Brooklyn Blackout Cake for National Chocolate Cake Day

Fran Costigan's Vegan Brooklyn Blackout Cake

Brooklyn Blackout Cake from Vegan Chocolate by Fran Costigan

For National Chocolate Cake Day, my first thought was to post the recipe for the cake that started it all for me, the Chocolate Cake to Live For, but the one I really wanted to share is the cake of my childhood, the Ebingers Bakery Brooklyn Blackout Cake. No matter where I have traveled to do a dessert demonstration, I always find a Brooklyn expat, and their love for this cake is as deep as mine. I saw a lovely woman in Atlanta get teary when I made and she tasted the Blackout. Believe me, I could do no less than a perfect rendition of the iconic cake. It tastes of childhood to me, and I’ve even had some New York chefs ask after a taste –”what, you aren’t vegan anymore?”

My family moved from Brooklyn to Long Island when I was five years old, but I have vivid memories of my father regularly travelling back to Brooklyn to buy the famous Ebinger’s Bakery Blackout Cake we all missed eating. I still miss it today. It is etched into my memory as the most perfect chocolate cake in the entire world. And I am hardly alone in my adoration of this iconic cake, which is named after the World War II blackouts. The all-chocolate Blackout Cake was composed of three fudgy layers, each slathered with a rich and creamy chocolate pudding, frosted with the same pudding, then showered with chocolate cake crumbs made from a fourth layer. As wonderful as it sounds, it tasted even better. When I set about creating a vegan version, I knew it had to be a perfect rendition for the New Yorkers— especially Brooklynites—who grew up eating this beloved cake. I am proud to say I’ve served this cake to friends who were Ebinger fans and Brooklyn natives, and they all swear it is as good as the original.

This showstopper of a cake is easy  (and fun) to assemble, requiring only that creamy chocolate pudding be spread between the layers and on the sides and top. There’s no need to be fussy about smoothing the pudding, since it’s the thick covering of crumbs that creates the final “WOW!” The cake layers can be made ahead and frozen, and the pudding can be made a day ahead and refrigerated in a covered container.

Kate Lewis’s photo of the cake is gorgeous as we have come to expect from Kate. In fact though, my Blackout Cakes, are homier with thicker layers of fatter crumbs covering the cake. You will have extra Chocolate Pudding to nibble. That’s the way it should be. Make this cake!!

 

Brooklyn Blackout Cake

Brooklyn Blackout Cake from Vegan Chocolate by Fran Costigan

Note: I think this cake tastes best with natural cocoa powder. If you cannot find natural cocoa powder where you live, you may use Dutch-process cocoa powder, just substitute 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon baking soda for the 2 teaspoons baking soda.

Makes One (9-Inch) Three-Layer Cake, 12 To 14 Servings

Ingredients

  • Double recipes Almost-Instant Chocolate Pudding (the doubled recipe follows), cooled
  • 2 cups / 414 grams organic granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups / 198 grams organic whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 cups  / 193 grams organic all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup/ 50 grams  natural cocoa powder (non-alkalized; see note about using Dutch- process cocoa powder)
  • 2 teaspoons / 10 grams  baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 grams fine sea salt
  • 
2 cups water /480 ml at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup / 160 ml  mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil or organic neutral vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons / 45 ml pure maple syrup, Grade B or dark amber
  • 2 tablespoons / 30 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon / 15ml  pure vanilla extract
  • 
1 teaspoon / 5 ml chocolate extract (optional)

Preparation

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350° Oil the sides and bottoms of two 9 x 3-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment circles. Do not oil the paper.
  2. Place a wire mesh strainer over a large bowl. Add the sugar, whole wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt to the strainer and stir with a wire whisk to sift the ingredients into the bowl. (If any small bits remain in the strainer, add them to the mixture in the bowl.) Whisk to aerate the mixture.
  3. Whisk the water, oil, maple syrup, vinegar, vanilla, and chocolate extract (if using) in a separate medium bowl until completely combined. Immediately pour into the dry mixture and whisk until the batter is smooth.
  4. Divide the batter between the 2 pans. Rotate the pans to level the batter and tap them lightly on the counter to eliminate air bubbles.
  5. Bake on the middle rack for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes are set, the sides have started to pull away from the pan, and a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.
  6. Set the cakes on wire racks. After 5 minutes, run a thin knife around the sides of each cake to release the sides of the cake from the pan. Invert each cake onto a rack. Remove the pans and carefully peel off the parchment paper. It is fine to cool the cakes bottom side up.
  7. When the cakes are completely cool, slide a 9-inch cardboard cake circle under each one. Wrap the layers with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until cold.

