An easy one-bowl chocolate cake, topped with a delicious and intriguing black pepper buttercream icing. The black pepper adds a subtle fragrant spice that pairs beautifully with the vanilla buttercream and chocolate cake.
Recipe commissioned by Schwartz.
Black Pepper Buttercream
Black pepper buttercream? Trust me on this, it’s amazing.
Years ago you were skeptical of salted caramel but fell in love with the flavour contrast. Well, black pepper icing is an extension of that. It takes a very familiar everyday taste and aroma and merges it with a sweet vanilla buttercream icing. The result is a sweet frosting with a delicate warming undertone.
The finely ground fresh black pepper adds a subtly intense fragrant heat to the fluffy vanilla buttercream icing.
The depth of flavour is incredible and it pairs beautifully with the chocolate cake.
Unexpected food pairings
Typically savoury ingredients can really add a bit of ‘wow’ to sweet dishes.
Black pepper works well with strawberries in salads, so I’ve sandwiched the cake layers with strawberry jam and added a crown of fresh strawberries to the top of the frosted cake.
Pepper also pairs with chocolate and vanilla, so it compliments the sponge and buttercream, while adding a burst of fragrant spice to the sweet treat.
More black pepper recipes
I’ve previously made Sweet Spinach Yorkshire Puddings with Roasted Black Pepper Strawberries. You could also try my Turmeric Mango Lassi with Candied Black Pepper Almonds. Black pepper improves us absorb of the health properties of turmeric, so I always add some to this spiced golden turmeric milk from Food to Glow when I make it if I’m feeling ill or just want a comforting drink.
Schwartz Black Peppercorns
I always have a jar of Schwartz black peppercorns in my heaving herb and spice drawer. These dried vine berries have a wonderful warm flavour and a hot spicy taste, and I can always trust Schwartz herbs and spices to be top quality. I have a little collection of vintage pepper mills so I like to fill them up and use the grounds liberally to add a bit of pizzazz to meals.
A Love of Black Pepper
I love that moment when you open the jar of peppercorns. As you peel the seal from the glass, the strong aroma of pepper envelops you. For me, it’s impossible not to hold it up, close my eyes and take a gentle breath through the nose of that intoxicating perfume. Maybe I’ll sneeze (call me weird, but I LOVE a surprise pepper sneeze!), maybe I won’t – it’s one of life’s little gambles.
When you really consider it, it’s no wonder that black pepper was once so highly prized and traded like currency. We’re so used to its intense scent that we don’t often truly appreciate its alluring properties.
Imagine never having encountered this ‘black gold’ before. I urge you to stop a moment and treasure it, not as a mundane condiment, but as a prized spice to be celebrated. Give it a starring role. Put it in cake.
Get the Chocolate Cake with Black Pepper Buttercream Recipe
Chocolate Cake with Black Pepper Buttercream
- 65 g cocoa powder
- 100 ml boiling water
- 3 eggs
- 175 g plain flour (all purpose)
- 175 g granulated sugar
- 100 g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 50 ml milk
- 2 ½ tsp baking powder
For the Black Pepper Buttercream
- 150 g unsalted butter softened
- 300 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners)
- 3 tbsp milk
- 2 tsp Schwartz black peppercorns (freshly finely ground)
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
To assemble (optional)
- 4 tbsp strawberry jam
- 50 g dark chocolate
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly grease 2 x 8 in/20cm round cake tins and line the bases with parchment paper.
- Add the cocoa into a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), then pour in the boiling water and stir until smooth.
- Add the remaining cake ingredients and mix until combined, (by hand or with an electric whisk or stand mixer). The batter will be quite runny.
- Divide the batter between the prepared tins and bake for 30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the black pepper buttercream:
- Use a pestle and mortar to grind the Schwartz black pepper grounds until they are very fine.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter until fluffy. Add in the icing sugar, Schwartz pepper and vanilla and beat well. If necessary, add more milk, a tsp at a time, to make it a thick frosting consistency and beat again.
- Once the cakes have cooled, spread one with the strawberry jam then place the other cake layer on top. Spread the top and sides with the buttercream and decorate with the strawberries and shaved dark chocolate.
Disclaimer: This recipe for chocolate cake with black pepper buttercream was commissioned by Schwartz. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make it possible for me to write Veggie Desserts.