Chocolate Bourbon Cake

June 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

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I’ve always been a bit suspicious of people who say that they don’t like chocolate. It’s a panacea for most ills: a gentler-than-caffeine morning wake-up in a warm, milky mug; a post-lunch jolt in the form of a couple of intense squares of the darkest, fruitiest variety straight from the fridge; a cake slice with a movie on a Sunday afternoon; a creamy little pot at the end of a dinner for two. Luckily I married a man who feels the same, and if we were sharing a dessert, we’d rarely have to discuss whether or not to go for the chocolatiest option. The discussion is more likely to be whether we should order one or two.

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Chocolate cake has been my dessert of choice since the ubiquity of the chocolate fudge cake that was such an intrinsic part of the 1990s. Less exotic than the molten chocolate volcanos that at that time were being served in gourmet restaurants and later became the staple of the gastropub, chocolate fudge cake was the archetypal dessert for family eateries and middle range restaurants. It always consisted of two layers of cake separated by a generous layer of fudgy icing, with the same icing smothered across the top and sides of the cake, ideally in concentric circles. At these eateries the cakes would be proudly displayed in a glass cabinet in lieu of a paper dessert menu, the fudge cake typically sharing real estate with a lemon meringue pie and a pavlova, the choices of fools, or grown ups. I would spend the whole meal impatiently awaiting the point where I could order a tall slice of cake, served warm, with cream or ice-cream (never both as far as I remember). The popularity of the chocolate fudge cake later made it available outside of restaurants too. I don’t think I ever had a homemade version though. That would have been quite the disappointment, when there was the glory of the Sara Lee frozen option, a favorite of midnight-feasting and broken-hearted teens, or, if visiting a grandparent, the classy and safe Marks and Spencer’s offering.

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The fancypants cousin of the chocolate fudge cake is the flourless chocolate cake, which turns the nomenclature on its head to become a fudgy chocolate cake. It’s darker, denser and just a lot more serious minded than its frivolous little sister. It’s the cake I decided to make for this year’s father’s day. For Ollie’s first, only chocolate cake would do, and while perusing my options I happened upon a recipe for a bourbon-spiked version. Heavy on the chocolate, as is only right, this is one of those cakes that comes out of the oven proudly puffed up, then falls back lazily upon itself as it cools, into a slender, compacted layer that cries out for the airy contrast of a dollop of whipped cream. The bourbon tinge to the cake is subtle, which I mention in case you want to ramp it up and spike your cream with the liquor too. You’ll see from my pictures that I sprinkled a few raspberries on the plate too. Forget them. The chocolate and cream is all you need. A shot of bourbon alongside? Midnight feasting has come a long way.

Chocolate Bourbon Cake
Adapted from Green and Black’s Ultimate: Chocolate Recipes: The New Collection

110g/1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces, plus extra for greasing
150g/5oz dark chocolate (ideally 70% cocoa solids), either in chip form or chopped into 5mm pieces (my preference for this kind of baking is Guittard)
60g/2oz sugar
30g/1oz all purpose (plain) flour
pinch of salt
3 eggs
2 tbsp. good bourbon
50g/2oz dark brown sugar
whipped cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Butter a 20cm/8inch round tin and line the bottom with parchment paper (I used a springform tin).

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, until it sizzles and gets really hot. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips until they melt. Set to one side to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour and salt to combine. Add the 3 eggs and the bourbon and whisk well until smooth.

Stir the brown sugar into the cooled chocolate and butter mix. Pour this into the bowl containing the batter and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes. When the cake is ready, the top will be puffing up and it will have a dull appearance. As the cake interior is fudgy and will continue to set as the cake cools, it will be hard to test for doneness with a skewer. If the centre still looks wobbly though, you can give the cake another 5 minutes in the oven.

Remove the cake to a wire rack to cool completely in the tin. Unmould to a serving plate and serve with whipped cream, berries and, if you like, bourbon on the rocks.

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