Chocolate Bourbon Cake, the Sunni Snake Way

Sunni's picture

This is a fairly easy cake to make, especially if one is willing to invest some time into the mise en place; that really helps speed the mixing process. Oh, and this cake is not my idea. I spied the recipe at Simply Recipes, and have streamlined the process a bit and also made some substitutions that improved the cake—at least in the opinion of the cake’s fans here.

This is a bourbon cake; if you don’t like bourbon you may try substituting other alcohols for it, such as rum, coffee liqueur, or maybe a nice vanilla brandy. But alcohol is an essential component of this cake; if you want a regular chocolate cake, there are many splendiferous recipes out there for your discovery and enjoyment.

A few other words before we dive into the recipe. Like many cakes, the procedure calls for buttering and flouring the cake pan to help ensure the cake’s easy release from it. The process works, but it leaves the cake with an unappetizing appearance (or maybe it’s just that I have too heavy a hand with the flour). I hit upon a nice alternative when I was baking a lot of gluten-free cakes and needed a substitute: I grind some white sugar into a finer powder and use it in place of the flour. It works splendidly, and adds a touch of sugary crunch to the exterior. (Yes, one may purchase superfine sugar, but it is so easy to make that it isn’t worth the expense and storage space. A blender works well, or use a mortar and pestle if one’s of the old school. I’ve been too chicken to try it with my immersion blender, however ... Oh, and powdered sugar is not the same critter and may not work: it has corn starch added to the sugar powder—which is also why its sweetness is so muted compared to regular white sugar.)

I’ve also changed the coffee component, since I don’t like to spend lots of money on espresso powder, even though I have a few recipes which call for it. Again, it’s an expensive ingredient one can readily substitute for at home, if one brews coffee. (If you don’t like coffee flavor, don’t let that deter you from trying this cake. The coffee serves as a boost to the chocolate flavor, and is not noticeable in the cake. Trust me on this: three people here do not like coffee at all, but enjoy the flavor of this cake.)

Bourbon Chocolate Cake

Serves 16, maybe more
Preheat oven to 325° F

Butter and flour or sugar a 10-C. bundt pan, or two regular-sized loaf pans. Set aside.

Bring 1 C. of water just to a boil; remove from heat. Using your regular amount of grounds for a shot of espresso or a strongish cup of regular coffee, pour them into the freshly boiled water. Stir thoroughly to incorporate grounds. Let steep for a minute or two; filter out the grounds and discard them. Add 2 T. cocoa powder to the coffee. Mix well and set aside to cool.

5 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 C. bourbon, plus extra for sprinkling the cake
1/2 t. kosher salt (or other uniodized salt) – Combine with coffee mixture; add bourbon and set aside.
1 C. softened butter
1 1/2 C. sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar, packed
3 eggs, room temperature
1 T. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
2 C. all-purpose flour

In large bowl or stand mixer, beat butter until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugars and beat until combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated and scraping down the bowl before adding the next. Mix in the vanilla, then the melted chocolate.

Add the soda to the flour and prepare to sift it into the cake batter, if necessary.

Add 1/3 of the bourbon–coffee mixture to the batter and mix until it is absorbed. Add 1 C. of the flour–soda mix; blend well, scraping down bowl if necessary. Repeat these additions, ending with the remaing third of the bourbon mixture.

Pour into prepared pan(s); smooth the batter. Bake in preheated oven until tester inserted into center comes out clean—about 60–70 minutes for a bundt pan; 45 minutes for loaf pans.

Let cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then unmold the cake. Sprinkle (or use a pastry brush) additional bourbon onto the cake as desired. Let cool before serving.

The cake can be prettified with a dusting of powdered sugar before serving, if desired. Or perhaps you’d prefer a dollop of bourbonified whipped cream [scroll way down]. A chocolate ganache, optionally spiced with bourbon and/or mint, would also be a fine accompaniment ... but it really needs nothing. Yes, it looks plain, but tastes lovely. Yesterday’s cake was served with homemade raspberry ice cream, in hopes of it taking the bourbon edge off the cake for those who don’t like whiskey. It seemed to work ... it was a terrific combo either way.

And on the subject of what chocolate and what bourbon to use, I have not experimented much with either. I have a stash of unsweetened Valrhona that I’ve used both times, and it is fabulous [yes, MAL, I’m keeping track!]. There are other, less pricey, brands ... Chocosphere is the best place I know of to get high quality chocolates at good prices. Similarly I’ve not explored other bourbons, as I am quite fond of Maker’s Mark. That said, I think a spicier bourbon—such as Knob Creek—would be excellent in the cake as well. I plan to try that sometime soon. So ... yeah, not an inexpensive cake to make, but very well worth it.


Bourbon. *My mouth waters.*

Chocolate. *My head reels.*

Cake. *I faint...*

You are an evil, evil snake. :P

Do you think White Whole Wheat flour would work in this (instead of AP flour), or would it be too heavy? It's all I've been using lately.

Not so.

If I were that evil, I would go on and on about how wonderful this cake is, how much my changes improved it from the original, and so forth—and then I’d refuse to give anyone my recipe. So you see, Jac? It could be worse!

To answer your question, I haven’t done a lot of flour substitutions, so I may not be much help ... and I need to ask you a couple of questions. Are you grinding the flour yourself? If so, you can sift it to filter out the kernel bits, possibly. I bought some soft white wheat from Wheat Montana, and have been grinding it for bread. Even though it looks very much like all-purpose flour, it does not behave like it—as my turnovers amply demonstrated.

Another possible way to tweak the recipe is this: all-purpose flour weighs about 4.5 ounces per cup. Instead of measuring the volume specified of flour, you could try using 9 oz. of your wheat flour. The texture will still be slightly different, but that might be a better equivalent than trying to sift the flour you have. If you try it, please let me (or us) know how it turns out.