No ratings yet

Outrageous Mocha Buttercream!

chocolate Peanut Butter Cake | photo by Zoë François

This mocha buttercream may be the most delicious buttercream I’ve ever made. I wish I could take all of the credit for it, but it is from Carol Bloom’s The Essential Baker. As many of you know I have been baking through the book for the past month or so. On Memorial Day I went to a party and offered to bring dessert. As you can imagine I rarely go anywhere without bringing desserts and/or bread. It is what I love to do and people rarely complain. I decided to make something chocolaty and my husband begged me to make the carrot cake again.

I made the Devil’s Food Cake from The Essential Baker, which was good, but in my humble opinion too sweet and not intensely chocolate enough for me. It does have a nice texture and my boys devoured it, as did all of the other guests at the party. But, I think in the end I’ll stick to my version of Devil’s Food. The mocha buttercream on the other hand was out of this world. Usually there are those in the crowd who don’t care for buttercream and end up scooping the cake out from under it, leaving a shell of frosting on the plate. Every plate was scraped clean and people were asking how I possibly decorated the cake with chocolate mousse.

It is made with whole eggs instead of just egg whites which gives it a lusciously smooth and creamy feel. The coffee and bittersweet chocolate are a perfect match for all of the sugar in the whipped Italian meringue that is the base. This recipe is decidedly more work than a simple Swiss meringue buttercream, but it is so worth it. I think this is my favorite recipe in the book so far. Over all I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a great cookbook and an essential addition to any bakers shelf!

How to Make Mocha Buttercream

See me make this buttercream step by step here and you’ll find the full recipe at the bottom of this post!

chocolate buttercream cake | photo by Zoë François

In a small sauce pan fitted with a Candy Thermometer, bring the 1 1/4 cups sugar, water and cream of tartar to a boil over medium-high heat. If any of the sugar crystals get onto the side of the pan, be sure to wipe them down with a wet clean pastry brush. The sugar needs to cook until it hits 242° F on the thermometer. This takes several minutes. While that is boiling,
chocolate buttercream cake | photo by Zoë François

Place the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer and whip on medium speed until they are thick, pale in color and hold a ribbon when the beater is lifted. Once the sugar syrup has reached its temperature of 242° F,

mocha buttercream | photo by Zoë François

then slowly pour it into the bowl of whipped egg yolks while the beater is going on slow. Be sure to pour it along the bowl so that the hot syrup doesn’t hit the beater and splatter! Allow the eggs and sugar mixture to beat on medium high speed until the eggs have cooled, about 8 minutes.

mocha buttercream | photo by Zoë François

Add the butter 2 tablespoons at a time.

mocha buttercream | photo by Zoë François

The buttercream will go through a stage that looks soupy and curdled, but continue to add all of the butter and it will come together.

chocolate buttercream cake | photo by Zoë François

The finished buttercream will be smooth and silky.

For Mocha Buttercream

mocha buttercream | photo by Zoë François
chocolate buttercream cake | photo by Zoë François

Add a tablespoon of water to the espresso powder and dissolve.

chocolate buttercream cake | photo by Zoë François

Add the melted and cooled chocolate to the buttercream.

chocolate buttercream cake | photo by Zoë François

Mix to combine and decorate your cake. The buttercream will freeze if you have any left, wrapped really well in plastic. Just allow it to come bake to room temperature and whisk it on low speed to smooth it out.

For Peanut Butter Buttercream

chocolate Peanut Butter Cake | photo by Zoë François

Instead of using the coffee and melted chocolate, use 1 cup smooth peanut butter. It should be a commercial brand like Skippy or Jif, because they are emulsified and have the consistency that you want. Natural fresh ground peanut butter is awesome, but it is heavy and will make the buttercream too greasy and may even separate if you use too much.

Cake on a Cake Stand with Buttercream Frosting

Mocha Buttercream + Peanut Butter Buttercream Variation

This mocha buttercream is made with whole eggs instead of just egg whites which gives it a lusciously smooth and creamy feel, almost like mousse. The coffee and bittersweet chocolate are a perfect match for all of the sugar in the whipped Italian meringue that is the base.
No ratings yet
Course: Desserts


  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 lb (2 cups, 4 sticks) unsalted butter softened

To Make it Mocha Buttercream

  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate very finely chopped, melted over a double boiler and cooled to room temperature
  • 2 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp water

To Make it Peanut Butter Buttercream

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter. It should be a commercial brand like Skippy or Jif. NOT natural/fresh ground


