Blackout Cake

Blackout cake: layers of dark, moist chocolate cake,  chocolate pudding filling, bittersweet ganache frosting  and a final coating of chocolate cake crumbs. Chocolate layer cakes just don’t get more intensely, deeply chocolate than this.

Ebinger’s famous blackout cake is the stuff of legends (see here and here for nostalgic odes). No one knows the real recipe, but many have tried to replicate it. The original was chocolate cake, filled and frosted with chocolate pudding, but some recipes call for pudding filling and chocolate ganache frosting. A special feature of this cake is that the top and sides are encrusted with cake crumbs.

Blackout Cake
Chocolate to the nth degree: layers of moist chocolate cake,  intense chocolate pudding filling, rich ganache-like frosting and a final coating of chocolate cake crumbs.

Chocolate Cake
Basically an adaption of the Hershey’s recipe.
14 ounces sugar (2 scant cups)
8.25 ounces flour (1 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup)
2 ounces cocoa (3/4 cup)
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup cold coffee
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup hot coffee

Combine the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, vanilla, oil and cold coffee. Mix well. Add the hot coffee and stir well. Pour into two 8″ pans (greased and lined with parchment paper rounds). Bake at 350 degrees for a half hour, or until the center of the top of cake is bouncy to the touch (if it is mushy or sloshy when you touch the top of the cake, let it bake longer). Let the cake cool and turn the cake out of the pans.

Pudding Filling
Adapted from the Good Housekeeping recipe for Blackout Cake.
3.25 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
2.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
2/3 cup sugar
6 Tbl. cornstarch
3 Tbl. cocoa
2 1/4 cups soy milk
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl and set the bowl aside while you cook the pudding mixture in a saucepan. Put the bowl close to the stove. (Optional: Put the bowl on top of a damp towel or a piece of rubber shelf liner to keep the bowl from moving when you later whisk in the hot pudding mixture.)

Put the chopped chocolate into a bowl that you should also put near the stove.

Combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and soy milk in a saucepan. Whisk the mixture while heating it over medium heat. Keep whisking until the mixture get thick and starts to boil. It will be so thick that it will bubble very slowly like hot lava. Let it bubble for a minute or two.

Now you need to “temper” your eggs before you add them to the hot pudding, which means you need to add a little hot pudding to dilute them and warm them up a bit before you add them to the pot. Take the hot pudding mixture and pour a little bit of it into the eggs, whisking it in  quickly and thoroughly. Add a little bit more pudding mixture to the eggs and whisk that in quickly and thoroughly. Now the eggs should be a chocolate mixture that you can dump into the pot and whisk in to the rest of the chocolate pudding. This will change the texture of the pudding mixture a little. Return the pot to the heat and bring it to a boil, whisking constantly.

Add the chopped chocolate to the pot and whisk that in well. You make need to switch to a spatula if the mixture is too thick to whisk. Keep stirring until the chocolate is melted completely. Stir in the vanilla. Set the pudding to cool.  Refrigerate until needed. I found that the pudding was thick enough to spread even when warm, but most recipes for pudding filling advise chilling it for several hours.

Ganache Frosting
Adapted from here. You can skip this and just use the pudding as filling and frosting, but I like the ganache frosting.
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup corn syrup
6 ounces butter or margarine

Melt everything together in a bowl set over a pot of hot water (keep on low flame). Stir until all melted and smoothly combined. Remove bowl from on top of the pot of hot water and let the mixture cool. Stir occasionally as the mixture cools. The mixture will get thick enough to spread eventually. You can speed things along by putting the bowl over another bowl filled with ice, but I didn’t bother.

If the cake is a bit domed (which it probably is), level the cake by cutting off the domed part to make the cake layers flat. SAVE THE CUT OFF PARTS–YOU WILL NEED THE SCRAPS LATER. Cut the cake layers in half to make four layers.

Place the bottom layer on a cardboard cake circle or a cake plate. Spread with pudding mixture. Add another layer, more pudding mixture, then another layer, more pudding and then the final layer of cake. Spread the top and sides of the cake with the ganache frosting.

Crumble the cake scraps and press them into the sides of the cake (and the top, too, if you like, but I didn’t do that).


Here is Miriyummy’s recipe for Blackout Cake (same as the following NYT recipe, I think), and Molly O’Neill’s recipe for blackout cake in the NYT, and the ATK version.

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8 Responses to “Blackout Cake”

  1. Leora Says:

    My, my, my. What a rich cake! I doubt I would ever make it, but if someone offered me a piece, would I dare say no? I think the name is funny, considering how some people have suffered from blackouts recently. Maybe they should bake this cake in celebration when power is restored.

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      That is so true . . . I hadn’t even thought about that. It really has been a blackout summer hasn’t it? And I made the cake for a special milestone birthday because only “over the top” would do.


  2. Bubbe Says:

    This cake is fabulous !!! A chocoholic’s dream !!!!

  3. Prag Says:

    Looks amazing, but way to intricate for me sadly, can I come over for a bite 🙂

  4. Mrs. S. Says:

    Wow! This looks like the kind of thing my kids would like to bake… and eat! 🙂

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