Add Booze To Your Bête Noire Chocolate Cake For More Complex Flavor

There are many secrets to making the best chocolate cake out there, but adding a splash of booze to the mix is one that makes all the difference. Bête noire — or "black beast" — is one French-style dessert that deserves to get a little tipsy, as alcohol infuses each bite with an extra layer of complexity. The texture is similar to that of a cheesecake or mousse, and the cake is typically topped with a smooth chocolate ganache.

If you've got your favorite type of bourbon on hand, adding it to a bête noire cake will give the dessert nutty undertones of vanilla. (This also makes it the best liquor choice for cookies and pie fillings.) A dash of bitters in the cake mix can level it up even further, imparting the classic flavors of an old fashioned into the recipe. All it takes to make a classic bête noire is a blend of semisweet and bittersweet chocolate and butter, all of which are melted together once a cooked sugar syrup is poured over them. You can also add orange peels and orange juice to the syrup for a burst of citrus, or even peppercorns if you want to give the bake a spicy edge. Instead of combining the eggs with a whisk, bakers who have mastered the black beast stress the importance of using a spatula to avoid mixing in too much air.

Bourbon gives this cake notes of vanilla

Since bête noire cakes are very dense, they require a long cool-down time — at least a few hours — to properly set, but an overnight chill in the fridge is recommended. This allows the bourbon to bloom even more as the liquor binds the fats with the cake's water content to accentuate the flavors. Instead of a glaze, some bakers dust this flourless chocolate cake with sugar and sprinkle the cooked orange peels around it, making it appear as sophisticated as it is delicious.

The recipe for this decadent, flourless cake was developed by Lora Brody, a respected American culinary author with over 20 published works under her belt. After taking a whole year to perfect it, Brody named the cake bête noire because it challenged her — and because it was irresistible to everyone who tasted it. Her original recipe doesn't include alcohol, but since it's been around since the '80s, it's high time you give this cake a bourbon-laced upgrade.

This custard-like treat only takes around 30 minutes to bake, and it's one you'll want to reserve for adults only. According to the USDA, this specific cooking time will leave around 35% of the alcohol in the cake after baking.