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Sugar Skull Layer Cake

Chocolate cake recipe from Livforcake.com
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 30 mins
Chill Time 45 mins
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup strong coffee, hot

Vanilla Almond Buttercream

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup shortening
  • pinch salt
  • 8 cups Dixie Crystals Confectioners Powdered Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • red, blue, lime, orange, purple, egg yellow and gold gel food coloring

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • pinch salt
  • 3 1/2 cups Dixie Crystals Confectioners Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • black gel food coloring

Instructions
 

Chocolate Cake

  • Heat oven to 350F. Prepare 3 6-inch cake pans with shortening and dust with cocoa powder. Place parchment rounds in the bottom of each and set aside.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Slowly whisk in hot coffee.
  • Add wet mixture into dry and beat low until combined moving up to medium for approximately 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and remix if necessary.
  • Divide batter evenly between cake pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until cake tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes then place on wire rack to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for easier leveling.

Vanilla Almond Buttercream

  • Place butter and shortening into bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add salt. Whip for 3-5 minutes until light and airy. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  • Add 3 cups powdered sugar and mix on low to combine. Add in vanilla, butter and almond extracts then combine.
  • Add 3 cups powdered sugar and mix on low to combine. Scrape down sides as necessary.
  • Add in remaining 2 cups powdered sugar. While on low, add in milk and mix to combine. Beat on medium-high for 5 minutes to whip. Scrape sides of bowl and re-whip if needed.
  • Remove and tint 1/2 cup frosting each for red, orange, lime, blue and purple. Place in piping bags with various tips: 1M, 8B, 18, 2D, 32, etc. Remove approximately 1 cup and tint gold, then one drop egg yellow for marigold color. Place in piping bag with 59 piping tip.

Chocolate Buttercream

  • Place butter into bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add salt. Whip for 2-3 minutes until light and airy. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  • Add powdered sugar, cocoa, and vanilla, and mix on low to combine.
  • While on low, add in milk and mix to combine. Beat on medium-high for 5 minutes to whip. Scrape sides of bowl and re-whip if needed.
  • Add in approximately 1-2 teaspoons black gel coloring, until desired dark gray. Color will deepen as it sets. Mix to combine, scrape down sides of bowl and mix again to combine.
  • Place half into piping bag with 8B piping tip. Place some into tipless piping bag for stripes. Place remaining into small bag with 18 piping tip for decoration.

Cake Assembly and Decoration

  • Level cakes. Place a small amount of frosting on cake board to secure cake. Place bottom layer on cake board. Add frosting to cake and level with offset spatula (approx 1/4 – 1/3 cup). Repeat with second layer.
  • Place last layer on top upside-down and apply a crumb coat* over cake. Place in freezer for 15-20 minutes.
  • Using acrylic cake disk, frost sides smooth with cake scraper/comb. Use striped cake comb to prepare frosting for black buttercream. Place in freezer for 10 minutes to chill.
  • Pipe black buttercream into stripes and smooth with cake scraper. Pipe border and rosettes on side. Place sprinkle mix along bottom of cake and sprinkles along the top. Insert marshmallow sugar skulls and freeze while preparing marigolds.
  • Pipe marigolds on parchment squares and freeze until able to handle. Pipe a small amount of frosting on the back of marigolds and attach onto cake. Pipe additional rosettes and icing where needed.
  • Serve or refrigerate then bring to room temperature before serving.