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Black Drip Cake

This black drip cake recipe uses my favorite moist chocolate cake recipe and is frosted with decadent black cocoa buttercream.

I swear the buttercream is pretty much half frosting, half chocolate! This recipe is delicious, decadent, and perfect for celebrating everything from Halloween to New Year’s!

image of a black drip cake that's been decorated with gold sprinkles and edible gold paint

How Do I Make Black Drips for a Cake?

Just because drip cakes are beautiful, doesn’t mean they have to be complicated. Let’s start with the basics and discuss the ingredients!

Believe it or not, a black chocolate ganache drip is made with only three ingredients. All you need is a half-cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips, some heavy cream, and black gel food coloring.

I do NOT recommend using liquid food coloring to make the ganache! You need to use more of it to create a black color, and it can throw off the consistency of the ganache.

image of chocolate chips and heavy cream laid out on a counter to make a chocolate ganache drip for a chocolate cake

If you can’t find heavy cream in your grocery store, you can also use heavy whipping cream.

Sadly, you can’t use regular milk in place of the heavy cream in this chocolate drip recipe. Heavy cream has 36-38% milk fat.

You need a high fat percentage to create that wonderful consistency that chocolate ganache is known for. If you use regular milk, your mixture will be too thin.

To make this recipe, you simply heat up the cream until it’s steaming then pour it over the chocolate chips.

After letting them sit for a minute to melt, add in the gel food coloring and give it a quick stir. And just like that, you have silky smooth chocolate ganache.

image of black dark chocolate ganache that's been mixed and is ready to use to add drips around a cake

It comes together pretty quickly. The challenging part of a drip cake is actually adding the drips to the cake. But don’t worry, we’ll walk through that together!

How Do I Add Black Drips to a Cake?

There are two common ways to add drips to a cake. Most people use either a spoon or a plastic squirt bottle.

Some people prefer one method over the other. I recommend using whatever method you feel most comfortable with!

Adding Black Chocolate Drips Using a Spoon

One way you can add chocolate drips to cake is with a spoon. The best thing about this method is that you don’t need any special tools. I think everyone has a spoon in their kitchen!!

You simply take 1-2 teaspoons of chocolate ganache in a spoon and carefully pour it over the edge of a chilled buttercream cake.

image of a black velvet cake being decorated with black drips that are added using a spoon

I recommend scraping the bottom of your spoon against the bowl each time you scoop up a bit ganache.

This will prevent rouge bits of ganache from dripping off the bottom of your spoon all over your counter and your cake.

Adding Drips Using a Squirt Bottle

The second way you can add drips to a cake is with a plastic bottle. Once the black chocolate ganache is made, carefully pour it into a plastic squirt bottle.

Not everyone has these on hand, but they’re pretty cheap to buy! You can find them at Target, Walmart, or on Amazon (that’s where I get mine).

You can also place your ganache in small piping bag if you don’t have a bottle.

I like using a squirt bottle because it is a lot faster than a using spoon. In my opinion, it also is easier!

image of a black buttercream cake that's being decorated with black ganache drips using a plastic squirt bottle

If you have leftover ganache, you can simply pop the cap on your bottle and throw it in the fridge.

Leftover chocolate ganache can last in the fridge for up to a month. I have a little shelf in my fridge door dedicated to bottles of leftover ganache!

To reuse leftover ganache, pop the bottle into the microwave and reheat in 10 second intervals until it’s fluid again and looks like it’s the right consistency.

Tips For Adding Black Drips to a Cake

There are two very important steps I recommend following to make sure your black drip cake turns out as amazing as possible.

Tip #1: Chill Your Cake

My first tip is to only add drips to a chilled cake! I mean THOROUGHLY chilled. Crumb coat your cake, then smooth on a second coat of buttercream and chill the cake until the frosting is firm to the touch.

image of black buttercream frosting being smoothed onto a black velvet cake

This can take up to 30 minutes in the fridge, or about 10 minutes in the freezer.

Chilling your cake will help your drips stay in place once they’re added and help prevent them from running down too far.

Tip #2: Make a Test Drip

My second tip is to make a test drip. You can do this on the back of your chilled cake, or even the side of a tall cup if you want a little extra practice.

image of black drips being added around a glass to test the consistency of the ganache and make sure it's good to go before adding it to a black drip cake

As you add on a few test drips, let them flow and sit for a couple minutes. See what they look like and how far they ran down the side of the cake.

Are you happy with how it looks? This is your time to make changes to get it just right. Is it too thin? Did the drip run too far down the cake? Maybe you need to let your ganache cool more or melt in a bit more chocolate.

Is your drip too thick or short? You might need to pop the ganache in the microwave for a couple seconds (seriously, don’t heat it for more than 5 seconds). Or maybe you want to add in a tiny bit more heavy cream.

This is the point in the process where my eagerness can get the best of me. I think I’ve made the necessary adjustments and dive right into adding all my drips.

But for all you know, you may have overcorrected! You may have actually heated or cooled your ganache too much.

