Chocolate 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.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake / Cheyenne Cohen / Katie Workman / themom100.com

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

Ebinger’s Bakery

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 / Cheyenne Cohen / Katie Workman / themom100.com

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.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake

I first read about Ebinger’s Blackout Cake when I was in my early twenties, 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, the ultimate chocolate cake.  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.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake / Cheyenne Cohen / Katie Workman / themom100.com

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. I mean not a big deal either, but you know, steps.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake Filling and Frosting

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. The original recipe didn’t call for much chilling of the filling,and I added some time, since I am many other bakers found it too loose to really serve as a filling.

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 Cake / Cheyenne Cohen / Katie Workman / themom100.com

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.

Assembling Ebinger’s Blackout Cake

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: says,the original recipe:it must be consumed within 24 hours! (Though please- we have eaten this cake over several days with no grievances).

The legend, the recipe. The chocolatey, moist cake from the popular Brooklyn bakery that disappeared in 1972.

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Ebinger’s Blackout Cake / Cheyenne Cohen / Katie Workman / themom100.com

To Grandpa’s House

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.  Brooklyn Blackout Cake.  And here it was.  That very cake.  Right here, for his very own birthday.

Ebinger’s Blackout Cake / Cheyenne Cohen / Katie Workman / themom100.com

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.

More Chocolate Recipes?  Sure!

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

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Ebinger’s Blackout Cake

The legend, the recipe. The chocolatey, moist cake from the popular Brooklyn bakery that disappeared in 1972.
Yield: 12 People
Prep Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes

Ingredients

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
  • 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

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F degrees. Butter and lightly flour two (8-inch) round cake pans.
  • Make the cake: Place the cocoa in a small bowl and whisk in the boiling water to form a paste.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Using a spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
  • 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.
  • While the cake is baking, make the filling: 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 and thick.
  • 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.
  • Whisk in the hot water all at once and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the corn syrup and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for about 45 minutes until it reaches a spreadable consistency.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 763.43kcal | Carbohydrates: 85.45g | Protein: 8.05g | Fat: 45.48g | Saturated Fat: 27.5g | Cholesterol: 133.72mg | Sodium: 375.09mg | Potassium: 378.54mg | Fiber: 5.13g | Sugar: 59.7g | Vitamin A: 998.98IU | Calcium: 80.56mg | Iron: 4.58mg

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Comments

  1. Looking forward to making this as I, too, can still taste this cake from my youth. One question, where is the “note” re: filling you have referred to ?

    1. Lynda, please see the updated clarifications in the recipe. The original recipe called for less cool time for both the filling and the frosting, but I and others have found that neither thicken up enough, so I added to the cooling times. I hope it lives up to your memories!

  2. Made this for a friend’s birthday and it was an absolutely beautiful cake. I’m an experienced baker and had fun making it. The multiple steps seemed a bit daunting but with a few tweaks it turned out wonderfully. I needed more boiling water than 2 tbsps. to make the cocoa paste. I used double the cornstarch and cold water to get the filling to set. The frosting recipe was perfect and made a great fudgy frosting. The family had waay too much fun smashing the cake crumbs on the outside of the cake. We assembled the cake in advance but waited until just before to add the cake crumbs to the oustide so that they did not dry out.

    1. I had the same problem with cocoa powder water ratio. Nowhere near enough to even dampen the cocoa powder. I doubled it, then after trying to mix, dribbled some more water in the mix. I added another tbsp corn starch with 1/2 tbsp water, in a slurry, to the completed gravy like filling, and re boiled it, and rerefrigerated it. It was still soft, but you could work with it. Definitely a recipe for chocoholics. I ate some of the original Ebingers cake, pre 1972. Their cake layers and crumbs were softer, than mine, but the flavor is real close. Guess I need to make another couple to master the techniques!

  3. Had the same issue as others. The filling was just too runny. never thickened up. had to toss it and use regular chocolate pudding, the frosting and cake were perfect.

  4. I made this. I’m no baker, but it came out fine. Two issues I had. One is that there either was not enough cornstarch in the filling to allow it to set up, or there wasn’t enough time. It was in the refrigerator for about 90 minutes. The other issue was that the frosting was too thin to apply. The recipe says “up to 15 minutes” in the fridge. I would say at least fifteen minutes until it begins to set. Otherwise, this was great, and delicious.

    1. yes, I think the filling is a little loose, but it is in fact Ebinger’s recipe! I will make a note in the post about the frosting, thank you!

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