I totally had birthday cake for breakfast this morning. You see, when you are the birthday girl, you are practically forced into doing that by the last errant slice of birthday cake that your mom tucked away in the fridge, knowing that you'd want it later on. I know, my mom is the best. Surprisingly, though, I'm not here to talk about cake. If you want a really fabulous dark chocolate cake, this one is my favorite, but you probably knew that already. What I'm going to tell you about is the buttercream.
Silky, smooth, luscious, lovely chocolate buttercream. Holy cow, this one is for the books! And it's the quick kind, meaning no heating up egg whites, no worrying whether they will whip up or not, no curdling and ensuing tears, and if you've ever made Swiss Meringue buttercream, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Forget all other quick buttercreams you've ever known, guys. Break up with them and never look back. This one is Mr. Right.
There is a reason it works, of course. First, you do a bit of whipping, and then you add unsweetened cocoa powder and powdered sugar very very slowly, so that the butter has a chance to incorporate all that goodness. Then, you whip some more. Ta-daa! Lick-the-bowl good. Oh, yes, yes it is.
Quick Chocolate Buttercream Frosts 24 cupcakes or a 2 layer 9" round/8" square cake (I found the proportions online somewhere, but I don't remember where, sorry...)
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature [I use very lightly salted butter; if you use unsalted, you can add a pinch of salt to bring out the chocolate flavor] 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder [My favorite is Valhrona dutch processed for a little bitterness] 1/2 cup whole milk 3-4 cups of powdered sugar (more or less to achieve desired consistency)
Whip the room-temperature butter on medium speed with the paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes. Shift to low and add cocoa powder slowly, one teaspoon at a time, until fully incorporated. Still on low, add in the powdered sugar (also one teaspoon at a time), alternating with the milk, to achieve desired consistency and taste. Then, beat on medium speed until very light and fluffy, another 3-5 minutes. Add in more sugar if consistency is too thin.
[tip: to make a clean cut in a cake, put it in the refrigerator for an hour to let the cake and frosting harden a little. Then slice with a very sharp cake or bread knife, wiping the knife with a damp paper towel after each cut.]