10 Mar Bourbon & Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake With Salted Caramel Drizzle

Bourbon & Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake With Salted Caramel Drizzle // butterlust.com @butterlustblogBourbon & Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake With Salted Caramel Drizzle // butterlust.com @butterlustblog

Confession: I’m currently on Day 10 of the Whole30.

Which doesn’t seem like the most fitting thing to share with you as I wave enticing photos of intensely rich and delicious, chocolate-y peanut butter and bourbon cake (+ salted caramel!) in front of your face, but I felt like I had to fess up. As it turns out, when you’re a dessert person (guitly), it becomes incredibly easy to develop a wonkily skewed perception of what is a reasonable, healthy amount of chocolate to consume on a daily basis. Case in point: moi.

Things have gotten a little out of control.

Despite all internet appearances, I’m a real human over here. I do my best to balance my weekend baking binges with lean, veggie-heavy meals during the week but man-oh-man, can that balance be hard to maintain when there is leftover chocolate cake sitting on the counter. Thus, once in awhile, there is a serious need to reevaluate my consumption and reset my junk intake. This sugar-free, butter-free thing I’m doing for the next 20 days (one third of the way there!) is an effort to remind myself what my best self feels like.

And then, once it’s all said and done, you can bet yer butt, there will be more cake. In moderation.

In the meantime, I promise not to become one of those people who tries to convince you to eliminate entire food groups from your diet because grapes are nature’s candy!!. No anti-chocolate agendas here because, lawd, do I miss the stuff.

Bourbon & Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake With Salted Caramel Drizzle // butterlust.com @butterlustblog Bourbon & Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake With Salted Caramel Drizzle // butterlust.com @butterlustblog

But wait, how am I posting intensely rich and delicious, chocolate-y peanut butter and bourbon cake (+ salted caramel!) perfection if I’m not actually eating it? How can we trust the recipe is bonafide tastiness?

Well, like the good little blogger I attempt to be, I’ve actually been planning this little dip into healthy eating for some time. This cake was made months ago, in preparation. Trust me, I thoroughly enjoyed it in that moment. And just to make sure it was as ridiculously good as I claim it to be (or maybe to prevent myself from single-handedly finishing off the entire cake) I also fed it to friends, coworkers, and even the half-baked neighbor next door and, based on this in-depth research, I can say with 100% confidence that it is every bit as delicious as I say it is.

Because seriously: Chocolate. Bourbon. Peanut butter. Salted caramel. AAaaaaand chocolate-covered pretzels. It’s a real thing and you need it in your life AAAY-SAP.

Bourbon & Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake With Salted Caramel Drizzle // butterlust.com @butterlustblog Bourbon & Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake With Salted Caramel Drizzle // butterlust.com @butterlustblog

I have to take a moment to apologize for the lack of post-slicing photos. I made this cake for a going away party so I was unable to cut into it to photograph its innards, but I assure you, under all of that gooey salted caramel and fluffy peanut butter frosting, there are two layers of intensely moist, bourbon-spiked chocolate cake, sandwiching yet another glorious layer of peanut butter frosting that has been peppered with crunchy little nuggets of chopped, chocolate-covered pretzels.

Too add more tastiness, as if it needed more, I used virgin coconut oil in the chocolate cake, which imparts just a wee little hint of coconutty goodness to this over-the-top, flavor-explosion of a cake.

Srsly though, are you convinced yet? GO FORTH AND CAKE, MY FRIENDS.

Oh, P.S. I’m going to try and make myself known around these parts next week but alas, SXSW is taking over Austin once again (or is it President Obama?), soooo depending on how many free parties/shows/against-my-diet breakfast tacos I weasel my way into,  I may not be back until the following week.

PIECE. cake.


Bourbon Chocolate Cake adapted from Ina Garten

More Ina-Inspired Chocolate Cakes from the archives:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Chocolate Chips Ahoy Dinosaur Cake
Mint Chocolate Chip Cake
Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake (complete with icky novice photos!)

