Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. That’s maybe even more true since I’ve gotten into the world of cake-making and decorating. There are so many spooky, gory cake ideas out there as well as more cute Halloween cakes. I lean more towards the latter, so this felt like the perfect time of year for a sweet little black cat cake design! This scruffy kitty is somewhere between spooky and cute, with her overly large eyes and mangy fur. The best part is that this Halloween cake design is easy and fun to make. Her shaggy fur may be a little tattered, but she’s just the right mix of edgy and adorable for spooky season!
Feline Cake Design, Featuring the Shag Technique
I started decorating cakes in the summer of 2020. Since then, I have fallen down many a Youtube rabbit hole exploring ways to dress up cakes. One cake-decorating technique I kept encountering was the shag cake. Shag cakes can be used to make a fancy elevated cake. Here, “shag cake” translates to “fur cake,” but trust me, it works! And the best part is that this shaggy look comes together fairly quickly once you’ve made and dyed your frostings.
I also got a huge leg up on the shag cake technique thanks to an online class from Bon Vivant Cakes. If you love learning new ways to decorate cakes, I highly recommend taking a workshop from the owner, Emily Nejad. She’s funny, informative, and maybe best of all – her classes are all relatively affordable. I came away learning a new way to decorate a cake and had a fantastic time learning about her process. I also took the course one week during the pandemic, and it was just a nice way to learn a new skill without even leaving my couch!
Her go-to frosting is Swiss meringue buttercream, which I had never made before taking her class. I absolutely loved it. However, for this particular cake, I went back to my usual American buttercream. I made and used my own black buttercream recipe and applied some of the lessons I took away from my Bon Vivant Cakes for my black cat cake design.
Black Cocoa Powder for this Black Cat Cake
If you haven’t heard about it, let me introduce you to black cocoa powder, your new best friend in this recipe. And fun fact: This is the kind of powder in Oreos. So if you like those delicious cookies, you’re in the right place.
Black cocoa powder, as The Best Cake Recipes put it in this article, “is ultra-dutch processed, meaning it is treated with an alkaline solution to reduce acidity.” In other words, it’s less bitter. This makes its flavor and chemical properties different from the brown cocoa powders at your grocery store. However, black cocoa powder is easy to swap into many recipes.
This article from Serious Eats also has more in-depth info on different varieties of cocoa powder, if this kind of research is your thing. I know I could spend (….and I have sometimes spent…) days reading up on all of this!
The bottom line, though, is that black cocoa powder is delicious. It leads to a very yummy, intensely-flavored chocolate frosting.
Tools to make this Easy halloween cake design
This black cat cake design is easy to make, and I’ve included step-by-step photos. You’ll of course need a cake, and if you’re in a time crunch, whip up your favorite box mix from the store. Making black buttercream is an easy next step. Once you’ve done these two things, your cat cake design will come together in no time.
For tools, you’ll need four piping bags and at least three open circle piping tips. You’ll also need a large shag cake tip (like tip 234 from Wilton), a stand and/or hand mixer for making your frosting, and smaller bowls for mixing your frosting and food gels. I like Wilton food gel, though here I used Chef Master. I’ve heard great things about Americolor, too. Any of these (or another brand of food gel) should work just fine. I also recommend a cake stand or turntable for decorating cakes, though it’s not totally necessary. You just need to decorate your cake on whatever surface you plan to serve it on if you don’t have a stand or turntable.
Prepping to make this black cat cake design
Start by baking your favorite cake recipe or box mix, before making frosting. You’ll need about a cup and a half (or a quarter) of my vanilla buttercream recipe. You’ll almost certainly have leftovers, but it’s better to have too much frosting than too little. You can store excess in the freezer for up to three months. You’ll split it in half and dye half the vanilla frosting green and the other half pink using food gels.
You’ll also need a full batch of my black buttercream recipe, which makes about six cups of frosting and will fully cover this Halloween cake.
Next, draw or trace cat eyes and ears onto a piece of wax paper, and fit three piping bags with open round tips. I used tips 3, 5, and 8 from Wilton. Put all of your green frosting into one bag and pink frosting into another. Fill your third piping bag with about a quarter of your black buttercream. You can add any leftovers here back into your main frosting bowl, as the black buttercream will absorb any of these other colors pretty easily.
Pipe one generous coat of frosting on your cat’s eyes and ears on the wax paper before placing the sheet in the freezer to harden. This is how you make a buttercream transfer. You’ll trace these lines again with another coat to make the eyes and ears firmer so they’re easier to handle.
Stack and frost your cake layers before crumb coating your cake to hold the chocolate crumb in place. You’ll cover it all in “fur” anyways so the initial coat doesn’t have to be perfect.
