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24K Black Magic Cake

Bake up a little of that old black magic just in time for Halloween!


  • 200g cocoa powder
  • 700g all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1kg caster sugar
  • 700g unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 700ml milk
  • 2 tbsp food safe activated charcoal
  • 1 tsp blackberry essence
  • Chocolate Sauce
  • Gold lustre dust
  • Frosting
  • 2 batches Vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream
  • 2 batches Chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream + 4 tbsp food safe activated charcoal
  • Chocolate skull
  • 1.6 kg dark cooking chocolate
  • Gold lustre dust


  1. Chocolate Skull
  2. To make chocolate skull you’ll need a skull mold. I bought mine online.
  3. To colour chocolate, melt chocolate in the microwave for 20 seconds at a time, mixing each time until smooth. Add charcoal and mix until evenly coloured using a whisk.
  4. Fill mold with the chocolate. Chill overnight.
  5. Cake
  6. Preheat a fan-forced oven to 160C (320F) or 180C (356F) for a conventional oven. Spray an 8” cake tin with oil spray and line the bottom with baking paper.
  7. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour, bicarb soda, caster sugar and salt. Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to mix for a couple minutes to help everything combine well (alternatively you may do this by sifting the ingredients together). Add the softened butter and mix until it resembles a fine sand like texture.
  8. Add the milk, blackberry essence and eggs into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until no dry ingredients are visible. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds.
  9. Fill three 8” cake tins with batter.
  10. Bake for 30 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow the tins to cool for 2 min and then carefully flip the cake tins over on to a cooling rack to cool completely before using.
  11. Using a large serrated knife, carefully trim the top off each layer of cake to make even and flat layers. Try to aim to get them all the same height. An easy way to do this is to find the lowest height of the cake, place a skewer or toothpick next to that point and mark it. As you go around each side of the cake cutting it, use the marked skewer to make sure each cut is at the same height.
  12. To prepare crumb coat layer, add a dab of vanilla frosting onto an 8” cake board or serving plate. Add first cake layer. Repeat until you get to the final layer. Pipe frosting around the top and sides and scrape away using a cake scraper. This is called a crumb coat. It helps trap the crumbs in the first layer so that there isn’t any showing in the final layer!
  13. You’ll need to add 3 large bubble straws in this cake. They will help stabilize the heavy chocolate skull on top and stop it from collapsing. Make sure they’re even and flush with the height of the cake. Once you’ve carefully and slowly inserted them into the cake. Add a 6” cake tin on top.
  14. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
  15. To prepare black frosting add charcoal to chocolate buttercream and mix until well combined. Fill a piping bag and snip off the end. Pipe onto the cake and use a large cake scraper to scrape the sides and top until they’re smooth.
  16. Chill for 1 hour.
  17. Drizzle the sides and top with chocolate sauce. Carefully add the skull on top. Allow to set for 30 min in the fridge.
  18. Using a food safe paint brush, paint the chocolate drizzle and skull with gold lustre dust.