A few weeks ago, I was about to start baking this bewitching-sounding “whiskey-soaked dark chocolate bundt cake” for National Bundt Cake Day. I was planning on bringing it in to the office, as I frequently do when I find myself producing more baked goods than I could ever possibly consume on my own. But then I decided that maybe I should read through the recipe before plunging in. And that’s when I learned that this cake has a full cup of alcohol in it—alcohol that doesn’t bake off, alcohol that remains fully present in taste and alcoholic jolt, alcohol in quantities contraindicated for pregnant women, alcohol that makes this cake probably inappropriate for my particular workplace.
But now that I’ve finally made this cake, I can tell you that it is amazing. Let’s start with this measuring cup, which contains espresso, chocolate, and the aforementioned cup of bourbon:
I took about a dozen photos of this measuring cup, hoping I could somehow capture the incredible scent of three of my favorite beverages gloriously combined together. Eventually I just took a picture of the measuring cup from a low angle, to demonstrate the awe and deep regard I have for its contents.
This cake was equally awe-inspiring at every stage of its existence. There was the batter stage, which ended in my hands and face covered in chocolate to a degree that probably hasn’t happened in more than twenty years. Then there was the finished cake itself, moist and sophisticated and pleasantly boozy. Do yourself—and possibly your coworkers—a favor and don’t wait until the next National Bundt Cake Day.
UPDATE: As I’ve just discovered, a slice of this cake is just as delightful after it’s been frozen and reheated in the microwave. It also has an amazing ability to cure cranky moods!
Chocolate bourbon cake
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
5 oz. unsweetened chocolate
¼ cup instant espresso powder
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup bourbon, rye, or other whiskey, plus more for sprinkling
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 10-cup-capacity Bundt pan (or two 8- or 9-inch loaf pans).
In a heatproof bowl set over—but not touching—a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate until just smooth, stirring occasionally [or melt in microwave]. Let cool.
Put espresso and cocoa powders in a 2-cup (or larger) glass measuring cup. Add enough boiling water to come up to the 1 cup measuring line. Stir until the powders dissolve. Add the whiskey and salt. Let cool.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugar, and beat until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract, baking soda and melted chocolate, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
With the mixer on low speed, beat in a third of the whiskey mixture. When liquid is absorbed, beat in 1 cup flour. Repeat additions, ending with the whiskey mixture. It may seem like there is too much liquid, but don’t worry; it’s okay. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes for a Bundt pan. (Loaf pans will take less time; start checking them after 55 minutes.)
Transfer the cake, still in its pan, to a rack. Unmold after 15 minutes and sprinkle warm cake with more whiskey. (I did this by pouring a little bit into a teaspoon, and then shaking the teaspoon over the cake. I’m guessing that I used 3 teaspoons’ worth in all.) Cool completely before serving, garnished with confectioners’ sugar, if you like.
Note: This cake tastes even better on the second day, when the intensity of the alcohol mellows a little bit.
Yield: 10 to 12 servings.