These adorable ghost cupcakes have a tender black velvet cupcake base topped with cream cheese frosting and candy eye balls for an easy Halloween treat!
So what's the difference between black velvet and red velvet cupcakes? Essentially black velvet is just red velvet but with black cocoa powder! They both contain buttermilk and vinegar which help keep the cupcakes super moist and tender. And they're both topped with tangy cream cheese frosting!
You just need a few ingredients to make these black velvet ghost cupcakes with cream cheese frosting!
- Vegetable oil - I use oil instead of butter in these cupcakes to help keep the cake super moist and delicious! You can also use canola oil or a neutral olive oil.
- Cake flour - I always use cake flour in my cupcakes because it makes them super soft and tender, but all purpose flour also works great!
- Black cocoa - Black cocoa is one of my favorite secret ingredients! Black cocoa is just cocoa powder that has been heavily dutched, so it gives you a rich black color but doesn't stain! You don't have to use black cocoa powder for these cupcakes, but regular cocoa just won't give you the same spooky effect, so I highly recommend it! I've bought it from The Cocoa Trader on Amazon and from King Arthur Flour. Both are great!
- Buttermilk - If you don't have buttermilk you can use either regular whole milk or sour cream! You can also make your own buttermilk by using ½ cup milk and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice or white vinegar!
- White vinegar - You can leave out the vinegar if you prefer, but it adds a little extra tang to the cupcakes and reacts with the cocoa powder!
- Candy Eyes - These are optional, but I love adding little candy eye balls to the tops ghost cupcakes!
How to Make Black Cocoa Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, black cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla. Then whisk in the granulated sugar, buttermilk, and white vinegar.
Gently mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. The batter will be thin.
Pour about ¼ cup of batter into each cupcake liner (they should be about halfway full).
Bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack. Let the black cocoa cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
Frost with cream cheese frosting and garnish with candy eye balls!
Tips for the Best Baked Goods
Use room temperature ingredients! Always make sure ingredients like butter, eggs, milk, yogurt, etc. are at room temperature before baking (unless the recipe indicates otherwise)! This ensures they'll incorporate into the batter more easily and leads to overall better texture. Remove all ingredients from the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before baking for best results.
Measure your flour correctly! It's most accurate to use a kitchen scale, but if you're measuring by volume you want to spoon and level! Fluff up the flour a bit with a spoon, and then spoon flour into the measuring cup. Once it's overflowing, use the back of a knife to level it off. Don't ever pack flour into the measuring cup or you'll end up with way too much! Improperly measured flour can lead to dry, dense baked goods. [Measure cocoa powder the same way!]
Use an oven thermometer! Just because your oven says it's 350, doesn't mean it is! If you oven hasn't been calibrated recently, it can be as much as 30 degrees off, which will negatively affect all baked goods from cakes to macarons! An oven thermometer is the easiest/cheapest way to ensure your oven is always at the proper temperature.
Make sure you baking powder is fresh! Baking powder is important for helping baked goods rise properly, but it has a relatively short shelf life once opened, so it's one of the few items I never buy in bulk! To test if your baking powder is still fresh, add a small amount to boiling water. If it bubbles it's still good to use, but if not it's time to toss it!
Cupcake Decorating Tips
For chocolate cupcakes, I like to use these chocolate brown cupcake liners for a more seamless look!
Make sure you let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting!!
For these big cream cheese frosting swirls on these black velvet cupcakes, I use the large round tip from this decorating kit. The tips are much larger than standard sizes and so fun for decorating cupcakes!
All you need to decorate these black velvet ghost cupcakes are little candy eyes! You could also use chocolate chips as the eyes!
These cupcakes will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days once assembled. To make in advance, store the cupcakes and frosting separately for up to 5 days in the fridge.
I recommend using black cocoa powder if you can find it for a fun, spooky black color in the ghost cupcakes, but you can use dutch cocoa powder instead!
It's like red velvet cake, just with black cocoa instead! Black velvet cake has rich chocolate cake that is complimented by tangy cream cheese frosting!
Tips for Success!
For best results I always recommend using weight measurements (especially when baking) because it's the most accurate. Kitchen scales are super affordable and also reduce the number of dishes you have to do! However, all my recipes also include US customary measurements for convince. Use this chart to convert measurements for common ingredients!
Substitutions: In all my recipes, I've included substitutions that I know will work, but I cannot guarantee results if you substitute ingredients that I have not recommended. [For example, granulated sugar and honey are indeed both sweeteners but they have very different properties so they can not always be swapped 1:1. Using honey in a cookie recipe that calls for granulated sugar will yield a giant mess.] In the recipe card you'll find links to the specific ingredients/brands that I use.
A note on salt: I almost exclusively use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt because it's the best all-purpose salt for cooking and baking. If you're not using kosher salt, consult this handy guide for a conversion chart! When in doubt, if you're using table salt just reduce the amount by half for baked goods. When cooking, I prefer to under-salt because you can always add more! If you've over-salted, adding a little bit of acid (like lemon juice) can help.
More Halloween Recipes!
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Black Velvet Ghost Cupcakes
Black Velvet Cupcakes
- 1 cup cake flour, substitute all purpose flour
- ½ cup black cocoa powder, substitute dutch cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup buttermilk, substitute whole milk + 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
Black Velvet Cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, black cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla.
- Then whisk in the granulated sugar, buttermilk, and white vinegar.
- Gently mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. The batter will be thin.
- Pour about ¼ cup of batter into each cupcake liner (they should be about halfway full).
- Bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack.
- Let the black cocoa cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Make sure both your butter and cream cheese are fully at room temperature or else it won't combine smoothly and you'll end up with cream cheese lumps.
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
- Add in the powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla and beat on low speed until fully combined.
- Then increase the speed to high and whip for 4-5 minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy.
- Add in 1-2 tablespoons of heavy cream as needed to reach your desired consistency.
- Frost with cream cheese frosting and garnish with candy eye balls!
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.