Last week was Andrew Rausch‘s birthday, and my friend Katie and I set about coming up with an irresistible cake that would be appropriately celebratory. No time for funfetti or any of that nonsense–it was time to get serious.
Now, in my house, it’s become tradition to celebrate birthdays with what we’ve affectionately deemed a “shot cake,” which means any old cake with shot glasses on top with a bit of high proof liquor floated on top of something more palatable which are lit and extinguished in lieu of candles.
Then it hit us: why not use the shot cake as inspiration and create a cake that ITSELF was a cocktail? Indeed, there was no reason not to try, and the Sazerac cake was born. The goal in the cake was to create a dessert that would be close to the spirit of a Sazerac cocktail without simply being a cake soaked in liquor.
The resulting cake is evocative of a Sazerac, but is still unmistakably a dessert. (Personally, I think it could stand a bit more absinthe and Peychaud’s to make the flavors more pronounced, even.) If you’re looking for a twist on the usual type of dessert, give it a try — or try cakifiying another classic cocktail and get back to me — I’d love to try a Negroni cake.
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, warmed up to room temperature
- 2 tablespoons grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 large eggs
- 2/3 cup rye (or bourbon)
- 1/2 oz Peychaud’s bitters
- 1 tablespoon absinthe
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 extra orange, for twisting + garnish
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1/2 oz Peychaud’s bitters
- 1/4 cup rye (or bourbon)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and butter two shallow 9″ cake pans.
Beat the sugar, butter, and orange zest with an electric mixer (or just a lot of stirring) until it’s smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing continuously so the mixture keeps a creamy texture throughout. Still mixing, beat in the rye, bitters, and absinthe. Add in the flour slowly and continue to mix until the batter is battery-seeming enough, then distribute it intwo the two cake pans. Put them in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
In another bowl — the frosting bowl — mix the butter and shortening, then add in the booze and bitters while continuing to mix. Add the confectioners’ sugar while mixing until the frosting is frosting-y enough. Place the bowl in the fridge while the cake bakes.
After the cake is done, let it cool in the pans for about half an hour at room temperature. Remove one of the cake halves (the less attractive one, preferably), and place it on the bottom. Top it with frosting, then stack the second half on top and frost it as well.
Garnish with an orange twist and serve. Optional: make a shot-glass sized Sazerac on top. Instead of rinsing with absinthe, float it on top and ignite it in place of candles. It’s birthday time!