Place cake in refrigerator for frosting to set and bring out your sheet of wax paper with the eyes and ears.
Bringing this Halloween cake design to life
Add another coat of buttercream to the eyes and ears so they’re more firm before returning them to the freezer for round two. Then, use the Wilton tip 234 to pipe fur around the base of your cake. Press your piping tip onto the cake and gently pull away. Do this in a repeated motion, starting at the bottom and working toward the top. Your shag will be messy and won’t hang properly if you go from top to bottom. Stop roughly halfway up the cat’s face to pipe the nose in the middle of the cake, again using a round, open tip and your pink frosting.
Create “glue” for your cat’s eyes. Take any of your bags of frosting and pipe large spots onto your cat in the area where you’ll place its eyes. Make sure the spots are smaller than the eyes so you don’t see any of the color popping through.
Do this next step quickly so as not to melt the buttercream with the heat from your hands. Pop the eyes off of the wax paper and press them into the frosting “glue.” Keep the ears frozen a bit longer while you complete a few more steps.
If needed, gently use the back of a warm spoon to smooth out any creases in your frosting.
Finish piping the fur and insert the ears with toothpicks behind them to offer support. I piped black buttercream onto them later so they’re not visible, but be sure to remove them before eating or serving this cake!
Finishing touches on this black cat cake
Use a food-safe paintbrush to touch up any areas that look messy or smudged. You might want to smooth out blemishes on the eyes and ears with very small amounts of black food gel.
If you wish, add some edible, food-safe glitter for extra pizzazz! I get mine from Bakell.
I hope you have a happy Halloween and fun time making this cake!Print
Black Cat Cake Design
This black cat cake design is ready for Halloween! This post will show you how to bring this easy Halloween cake idea to life!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours, including time to bake and decorate the cake
- Yield: 1 cake 1x
Vanilla frosting for the ears, eyes, and nose:
- 1 and 1/4 cup (150 grams) powdered sugar
- 1/2 stick (57 grams) butter
- 1 tsp (4 grams) vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- A few drops of pink and green food gel; add drops to reach your desired color
- Pinch of salt
- Drop of distilled white vinegar (or more) to cut back on sweetness
- 2.5 sticks (283 grams) butter
- 3/4 cup (80 grams) black cocoa powder
- 6 cups (750 grams) powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) heavy cream
- 1 tsp (4 grams) vanilla extract
- 6 drops of black food gel
- Pinch of salt (more or less to taste)
- Bake three 6″ cake layers using your favorite recipe or cake box mix.
- Make one batch of my black buttercream recipe as well as a small amount (about 1/4) of my vanilla buttercream by mixing the amounts above.
- Split your vanilla frosting into two bowls and dye one pink and the other green for the details on the cat’s nose, ears, and eyes.
- Draw or trace cat eyes and ears onto a piece of wax paper
- Fit three piping bags with open round tips. Put all of your green frosting into one bag and pink frosting into another. Fill your third piping bag with about a quarter of your black buttercream.
- Make a buttercream transfer by piping one generous coat of frosting on your cat’s eyes and ears on the wax paper before placing the sheet in the freezer to harden.
- Stack, frost, and crumb coat your cake layers. You’ll cover it all in “fur” anyways so the initial coat doesn’t have to be perfect.
- Place cake in refrigerator for frosting to set and bring out your sheet of wax paper with the eyes and ears.
- Add another coat of buttercream to the eyes and ears so they’re even sturdier and easier to handle. Place them in the freezer for round two.
- Use the Wilton tip 234 to pipe fur around the base of your cake, starting at the bottom and working to the top.
- Stop roughly halfway through to pipe your cat’s nose in the middle of the cake, again using a round, open tip.
- Create some “glue” for your cat’s eyes by taking any of your piping bags and colors to pipe large spots onto your cat in the area where you’ll be placing its eyes. Make sure the spots are smaller than the eyes so you don’t see any of the color popping through.
- Do this step quickly so as not to melt the buttercream with the heat from your hands: Pop the eyes off of the wax paper and press them into the frosting “glue.” Keep the ears frozen until ready to use.
- Gently use the back of a warm spoon to smooth out any creases in your frosting.
- Finish piping the fur and insert the ears with toothpicks for support
- Clean up any smudged areas around the eyes or ears with a food-safe paintbrush and very small amounts of black food gel.
- Add some edible glitter dust for extra pizzazz!
The tutorial for this cat cake is for a three-layer, 6″ cake.
Keywords: black cat cake, black buttercream, Halloween cake design