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Ebinger's Blackout Cake Recipe in Cooks Country Magazine

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Has anyone of suitable age and origin tried the recipe in Cook's Country magazine (current issue) for what is claimed to be an Ebinger's Blackout Cake?

Cook's Country is a relatively new, folksy offshoot of Cooks Illustrated, a mag that that many of you hounds likely know. Cooks' recipe research is unlike any other, and some steps in the recipe (like "blooming" the cocoa in butter) lend hope. However, the cake that so many of us remember had a filling (pudding) and a frosting (buttercream) that were distinctly different while Cooks Country uses the pudding for both.

My kitchen is being renovated, so baking is a problem, but if this recipe works, It'll be worth my doing anyway :-)

I've tried several recipes over the years (Molly O'Neill; Gale Gand; others) and some of these tasted good, but none was anything like the Blackout cake that I remember.

Cake guru Flo Braker claims that it wasn't the cake itself, but the memories of a forever lost time and place. I believed this for a while, but I've come to realize that it damn well WAS the cake! It seems inconceivable that Ebingers could disappear without a trace almost 35 years ago, yet so many people share the same memory of what must have been the best commercial bakery EVER. It seems equally inconceivable that hundreds of recipes that produced millions of cakes could have completely dematerialized.

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  1. Ebinger's is my earliest memory of cake! My Chowhound profile lists it as my favorite comfort Chow!
    I don't remember it having 2 types of filling ..ie buttercream and pudding, ...only pudding...so this one may be closer to my memory of it...I'll get the issue and take a look at it...
    EBINGERS even the name makes me salivate.....yum..Mocha butter cream cake, White Mountain Bread.....those pale green boxes!

    1. I think it's at least possible that the pudding got stiffer as a result of being spread as a thin icing layer on the outside of the cake, then covered with those crumbs. That's always been my theory. OTOH, "The Brooklyn Cookbook" has different recipes for the filling and the frosting.

      Please bake it and let us know!

      1. The "Brooklyn Black-out" cake from Gale Gand's "butter sugar flour eggs" is a good one. And as heidipie mentioned, the custard is used to "ice" the cake before coating it with crumbs.

        1. I left New York 20 years ago and still remember Ebingers blackout cake. I found a recipe in a magazine last year for the cake that actually said that it was the same cake, but have since lost it and can't remember the magazine either, but I remember the filling and frosting to be the same pudding exactly, just dryer on the outside.
          I can't seem to find that Cooks County recipe, can you get it to me?
          I stumbled on a web site that you can actually order the genuine original cake, by the way, it stated that while they sold Ebinger, they would never publish the recipe!

          1. I remember Ebingers on Church Avenue in Brooklyn (and their competitor, Jeffries)---going back to when TROLLEY ran past it!...The Blackout cake was my fave. Is it possible to print a link or a facsimile of the recipe? One of my friends let's me choose any cake I'd like her to make for my birthday each year....the Blackout Cake would be a great choice.

            1. Gale Gand's recipe gets rave reviews from Ebinger fans whenever I make it.

              I get Cooks and can't remember seeing that recipe ....

              1 Reply
              1. re: C. Hamster

                The recipe is in Cook's Country, their new magazine, NOT in Cook's Illustrated.

              2. It was most definitely NOT buttercream frosting, something I can't stand. But, embee, you're absolutely right - it damn well was the cake. My family loved it. While it was not my favorite one of their products, it was the best blackout cake I ever remember eating. Their Boston cream Pie was my favorite and bore no resemblance to any I've had in the Boston area, where I've been living for the last 30 years.

                1. The last I heard, was that the Ebinger family had all there recipes locked up in a safe place and was not interested in selling any of them. My mother knew Charlie Enterman and he was trying to obtain them. The company in Brooklyn on Ft Hamilton Pkwy really didn't have any of the original recipes, although they told me that they did and were selling their wares. I tried one or two of their cakes which I didn't like. I didn't see any of the cakes that I remembered from my youth. I was more of a Apricot or Strawberry Chiffon Pie fan and their cream puffs were great as well.
                  When I was lucky enough to get to go to their thrift shop a few blocks north of Sears Roebuck I would be in heaven. But I was very small and so without any of my own money I had to rely on my mother's whim's.

