Epicure’s Brooklyn Blackout Cake
ATTENTION ALL CHOCOLATE ADDICTS:
This one’s for you.
There is a gourmet delicatessen and grocery store on South Beach called The Epicure Market. It is one of the most famous gourmet stores 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.
This market is where I developed my cooking chops, learning at the elbow of an old Philippino chef who had run the kitchen at the fabulous Fountainbleau Hotel in the heyday of Miami Beach.
Its 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 Market 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.
Brooklyn Blackout Cake
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 cup whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat milk
For the custard:
3 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
Scant 2/3 cup cornstarch
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Cut 2 circles of parchment paper or waxed 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 still 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 okay), 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 in half horizontally. Reserving 3 halves for the cake, put the remaining half in a food processor, breaking it up with your hands. Pulse into fine crumbs.
Pour 2 1/2 cups of the water, the sugar, corn syrup and cocoa powder into a large non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally.
In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1/2 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 the final 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.