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IMG_4283This brownie recipe is the strongest I’ve seen in a while, and will likely go in the hall of fame for being a delicious combination of flavors and textures that are irresistible to me. When I was making the recipe, I was at first a little suspicious. Why is there more chocolate than there is butter? There’s just as much sugar as butter! And one whole TABLESPOON of vanilla? That’s crazy!

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But I persevered and made the recipe as it is and I did not regret it. Firstly, the smell of this is intoxicating. It has the woodsy fragrance of bourbon and vanilla, without an alcoholic bite. It also smells a little comforting like a cup of coffee, even though there’s no coffee in it and I don’t even drink coffee. (But I can appreciate the scent memory it holds for most people.) Be sure not to overbake the brownie, but you don’t have to worry about the brownie not holding together because when the chopped chocolate solidifies, it’ll hold everything together. It’s less a cakey brownie than a chewy, dense one with crunch from the chopped chocolate and, so keep that in mind depending on what you’re looking to make. The sprinkling of fleur de sel on the brownies isn’t necessary, but it does heighten the sweet, earthy, caramelly and woody flavor profile.

bourbonbrownie

Melty chocolate when warmed up, crunchy chocolate bits when cooled

 

Since the ingredients in this recipe are so simple, I highly recommend using good quality vanilla extract and chocolate. I used Trader Joe’s bourbon vanilla, and their Pound Plus Semi-Sweet Chocolate. You do NOT want to use chocolate chips in this once, since it’ll throw off the texture. Take the effort to chop the chocolate, and you’ll be rewarded with craggy, crunchy chocolate bits with a chocolate-flavored batter.

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Bourbon Brownies
From The Vanilla Bean Blog
Makes one 9×9 pan

1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla (use genuine vanilla extract, since this is quite a lot of it)
2 tablespoons bourbon
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or coarse salt [to taste]
Preheat oven to 325. Grease a 9 inch square pan, and line pan with a parchment sling.

Heat the brown sugar and butter together in a saucepan until the sugar is melted into a gooey mass with the butter, stirring occasionally. Let cool. Whisk flour and baking powder together, and set aside. Add egg, vanilla, salt, and bourbon to the cooled butter mixture, and beat together. Stir in the flour, and then the chocolate, until just combined. Spread batter in the pan, and bake 18-22 minutes, until light golden brown, and a tooth pick comes out clean, being very careful not to over bake. Sprinkle with fleur de sel. Let cool in the pan, then carefully lift sling from the pan and cut into squares.

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I’m starting to get a little suspicious of Serious Eats dessert recipes, because I’ve tried a couple and they haven’t always turned out. Even Kenji’s “best” chocolate chip cookie turned out meh. Granted, this recipe never promised anything more than marrying the flavors of browned butter, bourbon and pecan, but I found the texture a little lacking.

When cooked to the suggested timing, the cookies were hard, crumbly and just not entirely appetizing given the less-sweet formulation. I underbaked them just slightly the second go-round so the texture would be softer and hopefully chewier. It acquired a spongy, muffin-like texture, which isn’t bad as well, just not what I look for in a cookie.

All that aside, if you like your cookies hard and crunchy and not too sweet, this would be a good recipe for you. The bourbon taste is strong in this one, and the nuttiness imparted by the browned butter does indeed complement the bourbon and pecans in here.

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Browned Butter Bourbon Pecan Cookies
From Serious Eats

Ingredients
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 ice cube
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
5 tablespoons bourbon
1 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped

1
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, gently swirling pan constantly, until particles begin to turn golden brown and butter smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and continue swirling the pan until the butter is a rich brown, about 15 seconds longer. Transfer to a medium bowl, whisk in ice cube, transfer to refrigerator, and allow to cool completely, about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally.

2
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

3
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, dark brown sugar, and egg. Add cooled melted butter and vanilla and whisk until combined. Add flour mixture and stir to incorporate with a wooden spoon. Add bourbon and stir until liquid is absorbed. Stir in pecans. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.

4
Adjust oven rack to upper and lower middle positions and preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

5
Drop dough by the rounded tablespoon onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake, flipping sheets halfway through baking, until golden on the bottom but still soft to the touch, 15-18 minutes. Cookies will continue to harden and set as they cool.

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I’ve missed baking with bourbon, and ever since I moved to my new apartment, I knew that this was the time to buy a handle of bourbon to fulfill all my baking desires. While I enjoy a nice top-shelf bourbon for sipping, Jim Beam works just fine when it’s going to be complemented with chocolate and copious amounts of sugar. The first recipe to kick off this bourbon baking dry spell was this batch of bourbon brownies.

The original recipe recommended a sea salt topping, but I forgot and now this is just a fudgy brownie with notes of woodiness. It’s not going to make you drunk but you can definitely taste the bourbon. I’d recommend eating these brownies chilled; it really enhances the fudginess. Whiskey and chocolate just go so perfectly together… I actually had some chocolate-infused, locally-made moonshine from King’s County Distillery and really enjoyed it.

