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Mystery of the White Chocolate Buttercream Revealed

Jan 13, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose

White Chocolate Lemon Buttercream

This fabulous buttercream came about in a most peculiar backdoor sort of way. It started in my imagination as a cake! I long had the idea that it would be interesting to try my Chocolate Oblivion from The Cake Bible as a milk chocolate version which, in fact, was a viable idea (see page 372). I also wanted to try a white chocolate version and that's the one that metamorphosed into said buttercream. My original recipe called for combining just three ingredients: eggs, butter, and dark chocolate, which bake in a water bath to a creamy, dense, yet slightly airy custard that has been referred to as a chocolate mousse wedded to a chocolate truffle.

When I replaced the dark chocolate with white chocolate, baked and then cooled the cake, it was not firm enough to cut. Though the cocoa butter in the white chocolate and the butter are very firm when chilled, the cocoa solids in the dark chocolate are needed to give it a firm enough texture.

Of course I tasted it and it was luscious/delicious. What to do? I didn't want to add more white chocolate as it contains about one-third sugar so it had to be either cocoa butter or butter. Since butter is more readily available I tried beating softened butter into the white chocolate custard. The texture was amazingly soft, luxurious, rich (in the words of blogger Bill who wrote: What ever possessed you to try mixing eggs white chocolate and butter to make a custard? It is a miracle that the buttercream made it onto the cake and not directly into my mouth.

This buttercream became the base for the lemon curd version on page 46 and a deluxe version on page 176 where I added cream cheese.

Woody used the lemon curd version for his Lemon Luxury Layer Cake on page 43 and we were both surprised that in the photo it looked so lemony yellow. Actually we liked it but when we had made it, the color was a lighter ivory. So Woody set to work and discovered than when the buttercream is beaten longer at the final stage of mixing it becomes both lighter in color and firmer. It's hard to see the color change in the photos but they will give you a glimpse into the behind the scenes fastidious work that Woody has been doing over the past five years of his association with me and the book.

The Different Stages Showing Changes in Texture and Color During Beating


The Completed Buttercream with Out Favorite Lemon Oil



Thanks Woody. That's great it will work to that temperature. I just looked at the Errata, and I can't seem to find that listed.


Hi Sherrie,
We made a correction to this recipe to heat the mixture to 160F, which is the temperature that destroys the enzyme that would cause the yolk to liquify and no longer thicken the mixture.
When in doubt on a recipe, we recommend to look at the Errata/Corrections section on the right sidebar to see if we have revised a recipe. You can also print off all of the revisions for any of Rose's books.
Rose & Woody


Quick question...what is the purpose of heating the egg/butter/white chocolate to 140F? Today I made it and it had lovely texture just after adding the egg.


Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Sherrie
06/ 2/2015 12:58 PM

Hi Sherrie,
We would think it would be fine as an undercoat for fondant, if you use a very thin layer of it to create a level surface for the fondant. You may want to try adding some cocoa butter, although we have not done any tests with adding it.
Rose & Woody


I adore this buttercream. I love pairing it with your lemon chiffon (cup)cake(s) (which I adapt using the Bostini cupcakes), and a dollop of lemon curd. BUT...I really want to use it on an upcoming wedding cake that will be covered in fondant...refrigerated, it would be fine, but at close to room temperature, I think it becomes too soft. What are your thoughts on using this frosting (the one without the curd) under fondant? I may have to use it as a filling and make the Mousseline Buttercream for the outside...OR..would it be preferable to add some cocoa butter?


I don't know if this is helpful...but I use Ghiradelli white chocolate all the time and never have a problem with it. When I made this recipe I bought the Green and Black's that Rose recommends but I didn't buy enough, so I used part Green and Blacks and Part Ghiridelli (which I had in the house) and it came out fine. What is the problem that you are having? Is the buttercream too soft?


Dear Rose, I bought Heavenly Cakes the second it came out and am facing white chocolate lemon buttercream disaster.

Allow me to catalog my sins. I did not use the white chocolate you called for but rather Ghiradelli, which some impostor in Williams Sonoma said would work. (Does it not have enough cocoa butter?) Then I worry the butter was too soft--does that spell buttercream disaster? I am going to put it in the frig and hope you have time to write back, as I have 6 days until my daughter's birthday to solve this problem! (I will wait to add the lemon curd.)

