Ebinger’s Blackout Cake

The legend, the recipe.

best chocolate cake, birthday cake, blackout chocolate cake, brooklyn bakery, chocolate cake, Ebinger's Bakery, Ebinger's Chocolate Cake, ebingers, Molly O'Neill, npr
Serving Size: 10 to 12
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Ebinger’s Blackout Cake

If you don’t like very chocolately chocolate cake then you should move along quickly.  Perhaps you’d like to read about Fruit Salad on a Stick?  Or Shredded Sauteed Brussels Sprouts?  They actually quite delicious.

Now that we’ve gotten rid of the crazy people…..

Ebinger’s Bakery opened in 1898, and grew into a string of 54 bakeries, all over Brooklyn – it was THE bakery, packed with favorites people were crazy about.  Probably the most popular item was the Ebinger’s Blackout Cake, a chocolate monument that Brooklynites lived and died by.  The following was rabid.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake

And then, abruptly, Ebinger’s went bankrupt in 1972.  The end of an era.  A couple of failed attempts to revive the brand, but no more.  People bought cakes on the last day and froze them, tearfully defrosting them months later, savoring the slightly compromised flavor of a time gone by.

I first read about Ebinger’s Blackout Cake in a wonderful cookbook by Molly O’Neill called The New York Cookbook, published in 1992 and I knew I had to make it for my grandfather for his birthday.  It sounded magical.  He was then in his 80s and had grown up in Brooklyn during the heyday of Ebinger’s, and I knew he would remember it.

Ebingers Chocolate Blackout Cake

I readied myself to bake this legendary cake.  First, the very moist and very chocolatey cake itself.  Not a simple cake, a cake that involved melting chocolate, whipping egg whites, creaming, folding.

While the cake was baking I made the filling, essentially a chocolate pudding in its own right.  More stovetop cooking, lots of whisking, thickening, refrigeration.

Then the frosting: MORE stovetop cooking, 12 tablespoons of butter being added one tablespoon at a time, more whisking, refrigeration.  A total of 25 ingredients in the three components.

Ebinger’s Blackout Chocolate Cake

The cake was cooled.  And then guess what?  The directions said to slice it into four layers.  HORIZONTALLY.   And crumble one of the layers to sprinkle on top at the end.

The assembly: A layer of cake, a layer of filling, layer of cake, layer of filling, layer of cake.   Then the frosting, top and sides, and finally the crumbs sprinkled on top.  And then the kicker: it must be consumed within 24 hours!

How do I make Ebingers Blackout Cake Recipe

My dad drove and I carefully, carefully brought the finished cake to my grandfather’s apartment in Great Neck Long Island, holding it gingerly on my lap.

We had dinner. I lit the candles and presented the cake, excitedly explaining that it was in fact THE Ebinger’s Blackout Cake of his youth.  The very one people reminisced about, dreamed about.  And here it was.  That very cake.  Right here, for his very own birthday.

Brooklyn Blackout Cake

The male people in my father’s family are not overly prone to effusive praise, and so at some point I was relegated to asking my grandfather, “So, Grandpa, how do you like the cake?”

“Do you know what I like?” he asked, holding his fork aloft.

“What?” I asked, wondering what he would single out first: The flavor?  The texture?  The wonderful layering of components?

“Lemon,” he declared.

Really???  REALLY??????  I’ll give you a lemon, old man.

Don’t let this diatribe dissuade you. It’s quite a cake. I made it last night, to a much warmer reception.

Assemly of Ebinger’s Blackout Chocolate Cake with a candle on top

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake is the chocolatey, moist and legendary cake from the popular Brooklyn bakery that disappeared in 1972.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake

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For the Cake

  • ½ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened slightly
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Filling

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 ¾ teaspoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • ¾ cup plus ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water (see Note)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Frosting

  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F degrees. Butter and lightly flour two (8-inch) round cake pans.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake is the chocolatey, moist and legendary cake from the popular Brooklyn bakery that disappeared in 1972.


2. Make the cake: Place the cocoa in a small bowl and whisk in the boiling water to form a paste.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake is the chocolatey, moist and legendary cake from the popular Brooklyn bakery that disappeared in 1972.


3. Combine the chopped chocolate and milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until the chocolate melts, about three minutes. Remove from the heat. Whisk a small amount of the hot chocolate milk into the cocoa paste to warm it. Whisk the cocoa mixture into the milk mixture. Return the pan to medium heat and stir for one minute. Remove and set aside to cool until tepid.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake is the chocolatey, moist and legendary cake from the popular Brooklyn bakery that disappeared in 1972.


