From Chocolate, with Love

Everyone seems to have their own approach to frosting recipes. Most of my buttercream recipes are adapted from my grandmother, mémère, who inherited all the skills needed for executing perfect French cuisine and who never erred once in the kitchen.

This lavender beauty is three layers of vanilla bean cake with apricot compote, frosted with a classic chocolate buttercream.

Or at least, she never showed anyone her"nailed it!" moment. I like to think I follow in her footsteps, at least where cakes are concerned.

Mémère's Chocolate Buttercream

Using a mixer on medium-low, sift together:

  • 1/2 cup high quality cocoa powder

  • 3 cups powdered sugar

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened just past room temperature so your fingertip can create a hole when pressed in the center

Once creamed, increase speed to medium and add:

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 1 tsp almond extract

  • dash of cinnamon

  • pinch of salt

  • Cream, added tablespoon by tablespoon as needed to achieve a silky consistency

Pro tip: Do not overmix. You're going for silky, not gummy. If your frosting needs to be thicker or thinner, add powdered sugar or cream by the tablespoon, as needed to achieve desired consistency.

Adorned by a wreath of fresh berries, four layers of dark chocolate-almond cake, nestled between blackberry buttercream (65% cacao) and toasted almonds, are enrobed in my signature rum ganache. I made this berry beaut for a friend's birthday party.


This is my go-to recipe for a quick and easy (and delicious) run ganache. In a saucepan, simmer 1 cup of heavy cream until bubbles form on the sides and top and it is steaming hot. Don't let it boil; it will curdle.

Pour hot cream over a bowl of 8 oz. chopped dark chocolate (65-75% cacao) and let rest for a 1-2 minutes to melt the chocolate. Stir to combine (careful not to don't overblend).

Then, fold in the below ingredients to the mixture.

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 tsp almond extract (1/2 tsp)

  • 1 tbsp rum

  • pinch of salt

To make lavender-infused ganache, add 2 tbsp lavender buds in the cream while it's heating. Bring to simmer for a few minutes. Remove from the heat, strain buds, and follow the rest of the ganache recipe. Other infusions can include Grand Marnier, cognac, ginger, chili, orange blossom or rosewater, and more!

Above, Oaxacan mole meets French ganache. Three midnight chocolate layers are complemented by filling four layers of deconstructed mole– a chutney of tomato, onion, pepper, chili, and spices. The midnight chocolate buttercream and rum ganache is enlivened with urfa, a smoky Turkish black pepper. I made this luscious number for a work event.


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© 2020, Alexandria de Aranzeta