It’s amazing how much things can change over time. As a child, I remember that the most exciting day leading up to Christmas was the one when the Sears Christmas Wishlist catalogue would arrive at our house. So many toys, and so little time to convince my parents that I NEEDED THEM ALL!
Nowadays, I’m pretty strapped for ideas that I can give others around the holiday season. It’s not as though I’ve rounded some sort of corner in my life where I’m wholly selfless and think only of others, embracing the “it’s better to give” mantra. It’s just that, well, for starters…I honestly feel as though my wife and I have pretty much everything that we need. It sounds cliché, but it’s true. Aside from that, it’s really a matter of price: everything I do want – like Seahawks tickets or European vacations – is just too expensive to ask others for.
This year, though, I finally had some gift ideas. Now, the shocking thing isn’t that I came up with something to ask for, but rather what I asked for: a bundt pan. I myself am a little shocked (I mean, who am I?), but I guess this is just the new me. Now, unfortunately, my Nordic Ware Heritage Bundt Pan wasn’t sitting under the tree Christmas morning. A week later though, after some perusing in a kitchen store down in Portland, Oregon in the lull between Christmas and New Years, I got my bundt pan. Even better, there was no tax!
Anyways, I think you can see why I wanted this thing so badly. This is the second cake I’ve made with it so far, and it’s been nothing short of amazing. This particular recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart Living’s Chocolate Bundt Cake, with the big differences being the addition of walnuts, the use of the fermented milk drink kefir in place of milk and sour cream, and some added sweetness to the glaze. Oh! And whiskey! I added a little whiskey, too! It’s not really enough to make a noticeable different in terms of the flavour, but it helps to moisten up the cake…or at least that’s my excuse for including it.
As a final note, her recipe calls for a 14-cup bundt pan, but I used my new 10-cup pan and – though it was a little close – it ended up doing the job quite well. So…that’s a call that you’ll need to make for yourself.
Chocolate Whiskey and Walnut Bundt Cake
For the cake:
- 1 cup (8 0z./2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for prepping the pan
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for prepping the pan
- 4 large eggs, preferably free range
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup kefir
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp. whiskey, such as Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, plus extra for decorating
For the glaze:
- 3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, such as Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp. icing sugar
- Preheat your oven to 325°F and ensure that your rack is set to the middle position.
- Prep your bundt pan (I managed with a 10 cup pan, but you may want to use a larger one if you have it). Brush the inside of your pan with a light coating of softened butter, making sure to get into every crevice. Sprinkle about a tbsp. of flour into the pan, tilting and tapping the pan (I suggest doing this over the sink), until evenly coated in flour. Flip the pan upside down and tap out the excess.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda.
- In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions. Then, add in the vanilla and beat to combine.
- Set the mixer to low. Add in approximately 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. Next, add 1/2 of the kefir and mix until fully incorporated as well. Repeat this step again (so that all the kefir is added) and then finish off with the final 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Be careful not to overmix once the last of the flour has been added.
- Add in the whiskey and walnuts, and stir to combine. The batter will soften a bit as you do this thanks to the whiskey.
- Using a spatula, carefully pour/spoon the batter into your bundt pan and smooth the top with a regular or offset spatula.
- Toss in the oven and bake for about 55-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the top comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven to a wire rack and let rest 5-10 minutes.
- Placing the wire rack against the cake’s bottom, carefully flip the cake over and lift slowly to release your cake.
- Allow to cool another 10 minutes before glazing.
- For the glaze, bring the cream to a boil over medium-high heat in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and place in a heat-proof bowl along with the chocolate. Let sit 2 minutes, then add in the butter and icing sugar and stir to combine everything (the butter may take a while to melt, which is okay). Let sit a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until you reach the desired consistency. If you’re planning to pour the glaze over to run down your cake, don’t let it get too thick, in which case you’ll need to spread it using a spatula.
- Apply the glaze to your cake, then sprinkle with additional chopped walnuts, if desired.