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Chocolate German Buttercream

This recipe for Chocolate German Buttercream, just like my Vanilla German Buttercream, is a pudding/custard-based buttercream. It’s silky smooth, not too sweet (though you can add more sugar if desired); it pairs nicely with sponge cakes, eclairs, coconut cakes, cupcakes, and even macarons.

A glass bowl with chocolate buttercream.


In this chocolate version of German Buttercream I used dark cocoa powder, and to boost the chocolate flavor I also added 72% dark chocolate.


For the best results use room temperature ingredients.

  • Milk ( whole, 2% or 1% fat)
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Corn Starch
  • Dark Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • Sugar
  • Chopped dark chocolate
  • Egg Yolks
  • Salt
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Sweet Tea Rum (optional)

TIP: Why do I use flour? I use flour because I find it helps to stabilize buttercream. Can you use cornstarch in place of flour? Absolutely.

Buttercream ingredients in bowls.


To make the custard/pudding I use corn starch and flour. I use flour because I find it stabilizes buttercream. However, if you don’t have flour, or if you’re trying to make a gluten-free version, you can skip the flour and use corn starch in place of it. There is not much of a difference, it’s just my personal preference.

Into a bowl, add egg yolks, granulated sugar, flour, corn starch and salt, cocoa powder, and 1 cup of milk (steps 1-6). Whisk till smooth (steps 7-8).

TIP: When mixing ingredients for the custard I like to add only a little bit of milk to avoid lumps in the custard mixture.

In a bowl mixing ingredients for chocolate custard.

Now, whisk in the remaining milk.

Whisking milk into chocolate custard.


Cook custard on medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Once it starts to thicken you can add chopped dark chocolate (steps 1-5). Continue stirring, don’t let the chocolate sink to the bottom of the pot, it can burn if you let it sit at the bottom of the pot. The mixture will thicken significantly, you might want to switch to a whisk to stir the thick custard. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for a minute or two, whisking constantly (steps 6-8).

TIP: If you don’t have a chocolate bar, you can use chocolate chips. However, I find chocolate chips sometimes don’t melt as nicely.

Stainless steel pot with chocolate pudding.


I like to use a dark chocolate bar, but you can also use milk if you prefer. Depending on the chocolate you might need to add more powdered sugar in the next step, if you prefer your buttercream sweeter. And, you can use chocolate chips if that’s all you have, just be sure to strain the custard as chocolate chips often don’t melt completely.

Chopped dark chocolate in a blue bowl.


Straining the custard is an important step, don’t skip it, or you can end up with bits of egg or flour lumps in your buttercream.

Use a fine-mesh sieve and pour the hot custard into the sieve and push it down with a spatula. Scrape down the underside to get all the strained pudding into the bowl (steps 1-3).

Fine mesh strainer filled with a chocolate custard.

To prevent skin from forming as custard cools, snuggly cover the hot custard with a food wrap (steps 1-3). Let it cool at room temperature on the counter or in the fridge. Or if you are in a pinch you can cool it in the cool water bath.

Stainless steel bowl with chocolate custard, hands pressing food wrap onto the custard.

To make cold water bath, fill the sink or a large bowl with cold water. Add ice, if you have some. Nest the bowl with custard into the cold water and let it cool.

Stainless steel bowl filled with custard covered with food wrap, nested in the sink filled with water and ice cubes.


In this step, ideally, both, custard and butter must be the same or nearly the same temperature. It’s essential for proper emulsification. Otherwise, buttercream might not blend properly.

TIP: If your custard is cold pop it into the microwave and heat it up in 5-second intervals, gently stirring it after each time. Until it’s at room temperature. Don’t heat it up in a stainless steel bowl.

Chocolate custard in a stainless steel bowl.

I like to use unsalted butter. Cream room temperature butter until smooth, about a minute (steps 1-3). Then gradually sift in powdered sugar. Continue beating until well combined and smooth, about 3 minutes (steps 4-8).

Butter and sugar mixed in a blue bowl.

In this next step, we are going to combine butter and custard, forming a lusciously smooth buttercream. It’s important to add room temperature custard to butter gradually, not all at once. Start by adding about 1/2 cup of room temperature custard and beat it well into the butter (steps 1-3). Scrape down the bowl few times to ensure all is well blended. And continue to add the custard and beating it into the butter (steps 4-8).

