Chocolate Fudge Frosting

“Chef Jim’s fudge frosting is his own creation with a nicely informal homegrown look. It is easy to apply, and its full chocolate flavor complements his four-layer chocolate cake especially well. This unusual method starts out with a hot sugar syrup into which butter is gradually beaten and then melted chocolate.”



For the frosting:

  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter,
  • cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate,
  • cut into 1/2-inch pieces,
  • smoothly melted, and cooled
  • to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Special equipment suggested:

  • A 6-cup heavy-bottomed saucepan (for sugar boiling)
  • An instant-read thermometer
  • A small bowl of ice and water and a large kitchen spoon (for sugar syrup testing)
  • A heavy-duty electric mixer, with whip attachment, or a big mixing bowl and hand-held beater, or a whisk and elbow grease



  1. Melt the chocolate. 
  2. Preparing the Sugar Syrup:  Pour the water into a medium-size bowl, stir in the sugar and corn syrup, and continue stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved – a most important step, since if the sugar has not dissolved completely, the syrup may crystallize as you boil it. Pour into the sugar-boiling pan, set over moderately high heat, and boil to the soft ball stage, 235 degrees F.
  3. Whipping in the Butter:  Pour the hot syrup into the bowl of the mixer and start whipping at moderately high speed. Throw in a piece of the butter, whipping until it has been absorbed into the hot syrup before adding another piece. Continue adding butter and whipping until all the butter is in – this will take about 20 minutes however you beat it, and will go slower as the syrup cools. Increase the speed to high and whip several minutes more, until the syrup and butter form a mass, stopping the mixer midway through and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to be sure all the syrup and butter have been incorporated. (Alternatively, beat the butter into the sugar syrup by hand with a whisk.)
  4. Adding the Chocolate:  Now whip the cool melted chocolate and the vanilla into the fluffy sugar-butter mixture, and continue whipping until the frosting is smooth enough to be spread on your cake.
  5. Ahead-of-Time Note:  May be kept at cool room temperature for several hours before using.
  6. Transferring Cake Layers from Work Surface to Cake Stand:  Once the cake has been cut horizontally into two layers, the tricky part is to get the top layer off with-out breaking it. Lift it very carefully with outstretched fingers supporting the underside. An alternative suggestion, from pastry chef Stephanie Hersh, is to slide a wide palette knife under a section of the horizontal cut, gently lifting it up from the bottom layer. Then begin easing in a flat surface (a pizza pan, or a vinyl placemat, or a cardboard cake circle). Gently work the flat surface under the cut layer – always lifting with the spatula first – until the layer is completely on the flat surface. After you spread the filling over the bottom layer, with the help of the spatula gently slide the top layer onto the icing.

Copyright © 2014 by Jim Dodge. All rights reserved under International Copyright.