Who Says You Have to Have Champagne to Toast the New Year? — 86 Proof Chocolate Cake

Toast 2012 with some 86 Proof Chocolate Cake.

Here’s another yummy dessert from the Poirier’s Christmas Cocktail Party where sweet and savory paired perfectly with cocktails in a festive atmosphere. The recipe for the party was flawless: great food and drink mixed with friends, old and new, and festive décor. Heck, Clark Griswold has nothing on Mark when it comes to outdoor lights! Right from the git go, the house screams, “We are glad you came!”

The name of this cake says it all. You won’t be disappointed. Take a slice and toast to 2012 and hospitality!


86-Proof Chocolate Cake

Make this cake in a fancy Bundt pan and serve without icing.

  • 5 ounces (5 squares) unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 cups sifted, all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dry instant coffee or espresso
  • Boiling water
  • Cold water
  • 1/2 cup Bourbon
  • 1/2 pound (two sticks) sweet butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • Confectioners sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. You need a 9-inch Bundt pan or one that with 10-cup capacity. (Melanie says even then there is too much batter and the cake will overflow, so reserve some batter for a mini cake as filling the pan too full will result in a mess.)

Hint: Use a sturdy Bundt pan. Some of the lightweight colorful ones will buckle and eventually warp and give you uneven cakes. That’s why I had to buy a new one this year.

Here’s the kicker: I confirmed with Melanie that this is really necessary and she says it is and it works! Butter the Bundt pan; make sure you get every crevice. Then dust it with dry bread crumbs. She buys the unseasoned ones from the store.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, set aside to cool.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.

In a 2-1/2 cup measuring glass, dissolve the coffee in a bit of boiling water. Add cold water to the 1-1/2 cup line. Add the Bourbon and set aside.

Cream butter in a large bowl. Add vanilla and sugar and beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Add the chocolate and beat until smooth.

On low speed alternately add the sifted dry ingredients alternating with the liquid ingredients. Add liquids gradually while scraping the bowl. Beat until smooth. The mixture will be thin.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Remember not to fill it full as according to Melanie it will overflow in your oven.

Bake for one hour and 10 or 15 minutes. Test by inserting a cake tester and when it comes out clean it is done.

Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Remove from pan and sprinkle the cake with a little bourbon and leave cake to cool. Before serving sprinkle with sifted confectioners’ sugar.

Maida Heatter

Melanie says she bought Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts years ago just for this recipe. It was published in 1978, and you have to admit Maida looks like she has a command over chocolate. As described “this is the book Maida was born to write!” I enjoyed leafing through her book and unlike most recipe books today, she goes into great detail on how to do something — which could be good if you are “a timid novice” as Maida puts it. I abbreviated much of her instructions when copying the recipe above.

On a funny note… Maida claims this chocolate cake recipe will not overflow in the pan, but after years of baking it, Melanie says not to believe that!

I think there is a little Maida Heatter in all of us. Without a doubt, she knows hospitality because in my humble opinion, every great dinner must end with some chocolate — it’s the last memory your guests will have and it will always be a good one.

More Photos

I never pass up this cheese and olive display.

I have to show some more photos from Mark and Melanie’s Christmas Cocktail Party. It was a Kelley Hospitality dream. Next year I’m showing up early, dragging in the special light and lens and going to town. I hope I have time to eat!

Melissa enjoys the buffet and a festive night out with her husband. They have 7 children!

Clay and Bill, neighbors, who see each other about once a year at this party!

Happy New Year to all! You’re a great audience. Here’s a toast to hospitality!


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