The first time I ever attempted making black buttercream, I ended up with a gray soupy mess. No matter how much black food coloring I used, I could never seem to achieve a black buttercream.
I figured it was simple right? Start by making the best buttercream icing. Add in your food coloring. Voila! Black buttercream frosting.
Mmm, so wrong.
Why bother telling you my buttercream mishaps? So you can learn from them of course!
Making black buttercream is not hard. You just need to know a few tricks so you can avoid a grayish hot mess and achieve this instead…
How To Make Black Buttercream Frosting
First, you want to start by making a basic buttercream. You could start with my recipe for the best buttercream icing. It’s a basic easy recipe that uses butter, powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. If you want to try your hand at a more skilled buttercream, you could try making swiss meringue or italian meringue buttercream.
Next, you want to make this buttercream brown. Wait, aren’t we making black buttercream? Yes, yes we are. But go with me for a second. We want to get this buttercream close to black before we start trying to add in our food coloring. I learned the hard way there was not enough black food coloring to change it to black on its own. By starting with a brown base as our buttercream, we only need a little bit of coloring to then make it black.
If we didn’t make it brown first, we run the risk of making our buttercream too soupy before we ever achieve a black color.
So make your buttercream brown a few ways:
- Add in cocoa powder (I add in about a 1/2 cup for each batch)
- Add in some cooled, melted chocolate
- Add in some brown food coloring
If flavor isn’t an issue, I prefer adding in cocoa powder or chocolate. Basically you are making a chocolate buttercream with the first two options, and adding your black gel food color after. But if you don’t want chocolate, then you can opt for the brown food coloring to keep it a vanilla buttercream.
You could also try flavoring the vanilla buttercream in a myriad of ways as well. Download my Buttercream Cheatsheet below for 13 fun creative ways to flavor your buttercream.
Ok, so now that we have a brown colored buttercream, we can proceed with making it a black buttercream. I suggest you use a gel food coloring as opposed to a liquid food coloring. A gel food coloring will not change the consistency of your buttercream like a liquid one can.
My two favorite black food colorings are these:
Add in a little bit at a time with a toothpick and stir to combine. If it’s not black enough, you can add more. But know that your buttercream will darken over time. So if you’re not sure if you have added enough, let it sit for 30 minutes and then see how dark the color is. If it’s still not dark enough, then you can add more. Keep doing this until you achieve the perfect inky black color you were going for.
Then maybe ice some chocolate cupcakes, top with some fun sprinkles and have one spooky Halloween.
If you liked this tutorial and want to know more, then be sure to get my Buttercream Basics guide to master making buttercream and learn to decorate cupcakes like a pro!
Happy baking everyone!
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