After each adjustment to your ganache, you need to do another test drip. It’s worth taking the extra few minutes to make sure your ganache is the perfect temperature.

image of a black buttercream cake that's being decorated with black ganache drips using a plastic squirt bottle

What Type of Chocolate Chips Should I Use?

I find this recipe turns out best with semi-sweet chocolate chips, but you can use milk or dark chocolate chips if that’s what you have on hand.

Different types of chocolate have different amounts of cocoa butter in them, which impact their consistency once they’re melted down.

image of a black cake that's been decorated with a black chocolate ganache drip

You may have noticed that dark chocolate seems thinner than milk or white chocolate when melted.

If you want to use dark chocolate, I recommend adding in an extra tablespoon of chocolate chips to help thicken the mixture and prevent runaway drips.

If you use milk chocolate, I suggest adding an extra 2 teaspoons of heavy cream to make it fluid enough to easily add drips around your cake.

These are general guidelines that should work with most types of chocolate, but different brands do have different cocoa percentages! So, make additional adjustments as needed as you perform your test drip(s).

Tips for Making the Best Black Drip Cake

  • Use this drip recipe on any type of chilled buttercream cake.
  • Don’t add this black drip to a cake covered in fondant. It can do weird things to the fondant and create a goopy mess.
  • I prefer using mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, but any type of chocolate chip (or finely chopped chocolate bar) will work. See my notes above about using different types of chocolate.
  • Be sure to use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream! You need the high fat content to create the right consistency in this recipe. Milk cannot be used in place of the cream.
  • To make a vegan version of this black ganache drip, use coconut cream and dark chocolate.
  • If you want to make a cake with colorful drips, try my colorful drip cake recipe.
  • If you’re more of a visual learner, check out my detailed video tutorial.
image of a black drip cake that's been decorated with gold sprinkles and edible gold paint

Making This Black Drip Cake in Advance & Storage Tips

  • Make the black chocolate ganache ahead of time or save leftovers! Once it’s made, wrap the bowl with plastic wrap or cover the top of the plastic bottle and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
  • To use chilled ganache, heat the bottle or bowl in the microwave for 10 second intervals until it reaches the right consistency.
  • Use leftover ganache to top cupcakes, cookies, or even ice cream!
image of a black drip cake that's been decorated with gold sprinkles and edible gold paint

Share Your Creations with Me!

If you try this black drip cake recipe, please tag me @chelsweets and use #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations!

And don’t forget to leave a rating and comment below.

image of a black drip cake that's been decorated with gold sprinkles and edible gold paint

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 20

Black Drip Cake

image of a black drip cake that's been decorated with gold sprinkles and edible gold paint

This black drip cake recipe is a total show stopper! It's moist, packed with chocolate flavor, and naturally colored with dark cocoa powder!!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 26 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 6 minutes


Black Cocoa Cake Recipe

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (260g)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400g)
  • 3/4 cup black cocoa powder, sifted (75g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (8g)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda (9g)
  • 1 tsp fine salt (6g)
  • 1 cup warm water (240g)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (240g)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (110g)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature (112g)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (8g)

Black Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 cups (or 4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (452g)
  • 1 cup black cocoa powder, sifted (100g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar (500g)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature (120g)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled (180g)

Black Chocolate Drip

Recommended Tools


Black Cocoa Cake Layers

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 175 C. Line and grease three, eight-inch cake pans, or four, seven-inch pans.
  2. Combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups sugar, 3/4 cup black cocoa powder, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp of salt in a large bowl. Whisk together until combined.
  3. In a separate, large bowl, add 1 cup of warm water, 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup oil, 2 eggs, and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Give the mixture a quick stir to combine the ingredients.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix by hand until fully incorporated. The batter will be on the thin side, but that’s the consistency you're after!
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and bake for about 24-27 minutes. I like to use a kitchen scale to weigh the pans. It makes sure each pan has the same amount of batter and helps the cake layers bake up to be the same height.
  6. Remove the cake layers from the oven and let them cool in the pans for about 10 minutes. Gently run an offset spatula around the rim of the cake pans to loosen them, then flip them onto wire racks to finish cooling.
  7. Once cooled, use a serrated knife to level the top of each cake layer. If you make these in advance, wrap and freeze them at this point.

Black Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  1. Beat 2 cups of butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment until smooth. 
  2. Add in 1 cup of sifted black cocoa, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/2 tsp salt. Mix on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  3. Slowly mix in 4 cups of powdered sugar and 1/2 cup of heavy cream on a low speed until combined.
  4. Next, mix in 1 cup of cooled, melted semi-sweet chocolate on a low speed until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached.
  5. If you want the buttercream to be a deeper shade of black you can mix in a squirt of black gel food coloring. Then cover the frosting flush with plastic wrap to prevent crusting and set aside.

Black Chocolate Ganache Drip

  1. Place 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat 1/3 cup of heavy cream in a heatproof bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until it's steaming and just starting to bubble. If you don’t have a microwave or prefer to use the stove top, you can heat the cream over a medium heat in a pan until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat.
  3. Gently pour the heavy cream over the chocolate, making sure it's fully covered with cream. Allow the mixture to sit for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add in a squirt of black gel food coloring, then stir slowly until the cream and chocolate are fully combined and mixture is smooth.
  5. Set aside and cool for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is just slightly warm to the touch.