                  1. I make this cake for birthdays and retirement parties. It is always requested and most chocolate people love it. In fact, my sister has requested it for her birthday next week. It is a little messy but the pudding used as a frosting and filling is better than good. The cake crumbs used on the outside make the pudding seem more like a frosting. It is one of my favorite chocolate cakes.
                    I made the mile high chocolate cake from the current issue of Gourmet which they said might replace all of your other chocolate cake recipes. It was time consuming and lacked chocolate flavor. Waste of my time but looked great.
                    The blackout cake has a really good deep chocolate flavor, nice crumb and I prefer the pudding to butter cream. While it takes a little time to make the pudding and a mess attaching the crumbs, it is well worth it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Good_Food

                      Hi Good_Food,
                      Can I impose on you for the recipe? I would love to give this one a shot.....Thank you...BlossomGrant

                    2. Ebinger's closed when i was 8 and I have very only a faint memory of their cake. But this recipe recently appeared in a best of Cook's illustrated, and it is wonderful. It was perfect except for one thing--the cakes stuck in the pans and broke too much to make three layers. They say to butter and flour the pan; I would add some parchment next time. Go for it!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: spgayle

                        Oh, yes, we remember the Blackout Cake! Like so many others I only remember the chocolate pudding filling and ---- in my memory --- a chocolate pudding topping. (My husband says sternly, "No crumbs.") I'm away from home and don't have my copy on hand, but I'm pretty sure in Arthur Schwartz' New York Food (the definitive! by the definitive New York food maven) there is a recipe for Ebinger's Blackout Cake.

                      2. Sounds like a really wonderful and special cake.....Just Google for "Ebinger's Blackout Cake". Several websites will appear, but I notice that each recipe has it's own "tweak" to it, so can't tell what the original actually was. This is one that I copied off:

                        http://www.mail-archive.com/cake-reci...

                        New York Times also had a recipe.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Lisbet

                          It definitely WAS covered in chocolate cake crumbs, but I still maintain I didn't notice a difference in frostings...it seemed chocolate pudding like (firmer) and used inside as well as out...

                          Arthur Schwartz mentions Ebinger's and its' Blackout cake, but no recipe...

                          1. re: Lisbet

                            The one in the NYTimes was Molly O'neill's

                          2. ATK's new show (Cook's Country) had it on today. Pudding on outside and in layers. Looked AMAZING and moist. COuldn't get to paper quick enough to write down what they were saying.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: itryalot

                              the cake was good, but I'm going to try a different pudding for filling and icing. I've made it a few times and would like a bit deeper flavor and smoother texture.

                              1. re: itryalot

                                You can get the recipe on ATK.com. When its shown on TV, the recipe is availble online and its free.

                                1. re: Calipoutine

                                  You'll have much better luck finding the recipe at www.cookscountrytv.com

                                  1. re: AmyH

                                    It's there, but only available to subscribers so you either need to join or sign up for the free 2-wk trial.

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      I registered for free and the blackout cake is available, for free.

                                      There are other recipes for which you have to pay, but the blackout cake is not one of them.

                                      http://www.cookscountrytv.com/recipes...

                                      1. re: dolores

                                        Tried again(I'd already done the free reg), clicked the title in the middle of the page, and you're right - before, I clicked on chocolate blackout cake under the Premium Content section at the right, and that came back as requiring subscription.

                              2. I made the one from Trish Boyle's The cake Book. It was amazing!!

                                 
                                1. I remember the Ebinger's on Brighton Beach Avenue in Brooklyn. The cake was incredible. I have tried many times to duplicated it, not even close. I saw the recipe in "Cook's Country." Has anyone tried it and can compare it to the original? Years later some company put out what they called Ebinger products sold in supermarkets...definitely NOT.
                                  I also remember these wonderful small rectangular yellow layered cakes with raspberry jelly between the layers and chocolate icing surrounding the cake. I think my mother called them Jennies. I would love the recipe for them.

