You have no idea what my family had to go through for this post. They had to test not one, but two versions of this New York Times Chocolate Whiskey Cake recipe. It’s right up there with the potato famine, the Five Points slum, or perhaps it’s just the luck o’ the (1/4) Irish.
I made the first version of this for my 11-year-old’s birthday last Monday. Being a Monday, and Mondays being a long run day, grocery-shopping/errand day, and oh, by the way, early release from Bainbridge schools day, I needed something easy. And fast. That would still be a treat. This cake fit the bill perfectly.
You don’t need a fancy mixer to make this cake. And it tastes great on its own, without the need for frosting or any other time-consuming garnish.
On Monday when I made the cake, I followed the recipe exactly as written, though as I’ve said in the past, I don’t use a springform pan. Find my simple trick for releasing cakes from regular cake pans here. The variable ingredient between the two versions of the cakes was the cocoa powder.
I prefer my chocolate to be dark and strong, and therefore use dutch processed cocoa (which tends to be darker) in most recipes. However, if baking soda is the type of leavening used, dutch processed cocoa can cause the recipe to be overly alkaline. If this is the case and the alkalinity is not neutralized, you’re going to get a less desirable final product. This recipe does use baking soda, but does not specify the type of cocoa powder to use. So I went dark. The dutch processed cocoa.
The result was a super dark, somewhat dense, moist chocolate cake with a depth of flavor from the coffee and whiskey. It was somewhere between a cake and brownie in texture, with a strong dark chocolate flavor.
But I was curious. How would it differ if I used traditional (natural) cocoa powder but kept everything else the same?
This version of the cake was lighter, more cake-like in texture, and more mild in flavor. I would guess that this is the intended version of the recipe and two out of three McDevitts polled preferred this one to the other.
But the adults in the household liked the darker flavor of the first cake, and Mike didn’t mind the denser texture. If you’re really torn about which to choose, try both. It’s a fun experiment.
This is a great recipe, and if you’re looking for something to accompany your corned beef and cabbage this week, this is it.