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

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

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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Comments

  1. Is there a better ecioe for the filling. Everything else came out fine however I had to refrigerate the icing almost 3 hours. The filling barely set up. Can anyone tell me if ther is an updated version out there?

    1. this has been a common refrain, and while the filling is EXACTLY the recipe from Ebinger’s, it does need a lot of refrigeration.

    2. Yes, the recipe in Molly O’Neills book was missing a lot of ingredients.

      Arthur Ebinger unfortunately lied about a specialized chocolate Dutch process formula for the Cake. In fact, all of the ingredients then and now can be purchased at a local restaurant supply store.

      Think for a moment all of the items you’re adding in the cake is quite shelf stable. The beauty of Ebinger’s Blackout cake is that there were certain ingredients that made it perishable. I have the exact recipe and will make a YouTube video to dispel the fools and make the real deal.

      The moist features of the cake comes from the I total creaming of sugar & Butter, then eggs on a few rotations to fully incorporate and mix with the butter, and lastly Coffee (specialized daily brewed coffee in 1965) and Mayonnaise. This made a very rich cake.

      The filling is definitely missing the milk powder and coffee (instant). But before you begin to to do anything in this step you absolutely MUST coon the milk and sugar slightly to the condensed state, then add in your chocolates, vanilla, butter, and other ingredients. You will see that the mixture is quite thickened. The Ebinger recipe does not use cornstarch.

      Lastly, in the frosting—who lied about the corn syrup?

      You melt down your chocolate in a double boiler until just melted then bring it to room temp, add your butter to a stand mixer, then you add in more Dutch cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla, then CREAM CHEESE, then pour in your melted chocolate and fully incorporate.

      You should immediately have a thicker chocolate pudding for filling (that will still self source) and a delicious chocolate icing.

      As far as the cake crumbs—you will need to make a chocolate cake syrup to put them before applying them to the cake. The cake syrup also goes on every layer before toppings.

      Then assemble the cake and enjoy.

      This is absolutely a very rich cake full of fat loving calories.

      1. I would appreciate a link to that YouTube recipe you promised. Ebinger’s was my local bakery and boy, do I miss it! Butterbun’s too!

    3. I had the same problem, but expected that when I started out. when I make chocolate pudding,the ratio is 1/4 cup corn starch to two cups of liquid. I tried the recipe as written, and when the filling didn’t become thick enough, I rewarmed some of it, added the additional corn starch, and then mixed in the remainder of the mixture.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. This cake will be one of the best chocolate cakes you’ve ever eaten.

  7. The only correction I would make is…Ebbingers Blackout Cake does not have icing on the outside it was filled and iced with pudding. The outside covered by crumb, well, because it’s a real pain in the you know what to smooth pudding.

    1. I really don’t know – that’s what they said. But I certainly have eaten it past 24 hours! I guess the custard filling is the reason, because perhaps they don’t want to refrigerate the cake, which the custard would require after a day. But if you put in in the fridge it will last longer, and then you can bring it to room temperature before eating.

  8. The reason that this recipe is not working, especially in terms of the filling is the fact that it is suppose to be chocolate pudding.

    I use to go down to the Ebinger Bakery on 72nd St. back in the 70s; and I can tell you, Ive had my share of their Blackout Cakes!!!!!

    Obviously, when writing the recipe “eggs” was omitted from the custard filling part. Additionally, custard must have milk.

    1. I also come from Bay Ridge and adored this cake! I am now desperately trying to find anyone who remembers this particular cake that I think came from Ebinger’s as well. It was a round yellow cake with a thick, firm dark chocolate pudding in the center and on top of cake (may have had a cherry on top). The sides were exposed and had no frosting or pudding on it. I am obsessed with finding the recipe and at the very least, someone else who remembers it!

  9. Being an old Brooklyn girl, I very much remember Ebingers Chocolate Blackout Cakes. For chocolate lovers it is the best cake ever! I had an aunt who also used to bake one herself. She would spend her day cooking for her family so for her it was just part of her regular routine.
    I am thinking you likely could do a similar cake using lemon rather than chocolate, but…

  10. I use the Ebingers Chocolate Blackout Cake recipe from The Brooklyn Cookbook, Knopf Cooks American, by Lynn Stallworth and Ron Kennedy. It’s different from this one, but it’s come out perfect every time (dozens of times).

  11. 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. 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.

  12. 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. 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!

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

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