Julian Robinson’s Brooklyn Blackout Chocolate Cake

Updated: May 17, 2020

A filling dessert I learned to make after a week in New York with the CBSO about 12 years ago. My Partner Janet who came with me and I were frequent visitors to "The Brooklyn Diner" which was just around the corner from Carnegie Hall. This cake was on the menu! Be warned, making the chocolate custard needs a very strong electric mixer, I burnt out my old cheap one making this!


Brooklyn Blackout Chocolate Cake

The filling and frosting for this rich chocolate cake are made from an eggless chocolate custard. This recipe for Brooklyn Blackout Cake makes a stunning cake that would taste delicious with a slug of espresso. It can be refrigerated to set slightly before serving. The top layer of frosting is covered with crumbled chocolate sponge, so the almost black custard just peeks through.

Brooklyn Blackout Cake – Recipe

Ingredients – Makes 10-12 slices

100g unsalted butter, at room temperature

260g caster sugar

2 eggs

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

45g cocoa powder

¾ teaspoon baking powder

Bicarbonate of soda ¾ tsp.

A pinch of salt

170g plain flour

160ml whole milk

To make the chocolate custard:

500g caster sugar

1 tablespoon golden syrup

125g cocoa powder

200g cornflour

85g unsalted butter, cubed

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Equipment – Three 20cm cake tins, base-lined with greaseproof paper


Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.

Put the butter and sugar in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and cream until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition. Turn the mixer down to slow speed and beat in the vanilla extract, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt until well mixed.

Add half the flour, then all the milk, and finish with the remaining flour. Mix well until everything is well combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins and smooth over with a palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

For the chocolate custard:

Put the sugar, golden syrup, cocoa powder and 600ml water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Mix the cornflour with 120ml water, then whisk into the cocoa mixture in the saucepan. Bring back to the boil, whisking constantly. Cook until very thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract. Pour the custard into a bowl, cover with cling film and chill until very firm.

When the cakes are cold, using a serrated knife, slice a thin layer off one of the cakes. Put this layer in a food processor and process to make fine crumbs. Put one cake on a cake stand and spread about one-quarter of the chocolate custard over it with a palette knife.

Place a second cake on top and spread another quarter of the custard over it. Top with the last cake and spread the remaining custard over the top and sides. Cover with the cake crumbs and chill for about 2 hours.


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