  • In a small sauce pan fitted with a Candy Thermometer, bring the 1 1/4 cups sugar, water and cream of tartar to a boil over medium-high heat. If any of the sugar crystals get onto the side of the pan, be sure to wipe them down with a wet clean pastry brush. The sugar needs to cook until it hits 242° F on the thermometer. This takes several minutes.
  • While that is boiling, place the eggs, egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer and whip on medium speed until they are thick, pale in color and hold a ribbon when the beater is lifted. 
  • Once the sugar syrup has reached its temperature of 242° F, slowly pour it into the bowl of whipped egg yolks while the beater is going on slow. Be sure to pour it along the bowl so that the hot syrup doesn't hit the beater and splatter! Allow the eggs and sugar mixture to beat on medium high speed until the eggs have cooled, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the butter 2 tablespoons at a time. The buttercream will go through a stage that looks soupy and curdled, but continue to add all of the butter and it will come together. The finished buttercream will be smooth and silky.

Mocha Buttercream

  • Add a tablespoon of water to the espresso powder and dissolve. Add the melted and cooled chocolate to the buttercream.
  • Mix to combine and decorate your cake. The buttercream will freeze if you have any left, wrapped really well in plastic. Just allow it to come bake to room temperature and whisk it on low speed to smooth it out.

Peanut Butter Buttercream

  • Instead of using the coffee and melted chocolate, use 1 cup smooth peanut butter. It should be a commercial brand like Skippy or Jif, because they are emulsified and have the consistency that you want. Natural fresh ground peanut butter is awesome, but it is heavy and will make the buttercream too greasy and may even separate if you use too much.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Share this post

115 thoughts to “Outrageous Mocha Buttercream!”

  1. Searching for a mocha buttercream that is light in color, looks more like coffee than chocolate, similar to the PB shown above. Any suggestions on the coffee/chocolate ratio to achieve a light mocha buttercream?

  2. I have been searching the internet for 2 days for a peanut butter frosting and most were the usual and unappealing powdered sugared versions. This morning it dawned on me to google your name plus peanut butter frosting and luckily I found this. It’s so silky and delicious with the perfect peanut butter flavor and sweetness. I will always choose you!

  3. Wow. This was my first time making Italian meringue buttercream. It certainly will not be my last. I used it on a chocolate stout cake with coffee pastry cream filling topped with a chocolate whiskey glaze. It really does taste like a mousse.

  4. Hi Zoe!
    How is the frosting for piping decorations onto cupcakes? Is it too soft, or will it hold up well?

  5. I’m making my husband a chocolate cake with mocha buttercream, and this recipe looks perfect. QUESTION – I’d like to make the filling a salted caramel buttercream – could I divide this in half, and add some salted caramel to one half? How much would you add? THANK YOU!

    1. Hi Sally,

      It sounds fantastic. It will certainly work, but you will have to add the caramel a tiny bit at a time until you have the flavor you want, but keeping a close eye on the consistency of the buttercream. You don’t want to add so much that you can no longer spread the buttercream and have it cling to the cake. The amount will depend on how tight or loose the caramel is.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  6. I made this buttercream for our Christmas cake, and it looked really great half-way through adding the butter, but then the consistency started to get really off. It became curdled and sort of separated out… is there any way to salvage it? It’s sitting in the fridge right now and I’m really hoping I can still use it for my cake somehow… Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Annabel,

      Did you end up adding all the butter? As I mention in the recipe, it will go through this stage of looking curdled, but will come together when all the butter is added and mixed for another minute. If you refrigerated the buttercream before it was done, it will harden the butter and make it very difficult to add more. You will have to let it come to room temperature and can attempt to continue adding the rest of the ingredients.

      Thanks, Zoë

  7. This buttercream is indeed outrageous! 🙂 It’s the silkiest, finest, most luxurious buttercream ever! AND I forgot to put the cream of tartar in the sugar syrup! :))) I added it afterwards, no idea if it helped or not – I guess it was there to prevent the sugar from crystallising, but this never happened, the syrup went great. Maybe it was just my luck. (God knows I needed it, I was trying a completely new recipe in a new oven for a cake that I have to give for Thanksgiving, LOL!) Anyway, from now on this is my “go to” recipe when I need a delicate, elegant chocolate buttercream. I can’t wait to see the reaction of my friends, Sunday, they’re all chocolate lovers and a chocolate cake was long overdue (in their opinion; I’m not that into chocolate myself – even though after THIS buttercream things will never be the same! :)))) )
    Thank you Zoë for the recipe, with its pictures too, they’re soooo incredibly useful – actually, thank you for all the generosity and the effort you are putting into this site!

