Gingerbread-Spiced Chocolate-Whiskey Cake
This is not your grandmother’s frugally seasoned, well-mannered spice cake. With its undercurrent of strong coffee and a healthy splash of whiskey, this luscious, deeply spiced cake has the all swagger of Cowboy George, our neighbor and partner in crime during our days living on a ranch in the Texas countryside.Back then, I used to leave baked goods in George’s pick-up truck as small thank yous for his help in, say, loading the horse trailer for a trip to the vet, or rounding up goats after they’d escaped. Of all the treats I made, this cake best represents George’s spirit animal. The double dose of chocolate (cocoa powder plus chips) is enhanced by a concerto of gingerbread spices—cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, plus black pepper, which tilt this fragrant cake from delicate to audacious with their lingering warmth.I’ve made dozens of variations of this recipe over the years, because it’s simple to whisk together, everyone loves it, and leftovers put a song in your heart at breakfast (pass the coffee; don’t judge). I find that larger discs of chocolate sink to the bottom and create a fudgy base. There are worse things in life than a fudgy base, but I prefer using mini chips that remain suspended in the batter and dissolve during baking to create an exceptionally moist, ultra-rich texture. For an even deeper chocolate flavor, swap in 1/2 cup cocoa noir or black cocoa (the kind used to make Oreos)—one whiff and you’ll be transported to elementary school.When it comes to serving, my favorite finish is the easiest—a dusting of cocoa powder. But no one will complain if you serve fat wedges partnered with clouds of lightly sweetened whipped cream. And need I suggest a nip of your favorite single-barrel bourbon on the side? Cowboy George (and more than likely your grandmother) would approve.