black velvet layer cake.

look at this cake!

isn’t it sinister? isn’t is spooky? don’t you just want to eat the whole thing in one sitting?

i honestly can’t think of a more perfect cake for halloween. black velvet cake! with chocolate marshmallow frosting, no less!

black velvet: it’s not just a name for a horse anymore! or kitschy paintings of kittens! or a ridiculous, cheesy ’80’s song!

wait. the horse was black beauty, not black velvet. just kidding.

also, that song is stuck in my head now. go listen to it. it’s ridiculous.

alright, let’s talk about this cake. aside from the fact that it’s uber-black (totally metal!), it’s also effing delicious. italics for emphasis and seriousness. it’s that good.

most scrumptious version of red velvet cake i’ve ever made. true story. you know how sometimes red velvet cakes are super-gorgeous to look at, but once you take a bite you realize it’s just a good-looking heap of dry crumbs?

not this cake. it’s got beauty and brains! well, good looks and a moist crumb, rather. same difference, really.

wouldn’t this layer cake make a lovely centerpiece for a halloween party? especially if you light the sparkler right before you cut and serve it. drama! anticipation! sparkly flames! what’s not to like?

theatrics: people love ’em. give the people what they want.

i’m pretty sure you would do a better job frosting this cake than i did. my frosting skills aren’t the best, and my cake layer leveling skills are downright laughable! thankfully i can make a damn tasty cake, so people are pretty forgiving when i serve them an off-kilter cake that’s completely covered in sprinkles.

i love this black velvet cake! i really do. it’s simple to make, the unfrosted cake layers freeze beautifully, and the flavor is absolutely pitch-perfect. top it off with deeply chocolate, fluffy marshmallow icing? i’m swooning. hold me!

seriously though, i want this cake to be my life partner. i want to marry it. don’t tell my fiance.

a word of caution: this cake will absolutely turn your mouth black. no joke. totally worth it, i promise.

i don’t mean to be bossy, but make this cake. make a gorgeous layer cake. make cupcakes. make mini cupcakes. whatever you do, just make this cake!

it’s really quite a spooktacular dessert.

black velvet layer cake

Yield: one four layer cake

Prep Time: 15 minutes


for the black velvet cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened coca powder (not Dutch process!)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste (substitute an equal amount of pure vanilla extract for the paste!)
3 tablespoons freshly brewed coffee, at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup half & half
1-2 tablespoons black food coloring (depends on how dark you'd like your cake to be!)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

for the chocolate marshmallow frosting

one 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme (also known as fluff!)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream, depending on how thick you'd like your frosting to be
black food coloring (you can find this at your grocery store in the baking aisle! and how much you use depends on how dark you'd like your frosting...i used about 2 tablespoons to get a very dark charcoal gray/black frosting!)
sprinkles or nonpareils, for decorating (optional)


for the black velvet cake

preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with a rack in the center.

butter and flour two 6" round cake pans and set aside.

sift the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a small bowl and set aside.

in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitted on, combine the butter and sugar.

cream on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until pale in color and fluffy.

scrape down the sides of the bowl. with the mixer on medium-low, add the eggs one at a time until incorporated.

add the vanilla and coffee, and mix on medium speed until combined.

combine the buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl or glass.

with the mixer on low, beat in the dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with the buttermilk liquid mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

once all the ingredients are combined, turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

with the mixer on low, add the black food coloring a little at a time until the desired shade of black is achieved.

in a small bowl, combine the baking soda and vinegar. it's going to fizz up a bit, so be prepared!

with the mixer on medium, immediately add the baking soda/vinegar mixture to the bowl and beat for 10 seconds.

turn the mixer off and deposit the cake batter evenly between the cake pans. there might be a bit left over, so make some cupcakes while you're at it!

bake at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes for the cake layers, and 18-24 minutes for the cupcakes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake/cupcake comes out clean.

remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the cakes/cupcakes from their pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

once the cake layers are completely cool, you can frost and assemble your cake. you can also wrap each layer well with plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil, and store in a freezer-safe plastic zip-top back for up to three months.

to thaw a frozen cake, simply remove it from the freezer and transfer to the fridge to thaw overnight.

for the chocolate marshmallow frosting

using a spatula, scoop the marshmallow creme out of its' container and into a large bowl.

