Brain Cake Tutorial for an Easy Spooky Halloween Cake
September 20, 2019
Red Velvet Brain Cake on white platter

Brain Cake Tutorial for an Easy Spooky Halloween Cake

This Brain Cake Tutorial is so fun for Halloween but you can follow this red velvet brain cake any time of the year for a science party, graduation party of a psychologist/nurse/doctor, or a Walking Dead marathon with friends. I'm not into super creepy Halloween themes but for some reason I'm LOVING brains. I am NOT into zombies though.

I used mini brain molds as cupcake toppers for our Mad Science party and needed a way to use this large one I found at Dollar Tree! A vision of the mold filled with cream cheese frosting, raspberry filling, and red velvet cake filled my head and I figured I might as well give it a go!

It's Day 9 of our 13 Days of Halloween. Every year I try to come up with fun ideas that surround a general theme. This year we're doing Frankenstein and sharing all things bubbly Mad Science and green. If you missed the last post it's here: Day 8 –Halloween Food Ideas for a Frankenstein Themed Dinner Party

Red velvet brain cake for easy Halloween dessert by Salt Lake City Party Stylist

Affiliate links are provided for your shopping convenience. By clicking and purchasing, I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you. But I only recommend products I use and love. Please see my full disclosure page for any questions. Thanks for being here so we can continue providing awesome party ideas that make lives better!

Red Velvet Brain Cake Ingredients

Ingredients for red velvet brain cake

So here goes nothing! If you know me, you know I'm NOT great in the kitchen. Especially when baking. I have no patience for following recipes or letting things get to room temperature. I mean, who has time for that!? {Ok, lots of people do…it's just not my thing!} So I, of course, started with a boxed cake mix.

But this time I followed the high altitude recommendations, for the first time in 15 years I might add, because I really wanted this cake to turn out. I also left the butter and cream cheese out to soften this time! So here's a list of everything you need. You can pick it all up at a local grocery store but if you don't have access to a large chain I've added links for you.

Baked Red Velvet Cake

red velvet Brain Cake tutorial

I baked the red velvet cake and it did turn out! So I recommend following those high altitude directions if you live anywhere near the mountains! (3500 feet+) As mentioned I don't bake often and found myself without proper cake pans, so I made due with the 9×11 casserole dish. Worked fine for this since I cut my piece out of the middle but the sides of this pan are curved and terrible for layering.

Now use the mold to trace around and create a brain template on the cake. You'll cut the cake later but trace the mold NOW before you start filling it with chocolate and cream cheese!

White Chocolate Shell

White chocolate with food coloring for a red velvet Brain Cake tutorial

I'm not a huge white chocolate fan but it tints well and the melting disks are super easy to work with. Pour the whole bag in a microwave safe bowl and heat 30 second bursts, stirring between. Be careful not to overheat or the chocolate will get hard and grainy. Been there done that!

After the disks are melted, add your food coloring. I typically prefer gel colorants but they are hard to measure precisely. Add:

  • 5 drops of red food color
  • 3 drops of green
Grey chocolate for a red velvet Brain Cake tutorial

Stir well until you achieve this super creepy grey matter with no color streaks!

*Fun fact – if you mix any pair of complementary colors you'll get a greyish mess. That's why it's a good idea to stay away from those color pairs when painting, dyeing, or mixing play-doh!

If you don't know what I'm talking about there's a color theory lesson on: perfect party color schemes.

Coat the Mold

Grey chocolate layer for a red velvet Brain Cake tutorial

Spoon the melted chocolate onto ONE side of the sprayed mold before it starts to cool, then pop it into the fridge for a few minutes to set up. Repeat on the other side. *If you try to do the whole thing at once it will puddle in the bottom.

Tips and Tricks: I baked my cake and coated my mold the night before, then assembled it all the next day after everything cooled overnight.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting for a red velvet Brain Cake tutorial

I made a delightful cream cheese frosting recipe from Two Sisters Crafting but I, of course, didn't follow the recipe exactly. I add less vanilla and only 2 cups of powdered sugar which gives you a dense frosting that hardens well in the fridge and helps hold the white chocolate shell together. *Put it on thick for best results!

Red Velvet Brain Cake 

First crumbled cake layer for a red velvet Brain Cake tutorial

I had visions of creating a layer cake that I carved into the mounded shape of the brain. Instead for the first later, I just cut pieces of cake and pressed them into the mold!

It worked perfectly although the cut pieces do fall apart a bit! So if the final presentation is critical…'ll want to go with the stack-then-carve method. If not, add some whipping cream to each piece and enjoy all the compliments!

Add Raspberry Filling

Raspberry layer for a red velvet Brain Cake tutorial

After the top layer is finished add the raspberry filling. I love raspberry and this was my attempt at an oozing interior. It doesn't actually ooze though, which is fine with me. But if you really want ooze, add a layer of frosting over the cake layer, then spread flavored syrup so it doesn't all soak into the cake.

Carve 2nd Cake Layer

Carving a layer for a red velvet Brain Cake tutorial

This last layer isn't complicated. But you will have to do a little carving. Since you already used the mold to make a rough outline on the cake, cut it out and place on a plate. Then carve the top edges slightly to follow the curve of the brain.

Second cake layer red velvet Brain Cake tutorial

After your piece is shaped, carefully flip it over so the curves fit into the mold. If it doesn't fit properly go ahead and carve a little more as necessary.

