Monday, March 18, 2013

Black Russian Cake

I was scouring the internet for quotes on chocolate cake to start off this post (oh, the life of a food blogger) and I came across this:

"He showed the words "chocolate cake" to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations.  "Guilt" was the top response.  If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of the French eaters to the same prompt: "celebration"."

That is from a study which was recorded in Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food, a book that if I wasn't so broke or actually had time to read anything unrelated to uni that I would be jumping up and down to read. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it does sound like an interesting book.

It's fascinating to see that something as simple as chocolate cake can get such opposite reactions from different cultures. If you were asked to say the first thing that came to mind to "chocolate cake", what would you say?  What popped into my head was "yes, please".

Especially for this particular chocolate cake. The batter for this is like chocolate milkshake. With, you know, vodka and kahlua thrown in.

I'm gonna be honest: I've never tried or heard of a Black Russian before this. According to Wikipedia it's a cocktail of simply vodka and coffee liqueur. I have a feeling I won't like it as much as this cake, because this has chocolate in it.  

This is a seriously moist cake, the kind of chocolate cake that gives a gooey squelch when you slice a knife through it, and leaves sticky dark crumbs all over your fingers.  In other words, the best kind of chocolate cake.

Like most liqueur-soaked cakes, it gets better as it ages. It's recommended that you soak the soak overnight.  If you're worried about the alcohol taste it doesn't actually taste very strongly of kahlua at all, you can taste that there's liqueur but not very much; the kahlua acts similarly to what espresso powder does in a chocolate cake and enhances the flavor of the chocolate.


It's time for another blog hop!  I missed the last two hops but this month's theme was too good to miss.  This month's SABH was hosted by JJ of 84th&3rd, check out the hop list at the end of this post to see other boozy confections!

Hey, look, I joined the twitterverse! 140-character updates, here I go. I will be eternally grateful if you'd support me!  Click here to follow.

Black Russian Cake [Chocolate Kahlua Cake]
Adapted from 6 Bittersweets
Makes 1 8-inch bundt cake

For the cake:
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 tbsp dry milk powder
3 tbsp dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 stick (30g) unsalted butter, softened
90ml (3/8 cup) + 1 tbsp canola oil
90ml (3/8 cup) full cream milk
1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/8 cup vodka
1/6 cup Kahlua

For the soaking syrup:
1 1/2 tbsp (20g) unsalted butter
1 tbsp water
3 tbsp caster sugar
Pinch of salt
3 tbsp Kahlua

Preheat your oven to 160C/325F.  Grease a bundt pan and dust with cocoa powder.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, milk powder, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and sugar).  Add butter, oil, milk and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer until there are no dry ingredients visible.  Add eggs and beat until mixture is smooth.  Mix in vodka and Kahlua until well combined; don't over-mix.

Pour the mixture into your bundt pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for 15 minutes, then invert and finish cooling on a wire rack.  Meanwhile, wash out your bundt pan and dry it to use again.

Once the cake has sufficiently cooled, make the syrup: combine all ingredients except the Kahlua in a saucepan with tall sides over medium heat and stir until the butter has melted and sugar has dissolved.  Keep heating it until it comes to a boil and the liquid has reduced slightly.  Remove from heat and stir in the Kahlua.

Invert the cooled cake back into the bundt pan.  With a toothpick or a fork, poke holes all over the surface of the cake.  Pour the hot syrup over the cake, making sure you cover the entire surface.  The syrup might pool at the edges at first, that's okay. Let it soak for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight).

After soaking, invert the cake back onto a serving platter.  If you haven't just happened to run out of powdered sugar like I did, then sift some on top for a prettier look.  Serve.


  1. Hahah my reaction to 'chocolate cake' is 'yes please' too ;) Great minds think alike! This cake sounds divine, glad you could join us again this month!

    1. Yes, indeed. :) Thanks for a great theme!

  2. Your cake looks so good, moist and chocolatey . I once almost lived on Black Russians, trouble is I cant remember much of it, should have stuck to cake.

    1. Haha! Well then you should definitely try this cake, I guarantee you'll remember every bit of it!

  3. I don't like black russians but I have a feeling I would love your cake!

    1. Thank you! I have a theory that everything in cake-form will taste better!

  4. This cake looks soooo moist and you won me just with Kahlua :D

    1. Ha, I think we can be good friends. ;)

  5. I love Kahlua...but have only tasted it in Tiramisu. The cake looks delicious! About the Blog Hop, sounds like fun...can anybody participate? I am up for anything 'dessert':-)

    1. Ooh, now you have me craving tiramisu! And yes, anyone can participate, there's a different theme every month which is posted on here: I think this month's is open until next Monday if you have time to bake something in the next few days. Hope you join in!

    2. Thanks Li! I may just make it to the finishing line. Would love to join in:-)

  6. Oh wow yum, your cake looks and sounds so good!

  7. Lol I'd say yes please too. I have to admit, Im surprised at Americas reaction lol.

    1. Yes, although I suppose it might just mean we manage to suppress our guilt to far deeper depths!

  8. My first reaction chocolate cake is: 'Luvly, I have some!' In fact, I have a chocolate cake in the oven right this minute I'm writing this comment.
    As to the Black Russian, you could have as well a White Russian, it simply has a hat of cream ... maybe this gives some extra ideas for the cake as well.

    1. Ooh yes, drink-wise I would prefer a White Russian. I suppose I could have turned this into White by adding some whipped cream frosting (which would have tasted awesome with this cake!).


Comments make my day, so please leave a little happiness for me!