  8. Well, as yummy as this buttercream tastes, it was an epic failure consistency wise 🙁 After refrigerating the mixture and then bringing it back to room temperature and then piping the icing on the cupcakes I thought all was going to be well but after about an hour I noticed the icing was starting to slide off the cupcakes 🙁 I followed the recipe to a tee and was very careful that my candy thermometer hit the correct temperature so I have no idea what went wrong 🙁

    1. Hi JPepper,

      Did the consistency look right when it went on the cupcakes? If so, the only thing that would cause this is temperature. With this crazy heat wave it could have just been that the cupcakes got too warm. Were the cupcakes warm from the oven when you iced them?

      Thanks, Zoë

      1. Hi Zoe,

        While I was making it, it was actually runnier than I thought it would be. I thought that maybe I added the butter too quickly so I covered the bowl and placed it in the fridge over night. I finished everything up the following day and it appeared still a little softer than I thought it would be, however, I am used to making the American buttercream so I really dont know what this one is supposed to look other than your picture. I meant to mention in my last post about the weather here. While most places are experiencing a heat wave right now, Vancouver, BC Canada is drowning in constant rain. No issues with heat right now….hoping that will change tomorrow! LOL!

  9. The flavour of this buttercream is absolutely AMAZING….so amazing that the only reason I would need the cake is to hold the icing! LOL! I do have a question, though. I have made this icing for a bbq that I am attending on Saturday….I am going to make some cupcakes. While the taste is amazing, the texture didnt turn out the way I thought it would. I didnt expect it to be as firm as traditional icing sugar/butter buttcream but this turned out pretty runny for me. I think I might be able to ice a cake with it but definitely would not be able to use it for piping cupcakes or decorations. I have searched on the internet and watched some videos of a similar icing process and their’s turned out much fluffier. At first i thought I needed to whip it more but the more I whipped it the more it ‘melted’. I am wondering if maybe the egg/sugar mixture was too warm when I added the butter, causing the butter to melt? I havent added the chocolate yet but have covered it and placed it in the fridge. I am hoping that once it is cooled and I whip it again I will get the consitency I was hoping for. Any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance and thanks for sharing such an amazing recipe! I will be checking out your other recipes and giving them a try, especially the Devil’s food cake everyone is referring to :o)

  10. I tried the cake twice more. Once in two 9×2 pans – the batter did not overflow, but the cake collapsed in the oven. I think this was because the pan is too small, but perhaps not. I did make this cake with full fat milk mixed with some vinegar and dutch process cocoa. My next try was successful, I am happy to report! I baked the cake in 2 9 inch springforms (they are around 9×2.5) and used half skim milk and half full fat with a tsp vinegar (what I had on hand, in case the percentage of fat was what made a difference.)

    Probably two 8×3 pans would work as well, but I didn’t want to discard a lot of cake or to make a six layer cake or have a high cake to frosting ration, so i stuck with the 9×2.5 pans and tried to slice 3/4 inch layers. It sliced beautifully and this pan size seems to do the trick.

    The frosting is delicious and I am happy I stuck with this recipe till I got it to work as it is so convenient to make and the components freeze. Thank you.

  11. On the upside, the cake is delicious, although because it overflowed in the 8x2s, the layers were a bit of a mess. I intend to try again in 2 9x2s or 2 8x3s.
    I assume that you make adjustments to the recipe as you work with it. I’m wondering also if it makes a small difference if one uses natural or dutched process cocoa and milk or buttermilk in terms of how much overflow one gets.

    To further confuse matters, I now notice that here you subbed matzoh cake meal for the flour, and baked a *half* batch of the cake in 2 8x2s! There’s a bit of tweaking of the other ingredients too…I really don’t see how a full batch can bake in 2 8x2s and a half batch too.
    Right now, the instructions in various places on the blog say to bake a full batch of the recipe in 2 8x2s or 2 9x2s, and also to bake a half batch in either 2 8x2s (albeit that is a cake meal recipe), or in one 8×3 (Flour)…?

    I’m wondering now if I should be trying a half recipe in 2 8x2s…Is that what you intended when you wrote 2 8x2s – a half batch of the quantity you list in the cupcake recipe Maybe that’s where the confusion lies?

  12. Hi Fay,

    Lots of people have asked for varying pan sizes to make this cake, depending on the pans they have or the shape they want to create. So I have tried to accomodate all the possibilities. I have baked this recipe in all the pan sizes I have mentioned, and they come out with varying thicknesses, but work. To be on the safe side, I would stick to the 9×2-inch pans, since you have had spilling in the smaller ones. This way you are guaranteed success.