                                  Someone mentioned the 2 Red Hens for the blackout cake. Their cake is very good, but not Ebinger's.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: brooklynbabe

                                    Ebinger's on the Avenue? Near which street? I lived in Brighton in the 70's and 80's and my Dad lived there since the 20's (still lives there). I don't remember an Ebinger's there and I know he never mentioned one. I do know that pretty much all the Brooklyn bakeries, including the 2 or 3 on the Avenue that I do remember (SeaLane, anyone?) did knock-offs of the blackout cake, though.

                                    1. re: rockycat

                                      Sealane-wow! What a blast from the the past (the '60's and 70's). Was a must stop whenever we visited my grandmother on Brighton 4th and made special trips to Brooklyn even after she was gone.
                                      Never tried their blackout cake, but they had the best apple cake, great cheese danish, chocolate danish and, IIRC, marble cake, too.

                                      1. re: rockycat

                                        across from the Lincoln Savings bank!! Did anyone shop in Trump at the kosher bakery there..Mr. Myerovitz the baker..miss that.

                                        1. re: AJ112

                                          Yes, after living on Brighton 4th my parents moved to Trump. Ate many a cookie from that bakery.

                                          1. re: brooklynbabe

                                            Was that Allenby? We used to buy there, too.

                                            1. re: rockycat

                                              I don't remember the name...it was on the same blockface as Waldbaum's.

                                        2. re: rockycat

                                          It was around the corner from Stahl's Knishes (now there is another recipe I would like), near the Oceana Movie Theatre.

                                      2. I am of suitable age, but no experience on Eginger's Blackout Cake. I have "The Best of America's Test Kitchen" 2008 cookbook and found their version in it. I made it yesterday and took it to a party. All fourteen of us were standing around the kitchen with a slice of cake and as soon as everyone started tasting it, I was asked to explain the cake. It was that good. No one had heard of it before and I am making two more this weekend for parties. The pudding/custard is perfect as filling and frosting. I thought the cake batter was really thin going in the pans, but it came out perfect. I followed the directions exactly and the cakes came out of the pan just fine. It is a chocolate lovers dream.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: joannsz

                                          I would love to see pictures and recipes.

                                        2. Mmmmmm Ebinger's. My knees go weak just remembering their stuff and I lived in a Scandinavian nabe (8th Ave) that never lacked for good bakeries too!

                                          1. I made this recipe over the weekend. Overall, I was pretty happy with it. However, I wasn't too crazy about the pudding recipe as it was very cornstarch heavy and I could taste it even though I cooked the cornstarch thoroughly. I'd probably prefer a pudding recipe that contains less cornstarch and perhaps more eggs to thicken it up.

                                            However, the cake batter was delicious. It does seem a bit thin for cake batter but made a really moist delicious cake. So I'll definitely make the cake part again, but will probably look for a different pudding recipe.

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                              Huh, I guess my tastebuds aren't as good as yours. I couldn't really taste the cornstarch. I got a nice, rich chocolate pudding with a nice salty undertone to cut the sweetness. Loved it. I made Ebinger's Blackout cupcakes and they were gone in minutes.

                                              1. re: choctastic

                                                Oh my Goodness, what memories this brings for me. My cousins and I were just looking at pictures of my Grandmother working at Ebingers in Brooklyn (which is where we're all from). She used to make and bake everything including blackout cakes. We're gonna have to check the file box.

                                                1. re: Treesh

                                                  OMG! If you've got an authentic Ebingers recipe you are in possession of a treasure. Please let us know what you find.

                                                  1. re: Treesh

                                                    I can't believe the comments you get when searching for Choclate Blackout Cake! I'm from Brooklyn and yes, my knees too do get weak whenever I remember the fabulous cakes from Ebingers! I can't believe that no one has their recipes; that they just closed down and poof! no more recipes! I've downloaded several versions of this cake, but have never had the nerve to try it. This Friday is my 60th birthday and I've decided that it will never be a better time to take the plunge. BTW, my Ebingers was in Boro Park, on 13th ave. Please...if anyone has any other Ebingers recipes, please post them!

