Every couple of years, my friend and neighbour PeteV passes me a bottle of Chivas Regal 12YO Scotch Whisky.
He receives the occasional bottle as a gift, but as none of us are spirit drinkers, he’s more than happy for me to use it for cooking (my apologies to Greg and the other whisky drinkers out there who I’m sure will be completely appalled by this).
This chocolate cake recipe from Nick Malgieri’s Bake! provided the perfect excuse to crack open the bottle. I’ve now made it twice, and I think it only fair to let you know the pros and cons of the recipe before you splurge on a bottle of whisky (or bourbon, as the original recipe specifies) to make it.
First and foremost, the cake is delicious. It has a moist tender crumb and a deep, dark, grown-up chocolate flavour. Each batch has a whopping 120ml of whisky (four nips!) and according to my friend Rebecca, only 75% of that will burn off during the one hour baking time. So it’s not a cake to be feeding to little people.
Secondly, it’s made in a very interesting way – the flour, sugar and bicarb are beaten together, and then the butter, softened first to the consistency of mayonnaise, is beaten in gently. It’s worth mentioning that the finished batter is basically a soup, as half a litre (2 cups) of liquid is added at the end. Go gently on the speed dial of the mixer, or it will splatter all over the kitchen!
The only real negative to report is that I struggled to get the finished cake to release cleanly from the bundt pan. Of course, I was lazy and didn’t do as Nick instructed, which was to butter the tin, scatter in dry breadcrumbs and then spray oil over the top of them. But usually a light spray of canola oil is enough in my cast aluminium bundts – although not in this case, as you can see…
Finally, and I’m still not sure whether this is a pro or a con, the batter is absolutely to die for. It tastes like dark chocolate Irish cream with a little eggnog thrown in for good measure, and I had trouble ladling it into the pans rather than my mouth. Pete caught me with my head inside the mixing bowl, snuffling up the leftover mixture. “It wasn’t very becoming”, he told me later.
Are you still interested? If so, here’s the recipe…
Chivas Regal Chocolate Cake
(based on Maida’s Chocolate Bourbon Pound Cake in Nick Malgieri’s Bake!)
- 140g (5oz) unsweetened chocolate, cut into small pieces or grated (for the first cake, I used Callebaut cocoa mass, and for the second one, I used Willie’s Cacao)
- 360ml (1½ cups) hot brewed coffee (I used a strong plunger decaf coffee)
- 120ml (½ cup) Chivas Regal (original recipe says to use best bourbon whiskey)
- 300g (2 cups) plain (AP) flour
- 440g (2 cups) white sugar
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), sifted
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 250g (1 cup) unsalted butter, really soft
- 3 medium (55g) free range eggs, at room temperature
- 10ml (2 teaspoons) vanilla extract (I used homemade)
1. Prepare tins – either line two loaf tins (mine were 21.5 x 11 x 7cm, or 8½ x 4½ x 2¼”) with parchment paper or butter a 10-cup bundt pan, coat it with fine dry breadcrumbs and then spray over them with vegetable cooking spray. I didn’t actually do this, but I will next time! Preheat the oven to 160C/320F or 150C/300F with fan.
2. Place the chocolate in a large bowl and pour over the hot coffee. Allow to rest for a minute or two, then whisk to combine. Stir the whisky into the mixture.
3. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, gently beat together the flour, sugar, sifted bicarb and salt, using the paddle attachment. Stop the mixer and add in the butter, which needs to be really soft. Mix on the lowest speed until the mixture comes together and all the butter is incorporated – the consistency at this point reminded me of choux pastry dough.
4. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat slowly to combine, before turning the speed up to medium and beating for a minute.
5. Scrape the bowl and beater down, and then pour in half the chocolate mixture. Mix very slowly to start (or you’ll end up wearing it!) and then turn the speed up to medium and beat for a minute. Now add the remaining chocolate mixture, and again beat very slowly to start with, before turning the speed up to medium for a further two minutes. Resist the urge to drink all the batter at this point.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared tin(s) and bake for about 60 – 70 mins – a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean. My loaf tins only needed 60 minutes, but the bundt pan took slightly longer.
7. Let the cake rest in the tin for 15 minutes before crossing your fingers and attempting to unmould it. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.