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Black Velvet Cake Recipe | The Recipe Critic

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Black Velvet Cake Recipe | The Recipe Critic

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Come to the dark side with this gorgeous black velvet cake! Not only is it a showstopper and perfect for any Halloween party, but supremely moist and delicious to boot! Each bite is loaded with the most amazing cocoa flavor.

Looking for more desserts to take your Halloween party to the next level? Try these Halloween cupcakes or donut hole pops! These easy witch hat cookies are another great option as well.

Hero image of a whole black velvet cake on a serving platter.

Black Velvet Cake Recipe

You guys. This black velvet cake is seriously one of the most stunning desserts I’ve ever seen! It’s the perfect centerpiece for any Halloween party, and the great thing is, it tastes as good as it looks! What gives the black velvet cake its color isn’t food coloring, but black cocoa powder. For all of you cookies and cream lovers out there, (myself included) this is the same stuff used in Oreo cookies!

Even though this cocoa powder is dark in color, it doesn’t taste like dark chocolate and has a very mellow flavor. Again, think Oreos here. So you’ve got this amazing cocoa flavor, and then the cake itself is a dream. It’s ultra-moist thanks to the sour cream and buttermilk added. And then the ermine frosting on top and in between the layers? It’s rich, smooth, and will have you falling in love at first bite. Whether you’re making this for spooky season or just want a gorgeous gothic dessert on your dinner table, black velvet cake is the way to go.

Cake and Frosting Ingredients

I know it looks like a lot, but you’ll have most of these ingredients in your pantry! The only thing you’ll need to pick up is some black cocoa powder, which is pretty easy to find online. I got mine from Amazon!

  • Granulated Sugar: A must-add to give your cake sweetness.
  • Dark Brown Sugar: I like to add this in addition to the granulated sugar to give the cake a deeper sweetness.
  • Vegetable Oil: Adds moisture to the black velvet cake batter.
  • Large Eggs: The cake’s trusty binding agent.
  • Vanilla Extract: Helps to enhance the overall flavor of the black velvet cake.
  • Black Cocoa Powder: The star of the show here! This is what gives the cake its black color and Oreo-y flavor.
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: To add a little extra chocolatey goodness to the cake.
  • All-Purpose Flour: For structure.
  • Baking Soda and Baking Powder: You need both so your black velvet cake rises properly.
  • Salt: Just a pinch to boost all of the flavors.
  • Buttermilk: The acidity in buttermilk makes the texture of the cake extra tender.
  • Sour Cream: Another ingredient that makes the cake nice and tender! If you’ve never tried making homemade cakes with sour cream, here’s your sign to!
  • Hot Coffee: This doesn’t actually add coffee flavor, but helps to deepen the chocolate flavor of the cake.

Black Ermine Frosting

  • Granulated Sugar: Gives the frosting sweetness.
  • Black Cocoa Powder: So your frosting has a nice deep color and more of that delicious chocolatey flavor.
  • Flour: Helps to give the frosting a bit of structure. This makes it easier to frost.
  • Milk: Adjusts the consistency of the frosting.
  • Unsalted Butter: To give the ermine frosting some tasty richness.
  • Vanilla Extract: For deeper, warm flavor.
  • Salt: Just a pinch is all you need!

How to Make Black Velvet Cake

Gather up those ingredients and get ready to make a cake that everyone will be talking about! And once they get a taste of it, they’ll be wanting a second slice.

  1. Preheat Oven, Prepare Pans: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with pan spray and add a parchment round to the bottom. Spray the parchment with pan spray and set aside.
  2. Sugar Mixture: Add both sugars and vegetable oil to a large mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer or the paddle attachment until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Flour Mixture: In a medium bowl, whisk together the black cocoa powder, regular cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet in 3 increments while mixing on low speed. Once all the dry ingredients have been added, mix on medium speed until fully combined.
  4. Add Buttermilk and Sour Cream: Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the buttermilk and sour cream. Mix until combined. Add the hot coffee and mix until combined.
  5. Bake: Divide the batter evenly into the two prepared cake pans and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the tops of the cakes spring back when gently pressed and a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
  6. Cool: Let the cakes cool for 5-10 minutes before inverting them on a cooling rack. Let cool completely before serving.

