Saturday, May 17, 2008

Chocolate Blackout Cake

Serves 10 to 12
It’s been over 35 years since Ebinger’s Baking Company in Brooklyn closed its doors, but for those old enough to remember the once-renowned bakery, their fondest memories are usually reserved for its Chocolate Blackout Cake. We set out to re-create this well-loved recipe in our test kitchen.

Test Kitchen Discoveries

While many chocolate recipes rely on regular cocoa powder to produce big chocolate flavor, we found most cocoa powders too astringent and often bitter. We prefer to use Dutch-processed cocoa instead, which is less acidic.

We added our cocoa powder to the butter we were already melting for the cake. This method—toasting the cocoa in the butter—produced a cake that was dark and rich, with a well- defined chocolate flavor.

To complement the distinctive chocolate flavor of the cake, we wanted the pudding to taste sweet and dairy-rich. We achieved this by using a combination of milk and half-and-half, which gave the pudding a velvety quality.Be sure to give the pudding and the cake enough time to cool or you'll end up with runny pudding and gummy cake.

Pudding
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 ounces unsweetened chocolate , chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

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

1. For the pudding: 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. Stir in vanilla and transfer pudding to large bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or up to 1 day.

2. For the cake layers: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in bowl.

3. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cocoa and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Off heat, whisk in coffee, buttermilk, and sugars until dissolved. Whisk in eggs and vanilla, then slowly whisk in flour mixture.

4. 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.

5. To assemble the cake: 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 to adhere crumbs. Serve. (Cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Recipe from America's Test Kitchen e-mail.

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