Kate Heyhoe

Kate's Global Kitchen

by Kate Heyhoe


Chocolate Lovers' Cake

Neighborhood Bake Shop  

February may be a short month but it packs some of the most fun holidays for cooks and bakers. Besides Chinese (or Lunar) New Year, we have Valentine's Day and later on, Mardi Gras.

Here's a little Valentine treat —known also as "Chocolate Lovers' Cake"—especially for all you chocoholics out there. It comes from a terrific book, The Neighborhood Bake Shop by Jill Van Cleave (William Morrow), which is filled with mouthwatering recipes and food lore that take us back to our youth—at least it does for some of us ancients. (For those too young to remember, just think of these recipes as cultural artifacts of generations past.)


Brooklyn Chocolate Decadence Cake

from The Neighborhood Bake Shop

This Chocolate Decadence cake is an attempt to re-create the infamous black-out cake popularized by the legendary Ebinger's Bakery in Brooklyn. Today, New York bakeries call it mud cake. My mother's neighborhood bakery Kirscbaum's, in suburban Chicago, makes it too. They call it chocolate lovers' cake, and it happens to be their biggest seller.


2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sour cream, at room temperature

Pudding Frosting:

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut into small pieces
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1-1/2 cups boiling water
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans and dust the bottoms evenly with flour, shaking out excess flour.

2. To make the cake, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together into a medium bowl. Set aside.

3. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs and vanilla, blending thoroughly. Slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the sour cream and blending well after each addition.

4. Divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans and smooth with a spatula. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes, then unmold the cakes onto the racks to cool completely.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water or in a microwave oven at 50 percent power for 1 to 4 minutes, checking every 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth and set aside.

6. Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan and whisk to mix thoroughly. While whisking, pour the boiling water over the mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, 5 to 7 minutes. Boil for 1 minute to thicken and remove the pan from the heat. Immediately whisk in the melted chocolate. Add the butter and allow it to melt, then stir in the vanilla. Pour the pudding into a bowl, cover the top with a piece of waxed paper, and allow to cool completely at room temperature.

7. To assemble, cut each cake in half horizontally to make 4 equal layers. Reserve 1 layer for the garnish.

8. Place a layer on a cardboard cake circle or a cake plate and cover with pudding. Add a second layer and spread with another coating of pudding. Top with a third layer of cake. Frost the top and sides of the cake evenly with the pudding. (The pudding frosting will look droopy at this stage.)

9. Crumble the remaining piece of cake into crumbs. (I use a food processor for this step.) Generously sprinkle crumbs all over the cake. Serve at cool room temperature.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

More Lore:

Ina Pinkney ran a small, special-order-only bakery in Chicago for seven years before opening her popular breakfast cafe. As she says, both businesses are about flour, eggs, butter, sugar, and cream, just mixed up differently.

When Ina was growing up in Brooklyn, her mother always had a cake on hand "just in case" there was drop-in company, and the black-out cake from Ebinger's was her all-time favorite. The mythology surrounding this particular cake, made by Ebinger's, a Brooklyn bakery in business for almost seventy-five years, has continued to grow. Numerous bake-offs have been held over the years, with contestants striving to replicate that moist chocolate cake, filled and frosted with dark chocolate pudding and decorated with cake crumbs.

The Neighborhood Bakeshop
by Jill Van Cleave
William Morrow & Co., $28.00/hardcover
270 pages; October 1997
Recipes and photos reprinted by permission

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This page originally published as a Global Gourmet Today column in 1998.

Copyright © 2007, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.

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This page modified January 2007

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