It has been just over thirteen weeks since I have unloaded my things (more than I think Jon was expecting) into my new home in Tempe. It would be a lie to say that I haven't felt the least bit homesick. Don't get me wrong, Jon is great company- we have so much fun together- but every now and then, I feel that slight pang in my chest; the longing to see my friends, go to lunch or run errands with my mom or even to eat at one of the restaurants that I had grown so fond of. Living in the Dallas area for over 16 years gave me ample time to grow deep and meaningful relationships with several restaurants. There are many that became permanent fixtures in my dining out routine, none more so than Mi Cocina (what I would give for a Mambo Taxi...), but Whiskey Cake, quite possibly my new all time favorite restaurant, has been on my mind more often than I would like.
My constant day dreaming of the food at Whiskey Cake is starting to become a problem. One day it's thoughts of the Mesquite Grilled Redfish, the next it's their "3 Little Pigs" pulled pork sliders. But most often, I dream of having a large slice of their namesake dessert placed in front of me, their Whiskey Cake.
It is unlike any other dessert I have ever tasted- rich, sticky, stinking of good whiskey and sinfully delicious. The mere thought of sliding my fork down the edge of that cake into a pool of bourbon sauce is almost enough to get me to book a flight back to Dallas. Almost.
The thing is, why would I fly all the way back to Texas when I could have Whiskey Cake right here, in the comfort of my new home? Well, to put it simply, I wouldn't. Not only does Whiskey Cake serve up fresh, local and seasonal ingredients (a restaurant trend that I hold in the highest regard ), but this restaurant has won me over in another big way. You can request any recipe for any dish off their menu. Now, in my experience, most restaurants who provide recipes or publish cookbooks supposedly filled with said recipes, will subsequently tweak an ingredient here or leave out an ingredient there, thus resulting in a failed attempt to remake your favorite restaurant dish at home. My thoughts on this matter: If you don't wan't to give out the real recipe for a dish off your menu, then don't give out the recipe at all.
I can't tell you how many times I have bought a cookbook from a bakery or restaurant only to fully regret that purchase days later after my pursuit to mimic a particular dish ends in complete misery. My desire for a slice of Whiskey Cake was too strong to let this deter me, however. I figured I should give this particular recipe a fair shot, although I will admit I was skeptical of it from the get go. But with doubts and fears aside, I completed all 5 components needed to make the Whiskey Cake what it is: an absolute masterpiece. Did I tweak the recipe to make it somewhat my own? Perhaps... I may or may not have tripled the amount of whiskey originally called for... I'll let you be the judge of that.
Recipe slightly adapted and interpreted from Whiskey Cake, in Plano, Texas
Date Cake (see recipe below)
Bourbon Sauce (see recipe below)
Toffee Sauce (see recipe below)
Spiced Pecans (see recipe below)
Whipped Cream (see recipe below)
* I know this recipe looks like a lot of work, what with there being 5 separate components, but in order to make it a little easier on yourself, make 3 components one day and 2 the next. Each component really doesn't require that much time and I promise the effort will be well worth it!
1. Cut the Date Cake into 12 equal pieces. Poke several holes in the top of each piece using a wooden skewer or chopstick. Arrange the cake pieces on a baking sheet covered with nonstick foil.
2. Heat the oven to 500º. Pour 1/4 cup of Toffee Sauce over each piece of Date Cake. Place toffee soaked cake pieces in the oven for about 4-5 minutes, until the Toffee Sauce is bubbling and the cake is warmed throughout.
3. Spoon 1/4 cup of Bourbon Sauce onto 12 individual plates or bowls. Place each piece of warmed cake in the middle of each pool of Bourbon Sauce. Finish each piece with a large dollop of Whipped Cream and a sprinkling of Spiced Pecans. Enjoy!
Makes 12 servings
1, 8 oz package of dried pitted dates, chopped into 1/2" pieces
2 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cup boiling water
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 jumbo eggs, at room temperature
1 3/4 cup self rising flour (*see note below to make your own)
3 tbsp Sugar in the Raw (turbinado sugar)
1. Heat the oven to 350º. Place dates, baking soda and boiling water in a medium sized bowl. Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes until the dates are softened. Place the date mixture in a food processor for 2 minutes to form a paste.
2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add the sugar and continue to cream for 3 minutes longer. Scrape down the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in between to fully incorporate each egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer running on low, add the flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, and mix just until the flour is no longer visible.
3. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Add the date paste and gently fold in using a rubber spatula.
4. Spray an 8"x14" cake pan with non-stick spray. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar into the cake pan and move the pan around until the sugar coats the bottom and all sides. Pour in the cake batter and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
5. Allow the cake to cool at room temperature for 20 minutes. Flip the cake out onto a parchment paper lined tray. Leave at room temperature to cool completely. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and store at room temperature until ready to use.
*To make Self-Rising Flour: mix together 3 cups of all purpose flour, 2 tsp of iodized salt and 1 tablespoon of baking powder in a medium sized bowl. Use immediately or store in an airtight container.
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1vanilla bean, split
4 jumbo egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp good bourbon (I used Maker's Mark)
1. Bring heavy cream, 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla bean to a simmer in a small to medium sized sauce pot.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and other 1/4 cup sugar together until frothy.
3. While stirring, slowly add about 1/2 of the heavy cream mixture to the eggs. Stir together gently. Pour the egg mixture into the pot of remaining heavy cream. Continue to cook over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spatula or spoon.
4. Stir in the vanilla extract and bourbon and remove from heat. Pour the mixture through a strainer into a container. Place the container of bourbon sauce in an ice bath until cool.
5. Either use the sauce immediately, or store in the fridge until ready to use. If stored in the fridge before use, re-heat in the microwave at 10 second intervals on 50% power until thinned and slightly luke warm.
1 stick unsalted butter
1 lb light brown sugar
2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp good bourbon
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1. Place butter in a heavy bottom sauce pot over medium heat. Once melted, add brown sugar and continue to cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add heavy cream and allow to cook for another 6-7 minutes, still stirring occasionally.
3. Remove pan from heat and stir in bourbon and vanilla. Use sauce immediately or store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat before using.
1 lb pecan halves
2 tsp water
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1. Heat oven to 350º. Mix water, syrup, salt, and both peppers together in a small bowl. Place pecans in a medium sized bowl. Pour maple syrup mixture over pecans and mix until all are evenly coated.
2. Spread the pecans out on a baking sheet covered with foil. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
3. As soon as the pecans come out of the oven, scrape the pecans off the pan and break up pecan clumps to prevent from sticking together. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight plastic container at room temperature.
(At this point, I chopped up about half of the pecans to sprinkle on top of the cake. I left the other portion of pecans whole to use for other purposes, like as a salad topping).
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla to the bowl. Beginning at low speed and slowly increasing the speed to high, whip the mixture together until slightly stiff peaks form.
2. Use immediately or store in the fridge until ready to use.