Today is a love story …
Did you know there is passion in the combination of vanilla and chocolate? After centuries of being repeatedly united in a variety of desserts, a friendship was bound to develop, and eventually that sparked into true passion. Yes folks, I believe that vanilla and chocolate are in love and when they are combined, it brings out the best in both!
Think about how excited children get when they hear they are getting a banana split for dessert. Or the simple beauty of a slice of chocolate cake served a la mode. The stunning yin and yang of a tub of swirled vanilla and chocolate ice cream. Vanilla panna cotta topped with chocolate ganache just waiting to be served. Chocolate jimmies sprinkled on vanilla whipped cream. Happy people walking down the street on hot days with ice cream cones dripping down their hands, the streams blending to a beautiful mocha from the vanilla and chocolate scoops.
I love how they balance each other. Vanilla on its own can be a bit bland and chocolate desserts are often too intense. But when you combine them together you get a sublime partnership; the smooth silkiness of pure vanilla against the deep lusciousness of dark chocolate, each enhancing the other.
Today’s cake is a tribute to this love affair. I’ve made a bundt cake that is creamy and rich, bursting with vanilla flavor and suffused with the gorgeous seeds of vanilla beans. And to add a touch of smoky goodness and a turn up the fun quotient, I paired it with a smooth Kentucky bourbon. Then topped it all off with a transcendent chocolate ganache glaze that cascades down the crevices, happily puddling on the platter. One glance and you will be salivating with anticipation.
Mmmmm, I do love a boozy cake! This has a definite hit of the bourbon, but it blends beautifully with the vanilla and chocolate. You can leave it out if you want, but give it a try. You may just discover a new favorite!
I love the paradox of Kentucky bourbon whiskey combined with bourbon vanilla from Madagascar off the coast of Africa. from opposite sides of the globe, these two ingredients were made for each other! And ask any bourbon drinker, it was born to be combined with dark chocolate!
This is a doozy of a recipe and a dessert where everyone will beg for seconds!
Happy Chocolate Monday!!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
My bundt pan is coated with a non-stick interior and I still always butter it before baking cakes in it. The butter and flour are an extra guarantee that the cake won’t stick to the pan.
If you are a real bourbon lover, you can increase the percentage of it but make sure you do use some water in the recipe or the cake will be too strong. Yes, you can have too much of a good thing!
Use a gluten-free flour blend, preferably one with xanthan or other gum in it so it holds together better when you cut it. Make sure you shake your flour container well or whisk the blend thoroughly before measuring it out.
If you are making this for someone with celiac or who is highly reactive, you may substitute the bourbon with potato vodka plus a little brown sugar. This approximates the flavor. The distillation process destroys any gluten, but many distillers add caramel coloring. This is often what causes people to have a reaction.
- For the Cake
- 3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour (use gluten-free flour blend if needed)
- 1 tsp baking powder (Rumford brand is gluten-free)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup bourbon, water, or potato vodka + 2 tsp brown sugar for gluten-free)
- 3 tsp pure vanilla paste or extract
- For the Chocolate Glaze
- 4 oz (about 3/4 cup) chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
- 1 tsp butter
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp light corn syrup or Golden Syrup
- 1 tsp pure vanilla paste or extract
- Bake the Cake: Set a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour a 10 to 12-cup bundt pan (use gluten-free flour if needed). Line a baking sheet with parchment and set a wire cooling rack in it; place it next to the oven.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of your standing mixer and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated before adding the second one. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and the beater.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, mixing on Low until smooth. Add 1/2 of the buttermilk, again beating until smooth. Continue with another 1/3 of the flour, remaining buttermilk, and finishing with the last of the flour, mixing between each addition. Scrape the bowl and beater again. Pour in the vanilla and beat to incorporate. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the water and bourbon. If it starts to splash, you are adding the liquid to quickly. Stop pouring occasionally to let the batter blend the liquids in before continuing. Once all the liquid is added, increase the speed to medium-low and mix until smooth and creamy.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it until it is evenly distributed. Place in the hot oven and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs attached, about 45 to 50 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and set on the rack in the baking sheet. Cool cake in pan 15 minutes, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
- The cooled bundt cake can be wrapped tightly in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days before glazing.
- Prepare the Chocolate Glaze: If working with a block of chocolate, set it on a work surface and using a serrated knife (it won’t slip as easily), finely chop the chocolate into 1/4-inch pieces. Transfer the chopped chocolate to a medium heatproof bowl. Add the butter. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil over medium heat, stirring often so the cream doesn’t scorch on the bottom of the pan and the corn syrup melts.
- Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and butter. Let it stand for about 2 minutes to start the chocolate melting. Use a flexible spatula and slowly stir the mixture in a circular motion starting in the middle and working in widening concentric circles until the chocolate is fully melted and the sauce is smooth and thick. Stirring gently helps keep you from adding air to the glaze. Add the vanilla and stir until evenly blended. Let the glaze cool to 90°F.
- When the temperature is at 90°F the glaze pours perfectly. If it starts to cool off too much, set the bowl over a pan of steaming hot water; if it is too hot, stir off the heat until it reaches a good pouring consistency.
- Glaze the Cake: You can glaze the cake while still on the rack over the parchment, or transfer it to a serving platter. Starting at the highest level of the cake, slowly ladle the glaze over the top, encouraging the glaze to cascade down the outside of the cake by nudging it with the bottom of the ladle if needed. The top should be covered with “legs” on the outside edge. Make sure some of the cake shows for a beautiful contrast. Let the glaze set up before cutting and serving the cake.
Create a New Tradition Today!
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