With this Death-By-Chocolate Halloween Cake is a perfect Halloween night and chocolate indulgence guaranteed! It's a three-layered dark chocolate cake frosted with dark chocolate buttercream and decorated with chocolate cake crumbs. By the way, have you tried my Halloween Cake Pops?
Notes on chocolate cake layers
- For this deep black color, you need to add some black food coloring. But because the cake is very dark on its own, you don’t need that much of it.
- You need to use dutch-processed cocoa powder for this cake. It makes the cake even darker than natural cocoa powder would do. But that’s not the only reason. Because there is baking powder and no baking soda in the cake you need to go with dutch-processed cocoa that the batter rises during baking.
- The batter will be very thick. So make sure that you spread it evenly into the pan that it has a flat surface.
The texture of the baked cake is wonderful. Rich, dense, and moist. It’s not an overly sweet cake and comes with a strong dark chocolate taste.
Notes on chocolate buttercream
- Make sure you use food coloring suitable for buttercream and icing. I recommend gel or paste food coloring mended.
- Use only high-quality semi-sweet chocolate bars from a brand you love. I prefer Ghirardelli, Guittard, or Lindt for this cake. 50-60% cocoa works best.
To create a super authentic and spooky graveyard look, we need something that looks like earth, right? Crumbled chocolate cake does the job perfectly.
You will have enough cake crumbles by cutting off the tops of the cake before frosting. Store the cut off tops uncovered at room temperature so that they lose a bit of moisture. It’s easier to get fine crumbs when the cake is a bit drier.
Then crumble the cake tops with your fingers into fine crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs on top of the cake to cover it completely. Press the rest of the crumbs with your fingers against the sides carefully. The cake should be covered on the top and around the sides completely. Reserve a few crumbs.
Place your decoration on top of the cake and sprinkle a few bones and skulls sprinkles in front of the tombstones. Sprinkle the remaining cake crumbs on top.
I used Wilton Tombstone Candy Molds and filled them with melted semi-sweet chocolate. After filling place them for about 15 minutes in the freezer.
I recommend to put a drop of oil into the molds and wipe them out with kitchen paper. This makes it even easier to remove the chocolate tombstones from the molds after freezing. Remove them by inverting the molds on a wax paper and lightly knock with the fingers on the molds that the chocolate tombstones fall out. Let chill for about 30 minutes.
Then write spooky words on your tombstone with white chocolate or icing (using a Candy Melts Piping Tip Set for example.), or use a candy decorating pen.
I also made a chocolate tree. Therefore, I drew melted chocolate on a wax paper with the tip of a spoon. I know there would be better methods doing this, but I didn’t want to have very accurate trees. I wanted them to look a bit strange and weird to create an even spookier look. Let dry at room temperature.
You can prepare the tombstones and the trees the day before decorating. I also did it the day before that the chocolate looks kind of aged. You know when chocolate gets warm and then cold again the oil comes out and creates a spotted and washed out look. This made the tombstones look old and weathered.
The decoration is up to you! Do whatever you like the most. You could also color the tombstones with food coloring which is suitable for chocolate. If you want to make them grey for example, you may want to use white chocolate or candy melts and color them.
You may also like Mirror Glaze Galaxy Cake, Rainbow Cake, Valentine's Day Cake, S'mores Cake, Chocolate Easter Cake, or Tiramisu Cake.
Death-By-Chocolate Halloween Cake Recipe
death-by-chocolate cake layers
- 2+¼ cups all-purpose flour (270g)
- ¼ cup dutch-processed cocoa powder (21g)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter, room temperature (113g)
- ½ cup canola or vegetable oil (120ml)
- 1 cup granulated white sugar (200g)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 vanilla bean* (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- 1 cup buttermilk (240ml)
- 1+½ cups semi-sweet chocolate, melted (255g)
- black gel or paste food coloring
- 1 cup butter (226g)
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted (240g)
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled (170g)
- black gel or paste food coloring
DECORATION: chocolate tombstones, trees, skulls, and bones sprinkles to your preference
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line the bottom and the sides of three 8" (20cm) baking pans with parchment paper. Lightly grease the sides of the pan with butter or oil that the paper sticks to the pan. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Make the death-by-chocolate cake layers: In a large mixing bowl with a stand or handheld mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat butter, oil, and sugar until creamy for about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla* and mix until fully incorporated. Alternately add dry ingredients and buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Stir just until combined. Add chocolate and stir just to combine. Add food coloring (amount depending on which food coloring you take – read instructions on the label) and stir to combine. The batter should be black. The batter will be very thick. Transfer to the prepared baking pans equally and spread evenly. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Don't overbake or the cake will be dry. Let cool to room temperature.
- Make the death-by-chocolate buttercream: Beat butter on medium-high speed until soft and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add powdered sugar and beat on medium-low speed until fully combined and smooth. Add chocolate and stir until creamy. Add food coloring and stir to combine. The buttercream should be black.
- Assemble the cake: Cut a layer off the tops of your cakes to create a flat surface. Transfer cut tops to a plate. Place uncovered on your kitchen counter. Place the first chocolate cake layer on a cake stand, turner, or serving plate. Spread about ¼-1/3 of the chocolate buttercream evenly on top of the cake. Repeat with the other two chocolate layers. Frost the outside and the sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Level the top and the sides with an offset spatula. Chill 3 hours in the fridge.
- While the cake is chilling, prepare the decoration. Read blog post above to read what I did and which tools and products I used to make the chocolate tombstones and the tree. The decoration is up to your preference. You can also prepare the decoration the day before.
- Decorate the cake: Remove the cake from the fridge and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes that the buttercream lightly softens. Then crumble the cake tops with your fingers into fine crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs on top of the cake to cover it completely. Press the rest of the crumbs with your fingers against the sides. The cake should be covered on the top and around the sides completely. Reserve a few crumbs. Place your decoration on top of the cake and sprinkle a few bones and skulls sprinkles in front of the tombstones. Sprinkle the remaining cake crumbs on top.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.
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Have you tried this recipe in a sheet cake style? I would like to make the surface larger for more headstones/graveyard things, but do not know how to convert pan size, temperature or baking time.
Unfortunately, I have not. It's best to check doneness with a toothpick, as the sheet cake layer will be a little flatter than one of my cake layers. The recipe fits a half sheet pan or simply double it for a full sheet pan. I hope that helps!