Blackout Cake

1 Aug

blackout cake version 1What is blackout cake? Simply put, very dark, almost bitter sweet, very soft cake, layered and iced with dark chocolate pudding. Cake crumbs adorn the outside of the cake. Its a study in chocolate, with no distractions. Not too sweet, rich but not overbearing, so dark that light will never penetrate. Cream is a good accompaniment, but you dont really need anything at all … Just a deep respect for all things chocolate.

If you say the words Ebinger’s Blackout Cake to people who lived on the eastern seaboard of America during the 1970’s, from New York to DC, but particularly those who lived in Brooklyn, you will be greeted by moans of delight and loss. Blackout cake is a cake from a very specific time, but oh my good goddess, it is perfection in chocolate. Ebinger’s was a bakery in Brooklyn that unfortunately closed down in the mid 1970’s — and the recipe for the original blackout cake went with them. There is a huge amount of online debate about the true recipe for blackout cake, and I have often wondered which one tastes the closest to my own memory.

I grew up in Washington DC during the 1970’s and 80’s, living in an Embassy. We hosted fancy dinners for dignitaries and my mother’s go-to dessert was a version of blackout cake. It was served in long rectangular logs, each serving 20 people. My sister and I used to hover in the kitchen, making sure that any scraps were summarily dealt with. We looked at each full slice of blackout cake, floating in cream, with longing and hope… May be when we were grown up, we would have blackout cake at our dinner parties too!

I have done a lot of research about blackout cake, and I have finally decided to try the recipe posted in The Week in 2008, from Jeremy Sauer in Cook’s Country. I had hoped this cake would come close to my memory … but unfortunately, it didnt. Dont get me wrong, it was superb. Dark, chocolaty, very moist… but there was something missing. It was just a little too not-blackout. Not sure why, or where, or how, but it wasnt the cake of my memory. I have one more recipe which I will try next weekend… but for now, this blackout cake version has made us all very happy.


  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk sugar, cornstarch, salt, half-and-half, and milk in large saucepan. Set pan over medium heat. Add chocolate and whisk constantly until chocolate melts and mixture begins to bubble, 2 to 4 minutes. It will thicken like a pudding. Make sure that you mix it well enough so that the pudding does not burn at the bottom.

Stir in vanilla and transfer pudding to large bowl. Lightly butter the top of the pudding, and butter one side of sheet of greasproof paper. Place the greaseproof paper over the top of the pudding so that a skin doesnt form, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.


  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick), plus extra for greasing pans
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting pans
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 165 C. Butter two 8-inch cake pans, line the bottom with greaseproof paper, and shift a bit of cocoa powder over the buttered cake pan. This will help in removing the cake from the pan after baking.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in bowl. Set aside.

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cocoa and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. You will smell the perfect smell of cooking chocolate.

Off heat, whisk in coffee, buttermilk, and sugars until dissolved. Whisk in eggs and vanilla, then slowly whisk in flour mixture.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool layers in pans 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack. Cool to room temperature, at least 1 hour.


Cut each cake in half horizontally. Crumble one cake layer into medium crumbs and set aside.

Place one cake layer on serving platter or cardboard round. Spread 1 cup pudding over cake layer and top with another layer.

Repeat with 1 cup pudding and last cake layer.

Spread remaining pudding evenly over top and sides of cake.

Sprinkle cake crumbs evenly over top and sides of cake, pressing lightly so crumbs adhere. Serve. (Cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.) Serves 10 to 12.

5 Responses to “Blackout Cake”

  1. goddessmoments August 1, 2010 at 9:07 pm #

    Omichocolategoddess!!! This sounds just divine!! I have a deep respect for all things chocolate 🙂 Me me choose me!! xox

    • delectableblog August 1, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

      Its pretty phenomenal, goddess. I have a box I put aside just for you. Do you want me to deliver? 🙂

  2. Melanie August 1, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    Sounds divine, what is ” half and half” Pia? Thanks mel

    • delectableblog August 2, 2010 at 6:35 am #

      Hi Mel, half and half is very very rich milk. I usually make it up (because you cant buy it here) of 1 part cream to 2 or 3 parts whole milk… half and half denotes half cream half milk, but I think that mix is just too rich, especially in those quantities. x P


  1. Molly O’Neill’s Blackout Cake « delectable - August 8, 2010

    […] week, I made the blackout cake from The Week, by Jeremy Sauer from Cook’s Country. It was delicious but it lacked a certain […]

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