In Search of Ebinger's Blackout Cake
GutterGourmet remembers Ebinger's Blackout Cake and sets out on an almost equally quixotic search for its contemporary replacement: Entenmann's.
My grandmother ran a little Five and Dime on Flatbush Avenue in the heart of Brooklyn in the 50's and 60's. It was a toss of a baseball away from Ebbets Field, and my Mom told me that before I was born Jackie Robinson was a regular customer. Though I was too young to know Ebbets Field, I do remember that other Brooklyn institution: Ebinger's Bakeries.
Edible Brooklyn just ran a beautiful retrospective, which awoke a deep yearning for the Blackout Cake that Gram would bring over to our home in Queens in the pale green Ebinger's boxes hand tied with string. But what is "blackout" cake?
I can only describe it as an anomaly of physics, a magician baker's trick, the secret of which may well be lost to the ages. Unlike the sugary, dense, frosted buttercream that fills and tops cakes and cupcakes that are all the rave today thanks to the proliferation of cupcake shops, Ebinger's Blackout Cake eschewed frosting altogether. Instead, Blackout Cake was a quivering mass of chocolate pudding filled and topped with chocolate cake crumbs. A veritable inside out cake with no discernible means of holding it together — it defied the law of gravity. It also defied the law of taste, because it was so light, so chocolaty, so freakin' good.
Ebinger's chocolate cake truly was the best chocolate cake in the world. There are other pretenders who may claim that title, including Portugal's O Melhor Bolo De Chocolate Do Mundo. I've tried them all. Let me tell you they all pale in comparison to Ebinger's Blackout Cake. But like the Dodgers, Ebinger's left Brooklyn long ago and no longer exists except in the childhood memories of it devotees. So what to do?
Blackout cupcakes at Doughnut Plant and Two Little Red Hens are damn good, but still don't do justice to the original. Unlike other food writers who falsely claim ambivalence over disclosing their favorite hidden gems, I really don't want to reveal to you, dear reader, how I satisfy my lifelong Blackout Cake obsession lest I be further deprived.
Unfortunately, my editor, Arthur Bovino, would not tolerate such selfishness, so without further ado, I will tell you that Entenmann's has brought back its authentic version of Blackout Cake which, while not quite Ebinger's, still brings a tear to my eyes every time I miraculously find a box. I even forgive them for putting what should've been a round cake into a square box.
All you have to do is go to the Entenmann's website and find Blackout Cake under their product listing. Use their store locater to find which supermarkets within proximity to your zip code have received Blackout Cake shipments within the last three days and get in the car and go. This requires patience as the markets only receive several boxes and are invariably sold out. Last night I drove to five supermarkets before I hit a mother lode of three boxes of Blackout Cake and bought them all! I am NOT telling you which supermarket! Good luck to all.