Recipes from The Boozy Baker cookbook author Lucy Baker
Southern Comfort Red Velvet Cake
Makes 12 to 16 servings or 24 cupcakes
Say “Southern Comfort” and most people will roll their eyes and groan “SoCo. I haven’t had that since college.” It’s true that this sugary whiskey is a dorm room staple, along with John Belushi posters and economy-size plastic kegs of pretzels. But SoCo’s often-mocked sweetness lends itself to baking, yielding a subtle hint of whiskey without overpowering the other flavors. What could be more Southern or comforting than incorporating it into red velvet cake?
For the cake:
3 cups cake flour
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
11/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Southern Comfort
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring
12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
For the frosting:
14 tablespoons (13/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup Southern Comfort
Chopped toasted pecans, for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with butter, or spray them with nonstick spray. Dust them with flour and tap out the excess.
To make the cake, whisk together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, Southern Comfort, vanilla, vinegar, and food coloring.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack, and then remove them from the pans and cool completely.
To make the frosting, beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes. Add 6 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, the milk, and the Southern Comfort. Beat on low speed until creamy. Gradually add the remaining confectioners’ sugar, a little at a time, until the frosting has reached the desired consistency.
Place one cake layer on a plate and spread it with about one-third of the frosting. Top with the remaining cake layer and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle the cake with chopped pecans, if using.
Shake It Up: For a bolder flavor, substitute Tennessee whiskey, such as Jack Daniels, for the Southern Comfort.
Dirty Girl Scout Cookies
Makes about 32 cookies
Years ago, when I was just out of college, my friends Jess and Dave hosted a “very grown up” dinner party that quickly took a debacherous turn after someone suggested we make Dirty Girl Scouts, the incredibly sweet—and lethal—cocktail made of equal parts vodka, coffee liqueur, Irish cream liqueur, and crème de menthe. Though I was never a Girl Scout, I’ve always loved Girl Scout cookies, especially Thin Mints. I thought it would be fun to combine the flavors of the drink and the cookie in one.
For the cookies:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
For the glaze:
11/4 to 13/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur
1 tablespoon coffee liqueur
1 tablespoon crème de menthe
32 Junior Mint candies
Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
To make the cookies, beat the butter, sugar, and light brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat to combine.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed.
Drop the dough into rounded balls (about 3 tablespoons each) onto the cookie sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until the cookies have flattened, about 15 minutes.
Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes, and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar with the liqueurs in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk until smooth. Set the wire rack with the cooled cookies on it over a row of paper towels. Using a spoon, drizzle about 1 teaspoon of glaze over each cookie, and gently press a Junior Mint into the center. Don’t worry if the glaze dribbles off the sides of the cookies a bit—it will firm up once it dries.