Bourbon-Walnut Brown Sugar Cake with Mascarpone Buttercream

There’s nothing like a little bourbon to warm the soul when the weather turns cool and crisp, which is why we let the aromatic Kentucky-made spirit star in this grown-up version of your favorite brown sugar cake. Mascarpone thickens and brings a slight tang to the frosting.

Bourbon-Walnut Brown Sugar Cake with Mascarpone Buttercream
 
Makes about 12 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ cups (330 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs (200 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) vanilla bean paste
  • 3 cups (375 grams) cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 cup (240 grams) whole milk
  • ½ cup (120 grams) bourbon
  • ¾ cup (85 grams) chopped walnuts
  • Mascarpone Buttercream (recipe follows)
  • Garnish: chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C). Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan; spray pan again.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla bean paste.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together milk and bourbon. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Fold in walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with an offset spatula.
  4. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Using excess parchment as handles, remove from pan. Spread Mascarpone Buttercream onto cooled cake. Garnish with walnuts, if desired.

Mascarpone Buttercream
 
Makes 3 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (240 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons (12 grams) vanilla bean paste
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) mascarpone cheese
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until creamy. Increase mixer speed to medium-high. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add cream, vanilla bean paste, and salt; beat until combined. Fold in mascarpone cheese by hand, and stir until combined. (Be careful not to overmix mascarpone. It will begin to separate and start to weep.) Use immediately.

 

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