When it comes to baking for occasions, birthdays are my favorite. I love trying to think of a dessert that really suits the person. This time around, I was baking for a wonderful friend of mine. She’s not too picky, but I knew that she isn’t a fan of the copious amounts of frosting I slather most of my cakes with, which meant I’d need an alternative icing strategy. I also knew she is a fan of whiskey and chocolate, so when I came across a recipe for a chocolate whiskey cake, it was immediately clear that’s what I needed to make.
I based my recipe on Love & Olive Oil’s recipe for a whiskey bundt cake. I was settled on a layer cake, so I whipped up a quick ganache, and worked from their caramel recipe for the filling.
When making the ganache, chocolate quality is paramount. With only three simple ingredients, there won’t be much to make up for cheap chocolate. Technically, you could use chocolate chips in a pinch, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you can avoid it. As far as decorating with the ganache, if you plan on piping it, make sure to whip your ganache just prior to putting it in your pastry bag. I whipped mine and then refrigerated it, so when I went to work with it I was almost was left with a crumbly mess!
My favorite part about this cake is how moist it is – the cake itself has a really lovely crumb, and using the caramel as the filling softens up any crunchy edges that weren’t trimmed away. It’s really lovely, too, how pleasantly the whiskey notes come through in the cake and caramel. It’s not overpowering, and if you didn’t know what that little kick was you might not be able to place it, but you’d definitely know there was something a extra special about it.
1/4 cups whiskey (of your choice, I used rye whiskey)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/4 cups water (warm)
2/3 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon salted butter
2 tablespoons whiskey (of your choice, I used half scotch, half irish whiskey)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate (best quality you can find, coarsely chopped)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon salted butter
Whiskey Chocolate Cake
Combine dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Add buttermilk, eggs, oil, and extracts, and mix until just combined. Add water and whiskey and mix until no dry ingredients remain, but do not beat smooth. Pour into a greased and floured pan.
Bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Place sugar and cream of tartar in a saucepan at medium-high heat, then add water. Bring to a boil, then cover for 2-3 minutes. Remove cover, then boil until the sugar caramelizes, 5-7 minutes.
Remove from heat, then whisk in cream and butter. Return to low heat and whisk until no sugar chunks remain. Allow to cool slightly, then stir in whiskey. Allow to cool.
Poke holes in the cake to allow caramel to penetrate the cake, then pour caramel over cake.
Bring cream to a simmer in a saucepan. Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl, then pour hot cream over it, allowing it to melt the chocolate (about 5 minutes.) Add butter, then whisk the mixture until no chocolate chunks remain. Chill the mixture, then whip using a whisk or electric mixer until light in color and fluffy.