Chocolate Bourbon Cake

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Chocolate. Bourbon. Cake. I think the moment my father spied this recipe in the New York Times he was a goner. (“You had me at chocolate.”) Nothing was going to stop him from making this cake. When he found out I possessed a 10-cup bundt pan, that was it, he was half-way to the store getting chocolate and instant espresso for the recipe.

Reading Melissa Clark’s chocolate whisky cake recipe we both decided that 1/2 cup of Bourbon, instead of the full cup she used, would do. We were both wrong. With 1/2 cup we could barely taste the bourbon. The second time we made the cake we used the full cup.

Perfect. This is a great cake. Fine crumb. You can slice it beautifully thin and it still holds its shape. Great for us gals who like to take a very thin slice. And then another one. And then another. (Drives my dad nuts.)

For those of you who would want to substitute out the alcohol I apologize in advance, and suggest that you consider one of the other recipes on this site for chocolate cake that do not use alcohol. This is a whiskey cake; it requires whiskey. And chocolate. Yum.

Chocolate Bourbon Cake Recipe

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, more for greasing pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting pan
  • 5 ounces high quality, unsweetened dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup instant espresso (can use instant coffee)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup bourbon whiskey (can use 1/2 cup), more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar), for sprinkling

Method

1 Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a large bundt pan (10 cup capacity), or two 8- or 9-inch loaf pans. Melt chocolate in a microwave oven or in a double boiler over simmering water. Let cool.

2 Put instant espresso and cocoa powder in a 2-cup (or larger) glass measuring cup. Add enough boiling water to come up to the 1 cup measuring line. Mix until powders dissolve. Stir in whiskey and salt; let cool.

3 Beat softened butter until fluffy (2-3 minutes on high). Add sugar and beat until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract, baking soda and melted chocolate, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.

4 With the mixer on the lowest speed, beat in a third of the whiskey espresso cocoa mixture. When liquid is absorbed, beat in 1 cup flour. Repeat additions, ending with whiskey mixture. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes for Bundt pan (loaf pans will take less time, start checking them after 55 minutes).

5 Transfer cake to a rack. Unmold after 15 minutes and sprinkle warm cake with more whiskey. Let cool. Sprinkle powdered sugar through a mesh sieve over the cake before serving.

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Recipe from Melissa Clark's Whisky-Soaked Chocolate Bundt Cake, from the article, When Temperance Isn't in the Cards, in the New York Times, Dec 3, 2008

Chocolate Bourbon Cake

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Showing 4 of 79 Comments

  • Mary

    I’ve made this cake every year (and sometimes twice) since the recipe was published. It has always come out great. Today for some reason it fell. I make it in a dark bundt pan and the cake is at least one inch shorter than it should be. I’m sure it will still taste wonderful. I’ve looked into reasons it may fall. One is the oven temp – it did not use an oven thermometer so maybe the temp is off. Another reason might be that I beat it too long putting too much air into the batter. I’ll be testing out the oven temp first and then I think I’ll try another…… it freezes well too ! Merry Christmas !

  • arcey

    I made this cake several years ago for a holiday dinner I go to every year. I had planned on making the egg nog pound cake for tonight’s dinner, but instead made this one again. Wow! It was good the first time, but this time I did something different, and it seems to have come out even better. Won’t really know until tonight when we cut into it, but just eating some of the scraps I shaved off to even out the top (well, really bottom), I could tell how good it is. The thing I did differently has to do with the butter. Whenever I make a cake where I have to cream the butter in the Kitchen Aid and then add sugar til fluffy, I forget to leave the butter out, or even to take it out of the freezer. Being as the Kitchen Aid paddle does such a great job of beating the butter, I never thought it was a big deal, since the paddle could cream even cold or frozen butter. Well this time, I did remember earlier in the day to take the butter from the freezer, and it was quite soft by the time I made the cake late last night. When I beat the butter, I could see how much fluffier it was that usual, when the butter is very cold, and it remained super fluffy throughout, after adding all other ingredients. I was amazed at the difference! Also, I was having a hard time getting the chocolate to melt well, and it wasn’t as liquid-y as usual, and I had to keep mixing it up with a fork to make sure it didn’t thicken. It was definitely thicker than usual when I melt chocolate, but when I moved it around with a fork, it would get shiny, so it wasn’t seized. But it did worry me that when I added it to the other ingredients, it would seize up and ruin the whole batter. But it didn’t! It might have even added to the luscious texture of the batter. I also was nervous about adding the baking soda with the wet ingredients and mixed it in with the flour.

    Sorry for the long story, but it was such a beautiful batter that it actually got me excited. :) And it baked beautifully and smells wonderful and tastes very bourbon-y, but in a very subtle way. Wow. Can’t wait to eat it tonight. I know everyone will ooh and ahh a lot when they see my new Bundt shape. I’ve always used the rose-shaped pan, but this time I used the one that’s very geometric, angle-y, and very striking. Ooh la la! (By the way, I baked it at 340 and it was done in an hour.)
    https://www.nordicware.com/store/product_detail/heritage-bundt-pan#.VnhbU_krKHs

  • Richard Buckmaster

    Followed the recipe to a “T” and it fell like a house of cards after about 45 minutes.

  • Bonnie

    I actually make this cake with cherry bourbon and add in just a touch of cherry extract. Comes out amazing.

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