add the unsalted butter, confectioners' sugar, melted chocolate, and vanilla extract.

mix with the spatula until all ingredients are well combined.

add the heavy cream, a tablespoon at a time until your frosting is a smooth, spreadable consistency. you don't want it to be runny, just smooth and easy to spread!

assembling the layer cake

using a serrated knife, trim the domed part of the cooled cake layers off. cut each layer in half so you have four even layers.

dab a quarter-sized amount of frosting in the center of a cardboard cake round. if you don't have a cake round, you can trim a paper plate to be slightly smaller than the cake layers and use that instead.

place one layer onto the cake round, pressing down gently.

deposit approximately 3 tablespoons of frosting onto the layer and using an offset spatula or butterknife, spread the frosting onto the cake layer in an even layer. try to leave about 1/4" border around the edge of the layer.

stack another layer on, making sure the layers are lined up and even.

repeat with the frosting and stacking until all four layers are stacked together.

add about 1/4-1/2 cup of frosting to the center of the top layer and smooth it out over the top and onto the sides of the cake.

the marshmallow frosting is pretty thick, so you might be able to get away with not doing a crumb coat, especially if you plan on covering the sides of the cake with sprinkles like i did!

smooth the frosting over the cake as evenly as you can. the top and sides should be relatively smooth!

decorate the cake however you'd like, and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to allow the cake to firm up.

serve and enjoy!

the frosted cake will keep, stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. just take it out about 15-20 minutes before serving!

cake recipe adapted from bon appetit

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45 Responses to “black velvet layer cake.”

  1. #
    Bev Weidner — October 26, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Heeeeey now, Black Velvet is REALLY GOOD SONG. :)

    Let’s eat this cake together, m’kay?

  2. #
    Liz — October 26, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Oh, gosh, this is the way I want to celebrate Halloween! What a fabulous cake!!!!

  3. #
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen — October 26, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Wow, that’s gorgeous!

  4. #
    Alison @ ingredients, Inc. — October 26, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    super cool!

  5. #
    Kathy - Panini Happy — October 26, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    That is AWESOME! You’re making me want to throw together a Halloween party so I’ll have an excuse to make this right away. :-)

  6. #
    Cookie and Kate — October 26, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I love the sparkler in your cake! It’s beautiful. I’ve never been a fan of red velvet cake but I’m sure you’re right—it looks effing delicious!

  7. #
    Katie from Katie's Cucina — October 26, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    You have to teach me how to make a good layer cake. I’ve tried multiple times and they always turn out like the leaning tower of Pisa! lol. I’m digging all of your Halloween recipes and wish I had all the energy (after decorating) to bake amazing Halloween inspired dishes!

  8. #
    chris — October 26, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Such a perfect vision for this week. You hit the nail on the head for sure. I would love to see a party of guests smile for a picture after eating it!

  9. #
    Kathryn — October 27, 2011 at 4:44 am

    I’m so impressed that you managed to take a picture of a sparkler! I know I would be faffing with my camera so much that I’d miss the crucial moment. That aside, I really want this cake. I’m a bit on the fence about red velvet cake but this looks so moist and lovely that I just want to dive head first into it.

  10. #
    Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray — October 27, 2011 at 7:13 am

    Gorgeous! Love the sparkler!

  11. #
    Jill — October 27, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Wow, this looks really good and like Rachel above, I love the sparkler! How did you get your sprinkles on there?

  12. #
    Kulsum at JourneyKitchen — October 27, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Oh how spooky yet beautiful can a cake get. Marvelous!!

  13. #
    Erin — October 27, 2011 at 9:50 am

    That cake truly is awesome for Halloween. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black velvet before!

  14. #
    Bianca @ Sweet Dreaming — October 27, 2011 at 9:56 am

    This sounds so delicious and looks so festive! :)

  15. #
    DessertForTwo — October 27, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Oh so beautiful!
    have you heard of black cocoa powder? I’ve been wanting to try it. I wonder if I used that, would I still need to use the black food coloring.
    anyway, happy halloween!

  16. #
    Vanessa — October 27, 2011 at 11:57 am

    That cake and your photos are stunning! Lovely. <3

  17. #
    Krista {Budget Gourmet Mom} — October 27, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    That looks amazing! What a wonderfully sophisticated dessert for Halloween!

