This dessert is scary delicious! Black cocoa powder gives this cake its rich black color and uniquely chocolaty flavor. The cake has the same texture as classic red velvet cake: fluffy, pillowy, and soft, but with a bolder and richer chocolate flavor. Topping it off with black cocoa frosting really drives home the spooky and delicious.
- black velvet cake ingredients:
- how to make black velvet cake:
- black velvet cake storage:
- what does black cocoa power taste like?
- Can you substitute black cocoa powder for cocoa powder in this recipe?
- my number 1 tip for working with black cocoa powder...
- Check out these other recipes!
- Spooky Black Velvet Cake Recipe
When it comes to Halloween desserts, this one literally takes the cake.
It's scary how easy and delicious it is (I know I already made that joke, but there are only so many Halloween based ways I can be funny....ish). It's also kind of a scary menace to diets everywhere because self control + chocolate don't go hand in hand.
Okay, I'm out of Halloween based humor. Onto the post!
black velvet cake ingredients:
• black cocoa powder: for the cake and the frosting. It's the key to an ultra bold flavor and rich color! No food coloring needed at all!
• baking powder + baking soda
• salt: to balance out the sweetness in the cake and frosting
• butter: for the cake and the frosting
• oil: I always use vegetable or canola oil - because they're usually what I have on hand. But you can use any neutral flavored oil you like. Other popular options include peanut and corn oil
• sugar: granulated for the cake and powdered sugar for the frosting
• white vinegar: a classic addition to red velvet cake, so it felt like a natural addition to this! The acid helps create even more bubbles and airiness in your cake when it reacts with the baking soda. Think: 9th grade science volcano, but make it delicious.
• buttermilk: none on hand? Here's how to make a buttermilk substitute yourself!
how to make black velvet cake:
Make the black velvet cake:
1. Whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside.
2. Cream together butter, oil, and sugar.
3. Whisk eggs into the sugar mixture, one at a time, followed by vinegar and vanilla.
4. Alternate whisking in dry ingredients and buttermilk. Mix in about half of the dry ingredients, followed by all of the milk. Finish off with the remaining dry ingredients.
5. Portion batter into cake pans & bake.
6. Cool. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack and set aside to cool completely before frosting.
Make the black cocoa buttercream frosting:
1. Cream together butter and powdered sugar.
2. Mix in cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, and milk.
Start with 4 tablespoons of milk. If the frosting is too stiff, gradually mix in more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches a pipe-able consistency.
3. Beat until smooth and fluffy.
4. Layer cake & frosting, and decorate! I decorated my cake with a few messy swirls and then piped BOO! on the front with some vanilla icing. Feel free to get creative with your decorating! The best part about a Halloween cake is that it can be as messy as possible and still look perfectly spooky.
black velvet cake storage:
To store just the black velvet cake layers (unfrosted), wrap each cake tightly with plastic wrap, making sure there aren't any visible gaps for air to get in. Store at room temperature for 2 to 3 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Keep in mind that this will reduce the shelf life of your cake after it's frosted. If you want to keep your cakes fresher longer, you can also freeze them!
Again, make sure to wrap each individual layer of cake tightly with plastic wrap, but this time, also wrap the cakes with a layer of aluminum foil on top to prevent freezer burn. Freeze for 2 to 3 months. To defrost frozen cake, set out at room temperature for a few hours or overnight in the fridge to thaw.
To store the frosted cake, it's best kept in the fridge. Cover with a cake server lid (if you have one). If you don't, and you're worried about covering the cake with plastic wrap and ruining your buttercream, chill the cake for 1 to 2 hours uncovered, or until the buttercream firms up, then wrap with plastic wrap.
This cake is best enjoyed at room temperature, so I recommend letting it sit out 30 minutes before serving. If you covered the cake with plastic wrap, it's best to peel it off while the cake is still cold or you run the risk of the buttercream sticking to it as it warms up.
what does black cocoa power taste like?
