Dark Cocoa Powder Is The Secret Ingredient For A Pitch Black Frosting

Whenever Halloween draws near, black frosting is the decoration you need to make your cakes and cookies proper spooky-season material. But actually getting your frosting to the pitch-black color you may have only seen on baking shows is a lot harder than it looks. The key to getting that super dark frosting isn't food coloring; instead, it's an ingredient you may not have heard of by name — dark cocoa powder.

Even if you use the darkest black food coloring available, frosting starts white — or brown, if it's chocolate-flavored — so you may end up with something closer to a stone gray than a midnight black if you're not using the correct coloring methods. Dark or "black" cocoa powder could be the missing ingredient you're looking for that will ensure your frosting ends up black. Instead of using food coloring alone, mix black cocoa powder into your favorite frosting and watch it transform. You can also use black cocoa powder in combination with other coloring methods like black food coloring liquid drops or gels to ensure your frosting is the spookiest it can be.

So, what is dark cocoa powder?

Black cocoa powder is sold by companies you probably know and love like King Arthur Flour, and its ultra-Dutch processing is what gives it that super dark coloring. Ultra-Dutch processing means the cocoa is treated with a specific alkaline solution, and this also impacts the frosting's taste differently than traditional cocoa powder. Other brands besides King Arthur also sell dark or black cocoa powder, and it's even thought to be the key to Oreo cookies' color.

There are certain things to know before baking with cocoa powder, particularly the dark variety: The difference in flavor between classic and dark is important to keep in mind if you're using the latter in your frosting — some think it tastes more chocolatey, others may not notice a difference, and some might even think it doesn't taste like chocolate at all. So before you add heaps of it to your classic buttercream frosting, test it out and see how the flavor changes.

Another factor to keep in mind is that, because black cocoa powder is less acidic than normal cocoa powder, it doesn't have the same leavening properties. This means that if you're baking something that calls for cocoa powder and baking soda, use the normal kind instead — using black cocoa powder could alter your results.