Blackout Cake From Ebinger’s

This Brooklyn blackout cake, like the original from Ebinger’s in Brooklyn, is easy and, more importantly, magnificently delicious. Certain to fix your chocolate fix with it’s pudding-like filling, tender crumb, and seriously chocolatey frosting.

A blackout cake from Ebinger's on a cake stand.

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” blackout cake 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

Blackout Cake

A blackout cake from Ebinger's on a cake stand.
This Brooklyn blackout cake, like the original from Ebinger's in Brooklyn, is easy and, more importantly, magnificently delicious. Certain to fix your chocolate fix with it's pudding-like filling, tender crumb coating, and seriously chocolatey frosting.
Elinor Klivans

Prep 2 hrs
40 mins
Total 3 hrs 40 mins
Dessert
American
12 servings
815 kcal
4.54 / 13 votes
Print RecipeBuy the Chocolate Cakes cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Ingredients 

For the chocolate filling

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 3/4 cup granulated 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 chocolate 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 granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the chocolate 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

For the garnish (optional)

  • Shaved semisweet chocolate

Directions
 

Make the chocolate filling

  • 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.
  • 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 chocolate cake

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  • 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.
  • 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 chocolate frosting

  • 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.)
  • 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 blackout cake

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Using your fingers, crumble the remaining cake layer into small crumbs. Press the cake crumbs onto the side of the cake and, if desired, sprinkle them over the top of the cake. Remove the wax paper strips. If desired, sprinkle the top of the cake with chocolate shavings. Use a large, sharp knife to cut the cake. The cake can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Let it sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes before serving. Originally published April 12, 2010.
Print RecipeBuy the Chocolate Cakes cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Notes

*Can I make my own cake flour substitution?

Cake flour is a softer, lower-protein version of white flour that has been more finely milled and produces less gluten when used. This means that it bakes up softer and fluffier than all-purpose flour. But wait..you can get awfully close to the real thing by making your own cake flour substitution at home. For each cup of cake flour needed, you'll need 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 2 tablespoons removed. Add in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Then—and this is important—sift twice. You'll be aerating the flour as well as ensuring that it's well mixed. Measure out 1 cup and use in place of cake flour (sifted flour is less dense so you may end up with a little more after it's been sifted).
For this recipe, here's the math already done for you—
2 cups of all-purpose flour minus 4 tablespoons. Add 4 tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift, sift, sift. Measure 2 cups and proceed.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 815kcal (41%)Carbohydrates: 88g (29%)Protein: 9g (18%)Fat: 50g (77%)Saturated Fat: 30g (188%)Trans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 147mg (49%)Sodium: 413mg (18%)Potassium: 384mg (11%)Fiber: 6g (25%)Sugar: 61g (68%)Vitamin A: 1083IU (22%)Calcium: 93mg (9%)Iron: 4mg (22%)

Recipe Testers' Reviews

All I can say is fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. If you like chocolate, this blackout 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. 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!

I may have been giving a few elbows to some teenage boys as I tried to assemble all the components of this cake. The house was full of a rich chocolate aroma that had everyone running into the kitchen. A rich, dark chocolate cake with a wonderfully thick chocolate pudding centre and an intensely chocolaty frosting and a finish of some more chocolate crumbs. Fabulous!

For the pudding filling, I checked it at 3 1/2 hours and found it a nice thick consistency and so went ahead with assembling and decorating the cake. I did find I needed to refrigerate the frosting for about 15 minutes to thicken before I put it on the cake. My kitchen was warm so I think leaving it at room temperature wasn't going to be enough.

The cake layers sliced nicely and I didn't have any problems at all with crumbs. The filling spread out nicely and I used slightly less than half for the first layer with and extra spoonful in the middle to even things out. As per the comments I made sure to only use as much as needed and left 1/2 inch around the edge. I do have some leftover but I'm sure that will disappear quickly.

The frosting was still a bit runny when I spread out the first layer on the top but it firmed up nicely when I let it set in the fridge for 15 minutes. I also placed the bowl of icing in the fridge while the cake set and needed to stir it a few times to get it back to a spreadable consistency. The crumb topping hid all my mistakes and made for a fun finish. And everyone got to sneak a few bits before we cut into the final product!