Trim Brain Cake

Slicing off the excess for a red velvet Brain Cake tutorial

Two layers of cake end up taller than the mold. You could leave the cake as is but the brain shell presentation isn't as dramatic with cake hanging out the bottom. So using a long bread knife slice any excess cake off the base. Lay your knife flat against the top of the mold using it to guide your cut and it's very easy. {I then spread the cut piece with extra frosting, folded it over on itself and made a mini layer cake for my kids}

Cake Crumb Coat

Trimmed cake ready for frosting red velvet Brain Cake tutorial

Step 9: Crumb Coat

Once your cake is trimmed and beautiful you'll want to add cream cheese frosting to the base and seal it all up. Even though I don't bake much I've still learned a lot over the years. Mostly from my failures! And a crumb coat is one of those things.

Cream cheese crumb coat for a red velvet Brain Cake tutorial

If you've never used a crumb coat before, this is what it looks like. It's a thin layer that seals up all the crumbs on the cake and allows you to add a final clean layer over the top once it is set. Since we sliced the cake bottom there are lots of crumbs! You could go over this again with a final layer but as it'll be crumb-coat down on the plate, I opted to leave it be.

Place it in the fridge for the frosting to set up for 30 minutes to an hour.

Unmold Brain Cake 

Halloween dessert red velvet Brain Cake tutorial

Step 10: This is your moment! Take the mold out of the fridge and let it soften just a bit. I worried about cracking so allowing the chocolate to reach room temperature is helpful.

To release from the mold: Put a little pressure on either side of the mold, twist, and tap it and when you are ready, turn it over onto a prepared plate. I used a layer of raspberry filling for our red velvet brain cake to rest on. Slightly creepy but it's not going to give my children any nightmares!

Brain Cake Sliced

The first slice of a red velvet Brain Cake

The first cut is the hardest. Chocolate shells want to crack instead of cut. Use a hot knife to help slice through that outer layer, and you can see why white chocolate is the secret ingredient! It releases well from the molds with a shiny smooth finish and makes you look like a rock star chef! No complicated frosting, no molding or rolling fondant. Just coat, layer, cool, and release! I promise you that if I can do it, you can too!

I hope you enjoyed this Brain Cake Tutorial! And I'd love for you to send a photo if you give it a try. I honestly thought I had a 50/50 of success and am thrilled to be able to share a baking win with you today!

How will you serve your brain cake? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. And if you share photos, I want to see it too! Please tag us @partieswithacause on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. We love celebrating all your hard work! 

If you love Halloween like I do – check out my Master List of Halloween Party Ideas here:

Then join me, your Healthy Hostess for better-for-you holiday and party foods. Grab your free food substitution guide as the first step in your next healthy holiday gathering.


Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Pin it for Later

Red velvet brain cake for easy Halloween dessert by Salt Lake City Party Stylist

Every Day of our Halloween Celebration

Day 1: Frankenstein Halloween Snack Mix

Day 2: Halloween Charcuterie Witch Hat

Day 3: Frankenstein Finger Breadsticks Easy Recipe

witch finger breadsticks on plate for Halloween

Day 4: Halloween Flowers and Frankenstein Decoration Ideas

Day 5: Halloween Baby Shower Food Ideas – Welcome Little Monster

Day 6: Halloween Mocktail Recipe for Monster Sunrise

Day 7: Halloween Baby Shower Theme – We Created a Monster Decor

Day 8: Halloween Food Ideas for Frankenstein Party

Day 9: Brain Cake – Tutorial for Easy Halloween Cake

Day 10: Halloween Costume Couples – Frankenstein and Bride – Monster Family

Day 11: Halloween Breakfast Ideas that are Cute and Easy

Day 12: Mad Science Birthday Party Ideas for Halloween Lovers

Day 13: Mad Science Halloween – Edible Experiments

More Halloween Treat Ideas

Brainy Mad Science Party Cupcakes

Chocolate Raspberry Skeleton Brain Dessert Shooters for Halloween

Witch Hat Cookies for a Healthier Halloween

Until next time my friend! Signature and photo

Products to LOVE


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Nice To Meet You!

Gingerbread houses in a row as table runner centerpiece for a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party I’m Bri of Parties With A Cause. I’m a mother to three crazy awesome kids, interior designer, & party planning junky. I love reading, globe trotting, and frozen yogurt. And I’m elevating the party experience one cause at a time! Read More

As Seen On

Catch My Party


I love it when you share! Please keep in mind that all images and text on this site are property of Parties With A Cause. Feel free to use one or two photos provided that a link back to my original post is included. Please do not remove any watermarks, crop, or edit any of my images without first obtaining written permission from me. All free printables offered are for personal use only. Purchased printables will come with their own terms of use. Pinning is always welcome and appreciated! Thank you!

Healthy food substitutions lists

Grab the Healthy Food Substitutions List for BEGINNERS

If you're ready to improve your lifestyle and the health of your family, join me in the "Healthy Hostess" movement. Where we serve great food to the people we love. With food that nourishes the body and events that feed the soul. Use this food subtitution list to plan more intentional holidays and gatherings. Collect healthier recipes, less stuff, and more meaningful memories, with me at Parties With A Cause. 

You are on your way to Healthier events! One food substitution at a time.

Pin It on Pinterest