Ardbeg Whisky and Chocolate Cake; A grown-up dessert!

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Last time I was home Dad handed me some Ardbeg whisky and asked me to make something with it as he found it a bit heavy for drinking. Understandable as this is something of a ‘heavy hitter’ on the peaty/smokey front!

I am not a whisky drinker, so I’ll admit that this was something of a challenge for me. I did a bit of research, looking at the tasting notes for this whisky. One that stood out as ideal was bitter-sweet chocolate (i.e. 70%ish). Given the complexity of the whisky I wanted to keep the other flavours as simple as possible! One thought I had (which I mentioned in a previous post) was using tobacco chocolate (http://www.cocochocolate.co.uk/) but I suspect that given how smokey the whisky was itself it would be pointless adding more to this, but I think it would work beautifully with a lighter whisky.

So what I ended up with was a dense dessert-cake which is a total treat for those who like their dessert rich but not sickly sweet. With this in mind, I’d be inclined to serve it with poring cream to lighten it slightly, and give it a bit of a sweet contrast.

The photo is a little bit of a white-lie: I didn’t have any whisky left so I hauled out a bottle of my home-made orange and cardamom rum (which I happened to have stored in a whisky bottle). Thinking about it, this is something which would also work very well as an alternative to whisky in this cake.

The recipe comes from: http://www.yummly.com/recipes/chocolate-irish-whiskey-cake

Ardbeg Whisky and Chocolate Cake (recipe says it serves 6, but this will do much more as it’s so rich!)

1/2 cup peaty whisky
2 tbsps peaty whisky
6 ozs bittersweet chocolate (chopped 70% cocoa)
2 tsps espresso powder (instant, dissolved in 6 tablespoons hot water)
1/3 cup ground almond (lightly toasted about 2 ounces)
6 tbsps plain flour (divided)
4 cup unsalted butter(room temperature divided)

7 tbsps caster sugar (divided)
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs (separated)
1 pinch fine sea salt
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F Butter and flour 8-inch-diameter spring form pan.
Boil 1/2 cup whisky in small saucepan until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 2 minutes. Combine bittersweet chocolate, espresso powder mixture, and 1/4 cup boiled whisky in small metal bowl. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water; stir until mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Mix ground almonds with 2 tablespoons flour in a separate bowl.
Using electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter and 6 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until fluffy. Beat in egg yolks 1 at a time, then sea salt. Fold in chocolate mixture, add vanilla essence, then ground almond mixture. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1 tablespoon sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into batter alternately with remaining 4 tablespoons flour in 3 additions. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 30 minutes. Remove pan sides and cool cake completely.
Combine semisweet chocolate and remaining 2 tablespoons whisky in small metal bowl. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water and stir until smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Add remaining 1/4 cup butter to chocolate mixture, 1 small piece at a time, whisking until each piece is melted before adding next. Place bowl over larger bowl of ice water. Using electric mixer, beat icing until thickened to spreadable consistency, about 1 minute. Spread icing over top and sides of cake.

I didn’t add the icing at the end as I felt the cake was probably rich enough as it was, so I simple dredged it with icing sugar. Here’s hoping a) Dad doesn’t mind that I taste-tested it, and b) he likes it!

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