Drunk Off Dessert?

by Jessie Pascoe

Boozing and baking are, for many, deeply woven into the holiday experience. But could they become deeply woven into each other?

Challenge accepted! To find the most alcoholic recipe around (don’t worry, it’s vacation), I consulted four baking experts — each a published author in the field — and asked them to submit the recipe that’s, in their opinion, the booziest in their repertoire. I then tested each recipe and (why not) conducted a post-meal breathalyzer (I own a crappy one that I use mainly as a party prop), all to see what dessert gets you the drunkest, if any do. And the winner is…

Recipe #1: Long Island Ice Tea Cake. Seriously.
By: Krystina Castella, author of Booze Cakes.
And?: Aah! Flashbacks to being 19. Back then, I thought asking for a Long Island Ice Tea was acceptable and had no idea why I always got carded. Now I know waaay better and only mix this cocktail into pound cake.
BAC: Okay, so I blew a .04 on the cheapo breathalyzer, but my friend — who valiantly volunteered to help me taste this cake — got a zero. Interpret as you will, but also bear in mind that this dessert is not for those who dislike the smell or taste of different liquors combined. And although it wasn’t exactly delicious, I’d say it’d make a decent conversation piece / dessert hors d’oeuvre for your upcoming NYE party. The Jell-O shot’s pleasantly trashy older sister.

Recipe #2: Car Bomb Cupcakes (recipe follows).
By: Kate Legere, author of Intoxicated Cupcakes.
And?: Kate suggested I take two whiskey shots while making these, but I went with the now-opened bottle of Guinness instead. So by the time I sampled these creamy, chocolate-y treats (with which I am now obsessed), I was already a tad buzzed. Oops! Experiment: failed?
BAC: .01

Recipe (makes 12)

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Guinness
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg
1/3 cup sour cream

Whiskey Ganache
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
4 teaspoons whiskey

1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the cupcake pan with 12 liners.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat the Guinness and butter over medium heat, stirring until the butter melts. Add the cocoa, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl, beat together egg and sour cream on medium speed until smooth. Continue beating as you add cooled Guinness mixture. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture, beating just until combined.

5. Divide the batter evenly among cupcake liners and bake for 16 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Remove the cupcakes, and set on a cooling rack until completely cooled.

6. For the ganache, place chocolate pieces in a heat-proof bowl. Heat cream in a saucepan on a low heat, stirring until simmering. Pour the cream over the chocolate, stirring constantly. Add the butter and whiskey, stirring until smooth. Set aside, but stir every couple of minutes until the mixture thickens (20 minutes).

7. While you are letting the ganache cool (and have cooled the cupcakes completely), use a knife or star tipped piping tip to cut a hole in the top of each cupcake about two thirds of the way down, making room for about 1 tablespoon ganache. Use a piping bag or a sandwich bag with a hole cut in the corner to fill cupcake hole with thickened ganache.

8. For the icing, use a large mixing bowl to cream the butter on medium-high speed, gradually adding vanilla and salt. Slowly add sugar, mixing till smooth. Add the Bailey’s to create a smooth and fluffy frosting.


Recipe #3: Cranberry and Almond Irish Whiskey Cake.
By: Ryan Jennings, author of Cooking With Booze.
And?: I wish I had started making this after Thanksgiving. Ryan says you can (and should) start a month ahead, and each day bathe the cake in ¼ cup of whiskey. If only I had known — I like the idea of “watering” a cake each day. (And the final result was a little dry for my taste.)
BAC: I passed out before I could make the whipped cream — but then had a slice and registered an .01.

Recipe #4: Hazelnut Tiramisu (recipe follows).
By: Lucy Baker, author of The Boozy Baker.
And?: The most valuable lesson I learned from my adventures in boozy baking: if you want a strong dessert, drink it, do not bake it. But saying you’re “making tiramisu” is almost as rewarding as actually making it, so I’d absolutely give this dessert another go.
BAC: Despite the relative plentitude of booze, my BAC was a surprising (?) zero.

Recipe (serves 8–10)
6 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup chocolate hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup warm brewed espresso or coffee
24 ladyfinger cookies, such as Savoiardi
Chocolate shavings
Hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

1. Line a standard 9×5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing the plastic to extend over the sides.

2. In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese, chocolate hazelnut spread, and 3 tablespoons of the hazelnut liqueur with an electric mixer just until blended and smooth. Set aside. Wash and dry the beaters.

3. In another large bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone-chocolate mixture. Set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, combine the espresso with the remaining 1 cup of hazelnut liqueur. Quickly dip each cookie into the espresso-liqueur mixture to saturate it, and then place it crosswise in the bottom of the prepared pan, creating a single layer. (You might have to squish them a bit to make them fit, but don’t worry — it will look lovely in the end.) Cover the cookie layer with 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture. Repeat with another layer of cookies and another 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture, and then a final layer of cookies.

5. Wrap the tiramisu, still in the loaf pan, in another layer of plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Transfer the remaining 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture to an airtight container, and refrigerate it as well.

6. When ready to serve, unwrap the tiramisu and invert it onto a serving plate. Spread the remaining mascarpone mixture over the top. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings and chopped hazelnuts, cut crosswise into slices, and serve.

Jessie Pascoe can’t stop collecting cookbooks and seeking out spiked recipes.