Warning: Causes Blackouts

Now that you know, are you ready for all this chocolate?  Be advised, it’s relentless.  Start with a velvety chocolate cake, fully as rich and moist as is any devil’s food cake you’ve tried.  Top that with a creamy chocolate pudding, cooked on the stovetop, then chilled to concentrate its cocoa goodness.

Mercy?  Not likely; we’re only getting started.  On top of that, we add chocolate sprinkles, and crown it all with crumbs of that very same chocolate cake.  Chocolate, four different ways, leaving room for nothing else.  It’s all chocolate, through and through.  Told you it’s relentless.  Doesn’t seem like such a good idea any more, does it?

It does?  Still?  Knowing what you do now?  Then you’re in the company of hundreds of thousands of Brooklynites, among many others, who bought every Blackout Chocolate Cake they could from Ebinger’s Bakery from the time the establishment invented the treat, until the bakery closed in the 1970s.

The cake’s unending waves of chocolate variation inspired its name, as the specialty is visually evocative of a night without power.  Decades later, the creation still dominates the city’s culinary memory, hence the recipe’s inclusion in the modern-day Cook’s Country Cookbook.  This week brings Blackout Cake front and center again, though with slight modifications required for cupcakes.  That’s the format most conducive to the sharing, etc. that motivates many of these efforts.

Among the many versions of chocolate that contribute to the cupcakes’ sublimity is a silky chocolate pudding made from scratch and topping the dessert as would a frosting:Chocolate Pudding

Never before has one of the desserts sampled here been so devoted to one ingredient. and when it came to be, it had to be chocolate.  Of course, complexity animates the seeming uniformity, as described earlier.  Every cupcake celebrates various aspects of the chocolatier’s art, every bite brings intensifying waves of contentment.  Are you ready?  Fine, then prepare the sensory grid to be overwhelmed.


Brooklyn Chocolate Blackout Cake

For the pudding:

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

For the cake:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder (*1)
  • 1 cup brewed coffee (*2)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  •  1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • chocolate sprinkles, for garnish (optional)

Make the pudding first.  In a large saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt, half-and-half and milk.  Set over a medium flame.  Whisk in the chocolate and continue whisking constantly until the chocolate melts and the pudding thickens and begins to bubble, about three minutes.  Whisk in the vanilla and transfer the pudding to a large bowl.  Place plastic wrap directly on the pudding’s surface to prevent a skin from forming, then refrigerate for at least four hours, up to overnight.

Next, proceed with the cupcakes.  Set the oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 325°.  Place cupcake liners in two 12-capacity tins.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Place a large saucepan over a medium flame and melt the butter in it.  Stir in the cocoa and cook until fragrant, about a minute.  Off heat, whisk in the coffee, buttermilk, brown sugar and granulated sugar until dissolved.  Whisk in the vanilla and the eggs, then slowly whisk in the flour mixture.

Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 of the way with batter.  Cook for 30 minutes, then let cool on a rack for 15 minutes.  Transfer individual cupcakes to the rack to finish cooling, about 30 minutes more.

When cupcakes have cooled, select the three least “aesthetic” cupcakes of the batch (*3) and set them aside for later use.  Retrieve the pudding from the refrigerator.  Using a large spoon, or a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip if you want to be fancy, place a tablespoon or so of pudding atop each of the remaining 21 cupcakes.

Add sprinkles, if using, to each.  Take the three cupcakes you set aside earlier, remove them from the liners, then break them into generous-sized crumbs. Top each of the cupcakes with some of the crumbs (*4) and serve.


1 – Naturally, the better the cocoa powder, the better the result.  In my experience, Barry Callebaut is as good as it gets.

2 – “What am I going to do with fifty subscriptions to Ebony?” (Office Space quote.)  Likewise, what am I going to do with a cup of coffee?  Instead, use a tablespoon of espresso powder, and one cup of lukewarm water.

3 – That’s natural selection, kid.  Survival of the fittest.

