Bourbon-Chocolate Cake with Browned Buttercream Frosting


Up your chocolate cake game with a splash of bourbon.

Bourbon-Chocolate Cake with Browned Buttercream
Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop styling: Lydia Pursell
Active Time:
35 mins
Bake Time:
25 mins
Cool Time:
55 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 55 mins

It's safe to say that this fantastic layer cake is a bourbon-lover's dream come true. Our Bourbon-Chocolate Cake With Browned Buttercream Frosting is full of heavenly combinations and perfect pairings. Bourbon, chocolate, and browned butter: How could we ever resist?

A substantial dose of bourbon in both the cake layers and the icing imparts a stunning, oaky flavor to this towering cake. In the cake layers, bourbon and cocoa mingle together to create a sponge that's deeply rich and decadent (here, the bourbon works double-duty to add both flavor and moisture). In the buttercream, nutty brown butter underscores the essence of the bourbon; we'd venture to say that the bourbon-browned buttercream frosting makes this cake truly memorable.

Like many of our favorite boozy desserts, this festive layer cake is meant for year-round celebrations. Paired with our Fudgy Pecan Bourbon Balls, you've got a very spirited holiday dessert spread. If this is your first time attempting a layer cake, don't fret: We have lots of tips on how to stack and frost a layer cake like a pro.

Serve your finished cake with a cup of coffee or, of course, a glass of Southern bourbon.


  • Baking spray with flour

  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa 

  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 cup whole milk 

  • ½ cup canola oil

  • ½ cup (4 oz.) bourbon 

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • ½ cup hot water

  • Browned Buttercream Frosting


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 3 (8-inch) round cake pans with baking spray. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper; coat paper with baking spray. Whisk together granulated sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs, milk, oil, bourbon, and vanilla in a small bowl; add to flour mixture, and whisk until just combined. Add hot water to batter; whisk until combined.

  2. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans (about 1 ½ cups each). Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted into centers of cakes comes out clean, 22 to 25 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; cool completely, about 45 minutes.

  3. Measure ⅓ cup Browned Buttercream Frosting into a piping bag fitted with a star tip; set aside.

  4. Spread remaining Browned Buttercream Frosting between cake layers and on top and sides of cake. Pipe reserved frosting in piping bag around top edges of cake.

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