Let's talk colored buttercream. I really detest the bitter flavor it can take on when too much gel color is added. I'm sure I'm more sensitive to it than most because I know exactly how it should taste without added dye. Don't even get me started on the stained teeth and clothing it can cause. Because of all this, I try my best not to use super dark frosting in large amounts. In recent years, I've gone to simply airbrushing cakes if they require a bright red or royal blue, and sometimes even black.
But what if you don't have an airbrush? There's a great way to make black buttercream without NEARLY as much added dye. Do you want to know the secret?
Start with chocolate buttercream! I love chocolate buttercream. As in, I have to use great restraint to keep myself from eating it by the spoonful every time I make it. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that chocolate buttercream makes a great base for black buttercream.
Since it's already brown, it doesn't take nearly as much dye to get a stunning shade of black. PLUS, it still tastes like chocolate frosting, doesn't stain teeth, and is all around amazing. I always use Super Black* from Americolor to make black frosting. It's my favorite brand of gel color.
Start by mixing in the color. It's hard to tell from this photo, but at this point it was still a dark grey. The color develops the longer it sits, so set a timer for 30 minutes and check it again.
Add a bit more if needed after it's rested. The color will continue to darken over the next 24 hours, so if it's close to black, let it be.
This is what the frosting looked like after a couple hours. You can use it at any point as long as it will have time to rest. See? SO EASY to make! And yummy.
There's one last thing I want to note: there is a type of cocoa powder called black cocoa. This stuff is amazing and can be found online*. It makes an even darker buttercream to start with, which means even less dye to make it black. However, it no longer tastes like chocolate, but more like Oreos® (that's what is used to make the sandwich portion.) It's delicious, but may not be what you or your customer expects. Black cocoa is also about 2-3 times as expensive as the natural cocoa powder you can buy from the grocery store. It's all personal preference, but I like to keep things simple and my supply cost low if I can help it, so I stick with natural cocoa.
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