If you are a bourbon fan or not, this chocolatey cake is both familiar in its flavor pairing but special enough for any upcoming holiday celebration. This deeply fudgey cake comes together easily on the stovetop before being baked and drowned in a boozy simple syrup. Finely chopped toasted pecans get folded into the filling for a bit of texture and nuttiness. But the buttercream – now that’s the star here. 


Using brown sugar immediately elevates this meringue-based buttercream and brings about an almost caramel flavour that is perfect for this time of year. A big glug of bourbon and real vanilla bean seeds takes it to the next level. For the marbled effect, simply reserve a bit of the buttercream and mix with a teaspoon or so of cocoa powder then randomly swipe it around a nearly smooth buttercream cake just before finishing it off. A couple final spins on the cake turntable at the very end, and the colors will marble and swirl before your eyes!

Not into bourbon or looking for a non-alcoholic version? The brown sugar buttercream will be just as tasty sans booze, as does the simple syrup.


For the Chocolate Cake:

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter
¼ cup canola oil
1 ½ cups coffee or water
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon (if using). Set aside.
In a separate bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, yolk, and vanilla. Set aside.
In a medium-large saucepan, place the butter, oil, and coffee. Heat over medium-high until the butter has melted. Lower the heat and whisk in the cocoa and sugars until dissolved.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Whisk in the sour cream mixture until combined. Finally, stir in the dry ingredients, in two bathes, until the batter is smooth.

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