  18. #
    Kathryn O — October 27, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Your cake looks soooo decadent! Perfect for Halloween, although I don’t think there’s ever a time when this wouldn’t be good!

  19. #
    marla — October 28, 2011 at 9:40 am

    This cake is stunning! Love the sparkler too :)

  20. #
    Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen — October 28, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    it’s really really black ….. !

  21. #
    Elise — October 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    This looks and sounds delicious! I love the dark color!

  22. #
    alex — October 30, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    i love this….perfectly spooky

  23. #
    Jenn — October 30, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    I love this cake and I love your cakestand!

  24. #
    Nutmeg Nanny — November 1, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    I love love love this cake! Also, where did you get that cake stand?

  25. #
    naomi — November 8, 2011 at 12:14 am

    GORGEOUS and I’m sure every bit as divine as you have written it.

  26. #
    Katie — November 8, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Oooh this is SO cool jaclyn! I totally want to have some.

  27. #
    Stay-At-Home-Chef — May 11, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Oh my goodness…is it close enough to Halloween for me to make this scrumptious looking cake?! I wonder if black cocoa powder would work for amping up the darkness of the cake…

  28. #
    Fine Chocolate Reviews — May 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Lovely. Pinned to my chocolate recipes pinboard on :)

  29. #
    Cat — June 4, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    I’m confused by the instructions regarding mixing the buttermilk and vanilla. You just added the vanilla and coffee to the mixture. Then the half & half is in the ingredients but missing from the instructions. Could it be you meant for us to mix the buttermilk and half & half instead of vanilla?

  30. #
    RecipeNewZ — June 10, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    I found this post though Pinterest. The photo was so beautiful that I just had to come here to read the recipe! Love it! And love your site :-).

    I would like to invite you to share this post (and your other posts :-) ) on a new photo based recipe sharing site that launched in May. The idea is simple: all recipe photographs are published within minutes of submission. And, of course, the images link back to the author’s site.

    It’s called RecipeNewZ (with Z) –

    I hope you get a chance to visit and to share some of your delicious posts with our viewers. It would be a pleasure to have you on board :-)

  31. #
    Meghan — July 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Such a great idea! I have to try this. Even though it’s July.

  32. #
    Laura Laskowski — July 7, 2012 at 10:22 am

    for the 6″ cake pans – do you use the 6″ x3″ ? I have the 6″ x 2″ and i want to make sure i don’t have too much batter and too little pan…

  33. #
    Emiyl — July 7, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Just found you through Pintrest!
    Love the cake!!!! I’m going to make it for Halloween this year, but instead of chocolate in the frosting I’m going to use white chocolate and tint it orange!!!!
    And the sparkler is just brilliant!!!!

    Thank you!!!

  34. #
    Mrs. T — July 12, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Does the coffee give it a coffee taste at all? Or since it’s such a small amount it goes unnoticed. I’m not a coffee but would like to try baking this cake. Thnx

  35. #
    Helle Broch Nielsen — February 23, 2014 at 9:19 am

    I’ve used one of your fantastic pic’s on my blog with a link to your site. Usually we don’t make black velvet cakes in Denmark – but now we do ;-)
    In danish the word “jordemoder” means ‘midwife’ and “sort fløjl” means ‘black velvet’.
    With love from Helle

  36. #
    Joshi — August 12, 2014 at 3:43 am

    Wow this cake looks seriously awesome!!! I would really like to bake it for my boyfriend’s birthday the day before Halloween. But he hates coffee! What would you suggest to replace the coffee with? Thanks for sharing this super cake with the world!

  37. #
    Erin — October 17, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    I also found this cake through pinterest. It is so lovely! Has anyone tried it with a different frosting? Fluff might me a bit too sweet for me..

  38. #
    Caketastic — October 23, 2014 at 1:18 am

    I like how only one of your reviewers caught the double vanilla error. I assume that the second vanilla is where the half and half is supposed to be? I made it as written and it still tastes fine. Just super dense.

  39. #
    Garnet — May 15, 2018 at 12:11 am

    You could certainly see your skills within the work you write.
    The arena hopes for more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe.
    All the time follow your heart.


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