any recommendations on instant espresso to use?
I’ve used Medaglia D’Oro. I don’t think the brand makes much of a difference in this case.
thank you! i wasn’t concerned with the brand so much, but i’ve never seen instant espresso in the shops. figured if someone provided some brand examples, i could search online!
Made this for my daughter’s birthday and followed the directions exactly as written and the cake fell like a souffle. It also tastes terrible. Very disappointing for all the time and ingredients that I put into it. I do think that one cup of flour is not enough.
Hi Kelly, the recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, not 1.
Hi Elise, I’d like to make this cake but have a question: for “1/4 cup instant espresso (can use instant coffee)”, is that 1/4 cup of powder of instant espresso, or 1/4 cup of liquid made from powdered instant espresso+water?
Hi Sasha, it’s powder. I’ve clarified it in the instructions, thank you!
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 !
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.)
Followed the recipe to a “T” and it fell like a house of cards after about 45 minutes.
Mine too! Happened tonight.
I actually make this cake with cherry bourbon and add in just a touch of cherry extract. Comes out amazing.
Sounds great! I love the combo of cherries and chocolate.
January 2015; new life as HuffPost links to this recipe. I really like the unusual pan design but can’t find it anywhere. Source?
Hi Jim, it’s a Nordic Ware Star Bundt Pan, about 10 cups. Looks like Nordic Ware doesn’t make it anymore, but I just did a search for it on ebay and found several.
does anyone know how long to bake the cupcake versions?
Hi, I want to try to make this for my fiance….any suggestions for a good glaze to top it with besides just drizzling more alcohol on top?
Have you tried it it 2 8 inch cake pans and if so how long is the baking time?
how long to bake for 2 8 inch pans?
Good question. I don’t know since I haven’t tried to make this in loaf pans. If you do, please let us know what timing works for you.
Found this via Pinterest and made it this week. Just amazing! I substituted Crown Royal and found it very satisfactory (and much cheaper than the bourbon I had on hand). I will definitely make this again and again.
OH MY GOODNESS!!! This was absolutely delicious. I was given a new bunt pan in the shape of a Star or David for Hanukkah and found this recipe on the same day!! I made a bourbon glaze with butter, sugar, a little water and plenty of bourbon.
What a delight for our 1st night of Hanukkah!! Yummmm!! :)
I could not send this to the US. But I did bake it for Christmas and it was awesome! I used rum instead of whiskey, since I was not certain of the Indian brands of whiskey. It came out very well, nice and moist…
I received good appreciation! And it looked divinely chocolatey :)
I am an avid reader of your site… and I enjoy baking! I like this recipe and would like to bake and send this to my fiance in the US.Just wanted to know whether this cake can remain outside the fridge for 3-4 days? Since that’s about the time it will take for it reach the US from India.
So please let me know… planning to bake and send this for Christmas!!
Hi Jennifer, honestly your guess is as good as mine. The problem I see is that you don’t know how long that cake will be sitting in the heat somewhere. It would be one thing if you were sending it from Minnesota to Maine in December. But from India? I wouldn’t do it. ~Elise
Thanks so much for sharing this recipe….very scrumptious bourbon cake! I made this for Thanksgiving which happen to be mom’s birthday and of course, it was a big hit with the oldies:) i did not skimp on my Jim Beam Bourbon whiskey and i’m loving the ” kick”of using 1 cup instead of cutting it down to 1/2 cup. This will surely be on my top list of favorite cake for years to come.
Does this receipe have a rising agent in it?
When I made it, it did not rise at all. The
flavour was great but it was as flat as a
It has three eggs, and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. I’ve made this cake more times than I can count and have never had trouble with it rising. ~Elise
Made it with about 3oz of espresso instead of instant coffee (shudder). I think next time about 4oz would be perfect (4 “shots”). I also had a problem with it sticking to the pan. I greased the pan with oil and floured it, any suggestions besides more grease? Also it was amazing.
Hi, I would love to put some kind of icing/topping on this cake. Would the caramel recipe you have on this site work, drizzled over the top? Or would it harden to much? Would you be able to give me any suggestions? Thanks!
Actually I don’t think the caramel sauce from this site would harden at all at room temp, it needs to be chilled to harden. Why not make a simple sugar glaze? Just whisk together a cup of powdered sugar and a tablespoon of water until there are not lumps. Add more water to make thinner or more sugar to make thicker to get to the consistency you want. ~Elise
With chocolate, alcohol, and coffee, how could I not try it?! I’m not generally a fan of bourbon myself, but I thought this cake was fantastic (as did my 20 coworkers).
