Fans of chocolate and spooky season, get ready! These moist black velvet cupcakes are the perfect way to celebrate Halloween or make a delicious, moody little cupcake any time of year, really. From the pitch-black cupcake to the homemade black buttercream on top, people will be so impressed with this festive treat that’s easy to make it home. Add some orange sprinkles for extra seasonal flair!
Why You’ll Love this Recipe for Black Cupcakes
- Delicious black cocoa powder – If you like the taste of Oreos, thank Dutch processed cocoa powder because that’s a key ingredient in them! Also known as alkalized cocoa powder, this cocoa powder has been treated with an alkalizing agent. That means its taste is less acidic. The powder gives the cupcakes their rich black color and a deep chocolate flavor without the bitterness of natural cocoa powder.
- No special equipment required – I’d go out of my way to make this recipe because it’s so darn good, but the best part is that you don’t need to turn on an electric mixer for making the cupcakes! Use a whisk to mix all the ingredients in two bowls that you eventually combine. It couldn’t be simpler.
- Perfect Halloween party cupcakes for a seasonal treat – If you love spooky season and want an impressive yet easy dessert to bring to Halloween parties, this one is a winner.
Black Velvet Cupcake Recipe
About an hour before starting to make these black cupcakes, bring your large eggs and buttermilk out of the refrigerator. Place them on the counter so they reach room temperature.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F and line a standard muffin tin with 12 paper liners.
In a large mixing bowl, combine boiling water, espresso powder, and black cocoa powder. Set aside.
To a medium-sized separate bowl, add and whisk together all-purpose flour, baking soda, and kosher salt. Set aside.
In your bowl of water, espresso powder, and black cocoa, add and mix together your granulated sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, buttermilk, distilled white vinegar, and canola or vegetable oil.
A third at a time, mixing between each pour, add your dry ingredients to your large bowl of wet ingredients. Mix and scrape the sides of the bowl until all ingredients are fully combined.
Pour and evenly spread the cupcake batter into your prepared cupcake liners. Put cupcake pan in preheated oven and bake for 16-18 minutes or until cupcakes bounce back at the touch of your finger.
Let cupcakes cool in pan about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Tips for Perfecting this Black Cupcake Recipe
- Set out your ingredients before diving into the recipe! Organizing ingredients and setting them all out on the counter before starting a recipe is a huge help. This makes it harder for you to accidentally omit a step or key ingredient. And you won’t have to make as many trips back and forth to your pantry!
- Let your cupcakes cool before frosting them. If your cupcakes are still warm when you pipe buttercream onto them, the frosting may melt. Patience is important!
- For a more flavorful cupcake, eat it the next day. The added time allows the flavors to meld together longer, resulting in a stronger taste.
Making Rich Black Cocoa Buttercream
My post on black buttercream breaks down the easy steps for achieving black frosting without using tons of black food gel coloring (though we use a bit!).
Below are recipe and ingredient highlights, with the full steps listed in the recipe card below.
You’ll combine butter, black food coloring, black cocoa powder and dark cocoa powder in a bowl with powdered sugar, vanilla extract, heavy cream, and salt. Mix for about 5 minutes in total.
To intensify black frosting color, melt 1/4 cup (roughly 50 grams) of frosting at a time in a microwavable bowl for five seconds on medium power. Add this melted frosting back into your mixing bowl and turn the mixer on again to combine and create a deep color.
In total, I used about 3 drops of black food dye.
Pipe Frosting onto Black Cupcakes
Transfer buttercream to a piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice.
Swirl frosting onto moist chocolate cupcakes and top with sprinkles if desired!
While these are perfect Halloween cupcakes, they look stunning on their own with no sprinkles. Or maybe dress them up with gold and white pearls – the possibilities are endless here.
I really love pairing these cupcakes with my black buttercream frosting. This frosting tastes like an Oreo and is delicious here! They’re also good with the vanilla buttercream in my small batch vanilla cupcake recipe.
In this recipe, we use a combination of oil and buttermilk to create a super moist and soft cupcake.