4 – Bet you thought something bad was going to happen to the three cupcakes we set aside.  Instead, they ended up with the highest honors, toping the other cupcakes.  From worst to first.


35 thoughts on “Warning: Causes Blackouts

    1. Well, thanks much, Crystal!

      That’s flattering, but I figured I’d start with a food truck, as they’re all the rage right now. Cool thing about the idea is, no travel required on your part. One morning, you’ll be out for your walk and…and…

      Seriously? He actually did this? He wasn’t joking? Great – I’m gonna order a box of those cupcakes right now. Hey, I walked, like, 300 feet to get here; I’ve earned an indulgence, haven’t I?


      1. I noticed a food truck (currently unused, sadly) a few blocks from here. For its owners not to proclaim their bounty is just criminal.

        Wonder how long it’d take them to notice it “turned up missing.”


    1. Thanks, Tamara!

      The “secret ingredient” here is the espresso powder. In most every case I don’t particularly care for coffee, but this time it has just what the cupcakes need. It dusts them with perfection.


  1. This is what they mean when they say “death by chocolate.” It reminds me of a chocolate pudding cake we used to make when I was growing up. It was fabulous. Haven’t thought about that in years. 😋

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perfect memories, JoAnn! You’ve been reading long enough to recognize nostalgia’s role on these pages in sharpening yearnings, and in enriching their subsequent satisfaction.

      Of course, chocolate needs no help. All it asks is ubiquity – cake, frosting and sprinkles – chocolate covers them all. Let other flavors cry out for assistance. Chocolate supplies the whole lot.

      I read somewhere that, if taken in large enough quantities, chocolate becomes a narcotic. Of course, for this to happen, consumption would have to exceed ten pounds. Now that we know what’s required, care to give it a try?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Favorite foods from childhood always have a special significance. There really should be a more specific word for this… foodstalgia maybe! 🤔

        I do love chocolate, however 10 pounds is a little much even for me… to that effect, it’s probably best just to smoke a joint… it’s hardly illegal anymore!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No, that’s a good point, JoAnn.

        Besides, I never could determine what ultra-chocolate’s narcotic effect is supposed to be, anyway. Some people do get a light buzz (must be the caffeine) from “moderate” amounts, so maybe the high is just more of the same. Not that I’d disdain a nice buzz every now and then…

        As for “foodstalgia,” I like your creativity! Lets add another page to my Webster’s while we’re at at. There already are 1,695 of them – what’s one more?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Well hello, Angela!

      Don’t think about the chocolate. It’s inedible. I mean, if you’re into that kind of thing…

      Most people aren’t, though.

      A risk I’m willing to take, posting something unpopular, just to keep readers informed. Maybe a few of them will take an academic interest, but that’s probably not going to happen, right? Let’s face it – people hate chocolate, and one cupcake’s not going to change anything.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Come on, Angela, fess up. You did think about chocolate, didn’t you?

        See, this never will work if you don’t cooperate.

        I appreciate you trying to cheer me up, pretending an interest in chocolate, but do you think I can’t see what’s happening?

        All readers “like” chocolate. Quote-unquote.

        Fine, challenge accepted. If all of you insist on playing this game, I’m going to keep posting chocolate creations until someone blinks.


  2. Haha! Had an onion moment when I saw coffee in the list: “wait, Keith is using…” — then I noticed the asterisk. And speaking of asterisks… Those three cupcakes! Yes, I confess, I pictured a guillotine. Or a blender.

    As for the cupcakes as a whole, I have no words. Nothing could possibly sum up such feelings, except, perhaps, a somewhat evil-tinged, Cheshire-level grin.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Much obliged, Rachel!

      As you know, chocolate’s powers are astounding. Would you believe, when I was an undergrad, chocolate-covered espresso beans helped me pull many an all-nighter? Yes, chocolate did that even for its infamous ne’er-do-well cousin, coffee.

      Thus, the ground espresso lacing last week’s creations, doesn’t subtract from the whole, but it adds, oddly enough.

      Historic moment, as it’s the last time you ever will catch me typing anything nice about coffee.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Really? Huh. I must remember in the future not to underestimate chocolate’s extensive powers.