I forgot to mention: I halved the recipe and baked in a loaf pan. One Question, Elise: The cake was really impressive when I took it out of the oven; nice dome. However, upon cooling – the top actually went down. What do you think could have happened?
The cake will deflate a little. When cooked as a bundt cake though, you don’t see this because the deflating happens on the underside. ~Elise
I baked for 58 minutes…concerned that every time I put the tester in – it came out a little wet.
What I didn’t realize: That’s okay. That part was the bourbon.
I’m definitely making this again. It had the consistence of fudge.
Will use Kahlua next time, and only bake for 55 minutes.
It shouldn’t have the consistency of fudge, a moist cake yes, but not fudge. ~Elise
Hi, Elise: I made another chocolate cake recipe today (beautiful and tasty but dry). Needless to say I was disappointed. I actually poured a liquer over my slice which made it taste moist and delish. SO…I came to your site and found THE cake I’m looking for! Quickie: I use Ghiradellli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate when baking. Do you think this will work – or what do you suggest? Thanks, as always.
I made this last week for a party and all I can say is WOW! Everyone who tried it was in love.
I used 3/4 cup American blended whiskey, 5 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, and baked the whole thing for exactly 70 minutes. This recipe will definitely be made again. And again and again and again. Great job, Elise!
I made this at school. Probably not the smartest idea as someone under the age of 21 to make, but it’s baked… But potent. And quite tasty. I knew I could trust the investment in the pan to make this because I’ve yet to be disappointed by a recipe I’ve tried from you. And for once, I followed one exactly as written.
Made this and it came out great! I only had semisweet morsels on hand so I subbed those and reduced the sugar by 1T per oz of chocolate morsels. Used the full cup of makers mark, but omitted the sprinkling at the end because it was pretty potent and didn’t need the extra booze. I did a taste test and it was a little under-sweetened, even for me who likes her desserts just lightly sweetened, so I drizzled both sides with a bit of simple syrup. I am making cardamom whipped cream to dollop on top!
I have made it for parties and it went down very well. You could have it with some double cream whipped or could have it warm. It was amazing how it turned out.
I have made the cake a couple of times and gave it to some people that found it delicious!
I have made this cake a number of times, with different liquors. My personal favorite is with Kahlua! Second runner up is Godiva. Yummy.
This is AMAZING! We only had one of those castle shaped pans at home, and it snowed a heck of a lot today, so I ended up with this:
I just wanted to report that the high altitude version is really amazing. The texture is perfect. It’s moist, rich, and the flavor just keeps improving hour after hour. I didn’t cut into for several hours as I wanted the whisky to disperse throughout the cake and mellow a bit, so I just had a slice of it (about 8 hours after baking it), and is truly my favorite chocolate bundt cake now :).
It is perfectly good by itself. The addition of a bit of lightly sweetened whipped cream and maybe a warm sour cherry or blueberry compote would be out of this world.
Here is the recipe I used w/ my changes for high altitude. Denver is a little bit above 5,000 ft., and these changes will work from about 4500-5500 feet. I also changed the mixing method a little bit to make a somewhat stronger batter that doesn’t fall in the oven. Instead of bourbon, I used Irish whisky, cause I was out of my beloved Maker’s Mark :-D.
Chocolate Whisky Bundt Cake for 4500-5500 feet:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Grease well and dust with cocoa powder a 10-15 cup bundt or tube pan
5 oz of bittersweet chocolate (at least 65%),
2 oz. unsalted butter
3 TBS instant espresso powder
3 TBS Dutched cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup of whisky (recommend bourbon, Irish whisky, or scotch)
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
6 oz. unsalted butter, room temp
1.5 c. sugar
4 eggs, room temp
2 c. + 1 TBS A.P. flour, sifted after measuring to remove lumps
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
Melt the chocolate w/ 2 oz of butter until smooth, set aside to cool
Combine espresso powder with cocoa powder and dissolve w/ boiling water. Add the whisky and salt. Set aside to cool.
Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl.
Cream 6 oz butter w/ sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Scrape the bowl and beater and beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping after each addition.
Add the melted chocolate mixture and beat until smooth and fluffy again, scraping the bowl once.