Assembling This Black Drip Cake

  1. Stack and frost the cake layers on a greaseproof cake board using a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
  2. Add an even layer of buttercream between each cake layer with a large offset spatula.
  3. Spread a thin coat of frosting around the cake that fully covers the cake layers.
  4. Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (30 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  5. Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake and smooth using a bench scraper.
  6. Chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) one more time until the buttercream is firm to the touch.
  7. Then make a test drip with the ganache to see if it's the right consistency (more detail on that in the post above). If the ganache has been sitting for a bit or if your kitchen is cold you may need to heat it in the microwave for a few seconds.
  8. Once it's the right consistency, add the drips to the chilled cake using a plastic squirt bottle or spoon.
  9. Then decorate as desired! I like to use the leftover buttercream to pipe swirls on top of the cake with an open star tip (like a Wilton 1M). I also added a gold and black sprinkle blend around the base of the cake and painted the edge of the swirls with edible gold paint. You could also use a mixture of gold luster dust and clear liquor or extract.


Tips for Making the Best Black Drip Cake

  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better! Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Properly measure the flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level). Or better yet, use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Mix the cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cake layers are tender and fluffy.
  • Use a scale to weigh your cake pans as you fill them. Make sure each pan has the same amount of batter so that cake layers bake to the same height and bake more evenly.
  • Bang the cake pans on the counter before putting them in the oven. This brings any air bubbles that are trapped in the batter to the surface.
  • Level the room temperature or thawed cake layers with a serrated knife to make them easier to stack.
  • Chill the cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake. It makes it so much easier to stack and frost them!

Making this Black Drip Cake in Advance and Storage Tips

  • Make the cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and makes it more approachable.
  • Make the chocolate frosting ahead of time or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.
  • This frosting can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months! Just be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to make it nice and smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for a month. The buttercream locks in the moisture and keeps the cake fresh and delicious!

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 507Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 41mgSodium 393mgCarbohydrates 80gFiber 5gSugar 55gProtein 7g


Saturday 9th of December 2023

I made 3-6” and the cake it came out crumbly and the texture was way off I even had to bake longer then the instructions called for, can you please tell me why it would do that I measured all the ingredients on the scale for precise measurements…I don’t know why this happened can anyone help ?

Thank you ??


Sunday 17th of December 2023

Hi Annette,

I think the issue would be using 3, 6-inch cake pans! The recipe is designed to make 3, 8-inch cake layers, so 3, 6-inch cake layers would be quite thick and would take a really long time to bake. The extended bake time would probably dry out the layers! That's my best guess since you used a scale to measure the ingredients (which is great/I always recommend!). I'm so sorry!


Thursday 28th of September 2023

The cake is amazing. A word of caution if you are assembling the cake later. We were celebrating my husband’s birthday away and I brought everything with me to assemble it. I cannot stress making sure the ganache is fully fluid before trying to assemble. I microwaved the bottle but the ganache in the spout was still cold and blocked the ganache which caused the lid to spring from the bottle and all over the kitchen I was borrowing and me. A toothpick to the lid solved the clog problem and the gel coloring easily rinsed from the clothes so all was fine.


Sunday 1st of October 2023

Hi Leann,

So happy you loved this recipe! And so sorry to hear about the ganache debacle!! I had something similar happen all over I cake I was making once, I feel ya. I'm glad everything worked out in the end though :)


Friday 22nd of September 2023

I’m confused on how much batter your recipe makes. Your recipe says to fill 3 8” pans (which could make 3 or 6 layers), but your pictures show 4 layers. Should the recipe be edited to 2 pans, or did you use larger pans for the cake slices in your pictures?


Monday 25th of September 2023

Hi Karen,

Apologies for any confusion! This recipe can be used to make 3, 8-inch cake layers or 4, 7-inch cake layers like I mention in step 1 of the recipe card. You can also make 2, 9-inch cake layers if you want. Hope that helps, happy baking!


Tuesday 29th of August 2023

I made this for my friend’s 50th birthday and it was amazing! Dramatic color with the black cocoa powder. I did not include the drip and it was still beautiful, and delicious!!


Thursday 10th of August 2023

A "squirt" of color is a wee bit vague in my opinion. Can you be more specific regarding how much Americolor #101 Super Black to add to the cake as well as the chocolate ganache for the black drips? I need this answer back really quickly. Everyone loved the Mickey Mouse cake I made for my grandson's 8th birthday last August with vanilla and chocolate buttercreams and white cake layers with blackberry filling. It was fabulous and I am not a cake fan. Here I am again this year for the 9th birthday using the same flavors of buttercream and cake but per your recommendation I'll be using Americolor this year, I just need to know whether the .75 ounce bottle I bought is going to be enough, hence the question about how much is a squirt. Please help!


Wednesday 16th of August 2023

I would quantify it as 1/2 tsp of gel food coloring. The 0.75 ounce bottle should be enough! Hope that helps and that your cake turns amazing!! Happy baking!

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