This recipe is for those who appreciate some good Irish Whiskey, and who would appreciate it in cake! The beautiful texture of the Brown Butter Cake, complemented by an Irish Whiskey soak and topped with a classic whiskey Cream Sauce makes this a cake you will want to eat every day.
To say I am obsessed with this cake might be an understatement. The different uses of the whiskey push it right over the top. Be sure to grab a good quality Irish Whiskey to use in this recipe, absolutely use something you would enjoy drinking.
How to make Brown Butter
The first thing you want to do, and the most important, is to brown your butter. This can be done a day or two ahead of time, and the process is easy. I usually just do it the night before I want to make the cake so I don't have to wait around for the butter to cool and solidify again.
The process is simple. Place a small saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Allow the butter to melt and come to a boil, when it stops bubbling swirl the pan on and off fairly consistently until the butter has browned and brown solids appear on the bottom of the pan. This takes about 10 minutes or so, but keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.
Then allow the browned butter to cool completely on the counter. You want it to cool at room temp so it will be soft when you make the cake, and this can take a few hours depending on the temperature of your house.
Use the JUMP TO RECIPE button at the top of the post, or scroll to the bottom of the post to see the full recipe card with ingredient measurements and instructions.
The cake is made up of the usual suspects, lightly spiced, and the addition of some toasted pecans. Oh and the butter you browned last night. That's the all-important ingredient!
Start by creaming the cooled and solidified brown butter and brown sugar together for about 4 minutes, until it is pale and fluffy. You want to set a timer here and really let the butter get fluffy. Stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure everything gets evenly mixed.
Next, add the eggs and vanilla and beat well to combine. You want to beat the eggs for a good 60-90 seconds to get some air in them. And we add the vanilla at this stage because between the egg yolks and butter, fat carries flavor and this will allow the vanilla to permeate the cake. Then add the dry ingredients and toasted pecans. I don't bother chopping the pecans, I just let the stand mixer do the work for me, but if you want smaller pieces give them a chop, I like them big.
Now it is time to place the cake batter in the prepared bundt pan. I prepare my bundt by brushing it with butter and giving it the faintest *whisper* of flour over the butter. You want to be sure the flour doesn't cake so you don't see or taste it after baking. Place the batter in the pan and it is ready to be baked. Also, give the pan a couple of taps on the counter to be sure there are no air bubbles on the surface, and a couple of wiggles if using this particular pan to get the batter all the way into the swirls.
Soaking the Cake
When the cake is done baking, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. This is THE PERFECT amount of time for the cake to release itself from the pan. I then tip it out of the pan just to be sure it will release and let it cool for about 5 more minutes. Then put it back in the pan.
Once back in the pan, poke some holes in the bottom of the cake with a skewer and soak the cake with about ⅓rd of the whiskey soak. This will let it really get soaked into the cake and make sure none spills out. Let the cake rest in the pan for 10 more minutes. Then tip it back out onto the cooling rack over a tray and brush about ¼ more whiskey soak over the top of the cake.
Then use the remaining whiskey soak to make the Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce and douse each slice with it. I mean you will want to drink this sauce, so use it liberally!
Notes & Tips
You really want a good bundt pan for this cake. This is THIS BUNDT CAKE PAN you see used in my photos. It makes for a very pretty cake, and the coating on this thing ensures you have a perfect cake EVERY TIME!
I typically make my brown butter the night before I want to make this cake, then let it cool at room temperature overnight.
That said this cake could easily be baked in a plain 8-inch round or any other bundt, I am just obsessed with this one now!
Purchase a good quality Irish Whiskey for this cake. Powers is my favorite, but just be sure to use something you would enjoy drinking.
To boil out some of the alcohol simmer the sauce with the whiskey in it for 1-2 minutes, and add it off the heat for more whiskey kick.
To make this even more Irish, I like to use Kerrygold Irish Butter, but any butter you have on hand will work, even salted butter. If you use salted butter, reduce the salt by ¼ teaspoon. To go dairy-free, shortening could be substituted, just know it will be more of a simple yellow cake if you go that direction.
If you don't have brown sugar on hand, you can make brown sugar by combining 1 cup of white granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon of molasses together in a food processor until combined.
You can sub vanilla extract with one of a couple of things. Vanilla flavored milk, almond or soy, or Maple Syrup. Bourbon, Rum, or Brandy can also be used, many vanillas are alcohol-based, and these carry enough flavor to imitate the vanilla. Here I might use this as an opportunity for more whiskey flavor!
For tips on making this gluten-free, take a look at my friend's post on how to swap gluten-free flours in your baking recipes.
If you are out of cinnamon or nutmeg, swap them with other warm spices like allspice, clove, or mace. A little bit of warm spice just makes this cake pop. Even replacing them with pumpkin pie spice or chai spice would give the cake great warmth.
To keep this cake dairy-free, cashew or coconut milk would be great swaps for the whole milk. They carry a high enough fat content that would support the cake. You can also swap the yogurt for a dairy-free plain yogurt or sour cream substitute.
To sub for the heavy cream used in the whiskey cream sauce, use a dairy-free sweetened condensed milk product. There are some great options on the market today.