Velvet cake is a fan-favorite of all celebrations, functions, and Halloween parties. The Black Velvet Cake recipe brings a new approach with the choice of cocoa powder, as well as a rich and creamy chocolate marshmallow frosting. Fluffy, moist, and chocolaty, black velvet cake will leave you begging for more.
No matter what your favorite dessert is, it’s hard to resist a fudgy and velvety cake. There is just something about the combination in the cake batter that creates a unique texture that instantly melts in your mouth.
Normally, the combination of baking soda, vinegar, and buttermilk gives a brick-red color due to a chemical reaction. News flash, you can still customize your velvet cake with additional ingredients and some food dye.
The classic red velvet cake recipe incorporates dutch cocoa powder most of the time. Substitute natural dark cocoa powder, which is less acidic than detached, and you are one step closer to the dark side.
Of course, a velvet cake without frosting is like Sherlock without Watson. What could be a better complementary color for black than black itself? And, what harm would it do to overload this chocolate velvet cake with a fluffy chocolate frosting?
The secret to the perfect fluffy frosting is marshmallow creme. Without further ado; here is the recipe for Black Velvet Cake.
- FOR THE BLACK VELVET CAKE
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa 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 leftover, 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 it 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 butter knife, 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 as 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 appetite. * This recipe was originally published on 10/2011 by Jaclyn. Notes and photos updated on 09/2020.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 600Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 478mgCarbohydrates: 113gFiber: 1gSugar: 74gProtein: 7g
The most important tool for a black velvet cake is the mixer you use. The tricky part is that each ingredient has to be mixed with a different speed to ensure homogenous mixing without clumping.
As you can see in the recipe, you have to constantly adjust the mixer speed, from medium to medium-low, back to medium, and low. A stand mixer with a paddle attachment will help with the accuracy of the mixing speed.
I wouldn’t recommend using a dough hook or whisk attachment. The best option is the paddle attachment because it has a larger surface area, which makes the mixing of batter a smooth process. If you were to use a dough hook, a lot of the content would adhere to the edges of the bowl.
This recipe uses two 6” round pans in this recipe, but you are free to use any pan size between 4” and 16”. Also, you can use square pans, or even make cupcakes. The cups of batter and frosting needed will change depending on your pans size.
The best type of knife for leveling your cake layers is a serrated knife for smooth edges.
The Choice of Cocoa Powder
For this Black Velvet Cake recipe, the default option unsweetened dark cocoa powder because its taste has the perfect combination of bittersweet. You could use dutch-processed cocoa, but it won’t give you the same pungent chocolaty taste.
Also, you would need to add an extra teaspoon of black food coloring. There are people who use activated charcoal, but I haven’t personally tried it.
If you want to skip adding black food dye, you can opt for the black cocoa powder that will naturally color your cake batter. It will satisfy your appetite if you are looking for a more pungent chocolaty taste. The only issue is that it is hard to find it in regular grocery stores, but you can still order Wincrest black cocoa powder online on Amazon.
- You can technically swap buttermilk with regular milk in your cake batter, but I wouldn’t recommend it since buttermilk is one of the key ingredients for the moisture.
- If you don’t want to use vinegar, you can replace it with an equal amount of lemon juice.
- For the frosting, the best option is semi-sweet chocolate, but you can use any kind – dark, milk, or even white chocolate.
- Instead of the chocolate marshmallow frosting, you can frost your cake with the classic cream cheese frosting.
- If the chocolate marshmallow frosting is not enough to fulfill your sweet tooth (no judgements), you can add a second layer of crumb coat around the frost.
- While you are at it, go ahead and add streaks of edible gold paint around the sides!
If you have frosted the cake layers, you can store the cake in an airtight container, and keep refrigerated for up to five days. Remember to wait for 15 minutes before serving so that the frosting can soften a bit under room temperature.
If you haven’t frosted the cake layers, you can wrap them with plastic or aluminum foils and store them in the freezer for up to three months. When you eventually want to assemble them with the frosting, you will need to thaw them in the fridge part of your refrigerator overnight.
Frequently Asked Questions
A velvet cake usually has a smooth and fluffy texture due to the combination of baking soda with buttermilk and vinegar.
The main difference between a red velvet cake and a black velvet cake is the combination of ingredients in the batter. Naturally, the combination of cocoa powder, vinegar, and buttermilk creates a reaction that results in a red-tinted batter. In this recipe, we are putting extra cocoa powder along with black food-dye. Also, the chocolate marshmallow frosting is different from Red Velvet cake, which traditionally has cheese frosting.
I have to admit, baking Black Velvet Cake for the first time is tricky, but the end result is that much rewarding. Follow the steps without any rush, be precise in your measurement, and your cake will turn out perfectly!
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