Chocolate Whiskey Cake Recipe (2024)

Recipe from Marti Buckley Kilpatrick

Adapted by Melissa Clark

Chocolate Whiskey Cake Recipe (1)

Total Time
1 hour 25 minutes
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This recipe came to The Times from Marti Buckley Kilpatrick, who adapted it from Dol Miles, the pastry chef at Frank Stitt’s Bottega restaurant in Birmingham, Ala. Ms. Kilpatrick describes the cake as an ugly frog of a confection, but promises that anyone willing to bet a kiss on its excellence would be amply rewarded. The interplay of coffee, black pepper and cloves is subtle but powerful, and results in a deeply flavored, moist confection that comes together quickly. It’s just delicious. —Melissa Clark

Featured in: Thanks for the Holiday Desserts

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Yield:8 to 10 servings

  • 12tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, more for pan
  • 85grams unsweetened cocoa powder (about ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  • cups brewed strong coffee
  • ½cup Irish whiskey
  • 200grams granulated sugar (about 1 cup)
  • 156grams light brown sugar (about 1 cup)
  • 240grams all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
  • 8grams baking soda (about 1½ teaspoons)
  • 3grams fine sea salt (about ¾ teaspoon)
  • ¼teaspoon black pepper
  • teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3large eggs
  • 2teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • Powdered sugar, for serving (optional)

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (10 servings)

500 calories; 22 grams fat; 13 grams saturated fat; 1 gram trans fat; 6 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 69 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams dietary fiber; 44 grams sugars; 7 grams protein; 384 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Chocolate Whiskey Cake Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Dust with 2 tablespoons cocoa powder.

  2. Step


    In a medium saucepan over low heat, warm coffee, Irish whiskey, 12 tablespoons butter and remaining cocoa powder, whisking occasionally, until butter is melted. Whisk in sugars until dissolved. Remove from heat and cool completely.

  3. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla. Slowly whisk egg mixture into chocolate mixture. Add dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Fold in chocolate chips.

  4. Step


    Pour batter into prepared pan. Transfer to oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, then remove sides of pan. Dust with powdered sugar before serving, if you like.



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Cooking Notes

Scott R

Is it the best cake I have ever made? Quite possibly. Chocolate cake is not often sophisticated and when it is—flourless or molten—it's more a cliche than an appealing dessert. This cake, however, is swoonable. Is that a word? Chocolate (skip the mini semisweet chips in favor of a rough chop of good bittersweet), coffee, whiskey, cloves, black pepper (be generous with the mill): all speak individually but somehow meld into a deep, balanced flavor. Also? It's moist. Perfection.


Use brandy instead of whiskey for a richer flavor that plays better with the coffee and cloves.


I have made this twice and the first go round not happy with the chocolate chips that sunk to the bottom of the cake and got crunchy. Second time, I followed Scott R's advice to use chopped bittersweet chocolate. That worked great! The cake is so moist that you cannot trust the toothpick test for doneness. I baked the first cake too long. 50 to 55 minutes works well. The second cake I baked ahead for a birthday party. It froze well. Thanks for the great recipe.


Just as described, great cake. Simple but sophisticated. One third recipe fits in a 8.5x4.5 loaf pan, 30-35 mins. Doubled the spice, still subtle, and second the "dash of five spice" recommendation. Brandy worked fine.


Hgc, you are correct that the original recipe calls for "natural" non-alkalized cocoa powder (Paula Disbrowe, Cowboy Cuisine, 2007). If using dutch cocoa you'd still need some soda to cancel out the acidity of the brown sugar. So I'm estimating instead of 1.5t soda, use 3/4t baking soda + 2 1/4t baking powder.


I believe the directions need to be rewritten slightly to avoid confusion or explain some things better.

Specifically, the need to pre-heat the oven in Step 1. You need to allow the chocolate mixture to cool in Step 3 so your oven will be hot for quite a while before it's needed.

Also, in Step 3, the directions say to fold in the chocolate chips, which indicate the mixture is thick enough to do so but, as someone else mentioned, mine was very runny and the chips just floated to the bottom.

Michal M.

I used 1/4 teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice instead of cloves and pepper.


Made it for my husband's birthday and it was really wonderful, a big hit. I used:

- decaf coffee
- Bailey's Irish Cream
- a 9" springform pan, baked for 65 minutes
- dark chocolate chips which I chopped up

We ate it warm with vanilla ice cream.


I wanted to cut the recipe in half because we don't need something this tempting hanging around the house. The fact that the ingredients were listed by weight made it very easy to calculate the reduced amounts. I used a 7" springform pan and the cake turned out perfectly. My husband was shocked, impressed, and quite delighted when I presented him with a delicious chocolate cake after a typically normal quiet Friday night supper.

Vanessa Zambrano

Thanks for the description, Suzzanne. I made this recipe yesterday and it came out perfectly. If you continue to have any issues with the chocolate chips sinking to the bottom you can try this: place the chips on a bowl with some flour first, then take them out with a strainer so you don't get too much flour sticking to them, add the chips to the mix and blend well. They should spread evenly.


