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 halfway 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.
(Why bourbon? This whisky has a heady smokiness to it that works beautifully in this cake.)
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 father 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.
Note: We updated the method for this recipe slightly on November 19, 2021. No other change to the recipe.
Chocolate Bourbon Cake
Although this is a Bundt pan recipe, you can also use the same amount of batter for 2 loaf pans (8 or 9 inch pans). Baking time will be less if you use loaf pans. Test at 55 minutes.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, more for greasing pan
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting pan
- 5 ounces high quality, unsweetened dark chocolate
- About 1 cup very hot (not boiling) water
- 1/4 cup instant espresso powder (can use instant coffee)
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 1 cup bourbon whiskey (can use 1/2 cup), more for sprinkling
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven and prepare the pan:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour the inside of a large (10 cup) Bundt pan.
Melt the chocolate:
Melt chocolate in a microwave oven or in a double boiler over simmering water. Let cool.
Mix the espresso powder, cocoa powder, hot water, bourbon, and salt:
Put instant espresso powder (or instant coffee) and cocoa powder in a large (at least 2 cup) glass measuring cup. Add enough very hot water to come up to the 1 cup measuring line. Mix until powders dissolve. Stir in the bourbon and salt. Set aside and let cool.
Beat the butter, then add sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking soda, and melted chocolate:
Beat butter until fluffy (2-3 minutes on high using an electric mixer). Add sugar and beat a minute longer. Add the eggs one at a time, beating a minute after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, baking soda and melted chocolate.
Alternate adding the bourbon-espresso mixture with flour:
With the mixer on the lowest speed, beat in a third of the bourbon espresso cocoa mixture. When liquid is absorbed, beat in half of the flour (1 cup). Repeat additions, ending with bourbon mixture.
Scrape batter into prepared bundt pan and smooth the top. Bake at 325°F until a tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes.
Cool, then sprinkle with bourbon and powdered sugar:
Move the cake to a rack. Gently un-mold after 15 minutes and sprinkle the cake with a little more bourbon whiskey. Let the cake cool completely before serving. Sprinkle powdered sugar through a mesh sieve over the cake before serving.