Thank you in advance for your comments--I do hope you have time to respond! Meanwhile I will search the boards for other related ideas.


i would check marcie goldman's books. i don't yet have a recipe for hamentashen.


Rose, I'm looking for a full-proof yeast hamentashen recipe. My husband has tried 2 recipes from famous jewish cookbooks and they don't seem to rise and are tasteless. It's probably baker error, but he doesn't believe it. The recipes don't tell him how long to knead or what the dought should feel like. HELP!



Do you have a full-proof and detailed recipe for yeast hamentashen? My husband has tried 2 recipes - from reliable jewish cookbooks, but they don't rise and they are tasteless. My guess is operator error, but I'm turning to you for guidance - please help. If you have a detailed recipe of how long to knead using a food processor or mixer that would be fantastic.


Thanks for the tea information. I'm forging ahead without the tea. The latest question is whether I cooked the layers long enough. They are very soft and chewy throughout and kind of sticky on the surface. (And they all broke into several pieces.) I'm trying to decide if I need to make new ones.

Regarding white chocolate, my wife blames the powdered milk for her dislike of this product. They all contain powdered milk. I have always used good white chocolate, with cocoa butter, never vegetable oils. But it doesn't matter.


For le succe, rose uses lipton instant lemon tea unsweetened or comparable, DO NOT confuse this with the sugar free one which is sweetened artificially. I am planning my succe w/o the tea and using valrhona palmira.

If anyone had distakes with white chocolate, I would challenge that with any of Rose's new frostings that uses white chocolate, but do use real white chocolate containing cacao butter (most grocery store ones use shortening instead), like green and blacks or valrhona. It is time to bring real white chocolate to good standing!


My word, that buttercream looks absolutely amazing!!


Adrian and Julie, Having made Le Succes and lived in the US Midwest for many years, I can answer your question. I don't know where you are located Adrian, but in the US many people drink iced tea especially in hot weather. It's a bit involved to make but nowadays you can purchase instant tea mix and many of them are flavoured - and I do believe that Lipton (and Nesta?) make a lemon one. I'm sure Rose just uses it for flavouring the ganache. Her recipe for Le Succes in "A Passion for Chocolate" does not include the powdered tea and I have made it successfully (no pun intended!) without. In fact I made it for the September Bake-off over on the Forums.

If you wanted the lemon/tea flavour I'm sure you could infuse some lemon zest and tea leaves in the hot cream and then strain them out - maybe Rose will chime in on this.


What a great story, I love hearing how this bc came about.

I'm also curious about the instant lemon tea in le success, is it an unsweetened product? I'd be interested to hear how you ended up adding lemon tea to ganache, perhaps that's another outcakes...


In the book there is a suggestion that the white chocolate can be replaced by a larger weight of powdered sugar. Wouldn't this make it a lot sweeter? (My wife hates white chocolate, and I'm wondering how to alter Woody's lemon cake. Just use a regular lemon buttercream?)

Another question: what is the powdered lemon tea in Le Succes? The book doesn't give any details about what this ingredient is. Someone on the forums suggested a sweetened lipton lemon tea product, which seems like it's likely to be mostly sugar. And I'm kind of nervous about wasting all that chocolate and creme fraiche by adding the wrong thing. (Currently I'm thinking I'll just omit the tea.)


Rose, I can see the color difference. Thanks for posting all these wonderful tidbits that shows us of all the marvelous work and research that you (and Woody) did in the making of RHC! We are trully enjoying the results of your hard work (I'm at work and eating Tres Leches now :) YUM!!)


Good heavens, look at that last photo! How beautiful is that!


The white chocolate lemon buttercream is outstanding, as is the lemon luxury cake!


Oh..and thanks for quoting me...I had completely forgotton about that posting LOL.


Again...thanks for this recipe. I'm going to be using it at the end of the month for a birthday cake for one of the women who works with me at the clinic. She is a lover of white chocolate and she is going to LOVE this. Again, I'm a little afraid to make it...I can't always control myself around it. (perhaps a double batch...one for me...one for the cake)


This buttercream really stood out for me when we did it as part of the bakethrough. It was just fantastic (even before adding any of the lemon curd), and I need to find an excuse to make it again. It tastes like a rich vanilla cake batter. Now that I know that it started life as a cake, I can see why!



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