Bourbon & Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake With Salted Caramel Drizzle


    For the Bourbon Chocolate Cake:
  • Butter, for greasing two, 8-inch round cake pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups natural cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (can sub vegetable or canola oil)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • For the Peanut Butter Frosting:
  • 3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • For the Caramel Drizzle:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • For assembly:
  • 3/4 cup chopped chocolate-covered pretzels
  • 12-18 whole chocolate-covered pretzels


    To prepare the Bourbon Chocolate Cake:
  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two, 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, then butter and flour.
  • Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
  • In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
  • With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the bourbon and coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 34-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
  • To prepare the Caramel Drizzle:
  • Gently heat the cream in a small saucepan. Set aside.
  • Place the sugar in a separate, heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat on medium high until the it begins to melt around the edges. Carefully swirl the sugar with a heatproof spatula until all the sugar has melted and has reached about 338F on a candy thermometer.
  • Add the butter in pieces, and stir until melted. Very carefully add the warm cream (it may bubble up) and stir until smooth. Stir in the salt.
  • Pour caramel into a jar and let cool to room temperature while you make the frosting.
  • To prepare the Peanut Butter Frosting:
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter & peanut butter and beat until smooth.
  • Add the bourbon and vanilla extract and beat to combine.
  • Gradually mix in the confectioner's sugar until thick and creamy. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high and beat for 2-3 minutes until fluffy. If icing appears too thick, you can add in a couple of teaspoons of milk (or more bourbon), one teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
  • To Assemble:
  • If desired, level your cakes to remove domed tops and create a more even, professional-looking cake.
  • Place one layer of chocolate cake on a cardboard round and top with about 1/4 cup (a pretty thin layer) of frosting. Top with chopped chocolate-covered pretzels.
  • Top with the second layer of chocolate cake, then frost the cake with a very thin crumb coat layer of icing (this will help achieve a smooth finish) and refrigerate until icing is set, about 30 minutes.
  • Use the remaining frosting to cover the outside of the cake. Decorate the sides of the cake with chocolate-covered pretzels, leaving them off the top for now, and then place back into the refrigerator for another 30 minutes to chill. The cold icing will prevent the caramel stick to the cake instead of dripping all of the way off of the sides.
  • Once chilled, pour about a cup of caramel over the top and use a spatula to carefully push small amounts of the topping over the edges of the cake to create a drizzle affect.
  • Decorate the top of the cake with chocolate-covered pretzels.
  • Tori
    Posted at 03:14h, 11 March Reply

    OMG, Katie! This cake is an absolute stunner! Although……..I can’t say that would stop me from wanting to faceplant in it! So much yumminess, how can this be legal!!!!

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 10:37h, 11 March Reply

      Thanks, Tori!!

  • Gabriella
    Posted at 06:50h, 11 March Reply

    I don’t even like chocolate cake, but I need this cake. Yes, need. It looks amazing! I bet that bourbon-spiked chocolate was amazing.

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 10:36h, 11 March Reply

      I used to hate chocolate cake until I started making & adapting Ina’s recipe, it’s so moist and delicious and actually tastes like chocolate! You must try it!!

  • CakeSpy
    Posted at 07:56h, 11 March Reply

    This is like, last meal territory. Brilliant. Awe-inspiring.

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 10:30h, 11 March Reply

      Haha! That may be the best compliment a cake could ever receive!

  • Liz @ Ready to Yumble
    Posted at 09:19h, 11 March Reply

    I just died a little bit looking at these pictures – in a good way. Died of happiness just thinking how good it must taste. Absolutely finding a reason to bake this soon!
    Liz @ Ready to Yumble recently posted…Moroccan Spiced Carrot SoupMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 10:34h, 11 March Reply

      Thanks, Liz! I encourage you to try it — to die for is the perfect description!

      • Ross
        Posted at 08:38h, 25 April Reply

        Made it over the weekend. All we could hope for and more. Next time I may have to buy an extra bag of the chocolate covered pretzels because I couldn’t stop eating them. And thank goodness you had the epiphany to say “you know what this peanut butter frosting needs? Bourbon” Genius.

        • KWahlman
          Posted at 21:29h, 09 May Reply

          Love this, thanks Ross!

  • Muna Kenny
    Posted at 10:16h, 11 March Reply

    How gorgeous! I have to make this cake, but can I omit the bourbon? Will that effect the taste? Thank you 🙂
    Muna Kenny recently posted…Ground Beef Quesadilla with CheeseMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 10:35h, 11 March Reply

      Hi Muna! You could definitely omit the bourbon in the cake, just replace with 1/4 cup of water. For the frosting, use whole milk instead. 🙂 Good luck!

  • Lauren @ A Nerd Cooks
    Posted at 12:25h, 11 March Reply

    Mother of God… I need this in my life.
    Lauren @ A Nerd Cooks recently posted…Whole Lemon Bars – Updated!My Profile

  • Carri @ Bakeaholic Mama
    Posted at 13:56h, 11 March Reply

    Gahhhh pure gorgeous brilliance in a cake.

