Black Cocoa Spider Web Cake

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Happy Halloween......in January! I am just now getting around to posting all these treats I created during the fall and summer months due to being away on rotations. Lately I have been seeing a lot of cotton candy inspired treats on instagram and the like, and I wanted to create a Halloween cake that encorporated cotton candy as spider webs and finished with those spider rings you got as a kid. And, because I had leftover black cocoa powder from making these I thought it would be great to make a super dark chocolate cake with orange buttercream between the layers. For the cotton candy I initially thought I could just use packaged cotton candy, and was super excited when I found Fluffy Stuff green apple cotton candy that was white at the grocery store. However, while I'm sure you could get this to work with some trouble shooting, it didn't create "webs" well because it was too compacted--when you tired to stretch it out it just kind-of came apart in chunks. And so I decided to go the extreme route and just buy a cotton candy machine off of amazon.... This one was less than 30 bucks and is easy to clean and worked really well! And now I own a cotton candy machine...so there's that. We have broken it out quite a few times though so we ARE getting use out of it (like cotton candy champagne cocktails for New Years!). Overall this cake was a blast to make and my boyfriend even dubbed it "his favorite cake I have ever made" and I have made him quite a few cakes over the years. 

Dark Chocolate Cake (adapted from king arthur flour)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 cup black cocoa powder 
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil 
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (not clear)

Orange butter cream

  • 2 oz softened cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened 
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice 
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 tiny pinch salt 
  • orange food coloring (gel preferred)

bright white Vanilla frosting (from krazy kool cakes)

  • 1 cup high fat ratio shortening
  • 1 tbsp meringue powder
  • 2 tsp clear vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
  • 5 tbsp milk 
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Preheat oven to 350. For the cake, combine cocoa powder, buttermilk, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Beat on medium/low speed until well incorporated. Add sugar and mix again. Next add coffee, alternating with flour. Make sure your coffee isn't too hot that it cooks the mixture. Last add baking powder, soda, and salt and mix well for 30 seconds on medium. Pour into 2 nine-inch greased pans with parchment lining the bottom (or I used 3 seven-inch) and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until the tops spring back and a knife comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack. 

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For the icing, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy, then add vanilla, oj, and zest. Slowly add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. If icing is too thick or too runny, add OJ or more sugar until it reaches consistency below (it shouldn't run off the cake, it should be pretty stiff). Add orange food coloring until you get a nice pumpkin shade. 

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To assemble start with your first cake layer, flattest side down. Add a thick layer of orange frosting followed by another cake layer, and repeat (if doing 3 layers). Let chill in fridge for 15 minutes. While waiting, make white icing. This icing uses high ratio shortening (not crisco) instead of butter so it keeps its very white color. It is the icing recipe I used on Amanda's wedding cake last spring and goes on beautifully. Beat shortening and vanilla on high, and slowly add in powdered sugar, alternating with a few tablespoons of milk. Add meringue powder last and beat on medium-high for 2 minutes until fluffy. 

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Remove cake from freezer and add crumb coat. Place in freezer for 10 minutes to harden. In the mean time make your cotton candy (if you so desire....this cake is good regardless!). We made ours with just plain sugar with no flavoring to keep in simple since there are already a lot of flavors in this cake. Try to keep the cotton candy as loose as possible when twirling it into a cone so that it will stretch well and create cobwebs. 

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To finish your cake apply final frosting coat (tutorial can be seen here). It doesn't have to be too too perfect since you will be covering it up with cotton candy. Stretch cotton candy over cake, working quickly so it doesn't melt. Create a mound at the top. Finish with spider rings! Cake will keep at room temp for 2 days or in the fridge for 3-4. 

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Thanks for reading! Xx