Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bourbon Caramel Soaked Dark Chocolate Cake

This cake was the sweet, dark chocolate ending to our lobster dinner we cooked for our four-year anniversary, and words can't really describe how good the cake was.  I wish you all could have tasted it for yourselves, but since that's not possible, I'll try to tell you...

It all began, of course, with chocolate cake.  My favorite, from scratch chocolate cake that I've made over and over.  It's completely divine on its own, but this was a special occasion, so it called for something a little more scandalous than "just" chocolate cake.

After cooling the cakes (which, by the way, are smaller than they look in the photos - 3 layers, baked in little 6-inch round pans), I mixed a few tablespoons of good bourbon with salted caramel sauce.  This already has Jamie's name all over it, doesn't it?

As I stacked the cakes, I poked each layer with a bunch of holes and poured the bourbon caramel over it, letting it drip into the holes to soak into the cake.  The bourbon is optional - this can be done with just the caramel - but the flavor of the bourbon in the cake is just so amazing.

Then came the creamy, fluffy, salted chocolate buttercream.  And crunchy toffee bits.  I didn't give this cake any fancy ruffles or decorative piping; it didn't need it.

The finished cake sat prettily on my mirrored cake stand all day, and every so often, I couldn't resist lifting the glass dome lid to breathe in the scent of chocolate and bourbon.  It was intoxicating.

After our amazing dinner of roasted asparagus and tomato salad with prosciutto and goat cheese, crab beignets with spicy red pepper aioli, steamed buttered lobster and crispy smashed baby potatoes, there was almost no room left for cake...  almost.  But we both managed.

When I asked Jamie if he wanted to take the leftover cake to work, he said that this one wasn't for sharing, and that told me just how much he loved it.  And he ate a piece of it every night until it was gone...

One Year Ago:    Egg Salad with Dill, Shallots and Lemon
Two Years AgoApplesauce with Dates and Vanilla

Chocolate Caramel Bourbon Cake

·         1 cup all-purpose flour
·         ¾ cup, plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
·         ¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons, unsweetened cocoa powder
·         ½ teaspoon baking powder
·         ½ teaspoon baking soda
·         ½ teaspoon salt
·         2 eggs (room temperature)
·         ½ cup whole milk (room temperature)
·         ½ cup sour cream (room temperature)
·         ¼ cup vegetable oil
·         1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate Buttercream:
·         1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
·         2 cups powdered sugar
·         1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
·         1 tablespoon meringue powder
·         1/2 teaspoon salt
·         3 tablespoons milk
·         1 teaspoon vanilla

Other Garnishes:
·         3 tablespoons good-quality bourbon (optional)
·         ¼ cup caramel sauce (homemade or store-bought), room temperature
·         Toffee bits
·         ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Note:  This recipe makes a small cake, just 6 inches.  To bake in 8 or 9-inch pans, double the ingredients and prepare as directed.

Bake the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray the bottoms of three 6-inch round pans with non-stick spray, line the bottoms with parchment paper, then spray the paper also.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt to combine.  Add the remaining wet ingredients and beat thoroughly for 2-3 minutes.  Divide batter between the pans.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and the cake springs back when gently touched.  Set the pans on wire racks, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel, and cool completely.

Make the Buttercream:
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 1-2 minutes until smooth.  In a separate bowl, combine the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, meringue powder and salt.  With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar mixture by spoonfuls until combined.  Add the milk and vanilla, then increase speed to medium/high and whip for 4-5 minutes until very light and fluffy.

Assemble the Cake:
Remove the cakes from the pans, and level the tops, if needed.  Place a layer of cake on a serving plate or cake board, bottom side of the cake facing up.

In a small bowl, combine the bourbon and caramel sauce.  Using a wooden skewer, poke a few holes in the cake and brush with some of the bourbon caramel sauce, letting it soak into the holes.  Spread with a thin layer of buttercream.  Sprinkle with a handle of toffee bits.  Repeat with the other cake layers, frosting the cake all over with the buttercream and garnishing with toffee.  Sprinkle the salt on top of the cake.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen


  1. I notice there isn't allot of comments but really, when near perfection is staring you in the face, what can be said. :D the cake looks absolutely amazing.

  2. I recently reorganized all of my cake recipes, and it really is obscene how many "must try" recipes I have bookmarked. I told myself I wouldn't bookmark any more, but...well, I'm making an exception. My life wouldn't be complete without trying it, I'm convinced. Thanks for a great recipe!

    (PS I found your blog via Daily Buzz Food)

  3. Jessica, I know what you mean! I always have many, MANY more dessert and cake recipes lined up than "regular" food. :)

  4. Exactly, Heather! I also wanted to let you know that I loved your recipe so much that I included it in my Weekend Wrap-Up blog post, where I feature some of my favorite web finds from the past week. Thank you for such a great post, and enjoy the rest of your weekend!


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