Sunday, March 20, 2011

Brooklyn Blackout Cupcakes

In Brooklyn, the Blackout Cake is legendary. It doesn’t look like anything special—three layers of devil’s food cake sandwiching a dark chocolate pudding with chocolate frosting, all sprinkled with devil’s food cake crumbs—but old-time Brooklynites quiver at the 

mere mention of the cake, or the sight of its famous pale green box with brown crosshatching. The original cake was made by Ebinger’s Bakery, which opened its doors on Flatbush Avenue in 1898 and eventually became a string of over 50 branches. But 

financial instability ultimately caused the bakery to go bankrupt, and in 1972 Ebinger’s and their famous Blackout Cake went the way of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Ebbets Field. Since then, others have tried to market their own versions of the cake, but none of 

these seems to have recaptured the magic of the original Blackout Cake for die-hard Ebingerists. The best that they can do it is tap into their taste memories and try to replicate the original commercial recipe at home. Even if it’s not a perfect match, how bad can it be? 

It’s all chocolate, isn’t it? Anyhow, below is my version, turned into cupcakes. Note that you will probably have some pudding left over, but it’s delicious on its own as a dessert or snack.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Latte Crème Caramel

I know that St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and I should probably be posting about that, but the thought of making some green-frosted cupcakes or Irish soda bread or shamrock cookies just didn’t inspire me, despite the fact that I’m a ‘Boyle’. 

Yes, I’m told there’s even a town in Ireland called Boyle, but even that didn’t sway me to participate in the “kiss me I’m Irish” fun surrounding the day. I have been known to imbibe green beer when offered on March 17, but don’t ask me to be the one to add 

the food coloring; it’s against my principles. So I opted to hold off on the St. Patrick’s Day celebration until next week, and decided to make one of my favorite comfort desserts, crème caramel, instead. This one is flavored with coffee — instead of using instant espresso 

powder to flavor it though, I infuse the milk and cream base with whole coffee beans, which keeps its ivory color intact and gives it a lovely, subtle coffee flavor that pairs wonderfully with the sweet caramel. I guess, if you wanted, you could add some Bailey’s Irish Cream to the custard and serve it after your corned beef and cabbage dinner on the 17th. Just don’t color it green.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Boston Cream Doughnuts

Boston Cream Pie is an iconic American dessert created by a German-born pastry chef at Boston’s Parker House Hotel in 1855. The cake consists of sponge layers filled with vanilla pastry cream, topped off with a rich dark chocolate glaze. What a combo! These 

filled doughnuts were inspired by the Boston Cream Pie. Though they require a little time to make, but they are far better than anything you'll find in any doughnut shop. The recipe was created by my friend Carole Harlam, a talented baker, dessert maker, and 

perfectionist. Carole developed many excellent recipes for Chocolatier magazine, and this is one of my favorites. Make sure your oil is properly preheated before frying the doughnuts, or they will absorb too much oil and be greasy. When the oil is at the right 

temperature, the surface will quiver slightly. If you want to simplify the recipe, skip the chocolate glaze and dust the doughnuts with confectioners’ sugar. They’ll still be good, but they won’t be as good, trust me.