Butter-bourbon-pecan cake

This is a cake inspired by my co-worker, who is from Texas. Like this cake, she can be intense-looking and rough around the edges, but she’s genuinely a kindhearted person who wants you to do your best and live a happy life The cake itself takes her favorite ice cream flavor, butter-bourbon-pecan, and translates it directly into a naked layer cake. For the cake, I did a brown butter-pecan cake, using crushed pecans in place of some of the flour, a brown butter-bourbon milkshake soak, a butter-bourbon-pecan crumble, bourbon salted caramel bavarian cream, and bourbon-pecan-caramel bubble sugar. I wanted to make sure that at least one to two of the core ingredients, being butter, bourbon, or pecans, were featured in every element of the dessert, just to keep it consistent.

For the cake:
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup pecans; crushed into a fine powder
1 cup buttermilk
1 stick unsalted butter; browned
2 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon bourbon
1 teaspoon baking powder

Melt butter over heat and brown. Pour into a separate bowl. Slowly add in the buttermilk to temper the brown butter and bring down the temperature. Reserve the pan you used to brown the butter with. Whip eggs, baking powder, bourbon, sugar into stiff peaks. Sift the flour. Combine all of the ingredients together. Pour onto a lined sheet tray and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Cool entirely before removing.


For the bourbon-brown butter milkshake soak:
The pan you used to brown the butter with
2 tablespoons of bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup milk

Deglaze the pan with the bourbon. Cook down to remove the alcohol. Take off heat, add in the milk, and vanilla, and allow it to cool to room temperature.

For the crumble:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup crushed pecans
2 tablespoons bourbon

Combine butter, bourbon, baking powder, sugar. Crumble with the flour and pecans. Bake on a sheet tray at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. While still warm, but not piping hot, break apart the crumble into smaller pieces.


For the Bavarian cream:
Bourbon caramel base*
1 ½ teaspoons gelatin powder + 1 tablespoon cold water
3 egg yolks
1 cup heavy whipping cream; whipped stiff

Combine gelatin and water. Chill until solidified. Melt the solidified gelatin into the caramel, adding 1-2 tablespoons of water if the caramel is too thick. Whip into the egg yolks. Temper the mixture and whip over heat for 2-3 minutes. Pour into a bowl and allow the egg-caramel custard base to thicken and cool to room temperature. Fold in the whipped cream. Keep un-set until it is time to assemble.

For the caramel base:
½ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons bourbon
¼ cup milk

Reduce sugar, salt, water, and bourbon until the sugars start to brown. Add in the milk. Mix until all of the caramelized sugar is fully melted into the liquid. Keep this mixture as a liquid.


For bourbon-salted caramel bubble sugar
3 tablespoons bourbon
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
a pinch of salt
3 tablespoons crushed pecans
*parchment paper*

Crumble up sheets of parchment paper and drizzle with the bourbon. Lay out the pecans on the parchment. Reduce sugar, water, and salt until the sugar just starts to brown. Pour the sugar over the parchment, lifting up the sheet so that the sugar can spread out, and allow to cool completely before removing from the paper.

Cut out two 6-inch rings and crumble up the remaining cake. Line a 6-inch ring mold with parchment paper. Add the crumbled up cake first, and soak with 1/3rd of the milkshake soak. Add in 1/3rd of the un-set Bavarian cream, then 1/3rd of the crumble. Add in a 6-inch ring of cake, add in the soak, and repeat the other steps until the cake, soak, Bavarian, and crumble are all used up. Refrigerate overnight to set. Remove the ring mold and the parchment. Garnish the sides with the bubble sugar. Serve immediately.

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