We Made a Rich, Dark Chocolate Cake That Became Famous After WWII

It's called "blackout cake," and it's layered with homemade pudding!

Ebinger’s blackout cake is part of Brooklyn history. Moist, delicate and not overly sweet, this chocolate decadence is worth the time to make.

A well-known German bakery, Ebinger’s opened on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn in 1898. There is no record of when Ebinger’s first sold a decadent chocolate layer cake, but many believe it was after George Ebinger retired in 1906, leaving the family business to his sons.

Later, during World War II, Brooklyn saw frequent blackout drills. Perhaps that’s why Ebinger’s famous chocolate layer cake was given the “blackout cake” moniker. The Ebinger family never shared their coveted recipe, but some bakers have come very close. I was lucky enough to try this recipe, and let me tell you, it was a hit!

How to Make Brooklyn Blackout Cake

You’ll need a whole day to work on and assemble this cake. It took me about six hours start to finish as I worked on it in the background of a day of cooking. The key is to allow enough time for proper cooling of all three elements—pudding, cake and frosting. If you don’t wait long enough, the final product won’t look or taste as good as the original.

See the 10 most common mistakes people make when baking a layer cake—so you can avoid them!

Ingredients

For the pudding:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (See why different chocolate is required for different recipes.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa (More on what Dutch process cocoa is here.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Make the Pudding

In a small heavy saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gently stir in milk.

Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir two minutes longer. Stir in chocolate until melted. Transfer to a bowl and stir in vanilla. Cool slightly, stirring occasionally.

Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Cover and refrigerate until cold. (It took me about two hours.)

Bake the Cake

Preheat your oven to 325°. Line bottoms of two generously greased 8-inch round baking pans with parchment paper; grease the paper. You read that right—grease the pans and the paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the cocoa. Cook and stir until blended. Stir in sugars. Remove from heat; stir in buttermilk, coffee and vanilla. Then whisk in eggs, one at a time, until blended.

Stir in flour mixture just until combined.

Split the batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Here’s how to decode the crumbs on your toothpick.

Cool in pans at least 10 minutes before removing to wire racks. Be sure the cake is cool enough so that the sides do not crumble; carefully remove the parchment paper. Cool completely.

Make the Frosting

Use a double boiler to melt the chocolate and butter; stir until smooth. Remove from heat. (No double boiler? No problem. Check out these other methods to melt chocolate.)

Whisk in hot water, all at once.

Whisk in corn syrup and vanilla. Refrigerate until spreadable. In my fridge, it took approximately 1 hour.

Assemble the Cake

Using a long serrated knife, cut each cake in half, horizontally. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread half of the pudding on the layer. Repeat steps to add the next cake and pudding layers, then top with a third cake layer.

Spread the frosting over the top and sides of cake. Crumble the remaining cake layer, sprinkling the crumbs over the top and sides of the cake. Gently press the crumbs into the cake to ensure they adhere on sides.

That’s it! Though it requires some time, the blackout cake isn’t a difficult-to-manage recipe, and the rave reviews will more than make up for the time spent on it. It is a showstopper. Enjoy!

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Jennifer Schwarzkopf
Jennifer’s 20 years as a marketing communications executive certainly lend to her skills as a copywriter and content developer, but her culinary arts degree is what ties everything together for her acumen in food writing as a Taste of Home freelancer. Half Chilean, half Irish and all joie de vivre, Jennifer’s creative endeavors include being a culinary director and executive chef, writer, photographer and artist. Her extensive travels and passion for good eats and top-notch wine give her an edge in the food-writing industry, too.
When she’s not working, you can find Jennifer spending time with her friends, family and pups.