Blackberry and Bourbon Caramel Cake


It's been far too long since we shared a proper recipe post around these parts.

As we've settled into our new space (in case you missed it, we teamed up with Snowe to talk about our Sunday morning last week) working together in the kitchen for Better Happier was slow going. I'm excited that our first full recipe back is such a decadent affair. A fancy birthday cake that I made to celebrate Robert's twenty eighth year. I know better than to make him something chocolate, however difficult that is for my chocoholic tendencies.

Bourbon has made its way into a lot of sweets around here, oops. This is surprisingly the first caramel addition, and I'm happy to report he loved the combination. Layer cake always feels the most appropriate for a celebration, and with blackberries so readily available right now, the flavors sounded too good to pass up.

This cake kicked off the birthday weekend, and brought it to a close. It's still sitting pretty as I write this, and I'm exercising every bit of self control to not eat it for breakfast. 


Blackberry Vanilla Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour (I use Bob's 1-1 Gluten-Free Flour)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract, worth a try if you can find it)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup blackberries

  • Preheat oven to 325° and prepare two 8 or 9" round baking pans with butter, and a light dusting of flour.
  • In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Using a stand or electric mixer on a medium-high setting, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  • Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the milk, followed by the flour mixture, alternating between the two until a smooth batter forms.
  • Turn off the mixer and gently stir in blackberries. 
  • Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the edges have browned and cakes are cooked through.
  • Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing. 

Bourbon Caramel Sauce
adapted from the Food Network

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons bourbon

  • Mix the water and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Do not stir the mixture from this point forward. 
  • Increase the heat to medium and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a warm chestnut brown (about 350° using a candy or deep fry thermometer), about 10-15 minutes. 
  • Taking care to keep an eye on the color, turn off the heat as soon as the chestnut brown color occurs. Gently swirl the pan to stir the mixture.
  • Step back, and slowly add the cream, followed by the bourbon.
  • Once the cream has finished bubbling vigorously, and the caramel begins to solidify, bring the pot to a simmer over low heat, stirring constantly until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature in heat proof containers.
  • The sauce will thicken as it sits. Allow to cool to room temperature before using. 


    Blackberry Bourbon Compote
    1 cup blackberries, halved
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 tablespoon bourbon

  • In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, bring the blackberries, sugar and bourbon to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Continue boiling the mixture until reduced, about 5 minutes.
  • Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • Refrigerate until ready to use, and strain excess liquid before spreading on the cake. 

Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons bourbon

  • Using a stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth.
  • Add confectioners sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go.
  • Add vanilla, followed by bourbon and stir until smooth.
  • Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assembling the Cake

  • Frost the first layer evenly with buttercream, and top evenly with the strained blackberry compote, followed by drizzles of caramel.
  • Carefully place the second cake on top, and frost with the remaining buttercream.
  • Top with blackberries and drizzle bourbon caramel as desired.