The New Brooklyn Blackout Cake

When I was a kid, my family spent summers at my grandfather’s house in Brooklyn, New York. My mom was a great baker but never baked in the summer. She didn’t have to—she had Ebinger’s Bakery. It was just a few blocks away and sold blueberry crumb pies, lemon meringue tarts, and Parker House rolls that were just as good as homemade. And for company dinners, there was Ebinger’s special chocolate blackout cake. It had three layers of chocolate cake, a creamy chocolate filling, and was covered with thick fudge frosting and chocolate cake crumbs. Ebinger’s is long gone, but the cake recipe has appeared now and again in publications. My “new and improved” version has the same pudding-like filling, though I made it slightly thicker so it stays firmly in place between the cake layers. This dark chocolate cake also has the same tender texture, but unlike many such cakes, it’s easy to mix and doesn’t require beating the egg yolks and whites separately. The best thing? You never have to wait for company dinners to enjoy this cake. It’s yours for the baking.–Elinor Klivans

LC Bakeries Gone By Note

What are the bakeries of your childhood? You know, the bakeries of a time gone by whose scrumptious sweets now exist only in your memories? Tell us in a comment. Perhaps someone else out there has a recipe that approximates the very thing that you’ve been craving for all these decades….

Brooklyn Blackout Cake Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 2 H
  • 3 H, 40 M
  • Serves 12

Ingredients

  • For the filling
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the cake
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • For the frosting
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water, 88°F to 90°F (31°C to 32°C)
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  • Make the filling
  • 1. In a medium saucepan, heat the cocoa powder, hot water, sugar, and chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly until the cocoa powder dissolves and the chocolate melts. Add the dissolved cornstarch and the salt, increase the heat to medium-high, and boil gently for 1 minute, stirring constantly, especially where the sides and bottom of the pan meet.
  • 2. Remove the pan from the heat, add the butter and vanilla, and stir until the butter melts. Pour the filling into a bowl and press plastic wrap onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until the filling thickens, at least 5 hours or up to overnight. It should be the consistency of soft pudding.
  • Make the cake
  • 3. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter the bottom and sides of two 9-in round cake pans with 1 3/4- to 2-inch sides. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the paper.
  • 4. Place the chocolate, cocoa powder, and milk in a heatproof bowl (or the top of a double boiler) and place it over, but not touching, barely simmering water in a saucepan (or the bottom of the double boiler). Stir until the chocolate is melted, the cocoa powder dissolves, and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm.
  • 5. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  • 6. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed beat the butter and sugar until light in color and smooth, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Add 2 of the eggs and mix until each incorporated. Add the remaining 2 eggs and the vanilla and mix until incorporated. Beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the cooled chocolate mixture until blended and smooth. Add the flour mixture, mixing just until the flour is incorporated and the batter looks smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
  • 7. Bake just until the tops of the cakes feel firm when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Use a small, sharp knife to loosen each cake from the sides of the pan, and invert each cake onto a wire rack. Carefully remove the paper and place it loosely on the cake. Let the cake layers cool thoroughly, then discard the paper.
  • Make the frosting
  • 8. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl (or the top of a double boiler) and place it over, but not touching, barely simmering water in a saucepan (or the bottom of the double boiler). Stir until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly. Check with your fingertips that the temperature of the lukewarm water feels similar to that of the chocolate. (It should be 88°F to 90°F (31°C to 32°C) when measured with an instant-read thermometer.)
  • 9. Add the lukewarm water all at once to the chocolate mixture and gently whisk until the frosting is smooth. It will thicken slightly when the water is added. Stir in the corn syrup and vanilla. Let the frosting sit at room temperature until it cools and thickens slightly, about 30 minutes.
  • Frost the cake
  • 10. Invert a serving plate on top of one of the cake layers and turn it so the cake is top up. Tuck a strip of wax paper under the edge of the cake all the way around to keep the plate clean. Use a long serrated knife, cut the cake layer horizontally into two even layers, leaving the layers in place. Carefully slip the removable bottom of a tart pan or spring-form pan between the layers, lift the top layer, and set aside. Use a thin metal spatula to spread about half of the cold filling over the bottom half of the cake layer, leaving a 1/2-inch plain edge around. Carefully slide the top half of the cake layer on top of the filling, centering it over the bottom layer. Spread the remaining filling over the top.
  • 11. Invert the second cake layer onto a plate so that it is top up, and cut it horizontally into two even layers. Carefully slide the top layer on top of the filling-topped stacked cake layers. You will have a three-layer cake. The remaining cake will be crumbled and used to cover the frosted cake.
  • 12. Use the thin metal spatula to cover the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of the frosting. Refrigerate the cake for 15 minutes to firm the cake and filling. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the chilled cake.
  • 13. Using your fingers, crumble the remaining cake layer into small crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the cake and press them onto the sides, using all of the crumbs to make a thick crumb coating. Remove the wax paper strips. Use a large, sharp knife to cut the cake. The cake can be covered and refrigerated up to 2 days. Let it sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes before serving.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Tammori Petty

Apr 12, 2010

All I can say is fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. If you like chocolate, this cake is for you. What I liked most about this recipe was that its spongy cake layers and decadent filling were rich, without being too sweet. Although the recipe instructs that the cake should be served at room temperature, I preferred to eat my slice still a little cold from the fridge. Tips: The cake takes some time to prepare, so plan accordingly. Also, be careful as you’re cutting the cake layers—this cake produces a lot of crumbs!

Testers Choice
Leanne Abe

Apr 12, 2010

This cake is equally as beautiful as it is delicious. It’s a little time consuming—it takes about 40 minutes to bake, plus you have to make the filling and decorate it with the crumbs—but I think it’s worth it. Be careful not to add too much filling to the cake or it will ooze out of the sides. I had filling leftover, which meant I got to eat it with the leftover crumbs. Yum.


Comments
Comments
  1. Mark Traub says:

    Ahhh, Ebinger’s. I just was talking to my wife about that a few weeks ago. She had grown up in New Jersey, the Philistine, and knew nothing of the sublime beauty of an Ebinger’s cake with milk.

  2. Tiff says:

    Wouldn’t hot coffee (for the ‘filling’ recipe) impart more flavour than just using hot water?

  3. Sofia says:

    What a fabulous cake, but one for TRUE chocolate lovers. I made this for my teen daughter this past week and it was a hit. Lengthy to make but worth every second you put into it.

  4. Alexis says:

    I made this cake for Mother’s day. It was a hit! I found the cake was a tad crumbly but still delicious! Everyone loved this cake, it is a chocolate lovers dream. I will make this cake again!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      We know others who have had that exact same experience, Alexis. A tad crumbly yet so darn good they can’t stop making it! I think the texture may have to do with the slightly finer crumb common to some cakes back in the day…?

  5. If you love chocolate, you’ll definitely love this cake! Dieters avert your eyes. :)

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Send it along. Covet one of those spiffy pictures of yourself to go along with your comment? Get a free Gravatar. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

*

Daily Subscription

Enter your email address and get all of our updates sent to your inbox the moment they're posted. Be the first on your block to be in the know.

Preview daily e-mail

Weekly Subscription

Hate tons of emails? Do you prefer info delivered in a neat, easy-to-digest (pun intended) form? Then enter your email address for our weekly newsletter.

Preview weekly e-mail