Add half of the espresso/whisky mixture and beat until incorporated. Scrape the bowl and add 1 cup of the flour mixture. Beat until smooth and scrape the bowl. Add the rest of the espresso/whisky mixture, and beat and scrape until smooth. Add the rest of the flour and beat until incorporated. Scrape the bowl one last time and beat at medium-high speed until smooth, for about 30 seconds.
7. Scrape the batter into prepared pan and bake for about 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Check the cake for doneness after about 50 minutes. You may need to rotate the pan for it to bake evenly.
Let the cake cool on a rack in the pan for about 20 minutes. Turn out the cake onto the rack and immediately brush the cake all over with more whisky. Let cool completely. If not serving within a few hours, wrap the cake in plastic wrap. Dust the cake with powdered sugar before serving.
Do you have to ‘poke’ holes at the cake with toothpick before pouring the bourbon on top?
No, you don’t need to. ~Elise
This cake looks awesome! I want to make this cake one day before a party, would you recommend if I sprinkle the whiskey right after it’s done, or right before I serve it? Also does the cake last well? Thanks!
Both. Right after and right before. The bourbon helps the cake keep well, and keep moist. ~Elise
Elise, this looks delicious and I would like to make it as a birthday cake, do you think it would work in two 9 inch cake pans? I’m worried it won’t be enough but if I double it I think there will be leftover, whats your opinion? I was going to put a chocolate bourbon ganache in the middle and a lighter whipped cream frosting.
Hi Meg, I really don’t know what to tell you. I would first try it without doubling the recipe, though if you do double it, you could use any leftovers for cupcakes. If you try to make it into 9-inch cakes, please let us know how it turns out. ~Elise
Finally got to this cake for Valentine’s Day, but was almost out of bourbon so I used cognac. Rum seemed too sweet, and liquors even sweeter. The cognac was a good choice and the cake tastes wonderful. Thank you, Elise, for yet another real winner!
I’ve been playing around with this recipe and here is what I’ve found:
Thank you, Elise, for posting this. It’s my absolute favorite dessert to make and to eat.
how long did you bake the cupcakes? do you mean the batter freezes well or the baked cupcakes freeze well? thanks!
I’m not much of a bourbon fan so I made this with Amaretto. Very unique flavor. Decadent but not too rich. Mine turned out a tiny bit dry; I think I over baked it by about 5 minutes. Will totally make this again. I’ll try Frangelico next time. Thank you so much.
I made this cake for Christmas, it was a big hit. I used Bakers Chocolate, instant coffee and 100 proof Old Grandad(1 cup);). I poured it in a bundt pan and presented it with homemade fudge as a garnish. Lovely.
Ok, I’ve now made this cake with Makers Mark Bourbon Whiskey and WOW! I have also tried it with Meyers Dark rum + Kahlua instead of the coffee and WOW!
Made the cake on Sunday for a dinner party Monday night. It was really the hit of the party, even though everything else there was quite good, including the lovely apple tarts made by the hosts.
I was particularly impressed with the texture of the batter — I’ve never made a cake with such a silky, smooth, beautiful batter! It looked so lovely in the rose-shaped bundt pan too.
I used the whole cup of whiskey, and didn’t sprinkle any more on top. I thought it tasted quite whiskey-ish without the extra. Still waiting to hear if anyone’s tried it with rum, or maybe Kahlua.
It looked and tasted great with a huge swirl of whipped cream too. Yum!!
Elise, I made this today and it was fabulous. You are right, anything LESS than 1 full cup of bourbon is just not enough! I liberally sprinkled more bourbon on the cooled cake and it made it that much more enjoyable. Kudos!
Elise, I’ve collected all the ingredients and the butter is already out, softening. I am making this cake for a Christmas party tomorrow. I can’t wait to taste it!
I usually make a bourbon cake for Christmas, just a regular yellow one. I have never tried a chocolate one. My plain recipe calls for a glaze of butter, powdered sugar, and bourbon.
Do you think something similar would be good for this cake, or would it be overkill?
Sounds good to me! ~Elise
I made this recipe as a gift cake today, using 3/4 c. whiskey instead of bourbon and table salt instead of kosher. I had difficulty removing it from the pan which worked in my favor as I was able to taste the cake crumbs. It was delicious. I also glazed the cake with a glaze made of powdered sugar and coffee liqueur. Hope my friends offer me a slice!