        Sorry about my even-more-excessive-than-usual tardiness lately, by the way. We had guests, and some other life stuff has been cropping up as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, I do understand you’re a woman of special talents.

        Am I really naïve enough to think you never get called away sometimes to put those skills to use? Obviously, these things take time.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes, those pirates would keep you busy. Were they given to the usual collection of grunts and “Arrrr!”s, you could pay them no mind, and instead savor exploring the club library’s Lost Treasures collection tomorrow.

        But, no! Between Rosy trying to nurture his sense of fashion, and ol’ Peg Leg over there making occasional attempts at philosophy, you’ve got to pretend an interest, and that gets exhausting, doesn’t it?

        Then you come over here and have to read me going on and on about preserved lemons. ¡Ay, pobrecita!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Oh, goodness no. Can you imagine Rosy among the fashion magazine collection? Marie Antoinette’s dresses? Running across the fountain of youth…? Just the general hubbub of a crew of pirates running loose and the inevitable cleanup would be too much.

        Come now, I have no objections to preserved lemons. If your enthusiasm about cooking was a negative, I probably wouldn’t have followed your (cooking-related) blog. As it stands, I’d say that enthusiasm is more contagious than anything, even if it might not have an immediately notable effect on me.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Don’t you remember Rosy’s cameo appearances in “The Devil Wears Prada?” No? Naturally, as they all ended up on the cutting room floor. Even my man Stanley Tucci couldn’t rescue the scenes.

        That was just one pirate, too. You only can imagine the chaos a full crew would inflict. If rum fueled them too? Good God. It’s fortunate all the barrels of Rosy’s Reserve, eh….disappeared, when the bar went up in flame.

        By the way, if preserved lemons don’t have a notable effect on you, maybe you’re doing them wrong. I know I was unduly leery for years, before unsated curiosity inspired a tasting. Then I wondered where they had been all my life. Right under my disdainful, upturned nose, apparently.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Hehe. Aye, “fortunate” indeed.

        The trouble is, I’m slow to actually taking action. On pretty much everything. The intention may be there, but I have to see an opportunity, or have an undeniable reason, or I’ll just talk myself out of it. There’s been many a time I’ve pushed things (sometimes rather big things) into the back of my mind to churn, where they’ve continued to churn, sometimes for years.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I’m much the same way. Or was so, especially in a former era.

        Like everything else on this planet, it all comes down to self-confidence. Taking action no matter what, consequences be…darned, is absolutely necessary for anything useful to happen, but for people like us, it isn’t so easy. Actually, it’s nearly impossible.

        How do I go about doing this nowadays? It still is only an occasional motivation, but it does happen much more frequently than it once did. I wish I could tell you how, but that would require me to think about it, and then I’m lost. Ensnared in my mind’s tangles.

        Having someone who believed in me did wonders, both for my assurance, as well as for my optimism. Find someone who, likewise, believes in you, and you’ll see…

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Huh. Indeed, it’s not an easy thing at all. Which means, progress is progress. And hey, getting lost (or, one might say, wandering) when trying to recall the paths taken, prevents one from being able to backtrack.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Rachel, you might argue, even, our whole lives spring from an original path diverted.

        Off we went, crawling towards that thing across the room that had captured our eleven-month-old imaginations, when something else along the way became an even newer obsession.

        There we parked. next to the ottoman, instead of the coffee table. From there, our journey next took us to…

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Can you imagine the psychology- and the physiology – of that first bite? The lustrous creaminess, and the warm contentment pulsing through our souls. Just think – nothing for all existence, and then…that.

        I imagine most of us were in early toddlerhood before our parents introduced us to chocolate. More than enough to blow a two-year-old’s mind and to make him or her a lifelong (and gloriously happy) addict!

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Oh, there’s that too, Rachel. After all, something had to make you receptive to chocolate’s charms.

        Nature or Nurture? How about both? See, you knew what this world was all about before you even were born, and you came prepared!

        Liked by 1 person

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