Glossy Chocolate Icing

If I could still eat chocolate, I’d make a batch of this and eat it with a spoon. Made with cocoa powder, this glossy chocolate icing is easy to prepare and makes a wonderful companion for a variety of treats. Today’s batch went onto these chocolate cupcakes with vanilla cream filling, pictured at left.

I’ve made this icing once before and it turned out a bit more drizzly then than it did today, but today’s consistency was much better for my cupcakes. Just be careful to work quickly, as it sets pretty fast. If you’re not able to spread it, add just a bit more milk to thin it slightly, about a half-teaspoon at a time. You can always add more if you need to, but remember that you can never take the liquid back out of an icing once it’s there.


  • 3 tablespoons¬†butter
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons milk


In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in cocoa powder, then remove from heat.

Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk and stir well until you reach a very smooth consistency; it will become glossy once it’s done. Use immediately, as it sets very fast! Makes enough for about 16 cupcakes.

Vanilla Almond Buttercream

caramel cupcakes

Buttercream frosting is a go-to resource for bakers. It’s easy to make and adapt for different flavor combinations. The key to successful buttercream, in my opinion, is to soften your butter just enough; you don’t want it to be too soft, because you risk a runny consistency, or too hard, which will prevent the powdered sugar from incorporating properly. I once read that the proper consistency of softened butter for buttercream is like ice cream; you can indent it with your finger, but not smash it altogether.

This buttercream was inspired by a vanilla caramel candy and would pair well with almost any cupcake or cake, from caramel to chocolate. As you’re preparing it, taste as you go to make sure that the vanilla and almond flavors are well-balanced.

Vanilla Almond Buttercream


  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tablespoon almond extract


In a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute, then add salt and beat another minute.

Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes.

Add vanilla extract and almond extract, beating well to combine. Taste; add more extract if desired.

Frost cake or cupcakes and store at room temperature