How Do You Improve Chocolate Cake? Add Whiskey

The Dead Rabbit, a very famous bar in the financial district owned by two Irishmen, recently allowed me far too much free whiskey at their fourth anniversary party. The combination of the spirit, the jovial vibe and the Morrissey portrait on the wall all gave me a strong surge of pride in a heritage that only accounts for about three eighths of my blood. What’s blood, though, when your last name is the same as the first Irish Catholic president’s? What’s the pesky matter of genetics when nothing cures what ails you like a shot of Jameson?

It’s Jameson that my dad gave me a nip of when I had toothaches as a kid, and Jameson I drank when my little brother passed. Whiskey, to paraphrase Eliza Doolittle, is like mother’s milk to me. When this St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, join me in eating a chocolate cake slathered in a whiskey-tinged buttercream—where its function isn’t imparting booziness, but amplifying the vanilla and adding further warm notes to the sweet, fatty frosting. Save the straight-up booziness for your glass, where you can savor it.

Chocolate Cake
Yield: 12 cupcakes, or two 6-inch layers


  • 1 ¼ cups almond or cashew milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 239 grams sugar
  • 106 grams coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 222 grams flour
  • 41 grams cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Heat the oven to 350 and line your cake pans.
  2. Add apple cider vinegar to the almond milk and let it sit while you…
  3. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave or over a double boiler.
  4. Measure out your dry ingredients into one bowl and whisk well to combine. Get all the lumps out!
  5. Measure sugar into another bowl, then add the rest of the wet ingredients. Whisk to combine.
  6. Pour your wet ingredients into the dry. Whisk, whisk, whisk just until it’s smooth. Overmixed chocolate cake is a tragedy.
  7. Put your batter in your pans (about 350 g batter per cake layer; 1/3 cup per cupcake) and then bake. About 40 minutes for cake or 20 for cupcakes, but use your judgment and/or a toothpick!
  8. Let cool, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and put in the freezer until you’re ready to decorate—it’s always easiest to decorate a frozen cake.

Whiskey Buttercream


  • 8 ounces Miyoko’s Kitchen Cultured Coconut Butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-4 teaspoons Jameson Irish Whiskey


  1. Cut the butter into small sections, then add to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until smooth.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, then beat until it’s all incorporated and a fluffy buttercream has formed.
  3. Add whiskey to your taste, beating to combine; if the buttercream starts to thin out too much, add a bit more powdered sugar and beat further.
  4. Chill until you’re ready to frost. If you want to use various colors, mix your food coloring into two small bowls of the frosting.


This story was originally published in March 2017.