This time some years ago you were probably flying off to some semi-exotic location like Panama City Beach, Florida, or South Padre Island, Texas, with the rest of the collegiate community to experience the rite of passage known as Spring Break. At this point in your life it’s probably inappropriate (or at least inconvenient) to jet away for a week and do irreparable damage to your liver, so why not bake with booze instead of drinking it?
You can purchase alcohol-soaked foods of all kinds (pickles, whipped cream, and cupcakes, to name a few), but it’s way more fun to make things like spiked ice cream sandwiches and alcoholic Oreos yourself.
Adding alcohol to desserts is an easy way to augment flavor without changing an entire recipe. A splash of coffee liqueur to chocolate cake will bring out the cocoa flavor, and a bit of coconut liqueur will enhance the coconutty essence of coconut cream pie. It’s like adding flavor extracts to your baked goods using supplies you already have in your liquor cabinet.
Mixing desserts with alcohol is not a new trend. Baba au rhum, or rum baba, a French yeast cake soaked in a sugary rum syrup, became popular in the mid-nineteenth century. Fruit cakes were originally soaked in liquor — like brandy — as a preservative; it keeps the cakes shelf-stable for years.
The preservative effect of liquor on fruitcake is just one example of how alcohol can aid bakers. Alcohol has legitimate purposes in the kitchen that go beyond flavoring. Unflavored vodka is sometimes touted as the secret to the perfect pie crust.
While this doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t drink the alcohol of your choice in a cocktail as well, we recommend not baking while intoxicated to avoid burns (of skin, dessert, and home). Add a little booze to cakes, cookies, frosting, and syrups for adults-only desserts that guests will love.
Amartha-Walnut Cookies with Brandy
Bourbon Bread Pudding
Use leftover, slightly stale brioche bread for a New Orleans-style bread pudding and soak up the rich flavors of butter, brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Julie Ruggirello is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @TDMRecipeEditor.