It was a day that would forever change the course of history.
A few years back, I arrived home for my yearly visit. The Mountain Standard to Eastern Standard time change kindly put my flight in around midnight. My parents’ smiles gleamed as I exited the airport tram, and I was quickly escorted home to devour the contents of a fully stocked fridge. After eating cold pizza and finishing off the mashed potatoes, I put my fork down to rest. I’d about had enough when my Dad perked up with excitement. He could have just as soon suggested we go down to the barnyard and feed the pigs before I would have seen this one coming.
In my youth, my mother had spearheaded a movement which isolated my grandmother and I. Cast off to a corner with our double chocolate cupcakes and our triple fudge sundaes, she would incessantly state the need to maintain a balanced diet. So what if chocolate was the axis of our diets?
My father on the other hand was a different story. Always watching his cholesterol, he seemed to stick to his guns when it came to by-passing dessert. All the way through his third helping of frozen yogurt, he would stick to his guns. His idea of a balanced diet was doubling the quantity to even out the losses of fat-free.
With one parent touting everything in moderation and the other sneaking sugar-free snack cakes, you may understand why I had resigned myself to lonely late-night sessions with a tube of uncooked cookie dough. Just me, the moonlight, and a peaceful lack of judgement.
With this is mind, you can imagine my surprise when my father looked towards my mother and she unveiled the next course. It was then that I first laid eyes on it. The seductive bundt-cake curves, the rich and glistening texture. There it stood. The Kahlua Cake.
Before this moment, cakes had been reserved for birthdays and extra-special celebrations. This baby was a game changer. All of a sudden, every occasion was an excuse! Daughter home from college? Kahlua cake. Housewarming for the neighbors? Kahlua cake. Lawn mower started on the first try? Kahlua cake. This cake throws all morals out the window.
Last week we were all graced with the addition of one extra day in the month of February. Besides the opportunity this provides to procrastinate your taxes a little bit longer, a leap year also means an actual birthday for one of my closest friends. Seeing as her official day only comes around once every 4 years, we thought she deserved the best. I decided to recreate the Kahlua cake for the occasion, Korean style.
The original recipe starts with German chocolate cake mix and instant chocolate pudding, so this was going to be a bit of a challenge. Match the lack of ingredients with the rarity of a bundt pan, and I was shaking in my boots. What had I done? How could I make anything to hold a candle to the one and only? I talked myself off the ledge, tightened my apron and reached for my whisk. This was going to happen.
Everything starts with a chocolate cake. I did some research and found a promising recipe. The one I chose relies on beating margarine with the sugar to begin rather than the more traditional butter. Knowing the amount of additives that go into the gooey yellow stuff, I was a little reluctant. On second thought, it might work. Nobody likes to gamble on a dry finished product. Surely in this day and age scientists have perfected the compounds necessary to ensure a moist outcome. A little creepy, but I decided to embrace it.
I also knew that a pecan topping was indispensable. I sought some out at Home Plus and sprinkled them in the bottom of the 8-inch pan before filling it with batter. We were looking good.
The final piece of the puzzle was the finishing glaze. Butter, sugar and Kahlua [soju] are simmered together and poured right over top of that sucker. As I’ve always said, butter makes it better. Match that butter with a bit of Kahlua and I’ll just let your imagination run wild.
Normally, 7th birthdays are reserved for Barbie dolls and princess-themed parties. While tiaras are age-appropriate across the board, this cake might only be warmly received by one with their 7th birthday falling on a leap-year. Since I know you’re toying with the idea, you might as well just go ahead and black list this cake from your niece’s party. Showing up with a booze soaked masterpiece might not fly with Auntie Miranda (even though Uncle Lenny would be singing your praises). Just sayin, because if your impression’s anything like mine, you’ll be digging for excuses.
The Next Best Kahlua Cake
Recipe adapted from Best Moist Chocolate Cake from allrecipes.com
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup margarine
3/4 cup and 2 tablespoons white sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 stick butter
1/8 cup water
1/4 cup Kahlua [soju]
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8- inch cake pan. Sprinkle pecans on bottom of pan. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- While the cake bakes, prepare the topping. Boil butter, sugar and water in a sauce pan for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Kahlua. While cake is still hot, pour mixture over the top and allow to absorb. Try to resist about 20 minutes, then enjoy.
Note: I have found that this cake freezes extremely well. It works great to freeze the whole cake, or if you’re a chocoholic like me, divide it up into sections, wrap in waxed paper and foil, then freeze. Each time your craving strikes just zap a piece (or two) in the microwave for about 30 seconds.