Made this recipe and it was absolutely delicious! Only used 1/2 cup of bourbon though! It was sooo chocolatey and moist with a nice taste of bourbon. 1 cup of bourbon might be overpowering.
Woodland Hills, CA
I’m neither a huge chocolate nor huge bourbon fan. That being said, I made this for a Christmas party on Saturday (in 2 loaf pans – 1 loaf for the party and one for my roommates and me). I wish I’d kept it all for us — I’m pretty sure it’s one of the best cakes I’ve made/tasted. I used a pastry brush to dab on the bourbon after it was done, as I was a little uncertain as to how to actually sprinkle it on without bourbon gushing from the bottle.
Oh wow! What an amazing cake. I used a full cup of Jack Daniels (because I like Jack Daniels) in the cake and sprinkled about 3 Tbsp on the cake after. There were no complaints from my guests. In fact I think everybody had at least 2 slices.
I made this cake twice now using Amaretto, everyone loved it but it fell to pieces both times I made it. Do you have any suggestions?
Are you waiting until it has completely cooled before cutting into it? That will help. ~Elise
I tried the dark rum today and my husband and I thought it was great. I used a whole cup of dark rum in it and brushed it with maybe 1/4 of a cup after it was baked.
Made this as a 2/3 recipe in a 9 inch cake pan, and wow! I subbed in cognac for brandy, and sprinkled the cake with grand marnier. I found that, after letting the cake sit for about 12 hours, the sharp boozy taste dissipated and my boyriend (who originally didn’t like the cake) thought it tasted pretty good.
I also reduced and spiced / sweetened some coconut milk to drizzle over it, since the edges are a bit dry in my version. Quite tasty!
I was so excited to try this recipe when it posted. We had some friends over for an impromptu pre-Christmas party, so I had the perfect excuse. And all I can say is WOW!! It was perfect! So, moist and the 1 cup of bourbon was the perfect amount. Because there were some kids at the house, I didn’t pour any bourbon on top just in case they were to get into it. I just sprinkled the powdered sugar over it and it was perfect. If you use a whole cup of bourbon, I don’t think you would even need the extra! Thank you so much for posting this! I can’t wait to make it again Christmas Eve! Oh…and it was a HUGE hit!
Great timing! I have a party to go to next week and will try this cake in my rose-shaped Bundt pan from Williams-Sonoma, like the one mentioned above (which looks *so* cool).
I usually use Ghirardelli or Guittard semi-sweet chocolate for most of my baking, etc. What chocolate would you recommend for this cake? I think there’s a difference between the wonderful chocolate bars you can get now (e.g. Scharffen Berger) and chocolate you would bake with, but maybe I’m wrong on that.
Any recommendations? Would the semi-sweet I already have be good fore this cake? I also already have Jim Beam in the house, so that’s the one I’ll be using. Hope mine looks as beautiful as yours Elise. :)
Thanks for the bourbon recommendations everyone!
Please note that pretty much any whisky that you like to drink will do for this recipe.
Maker’s Mark would probably be acceptable for use in a recipe, but for heaven’s sake, do not drink it before, during, or after its use in baking. If you want a bourbon that actually tastes good, go for Blanton’s, Four Roses, or Eagle Reserve. There are others that are also very good, but any of those should be readily available to you.
Should cake and pie be “adults only”? Or does the alcohol burn away in baking?
I would say that most, not all, of the alcohol evaporated away in the cooking. Though if following directions, you are putting more on after the cake is done. I generally think of this as a grown-up cake, especially with the flavors of the dark chocolate and whiskey. ~Elise
Ok, I’m a curmudgeon, but I just have to say – Jack Daniels (a TN whiskey) is NOT bourbon. Sorry, it’s just one of my pet peeves when people call Jack (a lovely drink in its own right and perfectly fine for use in baking) bourbon – like nails on a chalkboard. Maybe it’s because I live in the south and we take our liquor seriously here :)
But on a positive note – this cake looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it – with real KY bourbon ;)
Yes, Jack Daniels never mentions the word Bourbon on their website. Check here for a list of Bourbons. Jack will however do just fine in this recipe. ~Elise
If we use one cup of bourbon, about how much more should we use to top off the finished cake?
I am drooling now.
