First start with a basic chocolate buttercream recipe; it’s much easier to get from brown to black then if you start with a white buttercream and hope to get it to black. I start with my Chocolate American Buttercream recipe, a very delicious recipe that is so easy to make.
Next add black food color, but you need to use an extra-black food color, not just basic black. I use AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste Food Color in Super Black. Using a gel food color won’t affect the texture of the buttercream, however, using liquid colors can make the buttercream soupy.
Last, give the black color time to develop, the color actually deepens if you let it sit 30 to 60 minutes before using. Or make the buttercream the day before, cover tightly, and refrigerate overnight before using. The next day bring it back to room temperature and whip it again to a fluffy texture with an electric mixer. Make sure and allow enough time for the buttercream to come to room temperature, depending on the temperature of you kitchen this could take from 1 to 4 hours.
The photos below are from my Black Night Halloween Cake.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3½ cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar, sifted before measuring
- 3 tablespoons whipping (heavy) cream
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- About 1 teaspoon super-black food coloring. Tip: I use 1 teaspoon of AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste, Super Black
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, place the butter and beat on medium to medium-high speed 3-to 4 minutes until it is smooth, creamy, and light in color.
- Add the cocoa powder and salt; beat until smooth. Add 1 cup of the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Reduce the speed to medium-low, add the heavy cream and vanilla and beat until well blended. Add the remaining powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time; beating after each addition until the frosting is smooth and creamy.
- Add the black food color and mix until the color is fully distributed. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly. Tip: it is OK to start with just a small amount of color, less than 1 teaspoon, and see if it is the color you desire. Then add more color as needed. I find that 1 teaspoon is perfect for this recipe to achieve a pitch-black color.
- Continue beating for another 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high to high speed to make the frosting ultra-light and fluffy.
- Let the buttercream sit 30 to 60 minutes before using to allow the color to fully develop.