Amazing Halloween Cake Recipe!


Black Velvet Cake with Blackberry Buttercream

The original subject of this post was a wickedly sinful mini devil's food cake, and boy was it killer. But I am sad to report that immediately prior to its photo shoot, that devil met an untimely death. Not more than five minutes after it had been frosted, sprinkled, topped, and primped to confection perfection, I ungracefully tripped (cake in hand), sending that spooky baby devil's food cake crashing down to the floor. 

[Insert dramatic squishing sound here.]

However, this is one of those accidents that wound up being more wonderful than woeful, as it forced me to get back in the saddle (kitchen) and try, try again. When I began to re-mix the batter for the devil's food cake, I realized that I only had a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder left, thus making it impossible to recreate without another trip to the store, which wasn't happening. So, the moral of this potentially tragic cake story is that when the going gets tough, the tough (or the clumsy and lazy) get creative.

I pondered to myself as I began to lose hope. “What can I make to replace my devilish mini chocolate cakes that tastes just as delicious and still maintains a slight spook factor?” Oh the stress. Oh the drama. Don’t judge …   

Anyway, what happened next was nothing short of a spiritual intervention and I’d like to think it was the friendly ghost of that demolished chocolate cake throwing me a bone. Right as I was getting ready to throw in the (kitchen) towel, the answer came to me as clear as day: Black Velvet Cake.

Like the beloved red velvet cake’s raven-headed stepchild, Black Velvet Cake is slightly more scandalous and definitely more interesting. Plus, you don’t need a whole cup of cocoa powder to make it, as you did with my devil’s food recipe. Also, the fresh blackberries that I had stashed away in my freezer for a rainy day contributed to the fluffiest, most delicious buttercream frosting ever and in the end, I think maybe the death of that poor devil’s food cake was meant to be.

Whether I can thank my own resourceful creativity or the ghosts of devil’s food cakes past for this recipe’s inspiration will remain a mystery I suppose. However of one thing I am quite certain: this Black Velvet Cake is so good, it’s scary.

Happy Halloween, everybody!



Black Velvet Cake

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups sugar

2 tablespoons plus two teaspoons unsweetened regular or dark baking cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups canola oil

1 cup buttermilk

2 eggs 

1 bottle (1 oz) black food coloring (or you can combine equal portions of blue, red and yellow food coloring to achieve a black color)

1 teaspoon white vinegar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Blackberry Buttercream 

6 ounces fresh blackberries

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature (1.5 cups)

16-ounce package confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

½ teaspoon lemon zest



Black Velvet Cake

Preheat your oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Grease 3 (8- or 9-inch) round cake pans with butter and lightly flour.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the canola oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, white vinegar, and the vanilla with an electric mixer on low just until everything is blended. Gradually add the dry mixture and beat for 30 seconds (give or take) on medium speed, scraping the bowl if you need to. Pour 1/3 of the batter into each prepared pan.

Bake the cakes for 20 - 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for about 15 minutes in the pans and then transfer them to cooling racks. Cool completely.

Place 1 cake layer, rounded side down, on a serving plate/cake stand. Spread with enough frosting to cover the top and sides evenly, about 1/3 of the frosting (see recipe below). Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Spread with frosting to cover the top and sides (again, about 1/3 of the frosting). Finish with the third cake layer and spread the remaining frosting on the sides and top of cake. Smooth out the frosting to create a nice even layer all around the cake. Garnish as desired and enjoy.

Blackberry Buttercream  

Place the blackberries in a food processor or blender and process until you get a smooth puree. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl to remove the seeds. 

With an electric mixer, cream the butter until it is smooth and fluffy (about two – three minutes). Add the vanilla, zest and strained puree and mix until combined. Gradually add the powdered sugar, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically. Set aside until use.



Lauren McDuffie for

Lauren McDuffie for

I'm a food and travel loving freelance writer, blogger, and author who is enjoying a humorously nomadic existence with my family (currently, I live outside Washington DC). My blog, Harvest and Honey, is like a culinarily inspired love letter and savings account for all of my favorite foodie things.  


you may also like...