Wednesday, December 1, 2010

At least it tasted good

Two years ago, I tenderly tucked away a recipe I found on the web, keeping it in limbo waiting for the perfect occasion...and as I contemplated my contributions to the Thanksgiving feast, I tripped over this recipe and remembered I wasn't the only one with fantastic food memories.

My Dad's a Brooklyn Chocoholic and that can mean only one thing for folks of a certain age: Ebinger's Blackout Cake.

Three layers of rich, moist cake held together with pools of gooey, fudgey, custardy heaven and sprinkled with a surprise crumb. And it's ALL chocolate. Not too bitter. Not too sweet. Just perfect. (sigh)

Honestly, I think the man still dreams of the pale mint boxes with thin chocolate-colored diamond lines that came from Ebinger's bakery.

As a kid, I remembered hearing Dad wax whimsically about the though it was a goddess appearing before mortals. Then I tasted the cake and understood exactly why he felt the way he did.

So for Thanksgiving, as we savor what's sweet, I baked Gale Gand's replication of the famous Ebinger's Blackout Cake...and walked down Memory Lane with my Dad.

Here goes...or click the link above.

Gale Gand's Ebinger's Blackout Cake
Makes 8 to 10 servings
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened at room temperature
¼ cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 cup whole, 2% fat, or 1% fat milk
For the custard:
3 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
Scant 2/3 cup cornstarch
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Cut 2 circles of parchment paper or wax paper to fit the bottoms of the pans, then press them in.
In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter and shortening together. Add the sugar and mix until light and fluffy. One by one, add the eggs, mixing after each addition. With the mixer running at low speed, add the vanilla, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix. With the mixer running at low speed, add about 1/3 of the cake flour, then about 1/3 of the milk, and mix. Repeat with the remaining cake flour and milk and mix.
Pour into the prepared pans and bake until dry and springy to the touch and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean (a few crumbs are OK), 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks and let cool completely, to room temperature.
Using a long serrated knife, cut the cake layers horizontally in half. Reserving 3 halves for the cake, put the remaining half in a food processor, breaking it up with your hands. Pulse into fine crumbs.
Meanwhile, make the custard: Pour 2 ½ cups of the water, the sugar, corn syrup and cocoa powder into a large nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the remaining ½ cup of water and the cornstarch. Whisk into the cocoa mixture in the saucepan and return the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly.
Cook, whisking constantly, until very thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Pour into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until firm, about 45 minutes.
To finish the cake, place a cake layer on a cake plate or serving platter (reserving the most even layer for the top) and spread with cooled custard. Top with another layer of cake, then custard, then one more layer of cake. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining custard. Coat the cake with the cake crumbs. Chill until ready to serve, at least 2 hours. Serve the same day.

Be sure to use straight-sided cake pans...mine were not and the cake looked HORRIBLE. I can not stress this enough: The cake looked like I ran the car over it and that is NOT a memory suitable for thanks.

Dad enjoyed the cake. Said it was delicious. But I'm his daughter and he would've said that even if it tasted like car tire. Mom talked about her favorite Ebinger's cake, a minty chocolate confection. (Did Ebinger's bake anything but chocolate? Probably not!) 

And everyone around the table gave thanks that Hanukkah's around the corner and my latkes look as good as they taste!