Assemble The Cake

  1. Use a long serrated knife to slice each cake layer in half horizontally to form four layers. Crumble one of the layers into a food processor. Pulse the processor a few times to make medium-size crumbs, but stop before they get too fine. Pour the crumbs into a bowl.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place one of the remaining three layers, still on the cake circle, on the baking sheet. Spread with a scant cup of the pudding. Place a second cake layer on the pudding, board side up. Remove the board and spread the layer with another scant cup of pudding. Slip the board under the last layer and invert it onto the cake. Spread with another scant cup of the pudding. Refrigerate the cake and remaining pudding for 20 minutes. (It is easier to finish a cold cake.)
  3. Cover the sides of the cake with the remaining pudding. Sprinkle the top and sides of the cake liberally with the cake crumbs, completely covering the pudding. Pat the crumbs lightly to make sure they adhere. Use all the crumbs, even the ones that fall onto the paper.

Keeping

It’s best to serve this cake within 24 hours, but it will hold up for a day in the refrigerator. It is not necessary to wrap the cake.

Almost-Instant Chocolate Pudding

Notes:

The cornstarch is crucial to get the right texture for this pudding. Using another starch thickener, such as my usual first choice arrowroot, would result in pudding with a stringy, unpleasant texture.

Here you can use any chocolate you like, even chips which will make a sweeter tasting chocolate pudding.

Makes about 4 cups. You will likely have more than you need- no problem

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup /222grams  organic granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup /56 grams organic cornstarch (do not use arrowroot, see Note)
  • 1/2 cup / 100 grams  Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 3/4 cups / 900 ml/ 30 ounces/ oat, soy, almond milk
  • 3 ounces / 86 grams  dark chocolate (59 to 62%), chopped into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoon/ 10ml  pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Sift the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt through a wire mesh strainer into a medium saucepan. Slowly stir in the milk. Keep stirring until no trace of any of the dry ingredients is visible. The idea is to make sure the cornstarch is completely dissolved before you turn on the heat.
  2. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken and is close to a boil. This can take as long as 12 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed to get a full boil, but don’t let it be so high that the bottom scorches. As soon as the pudding starts to boil, it will thicken to pudding consistency. Immediately lower the
    heat and boil gently for another minute, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Gently stir in the chocolate with the silicone spatula until the chocolate is melted and incorporated.
    Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Spoon the pudding into a bowl. It will be set and ready to use in about 30 minutes at room temperature, but it can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. If you refrigerate it, cover the surface with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap adheres to the pudding to prevent a skin from forming.

 

From Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, © 2013 by Fran Costigan, Running Press. Photo credit: Kate Lewis

 

Comments
  • Oh my word. This looks intense, in the BEST of ways.

    Question-
    I have everything EXCEPT maple syrup – is there anything I can sub in for it? I do have both agave and honey (which I know isn’t vegan).

    • The cake is intensely good and easy too! I never use agave in baking and honey, is generally not vegan and like agave does not bake well- in my opion but the amount is small. Agave could probably work. Cut the recipe in half and make 1 layer. Cool, taste and decide. Or just do the right thing, cause I believe you will want to make more of my recipes — on the blog, in newsletter, in Vegan Chocolate (Running Press 2013)– and get some maple syrup, grade B.

  • I’ve printed this before and my 8-year old granddaughter loves it. The original makes 1 9-inch round. It’s baking now and I just stumbled upon this. I’m printing the pudding icing to go on top (going to make a half batch!!)

    We love love love this !!

    • Hi Gloria,
      My recipes and the originial Ebinger’s Blackout cake is a three layer. (That’s why 2 layers are baked and cut in half, with the last of the 4 layers made into the crumb. I assume you printed someone else’s Broooklyn Blackout. I never saw an original as 1 9inch layer.

  • Ah, Fran, Ebengers! Blackout Cake was my Moms weakness, and my sister and I benefitted from it! But my favorite was the Black and White Cake. Only the white was mocha. Do you remember it? Would you have the recipe? I know it was a real buttercream frosting. I would ask for it each birthday. My birthday is in two weeks and my husband would bake it for me.

    • I have an uncle who preferred the ‘other’ Ebingers Cake. For me there was only the Blackout. Make a vegan vanulla cake (I have a recipe in More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts Nuturally) and a vegan buttercream and you should have the cake you want!

  • Hi Fran…. I am so excited to try your blackout cake!!! I plan to sub sugar with coconut sugar and the flour with a gluten free flour! I will let you know how my modifications turn out! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  • Sounds scrumptious!
    To my utter amazement, I have every single thing I need to make this, on hand……… except vanilla milk. I have plain almond milk, only. Can I add more vanilla extract to make it up, or must it be already in the milk?
    Thank you.

