Chocolate + whisky cake with whipped ganache

Chocolate + booze = a good thing. I could just leave it at that, but it probably needs some explanation. A birthday needs cake, which brings me to point one: it was my dad’s birthday on the weekend (happy birthday Popsy!) so a cake was required. Enter this absolutely deliciously rich chocolate cake, which was made a little more adult with the addition of some whisky, which brings me to point 2: I needed a bottle of whisky.

Last month, on our little kid free weekend in Melbourne, Mike discovered whisky. He became quite familiar with said whisky and decided he would like to buy some whisky. Here’s what he remembered about the whisky he drank – it was Japanese, and it was whisky. We tried to find some in duty free on the way home, but there were so many to choose from and we really needed a coffee, so last week I popped into a local branch of Glengarry and got some help, and ended up with a bottle of Mars Iwai Tradition Japanese whisky. We’ll never know if this is the one Mike drank but it’s going down a treat so far.

I love a cake recipe that doesn’t involve a stand mixer, and you could probably even get away with just whisking the ganache. Too easy!

For the cake


250g dark chocolate (I used 62%), chopped finely
250g butter, cut into cubes
300g flour
165g brown sugar
165g caster sugar
75g almond meal
40g cocoa, the darker the better
2½ teaspoons baking powder
375ml milk
4 eggs
whisky for brushing, if using (see notes)


Preheat the oven to 180°C, grease and line 3 x 8″ cake tins.
Combine chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and melt it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth and glossy. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, then add the chocolate mixture, milk and eggs, and whisk until smooth.
Divide the mixture evenly between the 3 tins and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Cool in tins for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

For the whipped ganache


200ml cream
60ml whisky
250g milk chocolate, finely chopped
250g dark chocolate, finely chopped
4 egg yolks


Bring cream and half of the whisky to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
Place chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and pour over the hot cream mixture. Let it stand for one minute then whisk until smooth.
Whisk the egg yolks and remaining whisky in another heatproof bowl over a saucepan over simmering water, until thick and pale.
Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the chocolate mixture.
Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat until the mixture is thick and cooled to room temperature.
Leave at room temperature until the ganache is thick but spreadable.

To assemble

Trim the top of each cake flat. Place one cake on a plate and brush with whisky if you’re using it.
Spread with one fifth of the ganache, then top with another layer of cake and repeat.
Make sure your top layer has the flattest side facing up. Pop the cake into the fridge for 20-30 minutes so the filling sets. I find it’s easier to frost the sides when the layers don’t move.
Dollop the remaining ganache on top and use a palette knife to smooth it over the top and around the sides. Refrigerate again to set.

Serve cake at room temperature. It will keep, refrigerated, for up to 5 days. It is utterly divine heated up in the microwave too.

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  • Barely adapted from Gourmet Traveller magazine.
  • I chose not to brush the cakes with whisky as I was also serving it to kids. The cake was still nice and moist without it. The whisky taste from the cake and ganache is not overpowering or boozy.

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