Brooklyn blackout cake

Brooklyn blackout cake

The Desserts of New York
Alicia Taylor

My first encounter with the Brooklyn blackout was ten years ago when I stumbled upon a recipe and was immediately taken with the mysterious name. Then I saw a picture of the deep dark beast. It looked like (and was …) the chocolate cake of my dreams.

Inspired by the blackout drills of World War II, when city lights were muted and windows covered with black, Brooklyn chain Ebinger’s Bakery created the rich moist cake with chocolate pudding filling and glossy choc frosting. The bakery closed in 1972, but scores of New York bakeries continue the tradition, including the best classic take at Two Little Red Hens, Ovenly’s mod pitch-black rendition, and an insane doughnut incarnation at Doughnut Plant.

My BB takes its cue from Christina Tosi’s naked cakes, complete with layers of soaked chocolate-espresso cake, Oreo-laced buttercream, sticky chocolate fudge frosting and crunchy chocolate-coffee crumbs, in breathtaking shades of black and brown. It’s a little (well, a lot) of work, but so was the original and it’s worth every single bite.


Quantity Ingredient
250g plain flour
100g unsweetened (dutch) cocoa powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 eggs
440g caster sugar
125ml canola oil
240g sour cream
250ml espresso or strong brewed coffee, at room temperature
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
milk, to brush

Chocolate coffee crumbs

Quantity Ingredient
50g plain flour
35g unsweetened (dutch) cocoa powder
55g caster sugar
1 teaspoon cornflour
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
50g unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons espresso or strong brewed coffee, at room temperature

Oreo buttercream

Quantity Ingredient
30g nabisco famous chocolate wafers, (see Tip)
125ml pouring cream
50g unsalted butter, melted, pus an extra 200 g unsalted butter, chopped, softened
75g pure icing sugar, sifted

Chocolate fudge frosting

Quantity Ingredient
50g dark chocolate, finely chopped
25g unsweetened (dutch) cocoa powder
90g glucose syrup
2 tablespoons caster sugar
80m whipping cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Wrap foil around the outside of two 20 cm round springform cake tins to prevent any batter dripping out, then grease and line the bases with baking paper.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar for 2 minutes or until thick and pale. Add the oil and beat until well combined. In batches, alternately add the flour mixture and sour cream, beating on low speed until just combined. Add the coffee and vanilla, and stir well to combine (the batter will be quite runny).
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared tins, then bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C.
  5. Meanwhile, to make the chocolate-coffee crumbs, line a baking tray with baking paper. Sift the flour, cocoa, sugar, cornflour and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and coffee and, using an electric mixer, beat until the mixture comes together in small balls. Spread out on the prepared tray and bake for 20 minutes or until dry. Allow to cool completely, then loosely crumble and transfer to an airtight container until needed.
  6. To make the Oreo buttercream, process the chocolate wafers in a food processor to fine crumbs (make sure there are no small chunks or the buttercream won’t be smooth). Add the cream and melted butter and process until moistened and well combined. Add the milk and process until smooth. In a seperate, clean bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the icing sugar and the extra 200 g of butter for 3 minutes or until light and creamy. Then, add the chocolate mixture and beat for a further 2 minutes or until smooth. Set aside at room temperature until needed.
  7. To assemble the cake, using a large serrated knife, trim the tops off the cakes to make them level, then cut each cake in half horizontally. Place one base cake layer on a cake stand, then brush generously with milk. Spread over one-third of the buttercream all the way to the edges. Repeat this layering with two more cake layers, milk and buttercream. Finish with the remaining cake base, bottom side up, then brush generously with milk. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm slightly.
  8. Meanwhile, to make the fudge frosting, place the chocolate and cocoa in a heatproof bowl. Place the remaining ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until melted. Pour over the chocolate and cocoa, stand for 1 minute, then whisk until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool to a spreadable consistency.
  9. Using a palette knife, carefully scrape and smear any buttercream around the side of the cake to smooth and achieve a ‘naked’ effect. Spread the fudge frosting over the top, then pile on the chocolate crumbs and serve.


  • If you can’t find Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers, use Oreos with the vanilla filling scraped off. It’s a little wasteful, but no other chocolate cookie matches the dark choc flavour of these guys. Alternatively, make another two batches of the chocolate crumbs, omitting the coffee, and use these in your buttercream instead of the wafers.
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