Raw, adjective: 10. not diluted, as alcoholic spirits: raw whiskey.



Bundt Cake Saturday! (Super Bowl version.)

Morning: fresh
Mood: fiery
Music: Alexi Murdoch

It's been awhile, bundt-lovers, I know, and here on this quiet fresh Tuesday morning, I have that most delectable of surprises for you: an alcoholic concoction that single-handedly secured Super Bowl victory for one Louisiana-based football team. Or so I will continue to believe.

Hot Llama's a serious NoLa refugee, having fled westward in the aftermath of Katrina, and in the years since then, I've developed a vicarious loyalty to the bourbon-soaked city on her behalf. She was loopy-excited about the Super Bowl berth this year, and as I scanned the possibilities for bundt action the day of the big game, I knew I had to stick with something relatively Saints-loyal. (Besides, what the hell kind of cake do you make in honor of the Colts?)

People tossed around a few half-hearted ideas: Tom wanted something chocolate, Mark suggested Peppermint Bark in honor of Arbor Day (too early, love), Joe suggested something football-shaped. Um, ok. Getting nowhere. Until, that is, hard liquor came through, as it always does; someone mentioned Bourbon St., and after that, it was obvious. I'd made a killer Lemon Bourbon cake last year in honor of one Mr. Farrell, and it'd be easy to adapt; the King Cake that we'd eaten for Mardi Gras could be an inspiration, too (sans the plastic babies).

So, finally, thanks to Google and the NYT, I came up with this hybrid recipe. It's a melding of all those best things in life, and appropriately drunken in honor of that annual football feast itself. Meet my own little version of a

CHOCOLATE BOURBON PECAN BUNDT CAKE

I had all intentions of losing hours to this gorgeous creation from Melissa Clark's charming NYT article from a while back. Her Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt recipe is stellar and boasts serious street cred. That's really the recipe you should make if you have time, patience and plenty of bourbon for sipping while you prep.

I, however, had approximately 2 minutes to whip this shit up between gigs, and there was not going to be time for frou-frou touches. So I cut to the chase and adapted Clark's recipe for that most un-Alice-Waters of versions. I'll come out of the closet and say it: there is a mix involved here, people. (What can you do? You spend the whole day on your sofa eating wings and nachos and you're not gonna eat a bourbon-soaked cake because it's not locavoric perfect? Deal.) So you can take your pick here; high- or low-maintenance version, but today, here's the quickie version I came up with.

INGREDIENTS

1 triple chocolate cake mix
2 small packages of chocolate pudding
4 eggs
6 oz chocolate yogurt
1 c. bourbon
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 teas. vanilla
1 c. chopped pecans

So easy, no?

Before you even turn on your oven, throw that cup of pecans (not chopped yet) into a nice bucket of bourbon and leave them alone for awhile. Pour yourself a snifter, give it a swirl, turn up the music, look out the window, decide there are worse ways you could be spending a Sunday afternoon.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour your bundt pan. Stir cake mix and pudding mix in large bowl to blend. Beat in eggs, yogurt, bourbon, oil and lemon vanilla. Take your drunken pecans, chop them, and fold them in. Transfer to prepared pan. Bake cake 45 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool with cake in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack.

(Don't forget to throw a handful of pecans on a baking sheet and toast them once you pull the cake out of the oven. You'll chop them once the cake cools and add them as a finishing touch after you've frosted it.)

Now, if you're feeling really ambitious here (and craving that extra buzz), you can poke a few holes in the still-warm cake and drizzle a simple bourbon glaze over the top. That shit will be off the hook. Once the whole thing has cooled, you can do one of two things: just sprinkle confectioner's sugar over the finished cake, or whip up a quick chocolate frosting, add a liberal pour of bourbon, and drizzle that on top. In true you-can-never-have-enough fashion, I went for the latter option, and the likkered-up frosting that resulted was pretty damn perfect.

I zipped by Whole Foods for a little bouquet to throw on top, and finished it off with these. They're called "Cottage something" (I can't for the life of me remember), and they remind me a lot of statice; cute, simple, not poisonous. That's all I'm asking right now, after the delphinium scare. Treading carefully, you know.

Needless to say, the cake was a smash hit. It was mad moist, mad buzzed, mad delicious. People were adorably complimentary. And when the Saints won, I knew it was meant to be. (Cheers, kids. You needed that. Glad we could, um, do our part.)

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