Posted by: kriscdub | October 21, 2010

When One Vice Isn’t Enough: Chocolate Bourbon Cake

Alright, show of hands, who thought I fell off the face of the earth? You? You? Yah, me too. But look, I’m gonna make it up to you. You see that cake? That shiny ganache covered hunk of heaven? This is what you’ve waited for, and baby, it was worth it. I always thought that my grandma’s chocolate sour cream cake was the best chocolate cake there could possibly be. She covers it in fudge frosting, and it’s got this small, moist crumb that makes for the perfect dense-but-soft texture. Serve it with a scoop of ice cream and you’re on your way down a slow chocolate river of yum. Well, I’ve made this cake twice now, and this is like Grandma’s cake, but with bourbon.

Garrick and I have a bad-but-actually-entirely-wonderful habit of adding bourbon to our desserts. Maybe you’ve noticed? It adds a depth of flavor and a note of vanilla that you don’t have to be a bourbon drinker to enjoy. Even my friends who don’t drink love this cake. Hell, even my kid cousins have devoured my bourbon bathed treats. Don’t worry, the alcohol bakes out. No drunken ‘tweens at our family functions, promise. The point is, don’t skip over this recipe just because you’ve never had bourbon or you don’t really think it’s your cup of booze. Trust me, try it, and never go back.

The ingredients:

You can use any type of instant espresso or coffee. The ones in the little tubes just happened to be the cheapest when I went shopping.

Start off by buttering and flouring a bundt pan. Do a better job than I did. As you’ll see later, my cake stuck a little because I didn’t get all the books and crannies. Those little bare spots are where the cake sticks. Preheat the oven to 325.

You can use a double boiler for this, but I prefer using the microwave. Microwave 5- 1 oz. squares of unsweetened chocolate in 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

Perfect. Let the chocolate cool. I put mine in the fridge. You want it to stay melted, but to cool off enough to not cook the eggs.

Put about a cup of water or so on to boil. In a liquid measuring cup, measure a 1/4 cup of instant coffee or espresso and two tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa.

Fill the measuring cup with boiling water to the 1 cup line and mix until the coffee and cocoa dissolve.

Add a cup of bourbon. It sounds like a lot, I know, but don’t back down. This is important. Show that bourbon who’s boss.

While the bourbon mixture and the melted chocolate are cooling, beat two sticks of softened butter until fluffy, which should take about two or three minutes. I love fluffy butter! It holds the promise of so many wonderful things.

Add two cups of sugar. Again, it sounds like a lot, but everything else is unsweetened, so this much sugar balances it out. Mix until well combined.

Add vanilla, baking soda, and 3 eggs, mixing well after each egg.

Check to make sure that the chocolate is at about room temperature, then add it to the butter and sugar.

Mix until it looks like this. Faint. Recover. Faint again.

Alternately add the cooled bourbon mixture and flour, making three additions of liquid and two of flour. I don’t know why you do this, but it works, so I don’t question. Make sure to scrape the bowl all the way down the sides, not just the parts above the batter, as the butter and sugar can be a little stubborn about blending with the chocolate and whiskey.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan (“bundt” is a ridiculous word. I love it. Say it out loud and try not to feel at least a little awkward) and smooth the top.

Bake for about an hour and ten minutes. Check it with your standard toothpick test.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. This is not the prettiest cake I have ever made. Fortunately I have the perfect solution to this: covering all the flaws with chocolate.

To make the ganache, I generally add about a quarter cup of heavy cream to about a cup of  semi-sweet chocolate chips, then microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each. When the chocolate is smoothly melted, I add more cream about a tablespoon at a time and stir until the ganache is pourable, but still thick enough to not slide right off the cake. You can also add a tablespoon of bourbon to the ganache, which I did when I made it for my dad’s birthday. Pour it over the cake and smooth with a rubber spatula as needed. The second time I made this cake, I covered it in puppy chow for a housemate’s birthday. I was worried it would be too much, but actually the added crunch was phenomenal. Certainly not necessary, but delicious.

Serve in small slices with a scoop of ice cream or a glass of milk. Vow to never eat another chocolate cake again (unless your grandmother bakes it for you).

Chocolate Bourbon Cake

Adapted from Simply Recipes

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature, with extra for buttering pan

2 cups flour, with extra for flouring pan

5 oz. unsweetened chocolate

1/4 cup instant coffee or espresso

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup bourbon whiskey

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups white sugar

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 325. Butter and flour a 10 cup bundt pan. Melt chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Let cool. In a liquid measuring cup, place instant coffee and cocoa. Add boiling water to the 1 cup mark. Mix until coffee and cocoa dissolve. Add 1 cup bourbon. Let cool. Beat 2 sticks butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in sugar. Add vanilla, baking soda, and eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg. Beat in melted chocolate. Alternate mixing in bourbon mixture and flour, making three additions of liquid and two of flour, ending on bourbon. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula or spoon. Bake for about an hour and ten minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool for at least 15 minutes on a rack, then turn out onto a plate or cake stand.

For ganache:

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)

Melt chocolate chips with 1/4 cup cream in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stilling in between, until chocolate is smooth. Add whiskey if desired, and more cream about a tablespoon at a time and stir until ganache is a pourable consistency. Pour over cake and spread with a spatula as needed.



  1. Like Kristen, I thought that nothing could beat my mother’s chocolate sour cream cake but this one did. It had the moistness of my mom’s chocolate sour cream cake but the chocolate taste had a bit more depth. YUMMY!

  2. That looks like an insane mountain of lava. Or volcano? Either or.

  3. Little known fact: Volcanoes are actually just insane mountains! Now you know!

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