Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible is literally my cake bible. It contains recipes for the only from-scratch cakes that ever turned out any good in my kitchen, and her buttercreams & fillings are all superb. I have yet to try a recipe in it that has failed, not only because they are excellent, but because she is very specific in her directions and gives plenty of tips for beginners.
This chocolate egg white buttercream is one of my favorites because it’s relatively simple (believe me, she’s got some majorly complicated ones in that book) but extremely delicious. I’d compare it to a light mousse. It’s firm but airy and kind of dissolves on your tongue…sometimes it’s like I’m eating rich chocolate air…but it does have substance so that’s not exactly right. How about I let Rose do the talking…
“This special version of chocolate buttercream is the color of rich milk chocolate and has a more assertive chocolate flavor than the traditional one made with egg yolks. In fact, it is just as smooth and even easier and faster to prepare than Classic or Neoclassic Buttercream because a sugar syrup is not needed.
“This buttercream is airy yet, because of the whites’ structure, has more body than a buttercream made with all yolks. It is an excellent texture and flavor for both chocolate butter cakes and chocolate genoise.”
Thanks Rose, that about sums it up. Except I like it on any chocolate cake, any yellow cake, or white cake. I just like it period. It is NOT your typical frosting and I’ve found that frosting haters (the women in my family) usually enjoy this one, along with everyone else that is normal (frosting lovers).
Classic Egg White Chocolate Buttercream
10 oz bittersweet chocolate (I always use semi-sweet chocolate chips)
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter (must be room temperature)
4 large egg whites (must be room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
Melt the chocolate using a double boiler or in the microwave. I use the microwave & stir every 15 seconds (after an initial 30 seconds). This time I accidentally did 45 seconds initially and that caused enough heat for the chips to completely melt as I stirred them. Do not overheat or the chocolate will seize up & you’ll have to start over. Once melted, set aside to cool completely. (Update: do not wait until the chocolate has re-solidified, you just want there to be no heat left to the chocolate mixture, but it should still be liquid when you add it.)
Beat the butter until smooth & creamy & set aside. In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. (Veronica’s note: if you’re using the same beaters you used to beat the butter, wash them thoroughly before using them on the egg whites or they won’t ever fluff up or get stiff. Fat is the enemy when it comes to beating egg whites!) Gradually beat in the sugar until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly. Beat in the butter by the tablespoon. If the mixture looks slightly curdled, increase the speed a little and beat until smooth before continuing to add more butter (In my experience, sometimes the curdled look won’t go away until all the butter has been added). Add the melted and cooled chocolate all at once and beat until smooth and uniform in color. Use immediately or place in an airtight bowl. Rebeat to restore texture.
You can store it 3 days at room temp, 2 weeks refrigerated, or six months frozen.
Makes 4 3/4 Cups, enough to fill & frost a two layer cake
*Note : While it is necessary to cook egg yolks for a buttercream to prevent bacterial growth, raw egg whites are far less prone to this problem.
*Veronica’s note: I know people are seriously paranoid about raw eggs, but I’ve made this a lot and can promise you that no one has gotten sick off of it yet–even after more than three days at room temp. I know, I live on the edge.
Recipe source: Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible
I’m baking a cake for my son’s first birthday and stumbled upon your post here. Helpful instructions and beautiful pictures!
Does the use of semi-sweet chocolate chips make the icing sweeter than if I used the bittersweet chocolate? Buying a bag of semi-sweet chips is the cheapest, so I might go that route, depending up how it will change the taste.
I’m one of those bakers whose nervous about using raw eggs, especially since I want zero risk with my young son, so I finally sought out pasteurized eggs. Finally I can make frosting worry-free.
Also, from your pictures, it looks like the recipe makes a really fluffy icing, which is good, as I’m looking for something that will create the biggest mess when my son digs into a piece of cake. :)
Yes, the semi-sweet chocolate chips does make the icing a little sweeter than if you used bittersweet, but it is definitely not TOO sweet. It’s perfect in my oppinion. This would be a great frosting for your son’s frist birthday!
Can you substitute dry egg whites for the 4 large egg whites? if so does warm water need to be added and if so, how much? Thank you
I have not tried it, but as I understand, you can substitute dried egg whites any time you need whipped egg whites. Your mixture needs to be room temperature so that the butter doesn’t melt when added to it, so just use cool or room temperature water. Let me know how it turns out!
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Can I freeze a cake with this frosting already on it? I’m such a newbie to cakes, but I’ve heard that freezing cakes can actually make them taste better. I’m going to you as my personal cake expert for the final answers. =)
P.S. I love having a personal cake expert. Hee hee.
I let the melted chocolate cool completely , it was then almost firm again. The icing ended up with chunks of choclate in it that would clog the icing tips. I was afraid to remelt the chocolate that too much warm would ruin the egg whites and butter……. but the taste was great.
Oh dear! I will update the recipe to be more specific. There should be no heat to the melted chips, but you should not wait so long that they start to resolidify. Basically you just want the heat to be gone so it won’t melt the butter when you add the chocolate. Glad it still tasted good! I hope you’ll try it again.
this looks great. however i’m concerned that using granulated sugar will result in a grainy texture to the frosting. have you experienced this? if so, would you have any suggestions to avoid this?
It is completely smooth and not grainy at all. The sugar dissolves when you beat it into the egg whites. Have you ever made meringue? Same thing here, and it’s just smooth and fluffy like meringue (though more creamy b/c of the butter). Try it, you won’t regret it!
How many cupcakes will this recipe frost? I’m planning on using this recipe to make some cupcakes next week and I was wondering how big of a batch I’ll need to make for 5 dozen. I’m doing a swirl with the frosting just like the cupcake in your photo above…
I think 2 batches will be enough, though 3 is definitely enough and probably will have extra.
Wow!!! This frosting is fantastic! (Eyes roll in the back of your head kind of good). This is going to be my go to chocolate frosting from now on. So silky, so smooth and light. I have my own hens and I don’t know if this would make a difference in the results. I used 8oz. Of unsweetened and approximately 2 oz. of semi sweet chips. Super easy and yummy!!
Hi nice reading your bloog