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Black Velvet Cake

Updated on October 27, 2017
DixieMockingbird profile image

Jan has been cooking and writing about food for over twenty years, and has cooked on multiple television stations, including Food Network.

The Perfect Halloween Treat

Luscious dark chocolate cake, simple buttercream, dark chocolate ganache, and homemade marshmallow ghosts make a perfect Halloween treat.
Luscious dark chocolate cake, simple buttercream, dark chocolate ganache, and homemade marshmallow ghosts make a perfect Halloween treat.

It's Boo-licious.

We've always gone a little overboard at Halloween—partly because I've had a houseful of kids for so long, and partly because it's also my daughter's birthday, and because it's really just an excuse to have fun. All of those are perfectly valid in my opinion!

Because we love layer cakes so much, celebrations don't seem quite complete without one. So I decided to come up with something extra special for Halloween this year—and this black velvet cake fits the bill perfectly.

The recipe looks a little intimidating at first—but don't worry. It really isn't—the big tricks are to combine the different steps in separate bowls first. After that, it's truly just a matter of mixing everything together in order. I will say, take the time to scrape down the sides of your bowl as you work, making sure that all your ingredients are fully incorporated at each stage. This ensures when you come down to the final step —the coloring—the food coloring will mix in completely, ensuring that the final cake is a deep, gorgeous, luscious black all the way through.

I really think you'll love this cake—everything about it is just right, from the color to the flavor to the moist texture. For even more fun, try out the little marshmallow ghosts!

Black Velvet Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 ounces black food coloring
  • Optional - buttercream frosting, dark chocolate ganache, marshmallow ghosts

Black Velvet Cake Directions

  1. Start by preparing three 8-inch cake pans by spraying them with cooking spray and lining them with parchment paper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350F°.
  2. Pour boiling water over dark cocoa powder, and whisk well until you have a very loose, smooth paste. Set aside to cool while you prep the other ingredients.
  3. Crack eggs into a small bowl and add two teaspoons of vanilla. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  5. In a separate large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as you work.
  6. Add half of the flour mixture and beat well, then half the chocolate mixture. Mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you work, then repeat with remaining flour then chocolate. Stir in food coloring.
  7. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake at 350F° for approximately 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Allow cakes to cool in their pans for ten minutes, then invert onto wire racks to cool completely. Frost however you'd like - I used Homemade Buttercream Frosting, then topped it with dark chocolate ganache. The little marshmallow ghosts were for a Halloween treat!

Black Velvet Cake

Black velvet cake is gorgeous dark chocolate, and here it's frosted with simple buttercream, and finished with dark chocolate ganache. You could also use an orange or purple frosting for more Halloween punch.
Black velvet cake is gorgeous dark chocolate, and here it's frosted with simple buttercream, and finished with dark chocolate ganache. You could also use an orange or purple frosting for more Halloween punch.

Prepare the Cake Pans

Prepare cake pans by coating them with baking spray, and lining them with parchment paper. Just trace around the bottom of the pans and cut out circles. You can also buy precut parchment circles in specialty stores.
Prepare cake pans by coating them with baking spray, and lining them with parchment paper. Just trace around the bottom of the pans and cut out circles. You can also buy precut parchment circles in specialty stores.

Make a Paste

Whisk together the boiling water and cocoa powder until smooth. You'll have a very loose paste. Allow this mixture to cool as you prepare the other ingredients. Whisking occasionally helps it cool faster.
Whisk together the boiling water and cocoa powder until smooth. You'll have a very loose paste. Allow this mixture to cool as you prepare the other ingredients. Whisking occasionally helps it cool faster.

Add Vanilla Extract to the Eggs

Crack the eggs into a separate small bowl. Check for shells and add the vanilla extract. Set aside while you cream the butter and sugar together.
Crack the eggs into a separate small bowl. Check for shells and add the vanilla extract. Set aside while you cream the butter and sugar together.

Whisk Together Dry Ingredients

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Set aside while creaming together the butter and sugar.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Set aside while creaming together the butter and sugar.

Cream the Butter and Sugar Together

Cream together one cup of butter and 2 1/4 cups of sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy, about five minutes, before adding the eggs one at at time.
Cream together one cup of butter and 2 1/4 cups of sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy, about five minutes, before adding the eggs one at at time.

Add Eggs One at a Time

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as you work. This helps make sure the batter is silky smooth.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as you work. This helps make sure the batter is silky smooth.

Add Half the Dry Ingredients

After beating in the eggs, add half the flour mixture and mix well. Working in stages makes it easier to fully incorporate all the ingredients well.
After beating in the eggs, add half the flour mixture and mix well. Working in stages makes it easier to fully incorporate all the ingredients well.

Add Half the Cocoa Mixture

Add half of the cocoa mixture and continue mixing, before repeating with the remaining flour mixture, then the last of the cocoa mixture.
Add half of the cocoa mixture and continue mixing, before repeating with the remaining flour mixture, then the last of the cocoa mixture.

Add the Food Coloring

While not strictly necessary to the cake, the food coloring does give the final cake a gorgeous, rich, dark color. I use the gel type of food coloring, and I really like the results.
While not strictly necessary to the cake, the food coloring does give the final cake a gorgeous, rich, dark color. I use the gel type of food coloring, and I really like the results.

Divide Batter Between Pans

Divide the finished cake batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake at 350F for about 35-40 minutes.
Divide the finished cake batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake at 350F for about 35-40 minutes.

Bake Until Centers are Set

Bake cakes until a cake tester (or butterknife!) inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes at 350F.
Bake cakes until a cake tester (or butterknife!) inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes at 350F.

Cool on Wire Racks

Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for ten minutes before inverting them onto wire racks and removing the parchment papers to cool completely before frosting.
Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for ten minutes before inverting them onto wire racks and removing the parchment papers to cool completely before frosting.

Any Frosting You Wish!

You can use any type of frosting you wish, but I personally love a simple buttercream. I finished this cake with dark chocolate ganache.
You can use any type of frosting you wish, but I personally love a simple buttercream. I finished this cake with dark chocolate ganache.

Check Out the Tutorial!

How to Make the Marshmallow Ghosts

© 2017 Jan Charles

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    • DixieMockingbird profile image
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      Jan Charles 4 weeks ago from East Tennessee

      Rachel - I've been seeing your kind comments forever and couldn't figure out how to respond - thank you so very much!

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 4 weeks ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      Hmmmm! Very interesting, Black Velvet Cake. It's pretty and looks so yummy. I love the decorations. Thanks for sharing.

      Blessings to you.