Learn tips on how to get a super deep black buttercream frosting without a ton of food coloring or staining your teeth. This black icing is perfect for Halloween cakes and treats.
I remember the first time I tried to make black buttercream frosting. It was a disaster. It turned out grey and dull. I begged my husband, “please run to the store and literally buy as much black food coloring as they have on the shelves.” I kept adding black food coloring, but my frosting never turned the right color. Plus, the taste was awful.
Black Buttercream Frosting Challenges
If you are having these issues:
- Black frosting that looks grey and dull
- Black icing that doesn’t taste good
- Frosting that just isn’t quite dark enough
- Black frosting that stains your teeth
- Your store ran out of 42 bottles of black food coloring (just kidding, sort of)
- You want to use more natural ingredients in your frosting
But before we get started, how cute is this candy corn cake? I have been obsessed with Rachel Fujihara’s creations at @frostedfujicakes. She makes the most amazing cakes so I wanted to design this cake inspired by one of her Halloween cakes. Halloween is my all time favorite holiday and this black buttercream frosting comes in handy for all your Halloween baking projects.
I’m going to share with you some tips to get a super dark black buttercream frosting. Ready for all my dark secrets?
Tip #1: Start with a Chocolate Buttercream
The chocolate buttercream is a great base for a black buttercream because it’s already darkened by the cocoa powder. I use my classic chocolate buttercream frosting recipe to start the black frosting. Make sure you use a good quality Dutch-processed cocoa powder.
Dutch-process cocoa means they wash the cocao beans with a potassium solution to neutralize their acidity. It makes also makes a richer darker cocoa powder. So, skip out on the generic tin of cocoa powder in the back of your cabinet and get yourself the good stuff. There are a lot of good brands like Ghirardelli and King Arthur.
Tip #2: Add Black Cocoa Powder
Next…the secret ingredient. Black cocoa powder. It’s cocoa powder that has been heavily Dutch processed. It is a natural ingredient that is going to save you from adding ton of black food coloring. I use about 1/4 cup for this recipe. It has a strong, almost bitter coffee taste to it so it’s best to use a little bit at a time and use it with your regular Dutch-processed cocoa powder.
I use the Van Houten black cocoa powder, but I’m not sure it is available everywhere. You can also use King Arthur’s or there are a few brands on Amazon if you can’t find it in your grocery store which can be difficult.
Tip # 3: Use a Tiny Bit of Gel Food Coloring
You will want to use a tiny bit of black gel food coloring to get the true black color. This will help the frosting start to take on the deep black color. My favorite gel food coloring is the Americolor soft gel paste. One squirt is really all you need.
Tip #: Make it Ahead of Time
So the biggest thing I’ve learned is you must have patience. The longer this black frosting sits, the darker it gets. If you want a true black buttercream frosting, you’ll want to make this at least 24 hours in advance.
Cover the bowl of frosting with plastic wrap and leave it sit overnight. It can sit on the counter or in the fridge. If you put it in the fridge, be sure to let it come to room temperature. Beat the frosting to get it smooth before working it onto the cake.
This buttercream frosting can be made a few days in advanced. It is really hard for me to start and finish a cake on the same day. By making the frosting ahead of time, it helps to break up the project in manageable tasks.
I’ve been using this black frosting for all my recent Halloween treats. And, now you have the tips to get a super dark black frosting. So go forth and make all the spooky (or not so spooky) stuff like this candy corn cake, Halloween fault line cake, and spooky spider web cake. I can’t wait to see what you create!
Black Buttercream Frosting
- 2 lbs sifted powdered sugar (907 g)
- 1/2 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder (45 g)
- 4 sticks room temperature butter (450 g)
- 1/2 cup milk (125 ml)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup black cocoa powder (22 g)
- 1-2 drops black gel food coloring
- In a large bowl, sift the powdered sugar. Then add the dutch-processed cocoa powder (not the black cocoa powder) and set it aside.
- Beat the room-temperature butter on medium-high (4-6) for about 6-7 minutes or until the butter is lighter in color and the consistency of mayonnaise. Scrape down the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula.
- Next, lower the mixer speed to low (1) scoop the sifted powdered sugar into the bowl a bit at a time.
- When you have about half of the powdered sugar, add half of the milk.
- Then add the remaining powdered sugar and the rest of the milk.
- Add the vanilla.
- Add the black cocoa powder and the food coloring. On low, mix until it is incorpoarated.
- Turn the mixer to medium speed (4-6) and beat for at least two minutes.
- The frosting will not be super black at this point. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep overnight on the counter or the fridge. Within 24 hours, you should see it a dark black color. If it is still not black, you can add a tablespoon more of the black cocoa powder or stir it and wait an hour or so. It will continue to darkener the longer it sits.