Bowl with butter and chocolate custard, mixer being mixture.


When it comes to flavoring my Chocolate German Buttercream I keep it pretty simple. I use good quality Vanilla Extract.

And, this is totally optional, I also use sweet tea rum in my buttercream. It’s a Czech Rum and I understand it’s not available everywhere. I get it shipped from Europe and it lasts me for a long time. But, like I said if you don’t have any sweet-tasting rum, you can skip it. Or for example, you can use Bacardi Gold, which’s similar to Czech Rum is distilled from fermented molasses. Or if you can find Austrian Rum Stroh, it’s aromatic and works great in baking applications.

TIP: You can also use baking emulsions, which contain no alcohol.

Bottle of Rum and Vanilla Extract.

Measure flavorings and pour them into the buttercream and beat again for 30 to 60 seconds (steps 1-6).

Chocolate buttercream in a blue bowl, vanilla and rum poured into a measuring spoon.


  • Why do you use flour? I use flour because I find it helps to stabilize buttercream.
  • Can I use cornstarch in place of flour? Absolutely.
  • If you don’t have a chocolate bar, you can use chocolate chips. However, I find chocolate chips sometimes don’t melt as nicely.
  • Don’t have a chocolate bar? You can use cocoa powder; use 2/3 cup dark cocoa powder.
  • Can I freeze buttercream? Yes, you can freeze it for up to 3 months. Let it come to room temperature and re-beat with a mixer before using it.
  • My buttercream is soupy, what happened? This can happen when butter and custard are at different temperate points. Cover soupy buttercream and freeze it for 20 minutes, stirring halfway. Re-beat and repeat the process if needed. This usually does the trick for me. But of course, there are times that buttercream is past the point of saving.
  • I can’t have alcohol-based extracts. What else can I use? Use baking emulsions in place of alcohol-based extracts.
  • This buttercream keeps well at room temperature for up to 3 days. It keeps in the fridge for up to a week. It also freezes well for up to 3 months.
  • How can I make Strawberry or Raspberry German Buttercream? You can use good quality, thick strawberry/raspberry jam (about 1/2 to 1cup), and beat it into one batch of Vanilla German Buttercream. Or use my easy-to-make Raspberry Cake Filling and beat it into the Vanilla German Buttercream.
Beaters coated with buttercream.


This Chocolate German Buttercream is my go-to recipe to make a Dobos Cake. You can also use it to frost cupcakes, sheet cakes, sponge cakes, it pairs nicely with a Coconut Cake, Chocolate Cake, and it can be used to fill macarons or cookies.

A thin sponge cake layer on a cutting board, spatula spreading buttercream onto the cake.
Hand holding a slice of a cake with many cake layers.

Custard-based buttercream can also be used to pipe borders. However, just like with any other buttercream containing butter it will become softer when you are handling it. When that happens, stick it into the fridge for 15 minutes, then continue with piping.

Piped chocolate buttercream swirls.


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  • Please find all the tools in my Amazon Shop
  • Hand-held or Stand Mixer
  • Sauce Pan
  • Fine Mesh Sieve
  • Spatula
  • Dark Cocoa Powder – (Hersey Special Dark, unsweetened, or Barry Cocoa Powder)
  • Dark Chocolate – 65% to 72%, or use dark and milk chocolate combined
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Bacardi Gold Rum, or other sweet-tasting Rum like Austrian rum Stroh
  • Baking Emulsions – use these in place of alcohol-based extracts


Chocolate German Buttercream.

Silky smooth delicious custard-based Chocolate German Buttercream.
Recipe makes about 4 cups/1liter of buttercream.
Serving size: 1/4 cup (approximate amount to use on the regular-sized cupcake).
Fills and frosts 3 layered-6 inch cake, 16 cupcakes, or Dobos Cake – see the recipe link in the recipe notes.
Course Cake, Dessert, Frosting, icing
Cuisine German
Keyword chocolate frosting, chocolate german buttercream, custard frosting
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Cooling Time 2 hours
Servings 16 servings
Author Hani B.



