Maida Heatter’s 86 Proof Chocolate Cake is one of my tried and true favorites. The recipe was recommended years ago by a reader, and I’ve been making it ever since. It is a boozy cake for people who love the flavor of chocolate and bourbon.
Since the recipe is already widely published, I’m linking to it.
86 Proof Chocolate Cake — How Much Espresso?
When I first made it, there were a couple of steps I questioned. For one, it calls for ¼ cup espresso. Did that mean brewed espresso or instant espresso powder? That seemed like a lot of powder, so I used 1 rounded teaspoon of instant espresso powder and 1/4 cup boiling water. That worked out well, but I found out later you can also use a full 1/4 cup of instant coffee powder, which is coarser than instant espresso.
Dusting Bundt Pan with
Another interesting step is that you dust the Bundt pan with breadcrumbs to keep the cake from sticking. The cake slides right out of the pan. As for the crumbs, they dissolve into the cake. Here’s a photo of a pan dusted with bread crumbs.
Happy belated Thanksgiving.
Thanks for posting a review. And yes, it’s hard to go wrong with Maida Heatter.
I made this (and an apple bourbon bundt cake from the NYT) last week for a coworker’s birthday – a coworker who likes bourbon, obviously. Since this was served in the middle of the workday, instead of sprinkling/soaking with more bourbon, I made a simple syrup using just sugar and bourbon, and whipped cream with a bit of bourbon added. These were “on the side ” so everyone had control over the bourbon levels! Both cakes were great. This one had a beautiful texture; and great, complex flavors from the chocolate, coffee (I did use the 1/4 cup of powdered espresso) and bourbon. Maida Heatter recipes are always outstanding. I will definitely make this again.
I’m a big fan of Maida Heatter! 🙂 I was just looking on her book what sort of cake bake this evening and I’ll choose this one! Thank you for sharing a photo! It looks delicious! 🙂
Gillian, thanks for the tip!
Hi, I did the Irish Whiskey Chocolate cake and it was to die for, try it and you will see
Just found your wonderful blog. I’ve made this cake. I use cold brewed (strong) coffee instead of instand espresso dissolved in water. Works like a charm. Bourbon is great for this and so is Irish Whiskey. This is one of my all time favorite chocolate cakes.
I use that same brand of espresso powder and I agree, I think 1/4 cup would be too strong. When I try this recipe, I’ll use the regular instant coffee crystals.
I have made quite a few Maida Heatter cakes, and I always just grease and flour the pan where it says “dust pan with breadcrumbs.” I don’t know why I’ve never tried the breadcrumbs, but greasing/flouring works fine.
Tina, that is a good question and I am going to update my post to address that issue. I had to Google “dust pan with breadcrumbs” to figure out how to do this. What you do is rub the whole pan with butter, shake bread crumbs all over the buttered pan to cover, then tap them off into the sink. The bread crumbs dissolve into the cake and the cake turns right out of the pan perfectly.
The recipe states “dust pan with fine dry bread crumbs”–
is this all it takes to keep the cake from sticking to the
pan? My pan does not have a
non-stick coating and I have
had trouble in the past with
bundt cakes sticking…
Laura, thanks for checking! That’s what Louise uses.
I use this brand of espresso powder.
It’s pretty strong and I can only imagine who 1/4 cup would be. I wonder if the espresso powder Maida uses has larger crystals. I’m sure 1/4 cup of regular instant crystals would be fine.
Regarding the question about the espresso, I have her “Great Chocolate Desserts” cookbook, and it specifies “1/4 cup dry instant coffee or espresso”.
Another huge Maida Heatter fan here. I’ve made this cake, it’s wonderful. Her recipes are the best!
The texture does look great.
sounds like a wonderful chocolate cake 🙂
If a Maida Heatter recipe fails, I know I did something wrong. About the density, I’d say it was dense but very light and tight crumbed.
i’ve never had a maida heatter recipe fail me, yet. it looks very tight-crumbed. was it very dense?
Sitting in the closet with a book sounds awesome right now. So does the cake.
Sue, go with the Bourbon. Just get some Wild Turkey and try it out. I do recommend that you use a high grade chocolate, though.
Cakelaw, I have a picture of Lizzie but I didn’t post it because she looks so miserable. Poor baby. Luckily she recovers pretty quickly once the storms are over.
Rebecca, she is the best. While trying to figure out what she was up to these days, I came across this article
I love Maida Heatter. She is the best! And the cake looks good — simple and yummy.
Poor Lizzie! This cake looks marvellous inside – moist and chocolatey.
The texture of that looks kind of velvety. I assume the bourbon is important here. I’ve still never baked with it and am a tad leery of it. Maybe some red wine would be good in it instead?