Colored Cake Layers:
First note – you have options here!
You can color your favorite white/vanilla cake recipe, you can use my Favorite Vanilla Cake recipe and color it green, OR – you can you can do what I did and ‘bakery-level-up’ a couple of boxed cake mixes!
To make the cake layers in the pictures, I used
- 2 white cake mixes
- I replaced the combined 1 cup of oil the mixes called for with 1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks) melted & cooled
- total of 8 egg whites (no yolks-you can use egg whites from a carton to avoid wasting the yolks),
- replaced the 2 cups of water with 2 cups of buttermilk, (room temperature) and added
- 2 tablespoons of clear vanilla extract!
Whatever cake mix/recipe you prefer, add 3-4 large of bright/lime green gel food coloring! I used Americolor Electric green.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7 inch pans (for taller layers) or three 8-inch cake pans with parchment rounds, and /or grease with non-stick or baker’s floured cooking spray.
Mix together all wet ingredients (butter, egg whites, buttermilk, vanilla, and gel food color) in a large bowl with a wire whisk. Blend in cake mixes for 30 seconds, and then beat with a wire whisk or hand mixes for 2 minutes until well combined.
Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.
Bake for 35-37 minutes if using 8-inch pans, or 37-38 minutes for 7-inch cake pans (or until a toothpick comes out clean). Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans – it helps to run an offset spatula or knife around the perimeter of the pan first. Cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
Black Chocolate Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
5 ½ -6 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa powder (Update! Since first publishing this recipe I've discovered black cocoa powder - this lets me get my frosting really black without using much gel color!)
4-6 Tablespoons milk
1 T vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
5-6 large drops black gel food color (- reduce to 3-4 large drops if using black cocoa powder. I use black pretty frequently, especially around Halloween, so I bought this large bottle from Americolor!)
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with cocoa powder and milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla, black gel color, and salt if needed and beat until well combined.
- 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles)
- squeeze bottle or piping bag for the cake drip
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! (Here’s a link to the cake turntable I use)
- Apple of your choice - I used a granny smith
- Candy melt ganache – recipe below
Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler.
Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Spread the layer with frosting.
Add your next cake layer on top, and repeat the process with your remaining cake layers.
Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer.
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.
This is a great time to make and color your ganache drip(s)!
Candy Melt Drip:
- 6 oz white candy melts (I use the Wilton brand Bright White)
- 3 ¾ Tablespoons heavy whipping cream (the brand I usually use comes from Costco and is incredibly thick; you may need a bit less depending on the thickness of your heavy cream!)
- 2-3 drops bright/lime green gel food coloring – I used the same Americolor Electric green gel color I used in my cake layers.
(This recipe is very similar to my favorite white chocolate ganache recipe – you’re basically using candy melts instead of white chocolate to make a very similar drip ganache. I prefer this drip when I want bright vibrant colors that aren’t tinted yellow from the white chocolate!)
Place heavy cream and candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl (don't add the color yet!) and microwave on 50% power in 30-second intervals until smooth, stirring in between. Once the mixture is completely melted and smooth, add in the gel color and mix until the color is even.
Slowly drizzle candy melt ganache around the upper edge of your cake, pausing every inch or so to let more fall in a drip down the side of the cake. Dip your apple into the remaining ganache, covering it as far up the sides as you’d like. I covered almost my entire apple.
Let the drips run off, and set the apple on top of the cake.
Smooth any gaps or bumpy spots with a small offset spatula. Place the cake into the refrigerator to set the drips!
And you’re done! Cut in and enjoy!
Make this recipe? Let me know how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!