Food: Bourbon Desserts for the Holidays

Food: Bourbon Desserts for the Holidays

Below, we’ve collected a few Kentucky-inspired dessert recipes from Ace contributing food writer RL Reeves Jr, perfect for your Holiday dessert table.


BULLEIT  BOURBON BUNDT CAKE with Buttermilk Praline Sauce

Growing up in Kentucky, bourbon finds its way into all sorts of recipes. Folks put it in chili, glaze hams with it, dose dishes of baked beans with it, and of course use it in all manner of cocktails.

After a test run in the kitchen, I can confirm the following recipe’s deliciousness. But then I can’t remember ever eating a bad bundt cake. There’s magic in those old pans. Here’s the formula. I offer it as a salute to Nellie Sullivan, my grandmother and one of the great country cooks of the Cumberland Highlands region of Appalachia.


3 cups sifted self rising flour (all good old-school cooks of The South use self-rising)

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 c. sugar

1 c. brown sugar

4 eggs

1/2 c. bourbon (I love Bulleit)

1 c. buttermilk


Cream the butter and sugars together, use a stand mixer if you have one, otherwise you’ll end up with a forearm like Popeye

* Add eggs one at a time, blending thoroughly

* Whip the bourbon and buttermilk in a separate bowl

* Beginning with the flour, add dry ingredients to butter/sugar in 3 parts, alternating with wet ingredients, end with flour. Be thorough with your blending to create a smooth, silky batter

* Pour batter into bundt pan sprayed with Baker’s Joy

* Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes til golden brown and cooked through

Buttermilk Praline Sauce


1 c. Sugar, white cane

1 c. Sugar, brown

1/2 t. Baking soda

1/2 t. Salt

1 c. Buttermilk


* Combine all ingredients

* Cook over medium heat in 4 quart kettle til sugar is dissolved

* Lower heat, cook 20 minutes longer til sauce is caramel colored

Pour glaze over cake and allow cake to “cure” for as long as possible. You will be forgiven if this wait is 30 or so seconds as the aroma coming off your creation will be absolutely maddening.


Any time a new brew arrives it sets me to thinking. The Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout is undoubtedly a good drink, but what would it be like as a baking agent?

That’s when it really comes to life. The complexities of this stout are intensified through the baking process. The inherent coffee flavors marry nicely with the chocolate and the espresso making a very fine brownie.

After a few test runs, this is the recipe I developed.


4 oz dark chocolate

2 T. finely ground espresso

8 T. butter, always use the good stuff

4 each eggs, room temp and from hens out in the country

1 c. brown sugar

½ c. white cane sugar

1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 c. flour, self rising

1 t. vanilla [ The little glass bottle labeled Turkish is my favorite ]

8 Oz beer (Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout)

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips


* Preheat oven to 350

* Sift together the flour and cocoa powder.

* Meanwhile, melt the chocolate, espresso and butter in a double boiler

* Add the Stout and stir to combine

* Let cool

* Beat together the eggs and sugar until well blended in stand mixer

* Continue beating on low while adding flour mix and wet mix alternately

* Add vanilla

* Spray a 9 x 13 pan with Baker’s Joy

* Pour brownie mixture into pan

* If you’re a nut lover now would be a good time to sprinkle some toasted pecans on top

* Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Unsurprisingly this dish pairs very nicely with a pint of Bourbon Barrel Stout. Or a cold glass of milk. Or a hot mug of good coffee.

How to Make Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Bars

I still fondly reflect back on one of my first jobs in a professional kitchen.

I worked the graveyard shift as a baker/pastry chef making cakes, pies, tarts, tortes, cookies and tea breads. I’d roll into the kitchen around midnight, often after tying one on at a nearby bar, crank up some Beasts of Bourbon and set about my tasks.

I reluctantly left the gig after a couple years when I had the opportunity to become head chef at a Greek-run soul food diner, but I’ve never lost my love for baking. If there was money to be made doing it, I’d still be in the trenches somewhere whipping eggs, weighing flour and running my timers as I hovered over a battery of giant, convection ovens.

With the holiday season here, I’ve been dying to fire up the stove and set to baking.


3 cups pecan halves

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 c. powdered sugar

1 c. cold butter, sliced into chunks

1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa

2 c. chocolate chips

3/4 c. packed brown sugar

3/4 c. light corn syrup

1/4 c. butter, melted

4 large eggs, beaten

1/4 c. Bourbon


* Lightly toast pecans in baking dish in oven

* Spray big lasagna pan with Baker’s Joy.

* Pulse flour, sugar, butter and cocoa in a food processor 7 to 8 times til mixture resembles a loose dough. Press mix into bottom and partially up, sides of pan

* Bake crust at 300 for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Cool completely.

* Whisk together brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, eggs and bourbon until smooth. Stir in toasted pecans and spoon into crust.

* Bake at 300 for 30 minutes. Cool completely.

If you can resist diving in, please let the bars chill in the fridge now. I can never do this.  I like to take a big bar and mash it down into a scoop of vanilla ice cream or combine a big bar with a scoop of ice cream and add milk to make a bourbon chocolate pecan milk shake.

Bon Appetit y”all.

Kentucky native and Ace contributing food writer RL Reeves Jr blogs at His forthcoming book is Eat Like a Turk in Istanbul.