Oh Good Lord where do I begin. The frosting that never set which made a trip to the grocery store for some store bought frosting a necessity? The "crumb layer" that was so moist there was no way I was getting anything crumbly and even time in the oven didn't dry it out enough? The panic shopping for 8 inch cake pans since the expensive beautiful new ones I got for Christmas from my Dad were 10"? The trying to put together and bake the cake late in the evening because I had to get up early in the morning and drive said cake a hundred or so miles? My error in calculations that I had to let the frosting set for 4 hours and the cake cool for at least two that made it 1AM before I said I quit, I'll do this in the morning? The tears as I poured the frosting which contained six ounces of expensive Sharffenburger chocolate down the drain because no amount of love and tender care would make it edible? Sigh.
That being said....the cake part was wonderful. REALLY moist. If you didn't know better you would say that the cake wasn't cooked enough. Fudgy cake. Really liked the flavor. And actually the store bought frosting wasn't bad with it. But I can do better....
Remember here where I said I was going to bake a cake for everyone's birthday this year? This was the start. I came across this recipe in the America's Best Lost Recipes cookbook from America's Test Kitchen. It sounded perfect to make for a birthday present. The description of the cake "fudgy, dark chocolate layers with a rich, creamy chocolate pudding that acts as both filling and frosting" sounded decadent.
The cake itself was easy to make. My main problem was the pudding frosting. It never set. I woke up after leaving it in the fridge overnight to find a runny mess. After a quick check on-line to see if anyone had any suggestions I poured the mess into a pan and tried to reheat. I then poured the frosting into a bowl, surrounded it with ice and trucked it to Dads. Where it still never set. Hoping that maybe I had frosting soup didn't work either as my second cooking of the stuff now gave the frosting a burnt flavor. Sigh. I know now, after further research, that I never got the original pudding hot enough to set. I'll have to try again.
The second problem I had was with the cake crumbs that were to go on the frosting. The cake was so moist that the layer that was supposed to be crumbled and spread over the cake just didn't "crumb". All I got were a handful of moist cake blobs (and some great fingers to lick cuz it kept sticking to them). Another quick check on-line suggested putting the layer in the oven to dry out before crumbling. So I did. Still no luck. As you can see by the photo I was able to use the extra layer to decorate but it wasn't the "blackout" look the photo in the book showed. Though that 'dried in the oven' crumb layer was okay on the original cake, a day in the fridge made it very gummy and not very tasty.
I'd still make this cake again. One of the reasons I'm not much of a cake fan is I hate dry cake...this was just wonderfully moist. But being so dense and rich it wasn't easy to eat more than a small slice (which made my thighs terribly happy). It also made a nice presentation with the "crumb" mixture. Not a quick cake to make as there are quite a few steps. I'm sure, until I get pudding making down, that other frosting recipes would work well with this cake too.
Now I'm just waiting for my baking friends to try this cake!
CHOCOLATE BLACKOUT CAKE
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup brewed coffee, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE PUDDING: Whisk the granulated sugar, cornstarch, salt, half and half, and milk in a large saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat. Add the chocolate and whisk constantly until the chocolate melts and the mixture begins to bubble, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and transfer the pudding to a large bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding and refrigerate until cold, at least four hours or up to 1 day.
FOR THE CAKE: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the cocoa powder and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Off the heat, whisk in the coffee, buttermilk, and sugars until dissolved. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla, then slowly whisk in the flour mixture.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely, at least 1 hour.
TO ASSEMBLE CAKE: Cut each cake in half horizontally. Crumble one cake layer into medium crumbs and set aside. Place one cake layer on a serving platter or cardboard round. Spread 1 cup pudding over the cake layer and top with another layer. Repeat with 1 cup pudding and the last cake layer. Spread the remaining pudding evenly over the top and side of the cake. Sprinkle the cake crumbs evenly over the top and sides of the cake, pressing lightly to adhere the crumbs. Serve (The cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days). Serves 10 to 12
Note: I used Sharffenburger chocolate for the pudding. I used Nestle's Dutch-processed cocoa powder.