This beautiful black cake is made without synthetic dye and needs no mixer - just a whisk and bowl. The color comes from black cocoa powder, giving it a deep, smoky flavor reminiscent of Oreo cookies.
Here’s my black layer cake filled with marshmallow cream and frosted with my black buttercream. Check out the texture and crumb on this cake; it's super moist and closely textured, which gives it a super fudgey and deeply chocolate feel. You're going to want to make this cake for anyone in love with Oreos.
In this post, I will only show you how to make my black cake layers. The black buttercream is in another dedicated post, which you can see here. That is a more involved recipe, and it’s better if you read up on how to make it rather than summarizing it in this post.
The marshmallow cream is located in the description of this YouTube video. I haven't yet written a dedicated post here for that yet, but you can watch the vid and follow the written instructions underneath.
Black cocoa powder is the star of this cake and is the main ingredient used in classic Oreo (and Hydrox) cookies. If you’ve ever thought about an Oreo’s flavor, it is very unique. It’s smoky and sweet and has a slightly alkaline taste. Black cocoa is made via the alkalization of natural cocoa, which changes its color, flavor, solubility, and pH. This ingredient is hard to get in stores, so I buy mine online. It's the Cocoa Trader brand, which is super dark and tasty. (See here to buy on Amazon)
Dark chocolate lends another level of chocolate flavor. I use Trader Joe’s Dark Pound Plus bar, but you can use any dark chocolate. Dark chocolate offers a bit of sweetness and fat from the cocoa butter and a rich chocolate flavor to the cake.
Brown sugar brings a molasses-rich sweetness to this cake. I love the smoky flavor paired with chocolate cakes. You can use either light or dark.
Kosher salt is a flavoring agent. Remember to use half the volume indicated in my recipes if you use fine salt.
Boiling water is the primary liquid contributor. We need it to be boiling hot because we bloom the cocoa powder with it at the beginning of making the batter. It precooks and slightly gelatinizes the cocoa starch particles, giving the cake a deeper chocolate flavor.
Canola (or vegetable) oil is the main fat for this cake and gives it a smooth and rich texture.
Sour cream ups the fat level and increases the batter's acidity, so it’s not too alkaline.
All-purpose flour (or plain flour) is best for this cake. Most of my chocolate cakes (except for my chiffon) use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour because the batter tends to be slightly fatty. The all-purpose flour offers more structure for the cake.
Baking powder is the leavening agent for this cake. It will allow our cake to rise into that lovely fluffy texture.
Egg yolks and whole eggs are both used in this recipe to bring moisture and structure.
(This is a visual tutorial for making the black Oreo cake layers. The black buttercream recipe is located in another post, here.)
Step 1. Preheat oven.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C)
Step 2. Prepare pans.
Butter or oil the insides of three 6" cake pans and line the bottoms with a circle of parchment paper.
Step 3. Bloom cocoa powder.
Black cocoa powder contains many elements from the cacao pod, including starches which will give out more flavor when they swell in hot water (3a), so add that to a bowl along with chopped dark chocolate, brown sugar, salt, and boiling water (3b). Whisk until thoroughly combined (3c).
Step 4. Whisk in all other ingredients.
Whisk in the fats (oil and sour cream) (4a), dry ingredients (flour and baking powder) (4b), and eggs (4c).
Step 5. Pour batter into pans.
Step 6. Bake and cool cake layers.
Step 6. Remove and wrap cake layers.
I like to remove my cakes while slightly warm to preserve moisture. I usually remove the cakes from their pans, peel off the parchment paper, trim the tops (7a) and wrap them in plastic (7b).
Make sure your cake layers are completely cool to the touch before assembling into your layer cake.
The recipe below is just for the cake component of this layer cake. If you’re looking for the black frosting, you’ll need to go to another blog post that explain things in more detail. For this size of cake, you’ll need the 4.5 cup recipe.
Or you can use any other type of frosting that I have in my Cakeculator. You can go here and select “Oreo Chocolate” for the cake flavor, and “3 layer 6 inch round” for the pan size (that’s the size of cake you see in this post, but feel free to use any other size) and then choose the frosting of you choice.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You can perfectly replicate all my cake and frosting recipes using gram measurements. Weighing is the most accurate way to bake and I use it exclusively.
For American bakers, I have converted grams to estimated volumes (cups, teaspoons, etc.), which are not as accurate and may have awkward proportions, but they still work.
This is the OXO scale I use on a daily basis. If you’re interested in other tools I use for my baking, I’ve compiled a list here.
I talk about the marshmallow fluff in the beginning of the video but if you skip to the 5:20 mark in the video, I start assembly.
*Black cocoa powder is natural cocoa that has been alkalized, which changes specific properties of the cocoa, including its solubility, flavor, and color. It's tough to find in stores, so I buy mine online. I use the one from Cocoa Trader (see it on Amazon here). King Arthur Baking also has great black cocoa (see it on Amazon, here), but it has a warmer brown tone in the black cocoa than Cocoa Trader. Also - try always to measure cocoa powder by weight if you can. The powder is so fine that getting the correct volume measurements is tricky.
**Chocolate pieces are hard to measure using volume (cups, etc.), so I only use weights for chocolate pieces in my recipes. In my recipes, my dark chocolate is usually either Trader Joe's Dark Pound Plus bars or Ghirardelli. Other bakers have told me that chips work too, but I have yet to try that.
I built this site for the curious home baker. I'm a huge science + tech nerd; you'll feel right at home if you like exploring and experimenting in the kitchen too.
Here you can build cakes with my Cakeculator and find recipes to accompany the videos from YouTube, Tiktok, and Instagram.
I have lots of things to share... I hope you have fun around here!