Black Velvet Nebula Cake

I recently ordered a couple of Hubble Space Telescope picture books and - wow, are they ever gorgeous! I've been paging through them every day for two weeks, just soaking in all that beautiful imagery. Seeing all those colorful nebulae inspired me to buy two extra-large canvases to recreate some nebula images for my office walls. I've yet to set brush to canvas though, because I was also inspired to practice my galaxy-painting on cake!

I settled on black velvet cake for the cake's interior, but I also wanted to make things a little more interesting. I added 5 ounces of white confetti sprinkles to the batter, hoping it would make the interior speckled to mimic a starry galaxy. It worked pretty well! The cake was well-speckled throughout, though some of the confetti didn't dissolve completely and turned a bit marshmallow-y. I really love the effect, but I think next time I will experiment with some white jimmies to see what magic it can offer black chocolate cake.

The cake recipe makes a standard 9-inch double layer cake, but I used three 6-inch pans and had enough batter left over for 6 cupcakes. The cake is almost completely black on its own, thanks to dark cocoa powder, but I added an additional teaspoon of Americolor Super Black gel food color to make it even darker.

To get started, you'll need to cover the cake with black ready-made fondant according to these directions. Don't worry if your fondant work doesn't turn out perfectly because the paint will disguise many flaws. You'll need pink, blue and violet gel food color and most importantly white food color.

You'll also need some painter's sea sponges and a stiff-bristle (hog bristle) artist's brush. Below I've outlined the basic steps for painting the nebula on the black fondant. In my opinion it's easy, and you have but one real task with the painting process - don't overthink it! 

1. Prep the sea sponge by dipping it in water and ringing it out well. This softens the sponge and makes it more flexible. Mix a little white and pink food color together and dip the sponge into the 'paint'. Tap the sponge gently onto the cake so that the paint creates an organic oblong-ish shape. Dip the sponge in undiluted pink paint (not mixed with white) and tap it in the center of the lighter shade of paint.

2. Using a finger, smudge the white portion of paint a little to create a cloud-like aura around the darker center paint. Remember, nebulae are basically clouds of dust and gas.  Repeat this process with other colors over the entire cake but don't over-do it! Be sure to leave some black areas.

3. With a fine point brush and undiluted white gel food color, paint a few white dots inside and around the nebulae and then smudge them slightly to create circles of gas or 'auras'. Paint a white dot in the center of each aura. (You can see the finished effect best in step 5 just above my index finger.)

4. Mix a little white food color with drops of clear vanilla extract. Load the stiff bristle brush with the white color; bend the bristles back and flick the paint onto the cake (you can practice on a scrap piece of fondant first, if you wish).  The closer you hold the brush to the cake, the smaller and more controlled the 'stars' will be. Hold the brush further away for larger random clusters of stars.

5. Use undiluted white food color and the fine point brush to paint bright white stars with no aura.

6. Use a small piece of parchment paper with the edge dipped in white food color to create star rays. Tap the edge of the paper onto a white star vertically and then horizontally.

The painting part turned out a little more abstract than it would be on canvas, but I still think it looks a little bit like a veil nebula. Even if it isn't an exact replica, it was still a lot of fun to paint, which is the whole point of making a cake like this!

Cutting into the cake was fun, too. All those white confetti speckles made the cake's interior look positively interstellar! I searched and searched for white star confetti sprinkles, but turned up empty handed. I ended up using some white snowflake confetti sprinkles I had on hand. They did the job, but as I mentioned earlier I'd like to try white jimmies next time.

The cake is deeply chocolaty and its matching chocolate frosting is truly rich! It's not a true 'velvet' cake in any sense (so says this southern girl) but it's a great little chocolate cake recipe that can also be made in a 10 cup bundt pan.

I used black vanilla ready-made fondant for this cake, but if you'd like to keep things chocolate, then you can add a little black gel food color to dark chocolate fondant. Dark chocolate fondant is so much easier to tint black than white fondant, as it is already quite dark.

