Soft Marble Cake with Chocolate Bourbon Glaze

It’s not that I need to have cake on my birthday. I’d already had ice cream, and that was key. Making this cake was more about trying out my new birthday presents.

You see, amidst a flurry of Christmas cookie baking, my trusty mixer that had blasted its way through who-knows-how-many pounds of flour, sugar, butter and eggs to make who-knows-how-many hundreds of cookies, cupcakes and cakes – finally died. I heard it dying slowly through several recipes, as the motor whirred loudly in a rumble that sounded like it belonged inside of my car, not my kitchen. At the most opportune time – just when the ingredients combined to form my final batch of frosting for the last batch of sugar cookies before Christmas Eve – the mixer started moaning at a dreadful new low as the beaters finally stopped beating. My mixer had mixed its last.

old messy hand mixer beaters baking

Farewell, fair mixer.

Somehow, I managed to save the birthday presents my family sent back with me at Christmas until the big day: Sunday, January 4, The Big 3-0. I needed something to look forward to when turning 30, after all, so I unwrapped gifts that morning. There were cute polka dot storage bins from one sister, filled with caramel sea salt hot cocoa, warm vanilla sugar and white lily hand soaps. A monogramed black-and-white chevron Thirty One bag from the other sister. And from my mother – who has heard me gripe about the strange noises coming from my mixer and the excessive, uneven heat coming from my crappy old stove: an oven thermometer and a fancy new beater.

birthday presents

showing off my birthday spoils

I had to try it out, right? So I heated up my oven with the thermometer hanging inside, and learned that I only have to set my oven to 225 to reach 350 actual degrees. Having an accurate temperature reading makes it so much easier to bake consistently!

I chose this recipe for Chocolate Cake with Jack Daniels Fudge Icing that I pinned from Pizzazzerie. As delicious as this recipe looks, I made a few changes. I’ve always preferred white cake to chocolate, and I didn’t have a chocolate cake mix anyway, so I used marble cake mix and omitted the chocolate chips. I didn’t have any Jack Daniels either, but I did have a bottle of Wild Turkey 101 (which I’ve had since a birthday quite a few years ago) so I used it instead, and reduced the amount because I didn’t want to overpower my cake with chocolate-flavored Turkey sauce.

Here’s the recipe I came up with (thanks to my new hand mixer).

Soft Marble Birthday Cake with Chocolate Bourbon Glaze

Soft Marble Cake with Chocolate Bourbon Glaze

For the cake:

  • 1 box Duncan Hines Fudge Marble Cake Mix (or use chocolate, or yellow cake, or whatever you like)
  • 1 box (3.4-oz) instant pudding (I used cheesecake flavor)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 4 eggs

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes, until batter is fluffy. Using new beaters with a slower lowest setting makes it easy to mix these quickly without splattering a cloud of wet dust over your countertop!

If you’re using a marble cake mix, scoop out 1 cup of batter and mix it with the provided cocoa pack to make your swirl. Pour the large bowl of white batter into your greased pan (I used a silicone Bundt pan). Then, dollop the chocolate batter over it and drag a knife through to marbleize. Bake at 350 for about 38-45 minutes in this type of pan – follow the times suggested on the box for others.

For the glaze:

  • ¼ cup bourbon whiskey (the original recipe called for Jack Daniels whiskey; I used about 2/3 this amount of Wild Turkey 101. Just experiment with what you have – you can’t really go wrong with whiskey and chocolate.)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips

I waited until the cake had baked and started to cool before I started to make the glaze, because you have to pour it on immediately before it sets – and I wanted to let my cake cool so I could pop it out of the pan before glazing.

When you’re ready (maybe after a few shots of whiskey for yourself), combine the butter, sugar and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring regularly, until it comes to a rolling boil. Stir constantly at this stage for one minute, then remove from heat. Pour over cooled cake immediately.

Soft Marble Birthday Cake with Chocolate Bourbon Glaze

This is a great glaze for Bundt cakes – whether they’re chocolate or not – because it drips down the sides beautifully. So there you have it, a slightly improvised late-night birthday cake concoction I call Soft Marble Cake with Chocolate Bourbon Glaze.

The cake gets an A, as do the oven thermometer and mixer. (Thanks, mom.) Here’s to new baking experiences in 2015!


old hand mixers replaced with new Hamilton Beach hand mixer

Messy old mixer, meet your shiny new replacement.


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