As usual, I sub in gluten-free flour when adverse effects are minimal. I used Carol Fenster’s baking mix of 1 cup rice flour, 1/2-3/4 cup potato starch and ¼ cup tapioca starch/flour. The downside to this flour is that it tends to clump up and might lead to clumps in your batter.

Bourbon Brownies
Adapted from Baking Bites
Makes one 8-9 inch square pan

1/2 cup butter
2-oz dark chocolate (60-70% cacao), coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp bourbon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup all purpose flour (or gluten-free flour)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt together butter and dark chocolate in the microwave. This should be done in 30-second intervals to avoid overcooking the mixture, stirring to ensure that the chocolate has melted. Allow mixture to cool slightly and transfer into a large mixing bowl.
Whisk sugar and cocoa power into butter mixture. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, followed by 1/4 tsp salt, bourbon and vanilla extract. Whisk in the flour and stir until it is just incorporated, and no streaks of dry ingredients remain visible.
Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.
Allow brownies to cool in the pan, then lift the foil to easily remove them before slicing.

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I made some of these incredible chocolate rum cake balls for a work party and judging by how only two out of 60+ balls were left at the end of it, I’m guessing they were a big hit. Chocolate and booze just never goes wrong!

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As someone who prides herself on making things from scratch, I opted to make the chocolate cake and the glaze from scratch, even though I would be mashing them up into little balls later. The original recipe didn’t include rum, but I subbed some of the hot water that went into the cake with rum for some added booze. The cake itself was pretty darn delicious and moist and rich, but I knew I couldn’t just bring in a sheet cake to the party. No, that wouldn’t have been nearly as impressive nor delicious. I saved half the cake for non-party eating purposes, giving it away to appreciative friends who don’t get no homemade goodies all that often.

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As for the other half, I smushed it all up into little balls, while also throwing in some rum, heavy cream, and chocolate sauce, the proportions of which I eyeballed until the cake mixture became suitably compact.

While the original recipe called for a dark chocolate coating, I knew it was going to be a bit too bitter, so I used half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate instead. It was an excellent call.

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Dark Chocolate Rum Cake Balls
Adapted from Cookie Madness
Makes 60~ balls

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups (8 oz) all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, natural type (try Dutch)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk, room temperature
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water (or coffee)
1/2 cup rum

Ganache
3 ounces of chopped semisweet chocolate
3 ounces of heavy cream
6 oz milk chocolate
6 oz semisweet chocolate

Instructions
Preheat oven to 325 F. Spray a 13×9 inch pan with flour-added baking spray.
Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add oil, milk, eggs and vanilla. Beat two minutes with electric mixer at medium speed. Stir in water and rum until blended. Batter will be thin.
Pour batter in the pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until skewer or pick inserted comes out clean.
Let the cake sit in the pan for about 10 minutes, then carefully turn it from the Bundt.
Let the cake cool and then drizzle it with ganache. To make ganache, heat 3 ounces of heavy cream in microwave or saucepan. Pour over 3 oz chopped dark chocolate and stir until smooth. Let cool until thick enough to drizzle.

When you are ready to make the cake balls, set aside half the cake in a large mixing bowl. Mash up the cake. If you used all the ganache in the recipe, you won’t need any extra. Add rum, heavy cream and/or chocolate sauce until cake balls hold together. I recommend adding more rum than the other two ingredients.

Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment. Shape the scoops into smooth balls. Line the balls up on a tray, cover the with plastic wrap and put them in the freezer until firm.

In a chocolate melting pot, top of a double boiler or in the microwave, melt the milk and semisweet chocolate.

Dip cake balls into melted chocolate and lift with two forks, allowing extra chocolate to drip back into the pot. Put the balls on a wax paper lined cookie sheet to set.

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Trifles are one of my favorite desserts to construct. This is why:

1. It’s no-bake and thus super quick to assemble.
2. You can even use all store-bought, ready-made ingredients to assemble your trifle.
3. If your layer cake fails, turn it into a trifled “deconstructed” dessert.

This chocolate cake trifle was borne out of the third reason. I had made a chocolate whiskey cake, only I tweaked the recipe to double the amount of whiskey to 1 cup, and omitted the coffee chocolate chips. If I found the original recipe a tad too sweet, this new incarnation was excessively alcoholic. I legitimately felt tipsy after a slice, and would mostly eat it with a scoop of ice cream to offset the dryness and high alcoholic content.

The poor cake languished in my freezer for a while, until I chanced upon this chocolate sauce recipe. I loved that it didn’t contain any ingredient that couldn’t exist outside the refrigerator, which would imply that it’d have an extended shelf life much like a commercial chocolate sauce. I made a batch of it, and I saw it as the perfect solution to my dry and un-sweet chocolate cake. Then I had another great idea. I had some heavy cream left over from the Sachertorte. What if added a bunch of whipped cream to it and made it a trifle?

I made short work of it, both in making and eating it. I added some white chocolate chips for textural contrast and added sweetness. It ended up being a high whipped cream to cake ratio, which meant that the flavors ended up balancing out perfectly.

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Chocolate Whiskey Trifle
This is not so much a recipe as guidelines for freewheeling creativity. Go wild!

An amount of chocolate cake – I used this chocolate whiskey cake recipe
Chocolate sauce – homemade from this Allrecipes recipe, or store-bought is fine
1 cup of heavy cream
Granulated sugar to taste
White chocolate chips

1. Start whipping heavy cream on high with a mixer (or laboriously by hand if you don’t have a mixer – it is possible, just tiring) and add granulated sugar to taste.
2. Crumble chocolate cake into a container – ideally glass, so everyone can see the strata that make up your trifle. Spoon some whipped cream into it and even out. Squirt a bunch of chocolate sauce on to it. Sprinkle a handful of chocolate chips.
3. Repeat until a limiting factor presents itself – for me, the whipped cream ran out first.
4. Let sit for an hour so the cake moistens from the sauces and whipped cream. If you’re not patient enough, go ahead and eat it right there and then anyway.

IMG_3583When I saw this recipe, I instantly knew I had to make it. I know I’ve been diverting my attention lately to more European desserts, but you could never tear me away from anything combining chocolate and whiskey. I was deciding between using Jim Beam and some cheapo scotch lying around, and went for the scotch because I was counting on all that sugar and chocolate to cover it up. Cooking is the best way to use up bad alcohol anyway.

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What was interesting about this recipe was the preparation technique. I had to heat up a saucepan with coffee, butter, whiskey and cocoa powder, and then the addition of sugar turned it into a gloopy, caramelly liquid. Fortunately the cake turned out well, though. I really liked the slightly crisp muffin top-esque shell that formed, which was a nice foil against the tender and moist crumb. The chocolate chips added some gooey-ness to its insides so it was reminiscent of a molten chocolate cake. It didn’t taste very alcoholic at all, and I wish it had. This is a very decadent cake, and in a future iteration I might add a pinch of salt, or sub some of the coffee with whiskey, or omit the chocolate chips.

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Note: Although the recipe called for making a whole cake, I think the cake would benefit greatly from being split up into about 8 or so 3.5-inch ramekins, or even cupcakes. Reduce the bake time accordingly. You’d also get that delicious crusty muffin top.

Chocolate Whiskey Cake
Makes 1 10-inch round cake
Adapted from NYTimes

INGREDIENTS

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, more for pan
85 grams unsweetened cocoa powder (about 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 cups brewed strong coffee
1/2 cup whiskey
200 grams granulated sugar (about 1 cup)
156 grams light brown sugar (about 1 cup)
240 grams all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
8 grams baking soda (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
3 grams fine sea salt (about 3/4 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground clove (I omitted)
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used regular chocolate chips)
Powdered sugar, for serving (optional)

PREPARATION

1.Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Dust with 2 tablespoons cocoa powder.
2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, warm coffee, whiskey, 12 tablespoons butter and remaining cocoa powder, whisking occasionally, until butter is melted. Whisk in sugars until dissolved. Remove from heat and cool completely.
3. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla. Slowly whisk egg mixture into chocolate mixture. Add dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Fold in chocolate chips.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Transfer to oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, then remove sides of pan. Dust with powdered sugar before serving, if you like.


This is an incredible recipe that satisfies the two different dessert cravings I often have: the chewy, and the creamy. While I could’ve baked a slice of chocolate cake with a fudge ganache and a buttercream frosting, why wouldn’t I just mix up this super-easy brownie pudding? The texture of this is exactly what it looks like: it has a thin, crackly crust that sizzles ever so slightly on your palate, and once you get past that initial thin layer it’s just full of chocolatey ooey gooey goodness. I also added a splash of bourbon because bourbon has never once failed me in my chocolate baking endeavors.


I mean seriously. Just look at that. This was delicious warm, and I didn’t eat this with vanilla ice cream but I’ll bet the differing textures of cold, warm, creamy and fudgey would have been a veritable party in your mouth. This recipe is very forgiving, and because it’s baked in a bain marie (or water bath), would not screw up easily. You’re also bound to have most, if not all of the ingredients in your pantry. I highly recommend this recipe for impressing boyfriends and small children. You can thank me later.

Brownie Pudding
Makes a 1 quart casserole
Adapted from Ina Garten

1 stick unsalted butter
2 large eggs (I used two medium and it was fine)
1 cups sugar
6 tbsps good dutch processed cocoa powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla essence
A splash of bourbon – I wanna say a tablespoon, but it is up to your discretion
Vanilla ice cream, for serving – which I found entirely unnecessary considering how delicious the pudding was

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Melt the 1/2 pound of butter in the microwave. Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on med-high speed for ~ 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together to remove the lumps. Set aside.

When the egg-sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low. Add the vanilla seeds, framboise (if using), and the cocoa-flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter. Mix again just until combined.

Pour the brownie mixture into a 9×5 or 8×8 pan. Place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish. Bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked. This dessert is between a brownie and a pudding- so it should.

Allow to cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.