Just sprinkle some on. If, after tasting the cake you think it could use more, sprinkle on more. ~Elise
@CL Makers Mark is fantastic. Problem is, it’s so tasty by itself you might end up using a cup and a half…
@Mary dark rum works great. (Meyer’s)
I made this recipe too after seeing it in the NYT’s. Use the whole cup of whiskey and plan on making it the day before you eat it, that way it mellows out a bit. Maker’s Mark is what I used, delicious. I do not have a bundt pan (?!) but made it in 2 loaf pans. Kept one and gave the other to a friend.
We’re a wheatfree household so I used white spelt flour with 1/4 tsp of xanthan gum. As with anything you make with spelt, it was a little flat but still great.
This is what you’re looking for, I believe. The best darned bourbon pecan pie I’ve ever wrapped my lips around.
JACK DANIELS BOURBON PECAN PIE
2 grade A large eggs (slightly beaten)
1/4 cup dark Karo syrup
3/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons corn starch
8 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup Jack Daniels bourbon
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 bag pecan halves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix eggs and Karo.
Combine sugar and corn starch, add to egg mixture.
Melt chocolate and butter, cool. Add bourbon and combine with egg mixture. Beat together in mixer on slow speed.
Pour into a 9 inch unbaked pie shell. Sprinkle evenly with pecan halves.
Bake on cookie sheet for one hour. Pie should be firm and will “set-up” while cooling.
Note: If this is made using other brands of bourbon it may not taste as good. Toucan use the premade tart shells for easier handling at parties and social gatherings.
To make an impressive looking pie, lay the pecan halves on top in a circle around the edge and keep making circles until the pie top is covered rather then sprinkling them on top.
As for a Whisky recommendation – I’ve got it…
Maker’s Mark! It’s made in Kentucky and is fabulous. The bottle is easy to recognize as it is squarish towards the bottom and has a red wax seal on top (with beautiful little drips as the bottles are hand sealed with the wax).
Long after I discovered Maker’s Mark I found myself in Kentucky and actually took their tour. Very quaint and personable!
This recipe looks great!
There is a restaurant in Kingston Ont. Canada, called the Copper Penny. They serve a dessert called, “Bourbon Pecan Pie” which is absolutely delicious!!! It is about 3″ high and is more the consistency of a cake rather than a pie.
I have looked for a recipe for a long time that sounds like it might be similar…but to no avail…can anyone help me out?
Okay, I really, really want to make this bourbon (Jack) cake, I love the taste of bourbon (Jack) in anything baked. BUT, please tell me what to use instead of the instant coffee or expresso. That taste, I absolutely cannot stand to have in anything. No matter how small the amount may seem to you or anyone else, as someone who has never liked it or drank a cup of coffee, I can taste it and will find a way to politely spit it out. Should I add more cocoa/hot water?
You can leave out the coffee/espresso all together if you want. Personally I don’t taste it at all, it just intensifies the chocolatey-ness of the cake. No need to add more cocoa or water. ~Elise
Boy, do you have good timing with this recipe, Elise!
-I was just told the liquor cabinet was “too full”
-I got a beautiful bundt pan from Williams Sonoma and love using it
This looks fantastic. Just one question. Could you substitute potent coffee for the instant espresso and water combo? Maybe coffee wouldn’t be concentrated enough, but I’d like to skip buying the crystals if I can. Thanks!
Yes, I think that substitution would work fine. ~Elise
This looks great – but maybe not something to try out on the folks at my office, if we want to get any work done ;-)
I haven’t tried the other chocolate cakes on your site, Elise, but for someone looking for a great chocolate cake without whisky, that you can slice very thin, check out the Last Minute Chocolate Cake recipe in Ruth Reichl’s “Garlic and Sapphires”. (I know, it has a couple Tbsp Grand Marnier, but you can sub for that pretty easily.) She calls for a loaf pan, but I’ve made it several times in a small bundt pan. Lovely and yummy.
Nothing like whiskey in the winter! I made this cake the very day the recipe ran in the Times. The full cup of bourbon gives the cake a gorgeous complex flavor. Moist. Decadent. I’m so tickled to see the recipe featured here! This cake greatly improves these cold, gray days in New York.
Would brandy work as well? I don’t know much about baking with alcohol.
Oh, Elise, I just moved to New Orleans and I can’t wait to make this for my friend’s New Years Day party. :D It looks fab!!!
Any recommendations on which Bourbon to use?
This does look great — how do you think it would be with dark rum instead of bourbon? (’cause I have the rum …)
No idea. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out. ~Elise
Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for waiting. First time commenting? Please review the Comment Policy.