Baking with Spirits
Skillet-Baked Pear-and-Apple Crisp
In the fall, James Boyce picks the apples and pears for this cinnamon-spiced crisp right behind the restaurant. With Kentucky bourbon country only five hours north, he occasionally swaps out the Cognac here for bourbon.
Maple-Bourbon Banana Pudding Cake
While this delicious, simple cake bakes, a sweet, rich sauce forms in the bottom of the dish.
Butterscotch Sticky Buns
David Guas, co-author of the cookbook DamGoodSweet, tops his apple Bundt cake with a nicely salty streusel of pecans and toasted rolled oats. He bakes the streusel on its own to make it extraordinarily crisp, then pats it over the warm cake right out of the oven.
This nutty, dense, not-too-sweet cake gets quite a kick from rum.
Bacon-Bourbon Brownies with Pecans
Kat Kinsman tops her rich brownies with bacon and pecans. To enhance the smoky flavor, she mixes some of the bacon fat into the batter.
Rum-Mocha Walnut Layer Cake
Warm Chocolate Cakes with Apricot-Cognac Sauce
Recommended pairing: A dried-fruit-and-caramel-scented tawny port, such as Taylor Fladgate 10-Year Reserve.
Fresh Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Fresh fruit gives a lift to this favorite from the 1920s, when supersweet canned pineapple and Maraschino cherries were chic. Use a juicy, ripe pineapple that yields to thumb pressure and that has a sweet perfume.
Michael Glissman's tart is like a dark-chocolate truffle in a crisp, flaky cocoa crust. Bourbon adds a wonderful smokiness; be sure to heat it carefully with the sugar so it doesn't ignite.
"I love this dessert because it makes me think of eggnog," says Valerie Gordon. To give the semifreddo its spectacular shape, she freezes it in a silicone kugelhof mold. You can also use any mold or pan that holds at least eight cups.
Chocolate Pecan Pie with Bourbon
Coarsely chopping the pecans makes the pie easy to slice, although David Lebovitz leaves some whole for visual effect.
Apple Bread Pudding
In a reality-TV moment that shocked us all, Tre Wilcox of Top Chef Season 3 was eliminated after preparing a dense, dull apple bread pudding in an epic Restaurant Wars. Gail Simmons rescues his recipe by sautéing the apples in brandy and butter, then soaking both them and brioche in lots of vanilla custard before baking.