. Garnish with chocolate ganache or chocolate curls if desired.

Chocolate Ganache

  1. It's best to add the drizzle when the frosting has been chilled on the cake for an hour or so.
  2. In a double boiler, combine and melt the chocolate and cream but be careful not to overheat it.
  3. Spoon the ganache into a Ziploc bag and snip off a corner with sharp scissors. Use the bag to drizzle the chocolate in continuous circular motions all over the surface of the cake.


Additional time is needed to cool the cake. About 2 hours.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size

1 slice

Amount Per Serving Calories 783Total Fat 47gSaturated Fat 25gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 19gCholesterol 105mgSodium 487mgCarbohydrates 85gFiber 3gSugar 66gProtein 7g

The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only. Exact accuracy is not guaranteed. For recipes where all ingredients may not be used entirely, such as those with coatings on meats, or with sauces or dressings for example, calorie & nutritional values per serving will likely be somewhat lower than indicated.

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Tuesday 7th of March 2023

I made the amazing chocolate buttercream frosting and put it on your yellow cake. The frosting is time consuming, I had not made it since my baking class days. It is worth the time. Don't rush the cooling period, mine took about 18 min to totally cool enough for the butter. I used high quality chocolate which makes all the difference. Make this frosting, you won't be disappointed!

Cathy Kewarth

Sunday 13th of November 2022

Isn't there a concern with salmonella as you're using raw egg whites?


Sunday 12th of July 2020

Just to confirm in my mind, the sour milk you're referring to is basically buttermilk. Yes?


Tuesday 19th of May 2020

Yes, this frosting IS a lot of work, but if you want to put together a "wow" cake, then italian buttercream is the way to go. Swiss buttercream is perhaps a little bit easier (no sugar syrup) and is almost as good. Make no mistake, you just can't compare american buttercream (icing sugar and butter) to swiss and italian buttercream. Italian buttercream is "eat right out of the bowl" kind of delicious!


Sunday 20th of January 2019

I made the frosting, and it came together beautifully until I added the chocolate. It fell apart and would not firm up again. I assume the chocolate was too warm when I added it, but putting it in the freezer for 20 min then beating it more did not fix it. I've seen other recipes say to fold in the chocolate at the end.. Any suggestions for me?

Barry C. Parsons

Thursday 28th of March 2019

Definitely too hot by the sound of it.

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