    For the buttercream I always suggest making more, especially if you are new to decorating, then you don’t feel like you have to spread it too thin. As you already have done, any leftovers can be frozen.

    Thanks and enjoy the cakes! Zoë

  13. “can you tell me offhand if I will need extra icing?”

    …because 2 8×3 rounds, each sliced into thirds, will already yield a six layer cake…

  14. Zoe,

    ‘Outrageous’ is a gross understatement! This might be the Best Buttercream I’ve ever had. Period.

    My Grandmother’s 98th birthday is this weekend, and I was curious if you had ever made a Chocolate Chip Buttercream. I searched the web, but all of the recipes I found used an American Buttercream recipe, and I much prefer a French or Italian. So I’m wondering, is it possible to make a French (or Italian) Buttercream and then just mix in some mini chocolate chips? Not sure if you have any experience with this.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    Many Thanks! -Genevieve

    1. Hi Genevieve,

      So glad you enjoyed the buttercream. You can certainly stir in some mini chocolate chips, but it will make spreading it more difficult, so don’t plan on having a perfectly smooth finish on your cake. Sounds wonderful!

      Thanks, Zoë

  15. hi zoe. the cakes are in the oven, in 2 8×2 pans. they have overflowed, despite being filled 2/3 full (I discarded a few tblsp batter also!). so…i guess i will wait for them to be done and see. should i deduce they really ought to have been in 9×2 pans? (these are really 8 x2 inches high, not 8×1.5 so the height of the sides is not the issue). or maybe two 8x3s? as you can see from my original questions, my instinct was that all these pan sizes can’t possibly all work for the same amount of batter without adjusting quantities….can you help out? thanks.

  16. I’m thinking of using this as a filling for a wedding cake I will be making in two weeks. Does this buttercream need to be refrigerated due to the eggs? I will need to travel with the cake (3 hours to the location, then set up, and ceremony) so I may go with something different for this event. What do you think?

    1. Hi Marcy,

      This icing will hold up well at room temperature for several hours, but if it is going to be in a warm spot or in the sun, it may melt. If you think it is going to be a warm day, then you may want to go with something a little more sturdy.

      Thanks, Zoë

  17. yes to your devil’s food cake. what is the right height of the 9 inch pan you call for in this recipe
    at this link it bakes in (two?) 8×2 pans
    at this link, a half recipe is in an 8x 3 pan
    I am puzzled by the different measurements
    I’d like to bake and frost with the mocha buttercream, do i want to bake in two 9×1.5 or 9×2 or 2 8x2s or 2 8x3s

    1. Hi Fay,

      Depending on the size, shape or look I am going for, I will often bake my cakes in different pans. The most common cake pan size is probably 9 x 1.5 (or2)-inches, so if that is what you have it will work well.

      Thanks, Zoë

  18. hi zoe, what a delicious looking cake
    can you possibly clarify:
    to make in 9 inch pans, are those 9×1.5 or 9×2 pans?
    8 inch pans are 8×2 or 8×3?
    (you wrote to bake in 8×2 and yet when halving the recipe, bake in 8×3?)
    or does it not matter how tall the pan is?
    is there enough icing to halve each layer and turn this into a four layer cake or will i need to make more icing to do that?
    Thank you!

  19. Dear Zoe,’ I made this buttercream tonight will not use it until a couple of weeks from now, how long is this buttercream good for and can I just keep it in the refrigerator in a sealed glass container or do I need to freeze it. and when you say wrap it well, do you mean get it out of the bowl and pour it in a plastic bag or is it ok in a sealed glass bowl? thank you!!

    1. Hi Carolina,

      You want to freeze it or it will go bad in that amount of time. You can freeze it in the glass container or in plastic bags, just make sure it is very tightly sealed. You will have to put it back on the mixer after it is defrosted.

      Thanks! Zoë

  20. Yes, indeed, this mocha buttercream is nothing less than outrageous. So glad I found this recipe in time for my husband’s birthday cake. And thanks for the note about freezing buttercream … I’m already looking forward to a batch of chocolate whoopee pies filled with mocha buttercream…

  21. Hi Zoe,

    This recipe looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it for my mother’s birthday; but there’s one hitch. She is allergic to eggs. Is there any substitute to eggs that I can use? or, do you have any such yummy eggless frosting recipes?