Black velvet cupcakes get their name from the black cocoa powder in them. The word “velvet” describes the texture of the cupcakes, which is typically moist, tender, and smooth. They’re reminiscent of red velvet cupcakes, though this recipe requires some black gel food coloring instead of red food coloring.
Storing Black Velvet Cupcakes
These cupcakes are best served at room temperature. Consume within two days if left at room temperature or eat within 5 days if kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Black cocoa cupcakes also freeze well!
- You can freeze the undecorated cupcakes in an airtight container for about 3 months.
- You can also freeze them with frosting on them. Let them come to room temperature before serving.
- You can freeze the frosting in advance, too. When it comes to room temperature, you will need to gently rewhip it for a few minutes to achieve the original texture. Be prepared to add heavy cream (or milk) to make it creamier.
My Best Baking Tip
If you’re not already, use a kitchen scale for accuracy in baking. Weighing your ingredients and writing or following a recipe using a standard metric like grams ensures consistency. You may use a set of measuring cups, but the problem is that yours and mine could be quite different. That can result in noticeable discrepancies in the end product between what each of us is baking.
I highly recommend investing $30 or less in a kitchen scale.
More Dessert Recipes
If you’re looking for more fall recipes, then I bet you’ll love these mini pumpkin muffins. They’re easy to mix in just a bowl (no equipment required!).
Or if you’re interested in Halloween recipes, give these cute pumpkin sugar cookies a try. The dough has pumpkin spice in it, and a thick and delicious buttercream coats the tops of them.Print
Black Velvet Cupcakes for Halloween
Topped with homemade black buttercream, these black velvet cupcakes get their rich flavor from black cocoa powder. They’re perfectly spooky for Halloween!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Frosting Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 18 minutes
- Total Time: 75 minutes
- Yield: 12 cupcakes 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Cuisine: American
- 1 tsp espresso powder
- 2/3 cup (55 grams) Black cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup (160 grams) boiling water
- 1 1/3 cups (150 grams) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 3/4 cup (160 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 T vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp white vinegar
- 1/2 cup (115 grams) buttermilk, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (105 grams) canola oil
- 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (55 grams) black cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup (30 grams) natural cocoa powder
- 2 1/2 cups (325 grams) powdered sugar
- 4 T heavy cream, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- About 3 drops of black food gel to intensify color
- Pinch of salt (more or less to taste)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a standard muffin tin with 12 paper liners.
- In a large bowl, combine boiling water, espresso powder, and black cocoa powder. Set aside
- To a medium-sized bowl, add and whisk together all-purpose flour, baking soda, and kosher salt. Set aside.
- In your bowl of water, espresso powder, and black cocoa, add and mix together your granulated sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, buttermilk, distilled white vinegar, and oil.
- A third at a time, mixing between each pour, add your dry ingredients to your large bowl of wet ingredients. Mix until ingredients are moistened and fully combined.
- Pour and evenly spread the batter into your prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until cupcakes bounce back at the touch of your finger.
- Let cupcakes cool in pan about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Black Buttercream Instructions
- Combine your unsalted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, heavy cream, both cocoa powders, and salt. Mix on a low speed for about 1 minute before increasing to medium-high speed for 2-3 more minutes. Stop your mixer and scrape down the sides of your bowl toward the center so everything combines evenly.
- Add your food dye before mixing on medium speed for another 1-2 minutes. Frosting’s color will deepen to a light black, almost charcoal, color.
- To further darken buttercream, take approximately 1/4 cup (or 50 grams) at a time of your frosting. Heat it in a microwavable bowl for five seconds on medium power. Add this melted frosting back into your main bowl and turn the mixer on again to combine. Continue to heat small amounts of frosting at a time and add it back to your bowl until you’ve achieved a deep black color. I do this twice and then let it rest overnight on my counter, at room temperature.
- Put frosting into piping bag fitted with tip of choice and decorate cupcake tops!
Keywords: black velvet cupcake, Halloween cupcakes, black cupcakes, cupcake decorating, black buttercream