Black Night Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Spooky! Halloween nights are dark and spooky, and this cake with pitch-black buttercream was made for just such a night.

A cake like this is actually very easy to make. I used a yellow butter cake recipe and added orange food coloring, since orange and black are the classic colors for a Halloween cake. The cake is filled and covered with black buttercream, purple shards, and a few Halloween sprinkles.

I made a double batch of my Chocolate American Buttercream recipe, tinted black with black food coloring. (The ingredients below are the doubled recipe.)

And don’t forget Halloween sprinkles! I started with a Halloween sprinkle mix from Wilton that includes candy eyes, then added some black, orange, and green sixlets along with some silver and purple jimmies, and black glitter, all edible of course.

To manage time, I often make the cakes and frosting the day before, then wrap tightly and refrigerated overnight. The next morning take the frosting out of the refrigerator and allow enough time to come to room temperature. Then layer and fill the cakes, add a crumb coat, then complete the frosting and decorations.
Recipe type: Dessert | Butter Layer Cake | Black Buttercream | Halloween Cake
Serves: 8-Inch layer cake
Small amount of vegetable shortening and flour for preparing pans
Cake Batter:
  • 3 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk, preferably whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • About ½ teaspoon orange food coloring. Tip: I used ½ teaspoon of AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste, Orange
Black Buttercream (makes about 6 cups:)
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 7 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar, sifted before measuring
  • 6 tablespoons whipping (heavy) cream
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • About 2 teaspoons super-black food coloring. Tip: I used 2 teaspoons of AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste, Super Black
  • About 1 cup, 6 ounces, Purple vanilla candy melts. Tip: I used Merckens Orchid Confectionery Coating Wafers.
  • Halloween sprinkles. Tip: I used a combination of a Halloween sprinkle mix from Wilton that includes candy eyes, black, orange and green sixlets, silver and purple jimmies, and black edible glitter.
  • Black Night Cake Decorations
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three 8-inch round layer cake pans; lightly grease the pans with shortening and dust with flour. Tip: to make baked cake easier to remove from pan, lightly grease the pan, line with parchment paper, and then lightly grease the top of the parchment paper and dust with flour. Use cake strips around the pans to help ensure the cake rises evenly. Tip: Make a cake strip with a length of aluminum foil long enough to encircle the pan with a little overlap. Fold the strip lengthwise until it is 2 to 3 inches wide. Wrap the strip around the outside of the pan and secure it with a metal paper clip or tape.
Cake Batter:
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir the milk and vanilla together. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color. With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale-yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugar, 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.
  4. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the milk mixture, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and milk mixture, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended.
  6. Add the orange food coloring and stir to thoroughly distribute the color in the batter. Tip: it is OK to start with just a few drops of color at first. Then add more color as needed. I added ½ teaspoon for this recipe.
  7. Bake: Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a small offset spatula or the back of a large spoon. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pans on a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes then remove cake from the pans and place the cake on the wire cooling rack to finish cooling completely before frosting and decorating.
Black Buttercream:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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: Start with just a small amount of color, 1 teaspoon, and see if it is the color you desire. Then add more color as needed. I find that 2 teaspoons are perfect for this recipe to achieve a pitch-black color.
  4. Continue beating for another 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high to high speed to make the frosting ultra-light and fluffy.
  5. Let the buttercream sit 30 to 60 minutes before using to allow the color to fully develop.
  1. Place one of the cake layers on a cake plate. Using an offset spatula spread about 1 cup buttercream over the layer. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last cake layer on top.
  2. Black Night Cake Layers
  3. Crumb coat the cake by covering the sides and top of the cake with a thin layer of the buttercream. Refrigerate the cake until the crumb coat is firm, about 30 minutes. Tip: the crumb coat is a thin layer. Don’t worry if the cake shows through in places, it will be covered again with the final layer of buttercream.
  4. Black Night Cake
  5. When the crumb coat is set, cover the sides and top of the cake with additional buttercream, reserving about 1½ to 2 cups of buttercream to pipe swirls on top of the cake.
  6. Black Night Cake
  1. Make the purple curled shards: Place the colored wafers in the top of a double boiler over hot water. Melt, stirring gently with a rubber spatula. Tip: Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with 2 inches of water and bringing it to a simmer. Turn the heat off and place a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass bowl on top of the simmering water, the upper pan should not touch the water.
  2. Pour the melted wafers out onto a large sheet of parchment paper, and use an offset spatula to spread it into a thin layer. Place another sheet of parchment on top, then roll the parchment up into a cylinder, and secure it with a rubber band. Refrigerate until the wafers have completely set and hardened. Once it is set, remove from the refrigerator, unroll the parchment, and the wafers will shatter into curled shards as you unroll it.
  3. Black Night Cake Decorations
  4. Black Night Cake Decorations
  5. Black Night Cake Decorations
  6. Use a pastry brush to brush a very small amount of reserved frosting onto the bottom of each shard, add a few sprinkles and black glitter, and press the shards into the sides of the cake. Place the shards as close or as far apart as you desire.
  7. Black Night Cake
  8. Press some of the black, orange, and green jimmies and candy eye decorations randomly into some of the empty spaces.
  9. Black Night Cake
  10. Prepare a piping bag with a large star tip and pipe swirls around the top of the cake. Tip: I used a 1M size tip for the swirls.
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  12. Place a few more shards into the top of the cake to complete the decorations.
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  14. Black Night Cake
  15. Black Night Cake
Recipe Notes
Pan: Three 8" Round Layers Pan Prep: Greased and floured Oven Temp: 350° Storage: Cover and refrigerate

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