  22. Yum! I just made this buttercream recipe with
    My sister. We didn’t have instant espresso so we used instant folgers. The coffee flavor was subtle but overall delicious! next time I would use 2 1/2 tsp of coffee and 1/2 stick less butter. So glad I went with this recipe. FYI do NOT try a buttercream recipe that involves powdered sugar. It is overly sweet and will make u want to puke. Waste of time and money. Zoe got it right! This is light and will leave guests wanting more!

  23. Well Zoe,
    Happily the cake turned out great!. After the buttercream cooled in the fridge overnight I used my hand mixer at high speed and got that silky smooth thick(and firm) texture. I kept the cakes in the chiller and covered them in marzipan and fondant. It was a bit tricky, the marzipan started to slide and split the fondant on the largest tier. I wrapped foil tightly around the cake and put it back in the chiller and it came back together. The bride was thrilled with the final result.
    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Sonia,

      The “art” of being a pastry chef is staying cool under pressure! Sounds like you did exactly that, congratulations, so glad it all went well and the bride was happy!

      Cheers, Zoë

  24. Ok , thanks so much. Well wish me luck; one more question, should fondant be OK? I intend to use the buttercream as a filling only and then cover the cakes with marzipan and fondant

    1. Hi Sonia,

      Yes, the fondant will be just great. It doesn’t love the humidity, but it holds up very well!

      Enjoy and have fun! Zoë

  25. Hi Zoe,
    Thanks so much for this delicious recipe! I made it for a wedding cake and have a problem: similar to one of your explanations, the posts, I think the egg whites were too warm still when I added the butter. The flavour is wonderful, and it firms up nicely in the fridge, but my problem is our ambient temperature is really warm and I am worried that as a filling it will melt and have my wedding cake sliding!!! That would not be good at all!! Is there any way to make the mixture more firm(less meltable??)?

    1. Hi Sonia,

      This is the problem with using buttercream on a wedding cake. I am facing a similar issue today with a wedding cake that has to travel through 100° weather. I am going to refrigerate it and crank up the airconditioning in the delivery van and then assemble the layers at the venue. Make sure you have lots of support dowels between your layers and it should all go well!

      Thanks and enjoy! Zoë

  26. Hi
    The instructions say to add the tablespoon of water to the espresso powder and dissolve but do not say whether that is then added to the melted chocolate or to the mixture after the chocolate has been added to the buttercream?
    John A

    1. Wow John,

      I can’t believe it took this long for someone to bring that to my attention. Thanks! You can add it directly to the buttercream either before or after the chocolate. You don’t want to add it to the chocolate or it might sieze up.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  27. hi zoe

    thanks so much for the brilliant recipe.i tried your buttercream today and it came out delicious i did add abit more coffee though just to make it darker….its smooth and tasty.

    thanks for sharing!!!

  28. I just finished making the mocha buttercream. It is the first time I’ve tried making a mirangue frosting. OUTRAGEOUSLY delicious, and amazingly easy. It could be served as a mousse! I’ve got to get it into the fridge before I eat more of it off of a spoon. I will NEVER go back to powdered sugar and butter again. This is so much better!
    Inquiry: Have you halved the recipe? I’d imagine it would still work ok, but I was wondering if you’ve even done it.
    Thanks for sharing this. It’s wonderful!

  29. looks wonderful – can you tell me how you bake your devil’s food cake (you have instructions for cupcakes only) – how many layers, 8 or 9 inch cake pans, how long to bake? thanks

  30. Hi Zoë,

    I am new to your site and I am very impressed. I made this frosting today to use in the chocolate macarons posted on The Parisian Peanut Butter Cup entry. This frosting is out of this world good! I am one of those people who prefer meringue or whipped cream frostings over buttercream, but this frosting has changed my mind!

    I will also be making the peanut butter filling for the macarons, but since I’m testing them out on a couple of French people, I thought I would give them the chocolate option filling as well, since it seems that a lot of Frenchies aren’t fans of peanut butter. I am sure they will be delicious!


  31. Hi Zoe,

    Can a cake frosted with this chocolate buttercream be frozen? Will the consistancy be all right when it thaws?

    Thanks for your help.


    1. Hi Karen,

      Yes, you can freeze the buttercream and it is just as good after. Wrap it really well. You need to let it defrost still wrapped. You may mess up any design you made on the cake, but the taste will be great.

      Enjoy, Zoe

  32. Hi Zoe!

    I just *tried* to make this recipe for the second time. The first time I made the recipe x2 and was successful, everything went as planned, it was so delicious and creamy, I added lemon zest and just splash of fresh lemon juice and it was perfectly tangy and sweet.

