Ok, so here's the deal. Last week, I got some bad news. As you may recall, late last year I was laid off from my job. I was given 60 days notice, and in the course of those 60 days I ended up finagling my way into some work and my company rescinded my notice. Yay! I was able to move to a new program, and without boring you with specifics, I'll just tell you that last week we found out this program is kaput. So there is a 99.99999% chance I am going to be laid off. Again. Next week in fact. When I found out, not surprisingly, I was a little depressed. I went home, and I tried to decide between baking and drinking, my two favorite past times (ok, actually my two favorite past times are eating and drinking, but you have to bake to eat in my world), and in the course of events Booze Cake was born!
It really was based on a number of things swirling through my mind at the time. I had bought two tubs of sour cream at the store because they were super cheap and I wanted to use some of it up, so I got to searching sour cream coffee cakes. I looked at a bunch, but they didn't quite have what I wanted. I wanted crunchy nuts and something sweet throughout. Then I found this one, courtesy of Noble Pig. It had almost everything I wanted: soft, cakey, crunchy, sweet. But I wanted something more. Booze. I am a lout, after all. So I...worked it in...in a number of places. This cake is strong, which is exactly what I wanted. I think with some tweaks, it could be a real winner for parties or just when I'm having a bad day. Make no mistake, this ain't called Booze Cake for nothing. It took me to my happy place. Of course, you can always show more restraint than I am capable of. I myself have no shame. The real knock-you-out-er is the bourbon in the icing. That doesn't get burned off in the oven. I did that on purpose. I wanted there to be actual alcohol in this cake. I didn't want a bourbon-flavored cake, I wanted a cake laced with bourbon. Oh yeah. And hey, I may sound like a total lout, but a slice of this cake and a glass of wine is way better for me than doing shots in a bar, right?
Overall, Booze Cake is a sour cream coffee cake with liquor-soaked dried fruit and chocolate chips, laced with bourbon, and topped with a walnut, chocolate topping and a bourbon icing. Yeah, you might need to read through all that again to make sure you didn't miss anything.
I made this in a bundt pan because, well, I was a dork. Next time I would just use a cake pan and put the walnut topping on top, rather than on the bottom. It still tasted great, but it didn't give me quite the crunch I wanted. So this recipe is for how I should have done it. And without further adoooooo, I give you Booze Cake!
heavily adapted from Noble Pig
1/2 cup dried cherries
3 Tablespoons Grand Marnier
2 large egg whites (1/4 cup)
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup mini bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup bourbon or whiskey
3/4 cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon bourbon or whiskey
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons sour cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a 9x9 cake pan with non-stick spray.
- In a small bowl combine the dried cherries with the Grand Marnier and let them soak while you put the rest of the cake together.
- In a small-ish bowl, mix the egg whites, brown sugar, and salt. Mix in walnuts and 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together, and whisk until blended.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the bourbon, and mix until combined.
- By hand, stir in flour mixture in 4 additions, alternating with the sour cream in 3 additions. Stir until just barely incorporated. Make sure not to over mix.
- Fold in remaining chocolate chips and dried cherry mixture.
- Transfer batter to the cake pan and smooth the top. Spoon the walnut mixture over the batter in an even layer. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool cake on a wire rack.
- For the topping, whisk the powdered sugar, sour cream, and bourbon in a bowl. Add milk on teaspoon at a time until it is thinned to your desired consistency. Then drizzle it all over the cake.
Notes on this recipe: The recipe calls for chocolate chips, but I actually used chopped up bits from a chocolate bar in the cake. I only have those huge bittersweet chocolate chips that Ghirardelli makes, and those worked fine in the walnut topping, but I didn't want giant hunks of chocolate in the cake.
Next time I might try a different coffee cake recipe, just to see if I can get it a little lighter in texture though overall the flavors were just what I wanted. I would keep all the extras in there, for sure. In fact, next time I think I'll try adding a little orange zest as well, just to see how that pairs with the Grand Marnier. The dried cherries laced with booze were so flavorful, the walnuts gave me the crunch I wanted, and the chocolate...well chocolate is always acceptable. Bourbon is my baking booze of choice. It's smokey and keeps its flavor well after the alcohol burns away.
Really, you could completely alter this to suit your own fancies. Any dried fruit would do. Cranberries and blueberries would probably work. You could use pecans instead of walnuts. You could use tequila or rum. But this Booze Cake is what tickles me.
And if you have occasion to try your own Booze Cake, I certainly hope it is under more celebratory circumstances than my own!