Great Chocolate Cake Contest Winner: MN Blackout Cake

1st Place, 2022 Minnesota State Fair

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Great Chocolate Cake Contest Winner 

The Kowalski’s Great Chocolate Cake Contest Winner at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair was this phenomenal “MN Blackout Cake.”

With its three layers, pudding filling, chocolate drip, and decoration, this cake is a chocolate lover’s dream come true. It’s intense color and flavor are going to wow you, just like it did us and the judges.

Replicating it as we did, takes time, but every bite makes it worth the effort.

Great Chocolate Cake Contest Winner MN Blackout Cake

Kudos to Michelle Seywerd who was the Great Chocolate Cake Contest Winner at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair with this inspired creation.

Michelle’s husband loves Guinness chocolate cake which was her first idea of what to enter. Then she recalled the notorious Brooklyn Blackout Cake. Michelle’s winning recipe is a twist on it. She used this recipe as her base and then adapted a Food Network pudding filling. She added the fun chocolate shards on top too. We were shocked to learn Michelle had barely baked a cookie before the pandemic but really got into it with her daughter, who was a toddler at the time. They started with basic baked goods, watched a lot of YouTube channels, and worked up to more challenging recipes. “It’s been quite a journey,” Michelle shared.

Decadently Dark Cake

In her own words, Michelle describes her MN Blackout Cake here:

A decadently dark cake perfect for the dark chocolate lover in your life! I created a twist on the classic Brooklyn Blackout Cake by featuring black cocoa. Black cocoa is used to give Oreos that distinct color and flavor. Here, I’ve featured chocolate in 4 ways –  layers of moist cocoa cake, filled with black cocoa pudding filling, dripping with a semi sweet chocolate ganache, and topped with intense dark chocolate shards. The result – the boldest and richest chocolate flavor possible without use of food coloring. Enjoy with a nice glass of cold milk! Thank you!

Baking Tips: Great Chocolate Cake Contest Winner

Some random tips we got from Michelle and learned along the way, are these:

  • You’ll want to double the cake portion of the recipe if you want to recreate Michelle’s 3-layer version she won with at the fair. You’ll have an extra single layer that works great to taste and decorate separately. We did crushed salted peanuts on ours (4th unused layer) and loved it. You could also go for a 4 layer cake, but that’s mighty big.
  • If you opt to not double the cake and don’t want extra of the pudding filling, you’ll want to cut that recipe portion in half or do 2/3. The thick filling layer makes this cake a show stopper in our opinion. I would eat that pudding filling as a solo dessert. It’s that good.
  • We got our black cocoa from King Arthur and loved the results. Get yours here.
  • Using black cocoa over the buttered parchment helps the cake keep its intense color.

  • With chocolate drip, if you’re starting with a chocolate bar (versus chocolate chips), chop it into small pieces until they’re about the size of chocolate chips. You’ll get a smoother, more efficient melt.
  • If you can’t find 90% cacao chocolate, use 100% (2 ounces) and semi-sweet chocolate (1 ounce) as a substitute.
  • When we did the chocolate drip, we started with the edge. We worked by the spoonful for more control and to get the drizzle/drip look we wanted.
  • Michelle says this cake is not a fast one to make, but the payoff is totally worth it.

We invite you to re-create the magic of this MN Blackout Cake. Be sure to share on social media and tag @blueribbonfoodies. We want to see what you’re baking!




Great Chocolate Cake Contest Winner: 2022 Minnesota State Fair

MN Blackout Cake*

*Make twice to produce a 3 layer cake like Michelle did

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup black cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 large eggs (at room temp)

1 3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup strong brewed coffee (at room temp)

1 cup buttermilk (at room temp)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Black Cocoa Pudding Filling**

**Make 1/2 or 2/3 of this recipe if making a 2 layer cake instead of 3

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups whole milk (divided)

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened black cocoa powder

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (chips or chopped bar)

2 1/2 cups unsalted butter (at room temp)


Dark Chocolate Drip & Shards:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate (chips or chopped bar)

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons black cocoa

3 ounces 90% cocoa bar (for dark chocolate shards)



Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two, 9-inch round cake pans with butter. Line the bottom of each pan with a round piece of parchment paper. Grease the parchment. Coat in black cocoa powder.

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Whisk to evenly combine.
  2. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until pale, fluffy and creamy in appearance, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Slowly drizzle oil into egg and sugar mixture while whisking until fully incorporated.
  4. Combine coffee, buttermilk, and vanilla in a measuring cup.
  5. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and coffee mixture into the bowl containing the eggs and oil.
  6. Divide cake batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 25 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Pudding Filling:

  1. Whisk eggs, 1/4 cup milk, sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
  2. Heat the remaining 1 1/4 cups milk in a sauce pan over medium heat. Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture, then pour the entire mixture into the pan.
  3. Bring to a boil while whisking. Pour into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Refrigerate until cold.
  4. Put the semi-sweet chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals until melted; let cool slightly. Meanwhile, beat the butter in the large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Beat chilled pudding/filling into the butter mixture. Beat in the melted chocolate. Continue beating, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Dark Chocolate Drip/Shard Topping:

  1. Place chocolate chips into heat resistant bowl, glass or metal; set aside.
  2. In a sauce pan over medium-high heat, warm heavy whipping cream until it just starts to simmer. I always look for a small bubbles forming around the edge and a soft simmer starting in the middle. Once reach this point, pour the cream into your bowl of chocolate and let it sit about 30 seconds.
  3. Add black cocoa. Whisk until it’s uniform in consistency (smooth) and there are no bits of chocolate left on your whisk.
  4. Cool ganache at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes, until the ganache itself is room temperature or slightly above. Drip over the top and sides of cake.
  5. Melt 90% cacao chocolate bar and spread between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll the top to flatten, then chill. Cut or break apart. Decorate top of cake as you see fit.

Makes 16 to 18 slices.

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