Aside from my veil nebula inspiration, check out other versions you can re-create on cake!

One last thing! If you like this cake, you may also like my Zodiac Constellation Cake!

Black velvet cake
12 servings
Recipe adapted from Food.com

If making the Nebula cake, fold 5 ounces of white confetti sprinkles into the cake batter before baking (this may reduce bake time a little, so keep an eye on the cakes as they bake). You’ll also need 1 lb ready-made black fondant for covering the cake. Follow the instructions as outlined in the blog post for decorating with the nebula motif.

2 cups (260g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
1 cup (125g) unsweetened dark cocoa powder, (Dutch process preferred)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup (240 ml) cold coffee
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
1⁄2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons black gel food color (I used Americolor Super Black)

Dark Chocolate Frosting
1 cup (1/2 lb.) unsalted butter, melted
1 1⁄3 cups (170g) dark cocoa powder
6 cups (770g) powdered sugar, sifted
2⁄3 cup (160 ml) milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon black gel food color

Make the cakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray one 10-inch bundt pan or two 9-inch round pans with a nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Make a well in the center and pour in the eggs, coffee, milk and oil. Mix in the black food color; batter will be thin.
Pour into prepared pan(s). Bake for 35 to 40 minutes for bundt pan, 25 minutes for 9-inch round pans, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.

Make the frosting: In a large bowl, mix together melted butter and cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
Add a small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla and black food color.
Frost cake and decorate as desired.

link Black Velvet Nebula Cake By Published: Black Velvet Galaxy Nebula Cake Recipe


  1. You are amazing, friend! This is so beautiful.

  2. Beautiful! And every time you do this it would be different and unique.

  3. So unique and beautifully executed!

  4. What a stellar cake! Your creativity knows no bounds!

  5. star sprinkles: https://www.etsy.com/listing/261932242/sprinkles-white-stars-jimmies-edible

  6. This is seriously the best cake I've ever seen, at least visually.

  7. I've never seen anything like it, and, the sprinkles on the inside...genius! Love it to the ends of the solar system and back!

  8. I am so obsessed with this. I just made galaxy bark, so now I am going to have to try this nebula cake! So, so gorgeous! :)

  9. What a fabulous way to use up some leftover snowflake sprinkles from winter!! Thanks for the wonderful art lesson too.

  10. This is beyond amazing!!! SO much talent girl xx.


  11. THIS IS AMAZING! *o* now I'm in love and I want to eat all this cake!

  12. This is so many layers of awesome.

  13. Heather, YOU ARE JUST ... out of this world! ^__^ this is seriously so cool!! XO

  14. Nice work. :) I'll have to remember the candy confetti next time I do it.

    I did something similar for my sons birthday about 2 years back only I had fun with the spray can food coloring stuff and did constellations using the silver dragees in varying sizes.

  15. This is fabulous! Well done! Just wish I had the artistic skill to do this 'painting' - I have a tendency to overdo it. You have done this perfectly.

  16. We just copied your cake today. We couldn't find any jimmies of the appropriate size, so we tried nonpareils. They seem to have absorbed the black from the cake. Also, we couldn't get the gel dye to show up on its own, so we thinned out some white icing with milk and tinted it. Otherwise, it turned out really well. Thanks for the great tutorial!

  17. Omg this is amazing!! I love the inside too!

  18. Would it be possible to use a ganache glaze instead of the fondant and still achieve the same or similar result?

  19. Add weed in it and it'll be the best space cake ever made!!

  20. I made this cake for my brother who's an amateur astronomer and he flipped out! I couldn't try it myself due to some dietary restrictions, but everyone said it was terrific, moist and very rich. I used the dark chocolate fondant and died it, which got rave reviews from people who don't normally like fondant. Only thing I wouldn't do again is use white jimmies instead of confetti sprinkles. They just didn't show up well. But thank you SO much for this recipe. Wouldn't hesitate to do it again!

