Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chocolate Whiskey Cake

In celebration of Christmas, I decided to try something new! Some of you may call it insane, but if you are anything like our friends from church you will find this crazy awesome.

Now, I don't know much about whiskey--I just got the cheap stuff. I am sure that the deliciousness of the cake would be maximized by a better brand.

It may just look like an ordinary chocolate cake, but in reality it is full of layers of deliciousness. This chocolate cake isn't just chocolate skin-deep. It's rich; it's moist and sticky; its pure delight!

1. For the cake:

-3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
-1 1/4 cups water, boiling
-1/4 cup of whiskey
-3 cups sugar
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-3/4 teaspoon baking powder
-1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
-3 large eggs
-3/4 cup vegetable oil
-1 1/2 cups buttermilk (or instead of buying buttermilk--pour 1tbsp. lemon juice into your measuring jug and fill up to 1 1/2 cup mark with milk--let sit for 5 minutes until buttermilk!)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

*I used two 10" pans for this recipe, but you can, in fact, do this in three 8" pans--you may just have some batter left over. Use between 3-3 1/2 cups of batter per 8" pan, and 5 1/2-6 cups of batter for a 10" pan.*

Butter your cake pans, and fit with buttered parchment paper circles. Preheat your oven to 300F.

Toss the chocolate in a small bowl and pour over the boiled water and the whiskey. Let stand.

In a medium-sized bowl sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder (careful it doesn't get all over you!), baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until super frothy, pale yellow, and slightly thicker (this should take a few minutes). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well--not forever--just until combined.

Stir in the flour mixture by hand until just combined--it may have a few lumps--we like those.

Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until the center no longer giggles when you move the pans---about 1 hour and 10 minutes for a 10" pan.

While the cakes are cooling, let's work on the whiskey syrup!

2. Whiskey Syrup

-1/2 cup of  water
-1/2 cup of brown sugar or natural white sugar
-1/4 cup of whiskey

Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir continually at a simmer until the sugar is fully dissolved. Add in the whiskey. Bring to a gentle, rolling boil (not an "oh-my-gosh-it's-all-over-me" boil) for about 3 minutes--still stirring often--and then take it off the heat. Cool for about 5-7 minutes until it's a syrupy texture.

 Once the syrup is syrupy, drizzle it over your cakes--SLOWLY.  Give it time to sink into the cakes. Don't let it all run down the sides. In fact, leave about a 1/2" perimeter around your cake that has not been touched by the syrup.

Let the cakes keep cooling.

In the meantime, we will whip up some buttercream frosting.Now, for this sort of cake, we actually want something thick, sugary, rich, and delightful--so I am devolving--I am going back to a run-of-the-mill buttercream recipe for  today (shhh...don't tell!!). Those of you who know me and cakes, know that I preach the ways of Swiss buttercream--see these two awesome cake recipes for  more. 

3. Whiskey Buttercream

 -1 cup of butter (two sticks), softened
-3 cups of powdered sugar (plus more)
-3 tbsp. whiskey
-4 tbsp. heavy cream
-3 oz. dark chocolate 

Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30-second internals, stirring in between, until fully melted. Set aside.

In a medium-large bowl, beat the  butter until it is light and fluffy. Stir in the powdered sugar by hand--so you don't get it all over your kitchen--and then beat it with the mixture until fully combined. Pour in the cream to loosen it up a bit. Now, pour in the whiskey and keep beating until fluffy and light. Finally, pour in the chocolate and gently stir to combine. Taste, and add more whiskey or more powdered sugar as you desire.

Now, you must start putting the cake together. Lay out your first layer on your cake plate or turn table. Stick a few pieces of paper towel around the edges to catch the drips. Now, plop a big dollop of buttercream on top of the layer (half of the mix for a 3-layer cake, or just as much as you need for the 2-layer). Spread it around evenly, being sure to keep a 1" perimeter  free of frosting (or else it will all squish out the sides with you press on the next layer).

Next, place on the next cake layer (and repeat the last steps if you have a 3-layer cake). 

Now, the last thing we have to make is the ganache! Then we can finish up this cake.

4. Chocolate Ganache (No Whiskey Required Here...)

-9 ounces of dark chocolate (60%)
-1 cup of heavy cream

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just comes to a boil, stirring constantly, then take it off of the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit--without stirring--for 1 minute, and then gently, like you are whisking rose petals, whisk the chocolate into the cream (we don't want any air bubbles). 

Set aside to cool for a moment, until it reaches a thick consistency than won't waterfall down the sides of  your cake. 

Lastly, pour the ganache over the cake. Start in the very middle, and pour only a little, and then wait to see how far it spreads. Keep pouring as needed just until it starts to trickle down the sides of the cake. Now, you can take a spatula and spread some more ganache on the sides of the cake (or just leave it messy!).

Refrigerate until the ganache solidifies. Remove the paper towels and present!

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