Saturday, March 7, 2009

Orangette's Chocolate Bourbon Cake

Friday was one of my favorite editors' last day at the office. It was one of those really bittersweet days. She had been with the company for 12 years, the sort of person who everyone loves for their friendliness and optimism. But she got offered a better job with another news org, so you couldn't really blame her for leaving.

As a going-away present of sorts, I offered to bake her something. She requested chocolate. I had been saving this Orangette recipe -- a whisky-soaked dark chocolate bundt cake -- on the list of "Cakes to Try" for my birthday. But I felt this occasion trumped my birthday.

The cake takes an enitre cup of whiskey. I used Knob Creek Bourbon because it was what I had on hand. Like Orangette suggested, I made the cake a day ahead of time to let the alcohol-taste mellow. But even with the extra day, it was super intense. The middle of the cake is rich and fudgey, almost like a gooey brownie, and this is where the alcohol seemed to settle. As one coworker noted, after she ate a piece it felt almost like she had taken a shot. So after trying a piece, I had a thought: This is a cake for whiskey lovers; if you don't like whiskey, you probably wouldn't like it, and that's too bad because dark chocolate and whiskey are a good combination.

So Friday night, after all the drunken after-work merriment, I decided to try again and make one for CCO, who always complains that it's not fair when I make cakes for work because he never gets to try them. I didn't really need another whole 10-cup bundt cake, so I halved it. And halving the recipe seems to be the magic touch. Because the cake itself is smaller, that center of whiskey fudginess is also smaller and less overwhelming.

Eat Rating: Awesome, even for non-whiskey lovers
Difficulty: Easy to Medium (special tools: Espresso maker -- or two shots from a coffee shop)

Half-size Chocolate-Bourbon Cake, from Orangette, via the New York Times

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 oz. dark unsweetened chocolate (LN: I used 72% E. Guittard)
2 shots of espresso
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup bourbon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using butter or spray, grease and flour a bundt pan. Over a double boiler, melt chocolate. Set aside.

Place cocoa in a glass measuring cup (Pyrex). Add the salt and two shots of espresso -- this should be up to about the 1/2 cup line. Stir until blended. Add bourbon. Set aside.

Cream butter, then add sugar until combined, light and fluffy. Add the eggs, then vanilla, baking soda and chocolate, beating well between each addition. Add about 1/3 of the whiskey-chocolate sauce and beat until combined. Add 1/2 cup of flour, beat again, then alternate between whisky and flour, finishing with the whiskey mixture. Scrape into pan and bake for about 45-50 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool of wire rack for 15-20 minutes, then remove from pan. Sprinkle a little more whiskey/bourbon - 2 or 3 tbsp - on top of the cake and then sprinkle with powdered sugar if you like.

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