  • I am officially addicted to your “Almost Instant Chocolate Pudding” recipe. I can’t tell you how many times I have made it. This cake looks divine and I will certainly try it the next time we have company!

  • Thanks for the wonderful recipe. Planned this for my birthday, but since I didn’t make it until Valentine’s day, I told my husband it was for him!! It tastes great and I love the crumbs on and around the cake. So pretty and so yummy. Thanks for your hard work!

  • AH-MAY-ZING!!!! I love this cake and the pudding between the layers is perfection!! Thank you for sharing the recipe, your warm memories and the history behind this treat. I opt for eating this cake over looking at the eclipse through those “special eclipse” glasses. 🙂

    • Claudine, the cake is so easy. I promise you. Assistants made 2 for my class this weekend in N.C. and I made one. Some layers crumbled and it didn’t matter. The pudding holds everythign together. It looks so impressive but the taste. As you know the cake– I just can’t wait for you to try it!
      Post a photo! and Have fun!

    • Hi Marcy,
      Absolutely. The recipe for the Brooklyn Blackout Cake is made up of two recipes, as are most layer cakes. Cake recipe and filling / frosting.
      The amount of batter for the 2 layers here would bake in a 9×13 inch pan with no problem. What will you frost the cake with? You could use 1 recipe of the pudding actually as frosting. Let us know how it goes.

    • I’m so glad, Liana. I find the Blackout Cake story fascinating. I excited to know you will be making the cake for your husband. Please share photos with me!
      Warmest regards,
      Fran

  • This cake is really a show-stopper and I love how easy it is to make. I used a natural, high fat cocoa from Penzeys and an 86% chocolate. I did not use chocolate extract and with a good quality chocolate it doesn’t need it. I think the cake could be terrific with a coffee/espresso addition or maybe even Kahlua but honestly, it’s so good as it and the sweetness level is perfect, i.e., not too. I did not know about your site until just recently Fran, and it has been a game changer already. Thank you so much and I can’t wait to explore more recipes.

    • Hi Tam
      Thank you for this wonderful note. I love that cake too and you are right about variations.
      I’ve glad you are enjoying my website. Please feel free to promote it and keep making desserts! 🙂
      Fran

  • Hi – thank you for the recipe. I made the pudding last night and the cake today. In doing so, I believe there may be a couple of errors related to the pudding portion of the recipe:
    1. The recipe above says “Double recipes Almost-Instant Chocolate Pudding (the doubled recipe follows), cooled”…. however, when comparing the pudding recipe to your original pudding post it is the same EXCEPT, the above calls for only a 1/4 cup of dutch process cocoa powder instead of 1/2 a cup. It definitely, needs the full 1/2 a cup of cocoa powder. I taste tested the pudding during cooking and added the other 1/4 cup of cocoa powder.
    2. The above states the pudding will yield 2 1/4 cups. This is incorrect. As with your original pudding post it yields closer to 4 1/2 cups.
    Perhaps, did you intend to post the measurements for a half recipe of the pudding? This would make sense as I only needed half the pudding. (Actually, I used more than half of the pudding as I ended up making a 4-layer cake).
    In the end, I really liked the pudding in the cake. I used almond milk this time, but next time I think I’ll try a more neutral milk like oat milk. For the cake, the natural cocoa powder I used wasn’t chocolaty enough even though I added 1 cup plus the addition of Red Velvet extract (I didn’t have chocolate extract) and coffee granules. I think I’ll try the dutch processed cocoa powder next time to try and get a stronger chocolate flavour.

    All in all, it was easy to make and came together nicely.

    • Hi there,
      Thank you for catching the error in the amount of the yield and of the cocoa powder. Both have been corrected on the blog. They are correct in my cookbook, Vegan Chocolate. I’ve made the pudding often with almond milk, as it was developed long agon when oat milk wasn’t in the markets.

      I prefer oat but both work and soy is good here too. You will get– in my opionion — a more chocolatey pudding with the Dutched cocoa powder that listed in the recipe. Some people do prefer the natural cocoa. Both work, so it is a persobal choice, maybe what you grew up eating. The small amount of chocolate extract makes little difference. I rarely use it because the pudding tastes so chocolatey.

      Best,
      Fran

    • Hi Sunny,
      Anytime- with the exception of my oil-based pastry dough, that you see in my recipe % AP and whole wheat pastry flour (it is definitely not whole wheat I specified), you may use all AP.

      Make the cake and enjoy! Post photo and tag me! I’d love to see your result!
      Fran

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