International Chocolate Day falls on 7th July each year, and is certainly a favourite day here at the Scotch Whisky Experience! In previous blog posts we’ve covered how to match whisky with your favourite chocolate bars, and we even do whisky and chocolate tastings here in Edinburgh for those who have a sweet tooth and a love of Scotch.
This year, Visitor Experience Manager Cara takes a wee look at baking with whisky – you’ll be surprised at how many delicious treats you can incorporate a dram of Scotch into!
“When I started at the Scotch Whisky Experience my whisky knowledge was limited to my dad’s small cabinet collection and the most local distilleries to my home town (which, living on the border of Speyside, is admittedly a few more than you might think) so at our team whisky tastings, I often felt a little daunted.
As a keen baker I found myself associating the aromas and flavours I found in whisky, with those I was most familiar with whilst busying myself at the baking bowl. Not only that, but my time at The Scotch Whisky Experience has also taught me that far from simply being something to be enjoyed completely unaltered, whisky is a wonderfully versatile drink just begging to be explored in so many different ways. So with a wealth of whisky knowledge at my finger tips (and a little more now stored in my head), I decided to start learning more about my nation’s favourite drink in the best way I know how!
When someone says ‘Whisky Cake’ I’d imagine many people think of the denser, dried fruit-filled kind, but I was aiming for something different. Having now tried and tested a few more whiskies I started thinking which aromas and flavours would work well with what kind of baked goods.
I had a conversation with a visitor in the shop one day who was asking for specifics in a whisky but when asked who it was for started to look a little sheepish: as the conversation went on it turned out the whisky was for baking with and they’d been embarrassed in case I was shocked and appalled at such a notion. Not at all! The recipe was for banana bread, and we settled on a Balvenie 14 year old Caribbean Cask: the slightly mellower oak flavours and sweet toffee aromas means it will pair perfectly with banana. (You might also remember it being matched with ginger cake in our whisky and cake-matching blog post last year!)
Some lessons from baking with whisky
Save the whisky for the icing and decoration: the spirit may be versatile but it’s also volatile and baking it in the batter completely evaporated the taste and aroma!
Other whisky and baking combinations to try (recipes below)
- Chocolate cupcakes with a Tomatin Legacy: its light vanilla and oak flavours work well with a slightly bitter dark chocolate sponge.
- Coffee cake with Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch Espresso Roast: the expression name speaks for itself!
Let us know if you try these, or another recipe out and let us know what works well! Next up I’m thinking flapjacks with a Benromach 10 year old, or maybe blue cheese and Bowmore Scones (better watch that evaporation though!)
Recipes for baking with whisky
Coffee Victoria Sponge with Johnnie Walker Espresso Roast Icing
(makes one full size sponge)
6 Oz / 150g butter or baking margarine
6 Oz / 150g caster sugar
6 Oz / 150g self-raising flour
3 medium/large eggs
1 shot strong espresso (If using instant coffee I recommend one part coffee to two parts water)
For the icing
10oz icing sugar
Large slug of Johnnie Walker Espresso Roast (around 20-40 ml, add to taste)
Fresh coffee beans, to decorate
- Cream together the butter and sugar
- Slowly add the eggs until well mixed
- Gradually add the flour till well mixed
- Add the coffee and mix well, if batter seems a little thin add a little more flour.
- Pour batter into two well-greased round cake tins.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c for 20 minutes or until springy to the touch
- Whilst the cake cools, beat the butter for the icing until it is smooth, gradually add the icing sugar and whisky a little at a time and alternately until well mixed and at the desired consistency.
- Assemble the cake with buttercream between the two sponges and save a little to dot round the top sponge, top with fresh coffee beans.
Highland Cow Cupcakes
Chocolate cupcakes with Tomatin Legacy icing
(makes 12 cupcakes)
8 tbsp soft margarine
3 1/2 Oz / 90g caster sugar
5 1/2 Oz / 140g self-raising flour
2 large eggs
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 Oz / 25g milk chocolate, melted
For the icing
10oz icing sugar
Large slug of Tomatin Legacy (around 20-40 ml, add to taste)
For Highland cow decoration
1 piping bag
12 Caramac buttons
24 small balls of royal icing rolled into cylinders and bent slightly to resemble cow horns
- Beat together the margarine, sugar, flour, eggs and cocoa powder until smooth then mix in the melted chocolate and stir to combine.
- Spoon the mixture into paper cases in a 12 hole muffin pan and bake in a preheated oven at 180°c for 15 minutes or until springy to the touch.
- Whilst the cupcakes cool beat the butter for the icing until it is smooth, gradually alternating adding the icing sugar and whisky until well mixed and at the desired consistency.
- To decorate the cupcakes:
Place the icing in the piping bag
Add a blob of icing just off centre (to the bottom) of the cupcake and fix a Caramac button on top
Next pipe lines up and down above the button, just overlapping the button to create the cow fringe
Before the icing sets fix a horn on each side of the cupcake.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!