Originally published April 12, 2010

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Comments

  1. Ok, I’m back with a couple of suggestions. My cake did fall in the middle. I think that’s why it was lopsided. I was very careful wth my measurements as well, so I was surprised when the cake domed and then fell, and so then I was very, very careful with the slicing of the layers. I put the bottom layer down on the cake plate, placed the filling, placed the second layer, and the remainder of the filling. Then the third layer. Then the frosting, which was unlike a traditional frosting. I spread the frosting on the top of the cake, but the cake was very crumbly, and so it didn’t spread onto the sides of the cake as one would typically experience with a traditional spread. The better practice, for me, was to go from the bottom up. It was a much better spread. As soon as I finished, I immediately transferred the cake to the freezer for ten minutes, and put the remainder of the frosting back into the fridge for the same amount of time to thicken it up. After ten minutes, I took it back out, and it was easier to spread. Then I patted the crumbs onto the cake, and they stuck – probably a bit too much crumb, as you can see in the image above, haha. Pop the cake back into the fridge so nothing goes sliding. Hope that helps!

  2. 4 stars
    I made this! My brother in law asked for a dark chocolate cake for his birthday, and being that the family is from NYC, it seemed like a dream come true. I’d recommend really reading the recipe throughly – I made the mistake of starting the cake 4 hours before my family came over. It can be done, but it was more stressful than it probably should have been. If you are doing this, utilizing the freezer and chilling the filling in an ice bath inside the freezer are your friend. 🙂 The cake was moist and flavorful, the filling was delicious, and the frosting was a dream. When I was making the frosting, it wasn’t a typical fluffy frosting, so it didn’t seem like it would work, but all of a sudden, things just – came together. Don’t skip a step – everything is listed for a reason. Make it – my family loved this cake and it was a hit – albeit a very sloppy and slightly crooked one!

  3. 3 stars
    Made the cake and yes, it is crumbly. Decided not to split the layers when the first (bigger) layer really crumbled when I cut it. Neither the filling nor the frosting thickened although I followed the instructions. Put the frosting in the fridge to see if it helps. Thoughts?

  4. So, I just took my cakes out of the oven and it’s completely sunken in the center. I did not change anything and was extremely precise in all my measurements. Unfortunately, it’s for a party tomorrow so I’m just gonna have to go ahead. I’m just wondering… I did read the comments about too much leavening can cause it to rise and fall… But I was pretty exacting. Is there anything else that would cause it to sink in the center? I’m going to consider this a three for now because I haven’t completed it… But all the components taste pretty good.

    1. Andrea, first, I am so sorry that happened. When I’ve had that happen, it tends to be because my oven temperature is off or I didn’t leave the cake in long enough. (Actually, it happened DISASTROUSLY two weeks ago when The One and I were making zucchini bread. Huge crater. The problem? The One used a larger loaf pan than the recipe specified and took out the bread at the time stated for the smaller pans. Bam! A crater.

      1. 5 stars
        Hi, it’s me again. So, even though it sunk a little bit in the middle, which happened to a lot of people, I sliced it and used 3 bottoms and the one less sunken top. The frosting actually turned out pretty well, I did have to chill it for a bit… Of course I had an 88° kitchen….go figure.

        My filling ended up a little bit on the loose side, even after chilling, so not sure what to do to correct that. I had no problems frosting it, and it did seem like quite a bit of crumbs were left over… Mostly on my counter and my floor.

        But… Overall… Beautiful, amazing, and delicious. I would definitely make it again, hoping for a few tweaks!

        1. Andrea,

          So happy that it ended up working for you. The cake is a bear, I must admit. My friend Katie Workman, over at The Mom 100, writes about the work that goes into the cake. (She’s referring to the original version.) I’m going to take into account all these wonderful comments form readers and see if we can synthesize them in to a tweaked recipe.

          BTW, your cake looks gorgeous!

    2. Hi Andrea, cakes can be tricky. I have one cake recipe that has never failed me yet, when I needed it for a special occasion, it flopped. There are a number of factors that can influence the rise or fall of cakes.

        • The oven is not properly calibrated and thoroughly preheated.
        • The ingredients are not at room temperature.
        • The eggs are added all at the same time.
        • The flour and leavening are not sifted together.
        • The butter and sugar are not creamed properly and the bowl is not scraped down while mixing. You are making an emulsion and all components must be properly blended.
        • You put the batter together but don’t bake it right away. Baking relies on chemical reactions and these reactions start when you mix the wet and dry ingredients. Heat is a necessary part of this equation and leaving the batter to rest while the oven heats can have lopsided results.

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