To Make the Frosting:

  1. Heat: Add the sugar, cocoa powder, flour, and milk to a pan. Cook over medium heat while whisking constantly until it is a thin-pudding consistency, about 10-12 minutes.
  2. Chill: Remove from the heat and transfer to a heat-proof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 40 minutes
  3. Whip the Butter: Add the room-temperature butter to a stand mixer and whip with the whisk attachment for about 8 minutes, until the butter is light and fluffy.
  4. Combine: Add the flour mixture to the butter one scoop at a time until it is all incorporated
  5. Add Vanilla, Mix: Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and switch to the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla and salt and beat on medium-high for 10-13 minutes, until smooth and fluffy.

Making Black Velvet Cupcakes

For cupcakes, fill cupcake wrappers 2/3 of the way full and bake for 25-30 minutes. You should end up with 18-20 cupcakes.

4-photo collage of the cake batter being mixed together.

Baking Tips

Here are a few extra tips and tricks to set you up for success! You’ll love how your black velvet cake turns out.

  • Sift Your Cocoa Powder: Be sure to sift the black cocoa powder before you measure it out for the cake, otherwise, it’ll clump together in the batter.
  • Why Black Cocoa Powder is Important: It has to be black cocoa powder, not regular cocoa powder or Dutch process. Black cocoa powder is more alkalized than Dutch process cocoa, which gives it a darker chocolate flavor. It also changes the way it interacts with leavening agents, which is what dictates the amount of baking soda and baking powder needed.
  • Can I Skip the Coffee? Coffee is used in this recipe to enhance the chocolate flavor, not to add coffee flavor. If you don’t want to use coffee you may replace it with hot water instead, but the chocolate flavor of the cake will be less intense.
  • What Non-Stick Spray to Use: When using pan spray on the cake pans, the best kind for cakes is one with flour in it. Alternatively, you can use a regular pan spray and dust the pan with flour. I highly recommend not skipping the parchment round in the bottom of the pan.
  • Use a 9×13 Pan: Instead of two 8-inch cake pans, this cake can be baked in a 9×13 for 45-50 minutes. Resist the urge to open the oven too soon, which may cause the cake to fall flat.
  • Chill Your Layers: For easier frosting, wrap the cooled cake layers in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge or freezer overnight. Frost the cake while the layers are fresh out of the fridge.

Serving a slice of black velvet cake.

Storing Leftover Black Velvet Cake

It’s unlikely you’ll have any leftovers of this cake, (it’s just so good!) but just in case, here’s how to keep them fresh:

  • Leftover Cake: Store leftover cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days, or on the counter for up to 3 days.
  • Freezing: The cake layers may be baked and frozen ahead of time. Wrap them individually in 3-4 layers of plastic wrap and then place each layer in a plastic freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Closeup of a slice of cake served on a small white plate.

Try These Other Halloween Recipes!

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Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with pan spray and add a parchment round to the bottom. Spray the parchment with pan spray and set aside.

  • Add both sugars and vegetable oil to a large mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer or the paddle attachment until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the black cocoa powder, regular cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in 3 increments while mixing on low speed. Once all the dry ingredients have been added, mix on medium speed until fully combined.

  • Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the buttermilk and sour cream. Mix until combined. Add the hot coffee and mix until combined.

  • Divide the batter evenly into the two prepared cake pans and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the tops of the cakes spring back when gently pressed and a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

  • Let the cakes cool for 5-10 minutes before inverting them on a cooling rack. Let cool completely before serving.

Frosting

  • Add the sugar, cocoa powder, flour, and milk to a pan. Cook over medium heat while whisking constantly until it is a thin-pudding consistency, about 10-12 minutes.

  • Remove from the heat and transfer to a heat-proof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 40 minutes

  • Add the room-temperature butter to a stand mixer and whip with the whisk attachment for about 8 minutes, until the butter is light and fluffy.

  • Add the flour mixture to the butter one scoop at a time until it is all incorporated

  • Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and switch to the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla and salt and beat on medium-high for 10-13 minutes, until smooth and fluffy.

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.



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