To explain how this whole cake tastes, it's important to go over the main star of the show: black ccoa powder!
Black cocoa powder has a very bold and strong flavor that's distinctly different from unsweetened and Dutch processed cocoa powders.
What's strange about black cocoa powder is that there are people who have said it tastes EXTRA chocolaty and others who say it doesn't actually taste like chocolate. My taste buds have a bit of an in between take on it.
I would say it definitely tastes less chocolaty than its pals: unsweetened and Dutch processed cocoa powder, but I would NOT say it doesn't taste like chocolate. It tastes chocolaty to me - like a bold, 70% chocolate bar, but much less bitter!
Salt and Baker explains what black cocoa powder is perfectly and in more detail if you're interested.
Can you substitute black cocoa powder for cocoa powder in this recipe?
Yes! You can swap out the black cocoa powder in this recipe for an equal amount of unsweetened or Dutch processed cocoa. The color and flavor of the cake will be slightly different (it'll be dark brown / reddish with more of a milk chocolate bar kind of taste) - still delicious though!
my number 1 tip for working with black cocoa powder...
I'm usually the LAST person to sift ingredients unless I absolutely have to. But black cocoa powder is more prone to clumping than Dutch processed or unsweetened cocoa powder, so I highly, HIGHLY recommend sifting!!
Check out these other recipes!
Spooky Black Velvet Cake Recipe
For the cake:
- 3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour, spoon and leveled
- ½ cup (40g) black cocoa powder, sifted *see notes
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick / 115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ½ cup (120mL) vegetable oil, or any neutral flavored oil
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 & ½ cups (360mL) buttermilk
For the black cocoa buttercream frosting:
- 1 & ½ cups (345g / 3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 cups (520g) powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 cup (80g) black cocoa powder, sifted
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 to 6 tablespoons milk
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of 3 (8 inch) cake pans, and line the bottoms with parchment rounds. Lightly dust the sides of the pans with flour, and set aside.
- Make the cake: In a medium sized bowl, add in flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine butter, oil, and sugar. Using an electric mixer fitted with the beater attachment or a whisk by hand, cream together the butter, oil, and sugar until well combined and the mixture is a pale color (about 30 seconds with a mixer on medium speed or 1 to 2 minutes by hand). It'll be a bit grainy - that's fine!
- Add eggs to the sugar mixture, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in your vinegar and vanilla.
- Alternate adding in your dry ingredients and buttermilk to the wet ingredients. Start by whisking in about half of the dry ingredients until relatively combined (a few streaks of flour are fine because it's going to get whisked 2 more times). Whisk in all of your buttermilk. Finish off by whisking in the remaining dry ingredients until you no longer see any streaks of dry ingredients. Take care not to over mix! The batter will be loose.
- Portion your batter evenly between your prepared cake pans. Bake the cakes in the center of your preheated 350°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean.
- Cool the cakes for about 10 minutes in the pans, then turn onto wire racks and remove the parchment bottoms. Allow the cakes to cool completely to room temperature before frosting! I also like to freeze the room temperature cakes for 20 minutes or so to make it easier to stack - but that's totally optional.
- Make the black cocoa frosting: In a large bowl, combine butter and powdered sugar. Using an electric mixer fitted with the beater attachment, mix together the butter and sugar on low speed until you no longer see any dry powdered sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high, and cream the butter and sugar together for 2 to 3 minutes, or until a pale off white color and fluffy.
- Add in the cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, and 4 tablespoons of milk. Mix on low speed again to incorporate, then turn the speed up to medium-high and beat for another 2 minutes, or until smooth and airy. If your frosting is too thick, gradually beat in more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches a frost-able consistency.
- Assemble! Lay one of your cooled cake layers on your serving platter, and spread about ¼ of the frosting on top. Top with another layer of cake and ¼ of the frosting. Layer on your final cake layer and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Decorate however you like and serve!