10 Frostings That’ll Make Any Chocolate Cake Taste Even Better

updated May 1, 2019
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Ganache! Buttercream! Whipped Cream! Frostings are something that get me excited about cake, because they (along with a few sprinkles) turn any cake into a celebration. Whether you’re baking a chocolate Bundt cake, a chocolate pound cake, or, my personal favorite, chocolate sheet cake, here are 10 frostings that upgrade classic chocolate cake to something unique and special to celebrate anytime.

(Image credit: Dana Velden)

Chocolate Glazes and Ganache

Chocolate glazes and ganache make chocolate cakes special by enrobing them in a dark, shiny finish. Some harden to a desirable crackle-like finish, while helping to moisten the cake as you frost it.

  • The boiled chocolate glaze from our classic chocolate sheet cake can be used to glaze sheet cakes, Bundt cakes, and pound cakes. Best of all? You don’t have to wait until the cake cools before pouring on this rich glaze.
  • Coke frosting from this chocolate pudding cake can also go onto a warm cake. You can use this same formula to use root beer or coffee to upgrade the flavor of this classic glaze.
  • Chocolate ganache, the world’s simplest frosting, requiring two ingredients — cream and chocolate — is also the classiest. Drench or drizzle your favorite chocolate cake with warm ganache, or cool the ganache and whip it into a fluffier frosting for filling layer cakes or topping cupcakes.

Buttercream Frosting

Here’s the really special thing about buttercream frosting: You can whip it up with pantry ingredients — yes, butter is a pantry staple — and you can easily gussy it up with a split vanilla bean or a bit of espresso powder. Buttercream has enough elegance to make humble pound cake slices swoon-worthy and to transform boxed cake mix into Instagram-worthy creations.

  • Classic, American-style buttercream is made with just butter, powdered sugar, and little bit of milk. You can flavor yours with vanilla extract, vanilla beans, citrus zest, or even espresso.

Try this: Toast slices of chocolate pound cake until warm under the broiler and then smear with basic buttercream and top with toasted cocoa nibs for an easy and elegant dinner party dessert.

  • Chocolate buttercream frosting can be made with either a few scoops of cocoa powder, chocolate milk powder, or melted chocolate added to a basic buttercream. My favorite way to make chocolate frosting on chocolate cake feel special is to use a different type of chocolate for the frosting — like milk chocolate frosting on a dark chocolate cake — and top the whole thing with chocolate shavings
  • Salted peanut butter frosting takes that pleasant pairing of chocolate and peanut butter to a whole other level. While originally meant for topping these bittersweet brownies, I love this frosting for topping layer cakes. Add some chopped honey-roasted peanuts for garnishing the cake and a candle, even if it’s only your half-birthday.

A Few Alternative Frostings

Maybe you are out of butter, chocolate, powdered sugar, or are just looking for something extra special to top your favorite chocolate cake. Here are a few recipes that include everything from marshmallow fluff to bananas.

  • Marshmallow fluff frosting tastes just like marshmallows, giving any chocolate cake it graces a s’mores-like taste. A chocolate sheet cake with this frosting and a few crushed graham crackers would knock the socks off your favorite scout.
  • If chocolate ganache is your absolute favorite, but you don’t keep heavy cream on hand, this sour cream ganache is made for you. It works well with Greek yogurt, too.
  • We don’t call many foods magic around here, but a frosting made by whipping the liquid from a can of chickpeas is nothing short of just that. Magic vegan icing will please vegans and omnivores alike and is a perfectly light alternative to whipped cream or buttercream.
  • Replace butter with bananas and make a fruit-flavored glaze for topping chocolate Bundt cakes, pound cakes, or sheet cakes. You can also pair this glaze with another frosting or ganache on a layer cake.