Frost my cupcakes! Please suggest your best recipe for an excellent middle-of-the-road chocolate frosting-- not too dark, not too heavy, not too fragile, not too sugary.
I bake pretty frequently, but for years my mental file of satisficing recipe standbys has had a big old gap where "good basic chocolate frosting" should go. I've found great fudgy frostings, lovely pillowy whipped-creamy frostings, but no standouts corresponding to the completely average frosting you'd use on a yellow birthday cake or cupcakes. Even the chocolate-frosting recipes from my usual go-to sources, Cook's Illustrated and Smitten Kitchen
, were disappointments in this area (CI: used corn syrup, sickening slimy mouthfeel; SK: real-chocolate buttercream, far too aggressively sugary).
It seems as though everything I've seen leans either to the ultra-sweet buttercream end, or to the dark-chocolate glaze/fudge/ganache side. I'm looking for a frosting that's relatively light, smooth and spreadable, with a medium rather than dark/bitter chocolatiness, but where the primary flavor note is still chocolate (plus maybe a little butter/salt/umami) rather than sugar or cream.
It's entirely possible, I guess, that there might be some nonstandard ingredients needed to achieve this (gelatin? lard? eggs? boiled cocoa powder?), but I don't really understand enough about frosting science to suss out what those might be. Nonetheless, if I can get a semi-passable (definitely not great) version of what I'm looking for in a $1 can of Dunkin Hines at the grocery store, I've got to believe that there's an excellent homemade version out there somewhere. So there you go, Metafilter! What am I missing?
(also, thanks to the awesome advice here last year, I'm aware that some of the sugar"edge" in uncooked buttercreams is due to the cornstarch in standard confectioner's sugar-- but straight-up powdered sugar is unfortunately not sourceable where I live, so not a tweak I'm able to make)