Wow! It’s been a while. I’ve spent most of the last month in Cambridge, with the exception of Thanksgiving, and, as most of you know, my kitchen here does not have the capacity to handle major cake baking. I went back to Philadelphia for Thanksgiving, though, and I absolutely had to make a cake. I did something a little different this time. I made a cake that I didn’t think I would ever consider for the wedding cake. I stumbled across the recipe while scrolling through twitter, and decided to bake it for the sake of sentimentality. While I had never actually had the cake before, I recognized it immediately as a favorite of my mom’s from her childhood. I know this is a very unpopular opinion, but I’ve never been one for strictly chocolate cakes. I can appreciate a good chocolate cake, but I’ve always been partial to lighter cakes that have more opportunities for interesting flavor combinations, as opposed to the overwhelming (overwhelmingly good, I do admit) flavor of chocolate which often overtakes other things that it’s paired with. But let me tell you, this cake is the real deal and it is definitely in the running now.
This cake is both incredibly chocolatey, and so full of depth. It’s layers of dense but crisp chocolate cake with a simultaneously rich and airy homemade chocolate pudding in between, covered in a thick, sticky, gooey chocolate ganache. To someone like me, all this chocolate might have made me think the taste would be one dimensional, just chocolate and nothing else. That is absolutely not the case here. There are so many different textures and weights going on. The heavy, sticky ganache frosting contrasts beautifully with the lighter textured chocolate pudding. The creaminess of the pudding pairs harmoniously with the crispness of the cake layers. And you know what? It wasn’t even that hard to make. It requires a lot of pieces moving simultaneously, but it isn’t overwhelming and it is so, incredibly worth it. The fact that every piece of this cake is homemade from the pudding to the icing is what makes it taste so genuinely homemade and so rich.
The sentimental history behind the cake definitely adds that special something to the taste. This all-chocolate cake originated at Ebinger’s Bakery in Brooklyn, New York and was named “blackout cake” after blackout drills that happened during WWII. According to my mom, everybody who is anybody (read: anyone who grew up in Brooklyn) knows this cake and dreams about it regularly. We brought the cake to my aunt’s house where the two sisters fondly described all of the memories the taste of the cake sent rushing back to them through their tastebuds. Find the recipe here.
Overall Pros & Cons:
Pros: incredible depth of chocolate flavor brought out through multiple, beautifully blended textures
Cons: I have some questions about how I might decorate it in the future, if used for a more formal cake, like my wedding cake. The ganache frosting is a bit sticky and messy and does not provide for a classically “professional” finished look.
Taste Test: A+
The FIRST A+!!!! Why do I give this an A+? Well, because I can’t think of a single reason not to, especially given the fact that I don’t usually even like chocolate cakes. Everything about this cake just worked. I think the magic lies in the way all the different pieces come together. The cake, the pudding and the ganache are all independently delicious, but they come together perfectly to make every single one of them taste even better.
Decoration Test: N/A
The decoration I did for this cake was the traditional decoration – I was really going for the sentimental aesthetic. Like I noted above, ganache is stickier and harder to manipulate than frosting or fondant. I would love to try decorating with chocolate ganache to see where the bounds are and what I can and cannot do with it. Right now, that’s my only big hesitation with this cake’s decoration.
Batch Test: B-
I only made one of these, so I can’t entirely speak to how it would work in a bigger batch, but given how many steps it takes and how many different pieces happen simultaneously, I imagine it might be a bit hectic to double or triple batch this. I really do think the taste would be worth it though.
Overall Score: A
I don’t know what other praises I can sing to this cake. I don’t even have the sentimental memories but I am absolutely smitten with this cake!