Is it possible to make black velvet cake without cocoa powder?


Kurt Olsen

This black velvet cake is created with black cocoa powder and a dash of buttermilk to give it the traditional velvet cake flavor, then topped with rich black chocolate frosting and no food coloring is required.

This dessert is incredible. If you’ve never used black cocoa powder, you’re missing out. It seems to have a darker chocolate flavor, but it does not. It has more of an Oreo taste in my opinion and it’s just so good.

There’s no need for black food coloring either. The black cocoa will naturally darken it on its own.

Wide image of sliced layer cake made with dark chocolate on a white plate.This black chocolate cake is ideal for Halloween, birthday celebrations, or any other occasion when you want a one-of-a-kind layer cake. Add little gold sprinkles, a gold drip, or edible gold leaf and some gold candles to really make it fancy.

Basically, this cake is very similar to a red velvet cake, but instead of using just a tiny bit of conventional cocoa powder, you’ll use a little more. black cocoa powder and it’ll have a little more chocolatey taste.

Pin graphic with chocolate layer cake on a plate with fork and text.

Ingredient Notes:

Now let’s talk about just some of the ingredients that are in this black velvet cake. (The printable ingredient list is included in the recipe card below.)

All-purpose flour: This recipe asks for normal all-purpose flour, so there’s no need to worry about using a specialty flour like cake flour.

Black cocoa powder: This is the cake’s main attraction. It is not the same as unsweetened cocoa powder. It’s also not dark chocolate, and it lacks the taste of dark chocolate.

Black cocoa powder is essentially Dutch process cocoa powder, which is alkalinized cocoa powder.

It’s not super strong in flavor like you’d think. It tastes like an Oreo cookie, in my view.

Unsweetened natural cocoa powder: So you might ask why we’re adding in another type of cocoa powder and that’s because black cocoa powder actually isn’t super chocolatey. To obtain a more chocolaty flavor, we’ll need to add some natural cocoa powder.

Buttermilk: Yes, buttermilk is a key component in velvet cakes since it brings out the other flavors and creates a moist cake with beautiful texture.

Oil and butter: We’ll use both vegetable oil and butter in this cake. Oil will pump up the moist factor and butter will give it great flavor.

Large slice of black velvet cake on a white plate.

How to make this layer cake:

Let’s talk about how to make a black velvet cake with black velvet buttercream frosting. (Printable directions are included in the recipe card below.)

Step 1:

You’ll start by making the cake. Go ahead and set out the buttermilk and eggs ahead of time so they can come closer to room temperature before mixing the batter.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter and flour two 8-inch round, 2-inch-deep cake pans.

Two greased and floured cake pans.

Step 2:

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, both cocoa powders, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside after thoroughly mixing with a whisk.

Dry cake batter ingredients in a white bowl.

Step 3:

In another bowl, add the buttermilk, oil, softened butter, vinegar, vanilla and eggs. Set away after thoroughly whisking.

Liquid cake batter in a white bowl with a whisk.

Step 4:

Add the liquid ingredient combination to the dry ingredient mixture and mix on medium speed just until the ingredients are mixed. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again until well combined.

Be very careful not to mix too long or the cake will turn out dense and dry. When the ingredients are thoroughly blended, stop mixing.

Step 5:

Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking pans and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Black velvet cake batter poured into two pans.

Step 6:

Set the cake layers on wire racks to cool for approximately ten minutes before turning out and removing the pans to cool fully before assembling the cake and applying buttercream icing.

Two layers of dark chocolate cooling on a wire rack.

Step 7:

While the cake layers cool, prepare the icing. In a large mixing basin, combine the butter, salt, and vanilla extract. Mix on medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.

Step 8:

Add both cocoa powders and beat on low until combined, then on medium until well incorporated. Scrape down the edges of the basin and stir one more.

Step 9:

Mix in 3 cups confectioner’s sugar. Beat on low until combined, then on medium until fully incorporated.

Step 10:

Add in 2 tablespoons of milk plus the last 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar and mix on low until combined, then on medium until fully incorporated. Scrape down the edges of the basin, then stir one more. (If it’s still too thick, add another tablespoon of milk and stir.)

Step 11:

Check the consistency of your buttercream, and if it’s still too thick, add a tablespoon of milk at a time, mixing after each addition.

If you want the To make the buttercream a darker black, add a few drops of black gel food coloring. , although it’s not usually required since the black cocoa powder is already rather dark and looks to deepen as it sits on the cake.

Black frosting in a white bowl with a spatula.

Step 12:

Add the frosting to the cooled cake layers and decorate as desired. Enjoy!

Slice of layer cake made with dark chocolate with a fork on a white plate.

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Contact Us

For more information or to make comments and suggestions, please contact:
Kurt Olsen
Dairy Development Coordinator, Missouri Department of Agriculture
Phone: (573) 291-5704
E-mail: [email protected]