Use cognac or Armagnac if you don't have or like Irish Whiskey. Skip the cloves (they remind me of unpleasant times at my childhood dentist, clove oil, ugh!) and use a pinch of cardamom or five spice powder instead. It will still be delicious!


Note to Shaden - wrap the bottom of your pan (outside) with aluminum foil to prevent leakage.

Eric Henao

Made in Houston, TX. (nov) Came out pretty moist, almost think it was too buttery. Will reduce butter by 2 tablespoons next time. 9" springform needed 20 more minutes. Make sure to stir mixture in springform to distribute the mini chocolate chips in the batter as mine were mostly just in the middle. Might also reduce some sugar and increase more spices, but very tasty cake.


Made this for the first time. It was terrific. Only had a 9 inch pan, it worked fine just cooked it longer - 70 minutes. The tip on chopping chocolate worked great - 1 cup of chips equals 160 gm for those interested. Everyone loved it and it was amazingly moist. Would definitely make again.


This cake is incredible. I added 1/4 cup of flour to the batter at the end for high altitude (living a mile high in Colorado) and it was perfect after 65 minutes at 325. Added a little extra clove and some nutmeg and coriander to the dry mix. The spices really make the chocolate taste more complex and special. What a delicious recipe! I will make this again next time I need to impress!


I made this with mezcal instead of whiskey and everyone cried, it was so unbelievably good


I divided this into two 6 inch cake pans with parchment paper rounds at the bottom and a waxed paper “sling” to help lift the cake out when done, topped them with a meringue “crown” that had a bit of dark rum mixed in for a party. Looked good, tasted even better. A big hit!


Also, it probably doesn’t have to be Irish whiskey. Jack Daniel’s would be fine


Lovely and easy. Use about 2 ozs chopped bittersweet chocolate Check doneness at 50 mins

Suz in Portland

We used a can of cold brew and it worked well. Bake time of 50 in a 10” springform was a tad too long for our oven. Subbed allspice for cloves. Dense, delicious. Next time will try chopped chocolate bar instead of chips.


Wow this is a very moist, adult chocolate cake! I put in less butter, less sugar, and more spices like others commented. Also didn’t have enough coffee so I put in a bit of Bailey’s too. Turned out absolutely delectable. Thank you for people who said to put tin foil under the springform pan and flour the chocolate chips!!! Great tips


It came together quickly and easily, and the flavor was fine, but nothing amazing? Ina Garten has a chocolate cake recipe that comes out closer to brownie-texture (super moist) that I was hoping this was going to be similar to (it wasn't). We will stick with that one.

Ben M

Used chopped bittersweet chocolate 1 cup mini chocolate chips = 240 grams chocolateSubstituted coffee with 1.5 cups water + 1.5 Tbsp expresso powderCocoa powder, 3/4 cup = 73 g 2 tbsp = 12 g12 tbsp butter = 170 gUsed a bit over 1/4 tsp 5 spice to replace pepper and cloves

Connor E.

I made this for a small dinner party last night using brandy instead of whiskey as some other commenters suggested. Everyone loved it. I had Tillamook white chocolate raspberry ice cream in the fridge that just happened to go perfectly with it. I recommend this recipe around the holidays.


Use brandy and chopped bittersweet chocolate. 60 minutes for 9” pan


Left out the cloves and black pepper (my family does not eat chocolate and spices mixed together), used gluten free flour and coconut sugar, and baked in a 9x13. It is marvelous, although I will say the past few nights I haven't been able to sleep. Use decaf coffee! Oh and it doesn't need powdered sugar on top, but whipped cream is a good accompaniment.


This cake makes any day a holiday. Fabulous.FYI, chocolate chips sank to bottom, even coated with flour. Will try chopped choc next time.**Beefed up the coffee with 1 T espresso powder. **Used gingerbread spice instead of cloves. **Had only 2 eggs, added 60 grams Greek yogurt to sub for the third egg, all was well.


I don't get it: Why not simply call 12 tablespoons of butter 153 grams? As if anyone would measure butter in tablespoons...


Lots of people measure in tablespoons! -- because U.S. butter comes packaged in tablespoons. One stick = 8 tablespoons, so 12 T. is an easy-to-measure 1 1/2 sticks. I love weighted ingredients as much as the next purist, but this isn't a situation where weighted measures would make things easier (at least for a U.S. cook).


Deliciously moist, but being no fan of licorice, fennel, anise and the like, I should have thought better of following the advice of replacing the cloves with Chinese fine spice. I used a scant 1/4 tsp and found it overpowering. Next time I think I will just try ginger and a bit of cinnamon. Also dusting the cake with powdered sugar AFTER it is cooled is a must.


OK, what do you do with the ingredients in step 2 after it cools? What the heck am I missing?

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Chocolate Whiskey Cake Recipe (2024)


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