    This time I tried making it x5 (for a lot of cake!), but I was not successful at all. Everything seemed look the right after I added the sugar, but after I added the butter, the mixture never became curdled, the mixture just remained a warm sugar/egg/butter soup.

    Does this recipe not do well when you try to make it in high volume like this? should I just make several regular size batches to achieve the quantity I need?

    1. Hi Stacy,

      What size mixer are you using to make a x5 batch? Unless you are using a 20-quart mixer I can’t imagine how you could whip this? If you do have a pro mixer than it may have been that the egg whites were not cool enough when you added the butter and so it just melted, instead of setting up. If you do not have a pro mixer, then I bet you just couldn’t get enough air whipped into the egg/butter mixture.

      I hope this helps? As long as you have the right equipment it should work as a larger batch!

      Thanks, Zoe

  33. Made this frosting this afternoon for a chocolate cake. So luscious and fluffy and yummy! The flavor is really remarkable. Thank you for sharing the recipe and the very helpful photos.

  34. Hi Zoe,
    I am now addicted to your website, even while b/feeding my 4 months old baby i keep on browsing your site. Thank you for the recipes and the details esp the pictures for direction. Just one question, will this be able to hold a fondant to finish my cake?

  35. Hi Zoe!
    I just made this recipe and cannot get over how incredibly light & fluffy it is! I’ve only made “American” buttercreams up until now and this was such a treat. Your blog & photos were super helpful!

    The only issue I had was that there are a few small pieces of “scrambled egg” in it. Does that happen often…how can I avoid it in the future.

    I definitely plan on making this beautiful & delicious frosting again.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Maria,

      Next time you make it bring the water in your double boiler to a raging boil, turn off the heat and then put the bowl with the egg/sugar over the steaming water. The residual steam should be enough to melt the sugar into the eggs, without actually cooking them. You also need to stir constantly with a rubber spatula. It amy take a few more minutes but you will not get that scrambled egg in your buttercream.

      Thank you so much for trying it! Zoë

  36. Hi Zoe,

    1. I don’t have instant espresso powder, but I do have instant coffee, could you tell me how much to use?
    2. Will this sit well at room temperature or will I have to refrigerate the cake?

    Thank you!

  37. Now my next question is, how do I make the traditional butter cream that is not too sweet (about like this or less) that when cold is almost like unsalted butter that chunks off the side of a cake slice, and when warm is creamy and wedding cake like…. I’d love to learn both, since this is awesome, but is not quite what a wedding cake features… Any help or email to my personal email would be great.


  38. Just made this fabulous buttercream! This is the sort I like, and did not know how to differentiate between Swiss, Italian, standard and on and on… This is fabuloso!!! I just frosted my buche de noel with it. I used a Martha Stewart genoise cake recipe, and then filled it with a mousse I use from a Green & Black’s cookbook. So it’s white cake, chocolate mousse, and mocha buttercream… GLORIOUS and a beautiful, beautiful cake that was worthy of photos!!!!

  39. I followed this recipe to the “T” and it is amazing. I have used it several times and everyone raves about it! Thanks!

  40. Hi Ann Marie,

    When you give it another shot let me know how it goes, I have a feeling you will have no problems at all!

    Thanks, Zoë

  41. Thanks Zoe! You are absolutely right. I didn’t mix the sugar and water well, I just swirled it a little around the saucepan. I thought it would mix as it simmered. So maybe that was the root cause.
    My thermometer is a cheapy instant read from BB&B that I had to hold in the saucepan since I couldnt attach it to the pan and one time I dropped it in. I love your thermometer and will buy one this w/e before I make this again! Thank you so much!! With stiring the sugar and water and a better thermometer I should be able to do this!

  42. Hi Ann Marie,

    It sounds like your sugar and water may not have been mixed together and the sugar on the bottom of the pot was caramelizing too quickly. Did it seem like there was raw sugar on the bottom of the pot?

    What kind of thermometer are you using? Is it a digital instant read? I like the candy thermometer because it rests in the sugar/water the whole time and you can keep a close eye on the temp as it rises gradually.

    I hope this helps! Zoë

  43. Help! I attempted to make this buttercream last night but my water, sugar, & cream of tartar started turning brown around the corner of the saucepan at 192 degrees, I never got to 242F. So as it turned darker I freaked and added it to the side of my kitchenaid mixer with the sugar/egg but my sugar mixture hardened. It was smoking and just an ugly mess. Do you think my thermometer is not accurate?? Does it need to be a candy thermometer? I really want to make this buttercream but have never tried this process before…Thanks!