                                                    1. re: Treesh

                                                      PS: Dean & DeLuca on lower Broadway in the E Village sells Chocolate Blackout Cake for anyone who really needs a fix. I've had it and it's the real thing. Maybe they have the original recipe?

                                                      1. re: Treesh

                                                        I can't stand it! Were you able to find the original recipe in your file box? Does anyone have the original?

                                                        1. re: gbakes

                                                          NOBODY has ever seen any of these recipes. That's the problem.

                                                          What I really can't understand, and I sure do try, is why they kept everything secret. They went bankrupt, with no hope of a future revival, after opening too many suburban stores too quickly. These recipes would have been worth a fortune to someone.

                                                          Many of their cakes were unique to them. I remember a cupcake with a white coconut layer, an intense chocolate layer, and a crunchy macaron top that I've NEVER seen anywhere else. The blackout cake was famous, and they literally made millions of everything.

                                                        2. re: Treesh

                                                          Wow, if you could get the yellow cake recipe with hard chocolate icing on the outside and chocolate buttercream inside that would be fantastic. I am 69 years old and have never found a bakery anywhere that could compare to Ebinger's. We had one on Avenue J and those cakes were the highlight of my childhood. Blackout cake, Othellos and this yellow cake.

                                                    2. I am not of the right vintage to know how this recipe compares to the original - and my folks who have extremely vivid memories of other Ebinger's cakes don't actually remember the chocolate blackout cake (though my mom fell into a dream-like reverie at the mention of Ebinger's, but her family always bought the buttercream cake she says).

                                                      Anyway, I tried the Cook's Country recipe yesterday and had a mini-crises when the pudding totally didn't set at all - but since it seems like a pretty standard cornstarch pudding recipe, I suspect either I seriously screwed something up or failed to appropriately take account of the fact that my stovetop is barely functional (ktichen reno here I come . . . ).

                                                      Regardless, the cake served with the liquid not-pudding poured over top was delicious. Really great flavors. I'm definitely going to try again to assemble this cake as its supposed to be made one of these days.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: The Turtle Bay Dove

                                                        The buttercream cake she is talking about is yellow cake with chocolate buttercream filling and a hard chocolate icing on the outside. THE BEST!! Never have found anything like it anyplace. Ebinger's will never be duplicated. My daughter tried the blackout cake from the recipe's posted but it was not exactly the same. Close but no cigar! The pudding inside was not the same.

                                                      2. Back in the early '90's (1992 or '93) one of the NY newspapers published the Ebinger's recipe for the Blackout Cake. The 3 components are cake, filling and frosting. I made the recipe and thought 2 of the processes for these components (cake & filling) were rather bizarre. While my first attempt was sort of successful, I had questions about the results I was getting. I got in touch with the author of the article and she told me that the results I was getting were right on target. At the time I was a new pastry chef (2d career) in a New England city having transplanted myself from NY. I am of suitable age and origin and I can tell you I'm not old enough yet to have memory failure. I made the cake again and again (including the single marischino cherry on top, thank you) and was able to perfect it for service in the restaurant at which I worked (owned by a Brooklyn transplant). Each time I trotted this cake out on my dessert menu it was a hit. Nevertheless, in a nod to authenticity, I believe the recipe I have is as authentic as you can get. In researching this reply, I came across Molly O'Neill's recipe from her "New York Cookbook" (1992). To my suprise I compared the recipe I have with her's and it's identical, leading me to believe that it may have been her I spoke with way back when. The bottom line is, the net result of O'Neill's recipe matches my memory of what this cake tasted and looked like. The Cook's Country recipe frosts a cake with pudding. While that process is not unheard of, I don't remember the Ebinger's Black Out cake being that way, texturally. By secreting the Ebingers' recipes, the heirs to this legendary baking company may be thinking they're protecting their legacy for future generations; but if there's no one left with a frame of reference to appreciate it, what is the point? Just like the famous bakery products, there's a shelf-life to the recipes that is generational. The heirs should get a clue and publish this for all to enjoy while there's still some of us alive who would appreciate a book. Time is running out.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: Duspin

                                                          Her recipe was not really close to the original..which definitely had no cherry..sorry.....still haven't tried this recipe (ATK) but I did buy the cake pans..!.
                                                          my Ebingers was on Kings Highway just off Coney Island Avenue!