4. In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, and the vanilla. Slowly stir in the chocolate mixture. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, slowly add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture. Fold in until just mixed.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake is the chocolatey, moist and legendary cake from the popular Brooklyn bakery that disappeared in 1972.


5. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Using a spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake is the chocolatey, moist and legendary cake from the popular Brooklyn bakery that disappeared in 1972.


6. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans on rack for 15 minutes.  Gently remove the cakes from the pans and continue to cool.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake is the chocolatey, moist and legendary cake from the popular Brooklyn bakery that disappeared in 1972.


7. While the cake is baking, combine the cocoa and boiling water in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in the sugar and chocolate. Add the dissolved cornstarch paste and salt to the pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and butter. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until cool.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake is the chocolatey, moist and legendary cake from the popular Brooklyn bakery that disappeared in 1972.


8. Make the frosting: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot, not simmering, water, stirring until smooth. Remove the top of the double boiler from the heat and whisk in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Return the top to the heat, if necessary, to melt the butter.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake is the chocolatey, moist and legendary cake from the popular Brooklyn bakery that disappeared in 1972.


9. Whisk in the hot water all at once and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the corn syrup and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for up to 15 minutes before using.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake is the chocolatey, moist and legendary cake from the popular Brooklyn bakery that disappeared in 1972.


10. Assemble the cake: use a sharp serrated knife to slice each cake layer horizontally in half to form four layers. Set one layer aside. Place one layer on a cake round or plate. Generously swath the layer with one-half of the filling. Add the second layer and repeat. Set the third layer on top. Quickly apply a thin layer of frosting to the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake is the chocolatey, moist and legendary cake from the popular Brooklyn bakery that disappeared in 1972.


11. Meanwhile, crumble the remaining cake layer. Apply the remaining frosting to the cake. Sprinkle it liberally with the cake crumbs. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake is the chocolatey, moist and legendary cake from the popular Brooklyn bakery that disappeared in 1972.
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6 thoughts on “Ebinger’s Blackout Cake”

  1. Christine Quigley says:

    Interesting story- I had a friend that was the secretary to Mr. Ebinger himself. Very sweet guy. An aside – Ebinger’s used so much butter at their bakeries, they had refrigerated train cars deliver the butter! At least, that what she told me.
    Whether Ebinger’s went bankrupt, I can’t dispute- what my friend told me was he wanted to retire, and neither one of his 2 sons wanted to take over the business.
    How I miss their egg buns! Coffee cakes! Always had a birthday cake from Ebinger’s. They made a pineapple cheesecake to die for! But this, the blackout cake- how many times it was sold out by the time you got to the bakery. Those mint green/brown crosshatch pattern boxes, the ladies in their crisp, white uniforms and hairnets, deftly whipping that red and white string around the purchases…Miss them terribly!

    1. Katie Workman says:

      Ebinger’s is the source of so many good memories for so many people! But yours in particular is a great story!

  2. Christine Quigley says:

    Made this cake for some Brooklyn friends of mine for Christmas.
    Let me start by saying, I am not an amateur baker. I pride myself on my baking for the past 5 decades.

    The cake part was outstanding! Absolutely delicious! And it went downhill from there..
    The ‘filling’ was hot, and covering it with plastic, rather than putting it directly on the filling, produced all this condensation, which added water to the mix. Never jelled the way it was supposed to, and took forever to cool off. Went down the disposal. What a waste.
    The frosting- same thing. WAY too loose, had to add 10XX sugar and then some heavy cream, then whipped it up. Tasted great.

    Bottom line- I think your frosting needs to be beaten over some ice water, to firm it up better with all that butter- and the filling needs less liquid, and put the plastic directly on the filling.

    The cake was wonderful, though!

    1. Katie Workman says:

      I’m so sorry you had an issue – this is the actual recipe from the actual bakery. I hear you on the hot filling. And I think it would probably be better with the modification you suggest. I’m trying it your way next time!

  3. Petra Muller says:

    After tasting the amazing Brooklyn Blackout Cake at the Ladybird Bakery in Park Slope I wanted to make one myself. Like previous reviewer Christine I had no problem with the cake part; although for my taste it wasn’t rich or moist enough. My custartd filling never jellied either, even with double the amount of cornstarch. Maybe the cornstarch was super strong back in the days when this recipe was written (60’s, 70’s), or it needed to cook for a long time. The frosting was too liquid. I guess it could work as a ganache if you don’t add water. I had to run out and buy heavy cream, mixed it with the ganache and used it as filling and frosting.
    Sorry but this was not my favorite recipe!!

    1. Katie Workman says:

      I wonder if the ingredients were different back then! I’ve made it several times with no problems, though I definitely agree with you that the filling and frosting are softer than usual….so sorry.

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