Easy Holiday Dessert Recipe: Irish Whiskey Cake

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It’s possible that yesterday you found out what a poor baker I am. That’s o.k. because I’ve come up with strategies to get around the problem. For instance, when we celebrated “Pretend Christmas” with my in-laws who were visiting from the UK last week I whipped up a very easy holiday dessert recipe: This Irish Whiskey Cake.

The idea behind the cake comes from a recipe in the most recent issue of Fine Cooking Magazine. You can get the full-on recipe for the cake here.

I made it simpler by using a cake mix. I also dusted the top of the cake with cocoa instead of spending time making all those chocolate curls. The result was a stunningly delicious holiday dessert that all the adults loved (find out how I adapted the recipe for the kids below).

A really easy holiday dessert recipe: Chocolate cake spiked with coffee and whiskey, topped with boozy whipped cream. A perfect end to your holiday meal.
For the kids: I got out a muffin tin and a couple of cupcake liners and filled them two-thirds full of the cake batter. I baked them alongside the cakes but for a little less time.

While they were baking, I made a small batch of whipped cream that didn’t contain any booze, just a bit of icing sugar (you could use cool whip or whipping cream from a squirt can). Then when the cupcakes were cooled I slit them in half horizontally, glopped some whipped cream on the bottom layer, topped it with the top half of cupcake, added more whipped cream and Tada! Mini-Layer Cakes without Boozy Whipped Cream.

Note that the cake batter itself does contain a small amount of whiskey. I decided that it was small enough to be negligible in the cupcakes, but you could always leave it out of the batter entirely. The whipping cream is pretty strong flavored so you would hardly miss it).

If you’re looking for another easy holiday dessert recipe, you should also check out my recipe for Strawberry Santa Hats. They’re totally cute and kids love to help make them!

Strawberry Santa Hats

Here’s how to make this easy holiday dessert.


Easy Holiday Dessert: Irish Whiskey Cake

Chocolate cake is made special with help from coffee and whiskey. You can use a boxed cake mix or feel free to use homemade. Just substitute and equal amount of the coffee and whiskey for the liquid called for in your recipe.



  1. Mix up a box of chocolate cake mix (enough to make two 9-inch round cakes) but instead of water use strong coffee and whiskey.
  2. Bake the cakes in two 9-inch round pans, following the instructions on your box.
  3. Make up a batch of the whipped cream spiked with Irish whiskey
  4. Once the cakes have cooled, put one cake, rounded side down (flat-side up), on a cake plate. Top with half of the whipped cream mixture, leaving about ½ inch around the edge. Put another cake on top, rounded side-down (flat side up). Push down ever so slightly so that the whipped cream filling spreads just to the edge. Top with remaining whipped cream.
  5. Put a fine mesh sieve over a soup bowl. Measure in about ¼ cup of cocoa powder. Gently lift the sieve out of the bowl trying not to let the cocoa start sprinkling before you're ready. Hold the sieve over the cake and tap it gently so that some cocoa sprinkles over top. Move the sieve around so that cocoa ends up on most of the top layer of whipping cream. If any cocoa gets on the plate and doesn't look nice, use a damp paper towel to wipe it off.

This recipe is adapted from FineCooking.com

I do so love hearing your thoughts. Leave a comment below telling me what you typically have as dessert at Christmas. Is it a plateful of Christmas cookies put in the center of the table for everyone to nibble on, a traditional Christmas pudding, a special cake like this one or something else entirely?

A really easy holiday dessert recipe: Chocolate cake spiked with coffee and whiskey, topped with boozy whipped cream. A perfect end to your holiday meal.

10 Responses to “Easy Holiday Dessert Recipe: Irish Whiskey Cake”

  1. Linda Weston — December 23, 2012 @ 12:23 am (#)

    I am going to try your recipe for whiskey cake and post photo. Your blog was fascinating. You made me think that I could blog too. You’re agreat writer: full of clarity, anticipatory of our potential problems/ little obstacles, while maintaining your encouraging tone.I am going to try and increase the liquor in the cake mix. I want my adults to actually get a little bit tipsy on Christmas afternoon. Have you ever increased the whiskey in the cake portion?

    • Christine Pittman — December 24, 2012 @ 7:50 am (#)

      Thank you so much! Your comment has made my day. Yes, I think you could increase the liquor in the cake mix for sure. Maybe half coffee half liquor. I’ve toyed with omitting the whiskey from the cake (doing all coffee) and then sprinkling some whiskey onto the cooled cakes. But I haven’t tried it yet and would hate if it failed for you. If you make the cake, do let me know how it turns out. Happy Holidays!

  2. Suai — December 13, 2012 @ 3:04 pm (#)

    This sounds easy and delicious. I’m always torn about getting cake mixes and usually make everything from scratch. Bit I let the kids use cake mix when they want to bake!

    • Christine Pittman — December 14, 2012 @ 8:13 am (#)

      I usually make everything from scratch. But lately I’ve been finding that I have less and less time. And since I don’t really enjoy baking all that much, I’ve given in to the cake mix a bit. I’m sure I’ll go back to scratch cakes when I have a bit more time (when will that be??? lol).

  3. Paula — December 13, 2012 @ 2:28 pm (#)

    You really have to stop saying that you are not a baker. This cake looks wonderful.

    • Christine Pittman — December 14, 2012 @ 8:11 am (#)

      That’s funny, Paula. The thing is that I don’t really enjoy baking as much as regular cooking. And honestly, I am rarely satisfied with the results. It’s probably because I don’t enjoy eating sweets as much as I enjoy more savory treats. But that means that I never feel as confident sharing the recipes. Thanks for the vote of confidence though!

  4. Kerry Ann @Vinobaby's Voice — December 13, 2012 @ 7:43 am (#)

    Oh yum. How did you know I’m still searching for Christmas desserts? I always make several, as no one in my {husband’s} family likes the same thing. Some don’t like pie, chocolate, coconut, mint . . . I love that you use a cake mix. I’m all about cake mixes. Cheers!

    • Christine Pittman — December 13, 2012 @ 9:52 am (#)

      I’m a recent convert to the cake mix. I always found that they had a distinctive and not very appealing flavor. I was sure I could identify one in a blind taste test. But then I discovered that when you add other ingredients to them (especially in the form of different liquids) the flavor changes drastically and becomes more like a normal cake. Now I’m using them more and more often.


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