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