                                                          1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                                            We lived a couple of blocks from the bakery. When the wind was right, we got the smell. We seldom went to the thrift shop, though. There were long lineups and most of their stuff only had a one day life. The nearest store was on Flatbush Av, next to Macy's.

                                                            I had forgotten about this, but - in the early fifties - they used electric delivery vans that were plugged in on Snyder Av every night.

                                                          2. re: Duspin

                                                            I checked the NY Times archive and found this article, recipe on page 3.

                                                            http://www.nytimes.com/1991/06/05/gar...

                                                            1. re: Duspin

                                                              RE: Time is running out, I totally agree! I have never had the original cake, but just heard about it on America's Test Kitchen radio, and am planning to make the Cook's Country version. I really like your point; they are worried to release their recipes, I guess, but if they wait too long, i.e., another 50 years, all of the people who care because they tastes the recipes as children won't be baking anymore and the new generation won't remember their cakes so therefore won't want the recipes anyway. I think that they should definitely share them and your post made me realize the time-sensitivity of it!

                                                              1. re: sunnyskies12

                                                                Ebinger's closed 42 years ago. Another 20-30 years from now, nobody who was an adult at the time will still be alive. Even now, the number of people who remember and would be excited to make/buy the cakes is not huge. If any of the heirs are interested in *growing* a market for their products, they'd better hop to it, while there are still original customers around to encourage their younger family members to try the cakes.

                                                            2. Being a Southerner, I don't know Ebinger's, but I made that "mile high" chocolate cake in the current Gourmet and loved it. I DID substitute King Arthur's Black Cocoa for the paler one called for. I go through that black cocoa like Grant through Richmond as it gives a very hearty "chocolate taste" as well as a gorgeous color to anything chocolate. I can only find it through their catalog, but it's worth the additional expense. Try it in your next baking project. Enjoy!

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: amazinc

                                                                Which month Bon Apetit, please?

                                                                You made that Black Cocoa sound so great that I just ordered some; hated to paying shipping charge but there's no other way to buy it. The order lady said it's sort of bitter and you must mix it with regular cocoa, like 1/4 black, 3/4 regular. Is this what you do?

                                                                What else do you use it for, brownies?

                                                              2. Oops. Sorry, it's not the current Gourmet but the current Bon Appetit. Who cal tell them apart anymore??

                                                                1. The cookbook, "Cooking up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from the Times-Picayune of New Orleans," includes a recipe for what is identified as the "Ebinger's All-Chocolate Blackout Cake."

                                                                  1. I made this cake last night and it was a huge winner. It was like I had just gotten home from Ebinger's on Church Ave near McDonald Ave, opened the green box and dug in!

                                                                    The only two issues I had with making the cake were that the pudding was fairly runny, even after chilling, and one of the cakes stuck to the pan a bit. Like another poster said, next time I'll use parchment paper in the pans. Even so, it worked out OK and after putting the cake together and chilling in the refrigerator ovenight, it's close to perfect. They say you can't go home again, but with this blackout cake, it'll taste like you did! Now, if I could only recreate Ebbets Field on a summer evening I'd really be in heaven.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: AnClar

                                                                      Great News! Now if we could only find a recipe for the Mocha Buttercream Cake with the flaked almonds on the sides......!!!

                                                                      1. re: AnClar

                                                                        You need to keep cooking the pudding until it mounds in the pan when you pour some from the spoon. Then it sets up beautifully.

