Total Eclipse of the Dessert: Brooklyn Blackout Cupcakes

You may have heard there’s a full solar eclipse happening on Monday. And if you, dear reader, like me, live along the direct path of this event you may have heard the following warnings: have a stockpile of food and water at home, have a full tank of gas, be wary of possible Lizard-Man sightings, and be prepared for a large influx of people to in the area.

One of my local grocers sent out an email this week with the title “Food for your Moongate” – and then listed off a bunch of moon-themed / eclipse-themed foods they have and I suddenly decided that not only did I need eclipse food I needed the darkest, richest, gooiest treat I could make. Enter: blackout cupcakes.

My first run in with blackout cake was in Steve’s Ice Cream and I was smitten. Chocolate cake. Chocolate filling. Chocolate Icing. Dark chocolate. Bittersweet chocolate. Semi-sweet chocolate. If you are a chocolate freak, there is NOTHING about this dessert you won’t love. TRUST ME.

Blackout Cake (or cupcake as the case may be) – more commonly known as Brooklyn Blackout Cake – got its name during WWII (but the cake has been around longer than that) when the blackout drills were happening, and thus a legend was born thanks to Ebinger’s Bakery (the bakery went under in 1972, but thanks to the internet we all have access to the famous recipe). I’m not going to lie: this recipe is fiddly – there are a lot of steps and somewhere in the middle of making it you might curse, but just remember this: TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CAKE IS YOUR REWARD.

If you’re feeling like you might need something on the lighter side to go with your cupcakes (because seriously: MAKE THEM), I’ve got you covered in that department as well: breakfast salad, greens and grains salad, cranberry and pecan granola for an epic yogurt parfait, and one-pot Thai peanut pasta (which is just delicious and you need it in your belly).

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NOTE: Not in the path of the eclipse, but want to watch it? The internet and NASA has you covered – both across the nation and in my general neck of the woods: Carbondale, ILL.

SECOND NOTE: eclipse glasses – I hope, if you’ve purchased any, that you were aware of these warnings: but make sure your glasses are ISO rated and/or are from the list of approved vendors. DO NOT use glasses that fall outside of these recommendations as you can cause serious damage to your eyes that can result in blindness.

THIRD NOTE: if you are going to try and take photos of the eclipse, once again, make sure your camera is properly decked out with a solar filter – otherwise you can MELT the innards of your camera.

FOURTH NOTE: we’re all in agreement that the ONLY song we should be listening to all day is Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler – who is, naturally, singing it live during the eclipse.

SIDEBAR: Have you been watching The Defenders? It dropped on Friday and so far I am LOVING it … my only complaint is that Danny Rand is still a clueless twerp (and bless Luke Cage for taking Danny to task for his privilege), and I am LOVING how the rest of The Defender gang has the same reaction to Danny as I do: who is this twerp and why is he here?

Ebinger’s Brooklyn Blackout Cupcakes
modified from Ebinger’s via NPR
yield 24 cupcakes

Cake
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 tablespoons boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 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

Filling
1 tablespoon plus 1 3/4 teaspoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Frosting
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup scant, powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.

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 3 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 1 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.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 15 to 17 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the pans on racks for 5 minutes. Gently remove the cakes from the pans and continue to cool.

While the cake is baking, make the filling: 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 1 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 corn syrup and vanilla. Slowly whisk in powdered sugar. Cover and refrigerate for up to 15 minutes before using.

Assemble the cake: Use a sharp knife to cut a shallow cone out of each cupcake. Cut the tops off the cones and place next to their parent cupcake, set the remaining bit of the cone aside. Fill each cupcake with filling and cover with the top of the cone. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, crumble the remaining cone bits. Apply the frosting to the top of the cupcake (no need to pipe, a spoon or knife will work JUST fine). Sprinkle it liberally with the cake crumbs. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

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