ATTENTION ALL CHOCOLATE ADDICTS:
This one’s for you.
There is a gourmet delicatessen and grocery store on South Beach called The Thal Brothers’ Epicure Market. It is one of the most famous gourmet markets in America, written up in Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines, featured on The Food Network, and on the Travel Channel. This market originated the idea of selling fine prepared foods and cooked items right in the store, cooked on site and sold ready to eat. They’ve been doing it on South Beach since the 1940’s, before anyone had ever heard of Whole Foods or Wegman’s or Trader Joe’s.
This market is where I developed my cooking chops, learning at the elbow of an old Philippine chef who had run the kitchen at the fabulous Fountainbleau Hotel in the heyday of Miami Beach.
The Epicure Market bakery is internationally recognized, and they ship product all over the world, with a secret and proprietary shipping method that permits product to arrive at a destination as fresh as it was just out of the oven. One of the most sought-after products from the bakery at the Epicure is its Brooklyn Blackout Cake. It is a frenzy of chocolate flavors that can only be described as deathly (this is the original “Death by Chocolate”). I have heard it suggested that the cake be served with whipped cream or high-butterfat vanilla ice cream, or Espresso or marscapone. Pshaw.!
Make this cake for your loved one and serve it with a cold quart of milk.
And then die happy.
It’s not an easy recipe, but it’s worth the time…
Brooklyn Blackout Cake
- ½ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons boiling water
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened slightly
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs separated
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the custard filling:
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 ¾ teaspoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 2 cups boiling water
- ¾ cup plus ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate chopped
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water see Note
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the frosting
- 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chopped
- 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
- ½ cup hot water
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven
to 375°F degrees. Butter and lightly flour two (8-inch) round cake pans.
Make the cake: Place the cocoa in a small bowl
and whisk in the boiling water to form a paste.
Combine the chopped chocolate and milk in a saucepan
over medium heat. Stir frequently until the chocolate melts, about three minutes. Remove from the heat. Whisk a small amount of the hot chocolate milk into the cocoa paste to warm it. Whisk the cocoa mixture into the milk mixture. Return the pan to medium heat and stir for one minute. Remove and set aside to cool until tepid.
In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, and the vanilla. Slowly stir in the chocolate mixture. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, slowly add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture. Fold in until just mixed.
In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Using a spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
While the cake is baking, combine the cocoa and boiling water in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in the sugar and chocolate. Add the dissolved cornstarch paste and salt to the pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and butter. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until cool.
Make the frosting: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot, not simmering, water, stirring until smooth. Remove the top of the double boiler from the heat and whisk in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Return the top to the heat, if necessary, to melt the butter.
Whisk in the hot water all at once and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the corn syrup and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for up to 15 minutes before using.
Assemble the cake: use a sharp serrated knife to slice each cake layer horizontally in half to form four layers. Set one layer aside. Place one layer on a cake round or plate. Generously swath the layer with one-half of the custard filling. Add the second layer and repeat. Set the third layer on top. Quickly apply a thin layer of frosting to the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.