  44. Hi Lauren,

    Here is the fondant recipe that I use: It is easy to color and tastes much better than the store bought varieties, but I’d make it once before you do your cake. It is easy to work with once you have the feel for it, but if you’ve never used fondant before it is a new feeling to get used to.

    Thanks and Happy Birthday! Zoë

  45. Hi! This recipe looks amazing and I want to try it out next month for my birthday. But I have a few questions first. The cake I’m making is going to be chocolate and soaked in a kahlua type syrup (nonalchoholic) and I’m making a sculpted cake. Will this taste as well if it’s layered with rolled out fondant and if so, do you have a fondant recipe that you think would taste well with this. Preferably one that’s easy to color. If you could help me that would be so amazing. Thanks!!

  46. I just made this buttercream this morning and iced a cake made from your Devil’s food cupcake recipe that I had in the freezer. I didn’t have the bittersweet chocolate so substituted some semisweet chocolate chips and semisweet baking chocolate (about 9 oz. instead of the 6) and it was to die for! Everyone (including the kids) loved it! I have to confess I “tasted” a good portion of it while making icing the cake! Thank you so much for your illustrated instructions, I know I would have wondered about the curdled look while adding the butter had I not known it was ok. Barbara

  47. Zoe, I never have extra-large eggs on hand because I typically by large. Would it make a huge difference if I used the L instead of XL eggs?

  48. Thank you for this recipe Zoe. I made it for New Years and topped a raspberry cake with it, it was divine. I usually do not get good reviews on chocolate, as most of my family is not a fan. However, this went down with wonderful reviews, it is so light and rich at the same time! I have been testing and looking for a wonderful chocolate buttercream (with REAL butter not crisco cream), and this is heavenly.


  49. Hi Madalena,

    Thank you so much for your kind words!

    You can replace the cream of tartar with lemon juice. It just is there to help strengthen the egg whites and allows them to whip up bigger. Any acid will do the trick.

    Glycerin is harder to replace. Have you tried your pharmacy? Some fondant recipes say that you don’t really need the glycerin, but I find that it makes it much easier to use if you have it..

    Good luck and thanks!


  50. Hi, I am totally fascinated by your website, talent and generosity in sharing such valuable knowledge. Thank you so much. I am addicted to your posts now!
    In Portugal, where I live, I can’t seem to find “cream of tartar” nor “glicerin” (for the homemade fondant). Do you suggest any alternatives?
    Thanks for answering.
    Have a wonderful 2009.
    All the best!

  51. Zoe! WOW! Thats about all I can say…and I haven’t even put it on the cake yet! I found your recipe very easy to follow and you weren’t kidding about it being an OUTRAGEOUS Mocha Buttercream! I’m using it as the filling for a cake I’m making for my sister, and she’s going to just love it! Thanks for posting this one up!


  52. Hi Lisa,

    Yes absolutely. Flavor at will and use on anything you like. Buttercream is very adaptable. Just be careful not to add to much liquid to it or you will change the consistency.

    Enjoy! Zoë

  53. This looks gorgeous! Question: could I use the buttercream plain (no coffee or chocolate) and/or with other flavourings (e.g. for a dessert with fruit etc.)

  54. Zoe,
    Philly is awesome. We are having a great time being back but are missing our friends in MN. We spent all of last summer in VT and thought of you when we were in Montpelier.
    When you come to Philly, make sure to leave some time for a visit and some foodie fun.
    In the meantime, visit me at

  55. Hi Denise,

    How great to hear from you! Thanks for all the kind words about the bread. So glad you are baking.

    How is Philly? We are hoping our next book tour will bring us there.

    xo Zoë

  56. Zoe,
    A few months back you popped into my mind and the next day, there you were on the front page of the food section of the Philadelphia Inquirer. I was tickled to see you and your amazing accomplishment! I immediately ordered the book and started baking. Since then we’ve enjoyed dozens of loaves of your delicious bread…and each time I think of you and hope that you and all your boyz are doing well in Minneapolis.

    ps: Awesome site, I’ve been a regular lurker…and as soon as our heatwave breaks I’m making this cake!

  57. Hey Jen,

    You are a baking diva! I’ll have to try the caramelized sugar to see if it isn’t even better. I bet the flavor added a bit of character!?

