Brooklyn Blackout Cake … and the importance of knowing your limits

Limits. How do you know when you’ve reached yours? Is there a neon sign indicating you’re there? Or perhaps a moment when you are juuuuuust about at the end of your rope and you want to scream with frustration?

It’s taken me a long time to arrive at this point, but I simply cannot deny the facts any longer. And, make no mistake about it, this is very difficult for me to admit, come to terms with, accept, and go forward with.

I have learned, through trial and error, that I cannot do everything by myself. I must, for my own health and well being, learn to ask for help when I need it.

I have tried…oh how I have tried.. pushing myself to the absolute limit…going to bed every night thinking, “Why didn’t I get *fill in the blank* done? And what about the *fill in the blank* that I have been trying to finish for the past month?”


The list, unfortunately, is endless. There is always something I meant/wanted to do, but ran out of time for. And for all the naysayers who claim, “If it’s important enough, you’ll make the time” either:

A. Had lots of help


B. Were delusional.

Fortunately, help is within my grasp and I’m not even close to being delusional, so I surmise that at the end of the day, if this is the biggest problem I have facing me, life is splendid and I’m quite a lucky gal indeed.


Brooklyn Blackout Cake – adapted from Gale Gand

1  1/4 sticks (12 tbs)  butter, softened at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 cup whole milk
3 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbs. corn syrup
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
Scant 2/3 cup cornstarch
6 tbs  (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Butter and flour 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Cut 2 circles of parchment paper or waxed paper to fit the bottoms of the pans, then press them in. In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. One by one, add the eggs, mixing after each addition. With the mixer running at low speed, add the vanilla, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda and mix. With the mixer still running at low speed, add about 1/3 of the cake flour, then about 1/3 of the milk, and mix. Repeat with the remaining cake flour and milk and mix. Pour into the prepared pans and bake until dry and springy to the touch and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean (a few crumbs are okay), 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks and let cool completely, to room temperature. Using a long serrated knife, cut the cake layers in half horizontally. Reserving 3 halves for the cake, put the remaining half in a food processor, breaking it up with your hands. Pulse into fine crumbs.Custard: Pour 2 1/2 cups of the water, the sugar, corn syrup and cocoa powder into a large non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup of water and the cornstarch. Whisk into the cocoa mixture in the saucepan and return the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking constantly, until very thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Pour into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until firm, about 45 minutes.To finish the cake, place a cake layer on a cake plate or serving platter (reserving the most even layer for the top) and spread with cooled custard. Top with another layer of cake, then custard, then the final layer of cake. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining custard. Coat the cake with the cake crumbs. Chill until ready to serve, at least 2 hours. Serve the same day.

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