Chocolate Custard|Pudding

  • 4 egg yolks from 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200grams)
  • 3 tbsp flour (45grams)
  • 3 tbsp corn starch (45grams)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (25 grams)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup chopped dark 72% chocolate (150grams)
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • 2 cups unsalted, room temperature butter ( 4 sticks | 452grams)
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extarct
  • 1 tbsp sweet Rum (optional)



    Chocolate Custard

    • Separate 4 large eggs. Pour egg yolks into a medium-size bowl, reserve egg whites for later.
      TIP: See the notes for leftover egg white recipe ideas.
    • Into a bowl with egg yolks add granulated sugar (1cup, 200grams), then pour in flour (3 tablespoons, 45grams), corn starch ( (3 tablespoons, 45grams), dark cocoa powder (1/4 cup, 25grams) and salt (1/4 tsp). Pour in milk (1 cup, 240-250 ml). Whisk well, till combined. Then pour in the remaining milk (1 cup).
      TIP: You can use whole milk, 2% or 1% milk.
    • Cook the custard on a medium-high heat until the custard starts to thicken. Then add chopped dark chocolate (about 1 cup, 150 grams). Stirring constantly, cook the custard until it thickens. It should be thick. Cook, simmering for about 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
    • Remove custard from the heat, and push it thru a fine-mesh sieve. Cover it with a food wrap to prevent skin from forming. Let it cool to room temperature.
      TIP: You can speed up the cooling process by cooling custard in an ice/cold water bath.

    Chocolate Buttercream

    • Cream the room temperature butter (2 cups, 4 sticks, 452 grams) for 1 minute. Then pour in sifted powdered sugar (1 cup and 1/2 cup,180 grams). Cream for 2-3 minutes until homogeneous, smooth, and fluffy.
      TIP: If you are in a pinch and need a little more buttercream, up the butter by 1 stick (113 grams).
    • Gradually add room temperature chocolate custard to room temperature butter mixture. Beat well after each addition. Scrape down the bowl between.
    • Flavor buttercream with Vanilla Extraxt (1 teaspoon) and sweet Rum (1 tablespoon, optional).
      Beat well, about 2 minutes. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to a week, re-beat before using.


    • CAN I FREEZE IT? – Yes,  you can freeze German Buttercream in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Let it thaw and re-beat before using.
    • I CAN’T USE FLOUR; CAN I USE CORN STARCH INSTEAD? – Yes, you can. I use flour as I find it stabilizes buttercream a little. But it’s okay t use just corn starch.
    • I DON’T HAVE CHOCOLATE. CAN I USE JUST COCOA POWDER? HOW MUCH? – if you don’t have chocolate, use 2/3 cup cocoa powder in the recipe.
    • I CAN’T HAVE ALCOHOL; WHAT CAN I USE INSTEAD OF EXTRACT AND RUM? -You can use baking emulsions in place of alcohol-based extracts, or use Vanilla Sugar if you have some/
    • HOW DO I MAKE VANILLA GERMAN BUTTERCREAM? – process is basically the same, but the ratio of ingredients is slightly different— Vanilla German Buttercream Recipe.
    • CAN I LEAVE THE CAKE FILLED AND ICED WITH GERMAN BUTTERCREAM AT ROOM TEMPERATURE? – Yes, you can leave a cake at room temperature for up to 2-3 days. If it is hot, I’d recommend you refrigerate the cake.
    • CAN I USE THIS BUTTERCREAM TO ICE CUPCAKES? – Yes, this recipe should ice about 16 regular-size cupcakes.
    • MY BUTTERCREAM LOOKS LIKE  SOUP; WHAT CAN I DO? – this usually happens when butter and custard are at different temperature points.  Freeze the mixture for 20 minutes, gently stirring at half point. Then try to re-whip it again. Freeze again and re-whip if it is still too runny.  
    • EGG WHITES RECIPES: Crunchy Egg White Cookies, Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Meringue Roses
    Chocolate buttercream in a glass bowl sitting on a blue kitchen towel.

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    1. Hani,
      I’m going to use this recipie to make my grandmothers German Hazrlnuss Torte for Christmas. It’s a 10” three-layered cake. How much of this recipe will I need? Double? I hope you can get back to me. I’ll be making this on Thursday the 22nd.
      Thank you for any advice!

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