    Bake on my friend! Zoë

  58. Hi Zoe!
    I made this tonight for some friends, with the devils food recipe in cupcake form…it was unbelievable! I even goofed up the water/sugar/cream of tartar portion…it cooked just a minute or so too long – and became slightly carmelized. It didn’t seem to harm the taste overall, although I am hoping to catch it in time next time I make it!
    It was delicious – and the pictures and explanations were extremely helpful in my first buttercream venture! You are helping me break out of my “freaked out by baking” mold! 🙂

    Thanks lady!!

  59. mmmm… This frosting looks like it would be perfect for my “renewal” cake. My husband and I are planning a nice renewal of vows at the end of the year, and we wanted to make our own cake together, part of the ceremonial thing you know? And of course, we both adore chocolate on chocolate cake!

    Thanks for the recipe and the great illustrations!

  60. Hi Dawn,

    This stuff is really smooth. Sometimes adding chocolate to buttercream makes it harder to get a clean finish and this one is almost better with the chocolate. Great to work with!

    Thanks, Zoë

  61. Amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a smoother frosting. You spread that frosting with such a smooth & perfect coating. Nice job.
    I agree with you re: the salt; it truly brings out the flavor in just about everything.

  62. Hi Katie,

    It will be wonderful without the coffee as well. My preference would be to make it with a very bittersweet chocolate, just so it won’t be overly sweet. You could also add a dash of vanilla and a pinch of salt to the buttercream to perk up the flavor.

    Let me know how it comes out!


  63. Hi Amanda, you are so welcome. Look for a full post on Meringue. I probably won’t get to it until after our crazy book tour in June.

    Thanks! Zoë

  64. Hi Elizabeth,

    What a great idea, I’ll work on a list of my favorite tools and equipment. Until then I’ve added a link to my post that shows you exactly the thermometer that I used. I must say I bought mine locally for about twice what amazon is charging. Oh well, it is still worth it!

    Thanks, Zoë

  65. This looks fantastic! Any idea how it would taste sans coffee? While I adore the taste of mocha in just about everything, I am quite alone in that love within my family.

  66. Can you tell me about your candy thermometer, Zoe? The metal casing looks very sturdy.

    A post on your favorite and/or essential tools would be really helpful. The off-set spatula you used for the crepes is beautiful.

    This is such an informative and helpful website for those of us who are visual learners!

  67. Hi Amanda,

    Great question about the different types of meringue. Here is the basics:

    French refers to a meringue made from raw egg whites whipped with sugar until it is stiff and glossy. These days this is only used for things that will be baked.

    Swiss Meringue is when the egg whites and sugar are cooked together over a double boiler into a syrup and then whipped until stiff and glossy.

    Italian Meringue, like the one in this recipe has you add a boiling sugar syrup to the eggs in order to cook them, then you continue to whip this until it is smooth, stiff and glossy.

    I’ll do a post on this and show you the difference.

    Thanks, Zoë

  68. Thanks Carmen,

    I’m so glad you like that Devil’s food cake, it is my all time favorite. It took me years of combining every recipe I’d ever tried to come up with one that I loved.


  69. Thank you so much for that recipe, Zoe! That looks SO yummy!! I am always looking for new things to frost cakes with, other than my old Wilton buttercream recipe standby (which everyone still raves over and I can hardly stand anymore.) This looks fabulous! Can’t wait to try it!!

    I really love all the pictures you put with your instructions! It helps so much to see what things are supposed to look like!

    Oh, and I will definitely have to look into getting Carol’s cookbook! Thank you!


  70. tHAT LOOKS INSANELY GOOD! To be honest, anythign that adds coffee and bittersweet chocolate is bound to please me. You keep baking from this book and it makes me want to swoop it up and buy it as well.Plus, it was nominated for a James Beard award, which gives it a nice push. can you tell me the difference between italian, swiss, and reulgar meringue buttercream? I made a recipe like this one and it was called a french buttercream but I don’t get the difference

  71. This frosting sounds like it would be fabulous. I’ve never made Carol Bloom’s Devil’s Food Cake but I have made yours, Zoe.

    Hey, everybody, I will vouch for how fantastic it tastes! It is now my “go to” chocolate cake/cupcake recipe.

    And, Zoe, thanks too, for the pics!

    1. Agree 1000%! Zoe’s Devil’s Food recipe has elicited raves from everyone, EVERY time I’ve brought it to potlucks, bake sales, etc.

  72. Hi Sam,

    Thanks, it is important to see what the steps should look like, especially the first time you venture into a recipe.

    Enjoy! Zoë

  73. Great pics. The frosting looks great, but I especially appreciate the illustrated recipe; much more entertaining than just copying the text from the cookbook.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating