Chocolate-Bourbon Cake with Browned-Butter Bourbon Buttercream
I used to always say that rum was my favorite spirit, but as I’ve gotten older I can definitely say it’s now bourbon. I love trying and buying new bourbons; there are so many out there now to choose and try. I decided to go bold and use a 100 proof bourbon and use Knob Creek which is my current favorite, but as I love to try new brands; that may be subject to change. This cake was such a sweet surprise. I love to have some texture in my cakes when I’m placing the filling, so I decided to try the butterfinger pieces that are new in the baking aisle. I was afraid it would be too sweet, but it was perfect with this cake and gave a wonderful little crunchy bite. My neighbor loves cake and every year I make his birthday cake. His wife is my best friend and she always has a great party with me bringing the cake.
1 3/4 C all purpose flour
1 3/4 C granulated sugar
3/4 C natural unsweetened coco powder (such as Hershey’s)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Cup whole milk (room temp)
1/2 C vegetable oil or canola oil
2 large eggs (room temp)
1/2 C good quality bourbon
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 C hot coffee
Preheat the oven to 330° F – 350° degrees F. I used four 6 inch pans so I baked them at a lower temp as I wrap my pans with baking strips and I find that I prefer to bake my cakes when I do this at a bit lower temp so they come out flat. If you don’t use baking strips then bake at 350 F. Prepare the pans by spraying with baking spray. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer place all the dry ingredients and whisk well. Whisk together the milk and the next 4 ingredients well. Add to the dry and whisk to combine. Add in the hot coffee and stir with the whisk to combine. The batter will be very thin. Divide the batter equally into your pans; note if you use 6 inch pans it will be about 1 cup and 5 tablespoons of batter if you are like me and like to be precise. Bake until the tops of the cakes start to pull away from the sides and the top springs back when touched and a toothpick comes out clean. Six inch pans will take about 30-31 mins at 330° F, 8 inch pans will take 22-25 mins at 350° F. Always watch your bakes though; don’t rely on a recipe and go be strictly time alone. A good baker will always check often towards at least 5 mins before the suggested time. Cool the cakes in the pans set over a wire rack, and let cool for 20 mins, then turn out and continue to cool until the cakes are completely cool; about 40 more minutes.
While the cakes are cooling, prepare the buttercream. Note; you can make the buttercream ahead as it does take some time.
Browned Butter Buttercream
2 Cups unsalted butter
5-6 Cups un-sifted confectioner sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
3-4 Tbsp. good quality bourbon
Butterfinger candy pieces (for sprinkling onto filling)
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often until the butter smells nutty and fragrant and the solids at the bottom of the pan appear golden brown; about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof shallow bowl. Place in the refrigerator to chill until almost firm. Once firm take a large spoon and break it up then place in a large bowl or bowl of your stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat the butter until no more lumps appear and is smooth and fluffy. Gradually add in the sugar and well combined and smooth. Add in the vanilla and then the heavy cream and whip until blended. Stir in the bourbon at slow speed until blended. Switch to the paddle attachment (this is to remove any excess air and helps the buttercream to become smooth), and blend at medium low speed for about a minute. Reserve about 1/3 cup buttercream for the “poofs” at the top. I used a French tip Ateco #867 for the poofs on top but use whatever you like.
Spread the buttercream between the layers and then sprinkle with butterfinger pieces (you can find the bag in the baking aisle near the chocolate chips). Frost the sides and top of cake in a thin layer to do a crumb coat and chill for 30 minutes, then remove and frost the rest of the cake. Top the cake with poofs using a piping bag with your tip of choice and then if you like grate some finely grated bittersweet chocolate with a zest grater or top with chocolate sprinkles.