    And today would have been day 9 for me…. But then I got sick and fell off the wagon…. Carbs. Sugar. Dairy……

  • Kari
    Posted at 17:30h, 11 March Reply

    I am totally lusting over this cake! It may need to be my birthday cake this year!
    Kari recently posted…Salami Roll upsMy Profile

  • Claudia | The Brick Kitchen
    Posted at 18:19h, 11 March Reply

    That caramel drizzle is killing me Katie! So gorgeous, I just want to grab a piece. I totally feel you on the sugar thing – my ‘normal’ now often ends up being a sweet thing during the day, and obviously something else after dinner – when aren’t we meant to stick to only a couple of times a week?? Oops. Good on you for doing the 30 day challenge, and good luck for the rest!! <3

  • Sabrina
    Posted at 11:43h, 12 March Reply

    This cake is absolutely amazing!! I am craving a slice right now. Love your photos, too!

  • Courtney | Fork to Belly
    Posted at 18:18h, 12 March Reply

    You preach it, lady! It is so hard to balance blogging/baking + eating well when you’ve got an entire cake sitting on your kitchen counter. Wishing you the best of luck over the next 20 days!!! xx

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  • Trina and Tina
    Posted at 08:07h, 19 March Reply

    We so need this in our bellies! And good for you to take a sugar break. We do that too, but it never takes our cravings away! You only live one, so everything in moderation! Thanks for the recipe!
    Trina and Tina recently posted…Out Of This World SweetnessMy Profile

  • Amanda @ Cookie Named Desire
    Posted at 19:38h, 22 March Reply

    Be still my heart, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a beautiful cake before! And the Whole 39 thing? Good luck! I should probably do this myself sometime soon. Goodness knows my jeans are begging me to!

  • Becky Winkler (A Calculated Whisk)
    Posted at 08:36h, 03 April Reply

    This looks amazing! I am impressed that you were able to look at these photos at all while doing a Whole30. I did one in January and basically could not even take a peek at all my fave baking blogs.

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 20:19h, 03 April Reply

      Haha, it was SO TOUGH. The things we do for blogging, am I right?!

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    Posted at 05:11h, 08 April Reply

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  • Sarah
    Posted at 11:03h, 28 April Reply

    I have baked this cake 3 times and LOVE it. All my family and friends love it as well. The only problem is that it falls every time. 🙁 I usually trim it to level it, but that’s difficult as the cake is so very moist. (Not a bad thing!) I looked into the Ina Garten recipe that you adapted this from…is it possible that there’s too much moisture in the cake? My batter always turns out pretty thin. Since everything is pretty much the same as Ina Garten’s is it possibly too much liquid with the added Bourbon? I don’t want to reduce the bourbon as my family loves the added flavor, but I don’t want to mess up the recipe and use less of something else that may be necessary. What if I reduce the coffee? Any suggestions would be wonderful. Thanks for this amazing recipe!

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 21:28h, 09 May Reply

      Hi Sarah! I’m SO glad to hear you love it! It’s normal for the batter to be very thin so all good there! Have you tested your baking soda & powder to make sure they’re still active? You may need to buy a new box as they can become ineffective over time. The problem shouldn’t be too much liquid, but it depending on your climate it could be too LITTLE liquid. Since the alcohol in the cake bakes out in the oven, you actually lose some liquid that would otherwise remain were we only using water/coffee, especially in a dry climate. I’d be interested to see if adding a tbsp of two of water would help. Here’s a great resource to check out: http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/09/how-to-keep-a-cake-from-falling/!

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  • Angela Luan
    Posted at 11:13h, 18 October Reply

    Hi there! I stumbled upon this while looking for birthday options for my boyfriend. I’m thinking of making them as cupcakes for a tailgate–would the measurements be the same, just the baking time shorter?

    Thank you! I’m so excited to try this out.

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 15:53h, 18 October Reply

      Hi Angela! You’re correct, you’ll just need to shorten the baking time for the cupcakes. I hope you enjoy!

  • Rachel
    Posted at 16:23h, 01 January Reply

    I made this cake for my annual New Year’s brunch. It was a big hit, but then again, you hit the trifecta with chocolate, peanut butter and bourbon. I did need to add a lot of cream (not sure how much since I didn’t measure) to the frosting to thin it out. I sense that was largely due to the low temps and low humidity in the Midwest right now. The chocolate cake was exquisite. I love how coffee enhances the chocolate flavor and the texture was so soft.

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