I know what you’re thinking, especially if you follow this blog with any kind of regularity: Kris, where hast thou gone? My only (poor, to be frank) excuses involve a new job, a constant stream of visitors, so on and so forth… so I won’t bore you with any of them. You, my friend, are not here for idle chit-chat. You are here for cake! Or perhaps recipes, and possibly cake? Let’s backtrack a little, shall we? A certain friend of mine from San Francisco that shall remain nameless–you know who you are!–is quite crazy about cake, despite her normal lack of love for desserts. To make a long story short, I promised her that if ever she came down to LA to visit me… there would be cake with her name on it. So where’s her name? It’s a little more subtle than that. She can drink me under the table in mere minutes; mere mortals dream of having her tolerance for whiskey. Therefore, I figured the best way to personalize this cake for her was to make said cake as alcoholic as tastefully possible. Ta-dah! Two shots of Crown Royal and one shot of Bailey’s swim in a delicious chocolate/cream cheese dream of cake. Yes, you can definitely taste the alcohol in each bite. Is it jarring? Well… not if you like whiskey as much as we do The best part about this cake is its not-quite-sweetness. It’s chocolate-y without being cloyingly sweet–thanks to the inclusion of freshly-brewed coffee and use of cocoa powder as opposed to chocolate chips or bars. I loved the inclusion of black pepper and cloves–it complimented the honeyed tang of the whiskey that you faintly detect in the cake. And the cream cheese paired with Bailey’s Irish Cream is a match made in heaven; the soft sourness of the cream cheese goes very well with the milky-sweet Bailey’s. Don’t worry about how liquid the cake batter is when you pour it into the cake pan–it will solidify into a moist, rich cake during the bake time. I would highly recommend you take the baking time in the recipe as more of a suggestion than the rule as well; everyone’s oven is different and cake can be so finicky! Start out with 35 minutes, then start using a toothpick through the center to test for doneness. The tops of the cakes may crack, but that’s okay–that’s what frosting is for! Just make sure that you allow the pans to mostly cool before removing the layers; since the cake is very moist, it’s also delicate and will break off if too much force is applied. The original recipe is for a 9-inch springform pan, but I dressed it up as a layer cake to pair it with the cream cheese frosting. I used 2 6-inch round layers to create a 4-layer cake, and ended up with a bit more batter to spare. Since there is a decent amount of batter leftover, you could always fill a coffee mug halfway with it and microwave it for a minute and a half for instant chocolate cake… which is a terrible, terrible idea, and I definitely did NOT do that. (I totally did, and it was awesome.) She loved the cake, and has since emailed me to tell me how much she misses it since she couldn’t smuggle it on the plane at the end of the weekend. If you’re willing to put some time into creating it, I just know you’ll have the same reactions! Good luck! Original recipe from The New York Times.
Chocolate Whiskey Layer Cake with Irish Creme Frosting
- 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus extra for lining the pans
- 3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1½ c. brewed strong coffee
- ½ cup whiskey (I used Crown)
- 1 c. white sugar
- 1 c. brown sugar, packed
- 2 c. AP flour
- 1½ tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
- ¼ tsp. finely-ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 4 Tbsp. Irish cream (I used Bailey’s)
- 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- ¼ c. unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 c. powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Take your 6-inch round pans (or one 8-inch round pan) and coat with unsalted butter, then sprinkle cocoa powder on top. If you have them, place parchment paper rounds at the bottom of each pan.
- Place a medium saucepan on low heat and mix the whiskey, coffee, butter and cocoa powder until the butter has completely melted.
- Whisk the white and brown sugar into the saucepan until fully dissolved. Turn off the heat, remove the pan from heat and allow to cool completely.
- In a separate bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together: flour, baking soda, sea salt, black pepper, and cloves.
- In a second bowl, mix the eggs and vanilla extract until combined.
- Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with cocoa–make sure that the cocoa mix is COMPLETELY cool or you’ll cook your eggs!
- Pour the wet mixture into the dry mix in three increments for complete mixing. You’ll end up with a wet batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s). If you have a kitchen scale, try to weigh the layers to make sure they’ll be even in size. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, try your best to eye the amounts!
- Bake for at least 20 minutes and up to 35 minutes, or until your toothpick comes out mostly clean at the center of the cake.
- While the cake is baking, let’s make the frosting! Combine the butter and cream cheese (both at room temperature) in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix at a low speed until they are combined.
- Add the Bailey’s Irish cream, then mix at a low speed until it is fully mixed into the frosting.
- Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time and turn the mixer onto its lowest setting (stir) for each cup until well-mixed. Set aside in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap to prevent crusting.
- Back to the cake! When the cake is finished, remove the pans from the oven and immediately place them on a cooling rack. Allow cake pans to sit on the cooling rack until they are cool to the touch, ~20 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and allow them to cool completely on the cooling racks.
- When the cake layers have cooled, wrap them in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for an hour (if you’re composing the cake today) or in the fridge overnight. This will “seal in” the crumbs and make it easier to cut/use.
- When you’re ready to use your cake layers, simply remove them from the fridge/freezer and place on your serving dish, alternating the cake layer with the frosting.
- This cake will keep for up to a week in the fridge if covered properly to prevent drying out. You can also preserve it in the freezer for at least 6 months!