Bourbon Soaked Birthday Cake

Oscar party (15)Our Oscar party doubled as a birthday party for our friend Ben. I love baking birthday cakes and ridiculous things for parties like this, so I decided I would make a Bourbon Soaked Mocha Cake with Buttercream Frosting. And dip chips in dark chocolate. Luckily M was stuck here another day and was able to help me get it all together before the party.

I didn’t even bother with the sugared/candied fruit, not enough time, patients or care really. I mean, it’s a BOURBON SOAKED CAKE!  Do you really need to add sugary fruit to the top? I think not. You should also note that this thing has a lot of alcohol in it. You kinda thought you were eating a delicious chocolaty shot.

Oscar cake (5)It is actually really easy to make. I don’t have a double boiler, so I melted the chocolate in the microwave, the main thing is to watch it and not let it burn, it will happen fast. I used tin pans, so I skipped the parchment paper step. I figured I could tear the tins apart if needed, The cakes came out fine with all the butter, so I am not sure why you need it to be honest. If you are going to bake this, remember to allow time for the cakes to sit in the fridge. We baked the cakes the day before (and dipped the chips).

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Right before the party, I started the frosting then M finished whipping it up while I was getting ready for the party.

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Frosting in a poofy dress | Picture thanks to Robin

Then I put everything together over at Mikki’s so it wouldn’t fall apart on the way. We put some candles on it, sang a song and enjoyed it. You should do the same.

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There are a lot of candles on that thing & my dress did not go up in flames | Picture by Mikki

Makes 16 servings

For the cake:

  • 2 sticks butter, softened, plus more to grease pans
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder, plus more to dust pans
  • 5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup instant espresso
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup good bourbon like Bulleit, plus more to drizzle onto cake layers
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp good vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

For the mocha buttercream:

  • 5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 5 oz milk chocolate, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tbsp instant espresso
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp good vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

The cakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Using a pastry brush, paint a thin layer of softened butter all over two 8-inch round by 2-inch high cake pans. Be sure to paint along the crease.
  3. Dust the pans with cocoa powder, tapping and tilting until the interior is completely coated. Empty leftover cocoa powder from first pan into the next and repeat until it also is well-coated.
  4. In a microwave safe dish, melt bittersweet chocolate on high for 1 minute. Stir and continue cooking in 10-15 second intervals until just smooth. Allow to cool a bit.
  5. Boil some water. Combine cocoa powder and espresso in a heatproof measuring cup. Pour enough boiling water in to reach the 1 cup line and stir until dissolved. Add salt and stir to dissolve, then pour in bourbon. Set aside.
  6. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add sugar and beat until well incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, baking soda, and chocolate. Continue mixing on medium high, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture is well combined.
  7. Add about a quarter of the bourbon mixture to the mixer bowl and with the mixer on low, blend well. Next, add about a third of the flour, mix well. Repeat like this until you finish with the last of the bourbon mixture.
  8. Pour batter into prepared pans, smooth the tops, and smack the pans onto the counter a few times to settle the batter.
  9. Place into the oven and rotate the cakes halfway through, baking for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool cakes in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then invert onto rack.
  11. Drizzle a tablespoon or so of bourbon over each cake. Wrap in cellophane and chill for at least an hour, as long as overnight.

The buttercream:

  1. In a microwave safe dish, melt the chocolates on high for 1 minute. Stir and continue cooking in 10-15 second intervals until just smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Using boiling water a couple tablespoons or so of boiling water, dissolve the espresso powder by swirling it in a small dish. Allow to cool for a few minutes. (I didn’t let it cool enough and it took awhile mix with the butter, let it cool if you can!)
  3. With an electric mixer beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add in the espresso and beat to incorporate. Add the chocolate and beat until well mixed, then add the vanilla and kosher salt. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, mix everything together.
  4. With the mixer on its lowest setting, add the confectioners sugar in stages and beat until creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat for a few more minutes once well incorporated, until mixture becomes even lighter and more fluffy. (You can  also refrigerate this over night if you want)

To Assemble:

  1. After having chilled the cakes, remove cellophane from one and set on top of a piece of parchment. Carefully slice each layer in half so you have 4 equal layers, each about 1″ thick.
  2. Place one layer on your cake stand. With an offset spatula, work a quarter of the frosting from the center outward and in back-and-forth gestures to spread it towards the edge.
  3. Place the second cake layer, centered and level with the first. Press down lightly with your hand flat on the surface of the cake to even cake and frosting.
  4. Continue stacking layer atop frosting, until everything looks level and top it off with one more layer of frosting. Chill the cake until you are ready to present and share!


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