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    Rgds, sheeba susan - Dubai

  22. I would like to do this in a smaller, cup cake form to make fewer, how would I adapt the recipe for this?

  23. Wow!!!! I am in love with this and my boyfriend would passout in excitement if i could make something close to this for his birthday next month!

  24. If I make this in a BUNDT pan, how do you suggest adding the fondant/frosting

  25. I would love to try this recipe, but is there a way to not use the coffee or is that a necessary ingredient?

    1. Hi Alix! You can substitute water instead of coffee. The coffee flavor boosts the chocolate flavor but isn't necessary.

  26. wow! just wow! This is ah-mazing! what an awesome concept, & with java too. yum!!! Super great for a galatic-minded woman such as myself. My fiancé will love it too! Thank you! you are indeed an artist!

  27. This looks awesome, need to try it sometime. Just need to convert the measurements into grams and KGs first :S

  28. such a beautiful cake! we would love to try this for our friend who is a meteorologist and space obsessed. by using the 3 layer 6" pans like you, what would be the bake time you found yours was finished in or we should start checking at? thank you if you respond!

  29. Hi I'm just wondering if the confetti has texture or not? I was wondering if you could substitute for cut up mini marshmallows or if they would soak up the dye?

  30. Hello Heather! Your Black Velvet Nebula Cake looks amazing! I just came across it. I wanted to ask, will the gel food colour be okay to go direct onto the black fondant? It won't blend in too much or anything like that or discolour the fondant? I am really new to this and a friend wants me to make it however I will be getting inspiration from the outside of the cake but the actual cake will be white choc mud and choc mud. two 10 inch cakes combined together so I have no idea hat I am doing, how to stick the layers together. I am a bit overwhelmed. Then someone mentioned the colous won't work, so freaking out a bit now. I know you are heaps busy, but if you do see this, any advice is greatly appreciated. I am hoping to also freeze the cakes so its one less thing to worry about to then defrost and decorate closer. Regards Christina

    1. Hi Christina! Thanks for your questions. Deep breaths! You'll do fine. If you'll refer to the blog post, I use gel food color directly on the fondant, and it is applied with a wet sea sponge. I'm not sure what is meant by 'discoloring the fondant'. If you use black or chocolate fondant then it shouldn't fade or discolor. Could you elaborate on 'someone mentioned the colors won't work'? What does that mean? Is it referring to the food color you currently have? I recommend gel food color and white food color for the best end result. I have a link to the white food color in the blog post. I think that's a great idea to freeze the cakes ahead of time - smart thinking! My suggestion is to read the instructions carefully on the blog post and then let me know if you have any further questions. xo-h

  31. Hi Heather! I just came across your cake on Pinterest and it looks truly fabulous, I have to try my hand at this :)
    Just a quick question on the cake itself- did you use the same unsweetened dark cocoa powder in the frosting as in the cake batter?
    Also, would you mind sharing what gel food color you used for your pink, blue, and violet to get such vibrant colors?
    Thank you for posting! Laura

  32. Looks fabulous! I'm not a baker so I have a question about the batter. Can you advise me on the recipe change(s) necessary to omit the baking soda and use only the baking powder?

  33. Love this! I will be making a Star Wars theamed cake and thought this would be great. I think it will be 2 tier with the Death Star on top. The tiers will be 9" and 7", do you,think it will be too "busy"? I will not make too many nebulas on each tier. I would appreciate hearing from you and your opinion

  34. I made this cake last weekend for our Earth Science teacher's birthday. It was amazing. Not only did it taste wonderful, but looked pretty darn close to yours. I did taste the black fondant before I used it and was surprised at how good it did taste. I usually make my own with marshmallows, but did not want to mess with coloring it. I did use white jimmies though and they pretty much disappeared. No worries though, it was still much appreciated and enjoyed. Thanks for another great recipe and tutorial. Elaine


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