                                                                        1. re: DebL

                                                                          Thanks for the tip...I sorta thought it should have cooked a little longer, but whenever I first do a recipe, I try to follow it exactly...that's what I get for following the instructions...I'll know better next time. :-D My stove has kinda puny flame so I need to lengthen most cooking times. It was either that, or add a little more cornstarch.

                                                                      2. My mother grew up in Brooklyn and has great memories of this cake. She and I made this recipe (it took an entire afternoon!). Her verdict - darn close; as close as she's gotten since Ebingers closed.. The smile on her face spoke volumes.

                                                                        1. Time for another go at this, though I'm convinced that the filling and frosting were different.

                                                                          1. I greatly enjoy learning about foods, recipes and memories of folks who enjoyed "the real thing" as in the case of Blackout Cake.

                                                                            I understand your frustration in finding this recipe. I was researching Biloxi restaurant recipes (long gone favorite restaurants) when I came across a thread at Chowhound about Alamo Chicken. There's a fella that's been trying for a LONG time to come up with a facsimile to the original fried chicken recipe from Alamo Chicken in Biloxi. The quest has gotten me wanting the recipe to try it myself.

                                                                            Like you guys and the Blackout Cake recipe (to which now I'M INTRIGUED as well), there are those who believe that there are folks out there who have the original batter mix recipe for Alamo Chicken. While descendants of the Ebingers may have the Blackout Cake recipe, Alamo Chicken may have had their chicken batter prepared as a dry mix outside of the restaurant and brought in to protect the recipe. At least this is what I read at the Chow thread about Alamo.

                                                                            I wish you the best in your search, I'll lookiup the Gale Gand recipe for my research (on regional cooking).

                                                                            1. The pudding part of the Cook's Country recipe is poorly written. I started to follow it exactly but when it didn't bubble the way pudding should bubble (ie...thickly) I didn't stop at 2-4 minutes. It took about 7 minutes total for the pudding to thicken. If you make it whisk until the mixture feels as though it is thickening and just begins to bubble. The heat has to be carefully controlled at this point and stirring must be constant. Catch it at just the right moment and it will be perfect.

                                                                              1. I've tried it, it stuck something fierce and didn't really work. But I live on top of a mountain, in a desert, cakes are tough up here. So if anyone living above 5,000 feet and below 9,000 wants to take a stab at it and give me the altitude adjustments it would make my year.

                                                                                1. The Cook's Country recipe is the real deal. My mother (who had the original many times) confirmed. I have made the recipe at least 20 times. It's my son's favorite cake. I made it for his birthday last year. A few tips--pudding needs to cook at least 8-10 minutes (best to make the night before the cake); also I like to sift the dry ingredients otherwise I get little white flour lumps. Also, if you can find it use the full fat buttermilk. I actually find the cake to be a little rich for me (small pieces are a must) but I use the same cake recipe for my chocolate peanut butter layer cake which has a whipped, sweetened, tangy peanut butter filling and chocolate ganache poured over the top.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: kmslegal

                                                                                    I also did not like the pudding part of the cake. Next time I make it, I will make a pudding which includes egg yolks to make it richer and smoother.

                                                                                  2. I know your inquiry was from 2006, but in March 2014 NPR printed the recipe at the bottom of this article: http://www.npr.org/2014/03/27/2939374...

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Virtuosovoce

                                                                                      Not new news. This is the recipe I was talking about, above, 5 years ago. The Cooks Country recipe bears no resemblance to the NPR and NYT pieces--both of which are from Molly O'Neill, with whom I spoke some 20+ years ago. She was able to do adequate research (probably in preparation for her forthcoming book), and it was she who told me about how the Ebinger descendants wouldn't publish the recipes, SO, NO ONE HAS IT AND NO ONE KNOWS IT. I repeat, to what end? For my memory, Ms. O'Neil's recipe is as close to the original as one will get.

                                                                                      1. re: Duspin

                                                                                        So what is the vote on which resembles the Ebinger blackout cake more; the Cooks Country recipe or the O'Neill (NPR and NYT) recipe? (From those who, like me, have actually had the wonderful experience of the original cake). I want to try making it, but don't want to do both.