Desserts and alcohol can go hand in hand. Sipping champagne with a raspberry tart, Irish coffee with a bowl of chocolate mousse, or bourbon alongside a slice of pecan pie can feel like the utmost of luxury – an intoxicating experience in more ways than one. (These are the best bourbons in the U.S. right now.)
Of course, these two indulgences can also be combined into one. Spirits like rum and brandy, especially when they’re softened by age, can add notes of caramel and vanilla to confections that have nutty or chocolaty flavors. Dark beer or stout can add richness to plum pudding or chocolate cake. Wine can feature in lighter desserts, like frozen sangria or a wine-soaked granité.
In addition to providing flavor, alcohol can also improve the texture of both baked goods and frozen desserts. Alcohol can lower the freezing point of the latter, leading to a smoother final product, and can also add moisture and a tender crumb to cakes. Some recipes will call for alcohol to be baked into desserts, while others may require soaking them in liqueur or an alcohol-infused simple syrup. Just be sure to use a spirit that is good enough to be enjoyed on its own by the glass, as inferior liquors can lead to bitter or off-putting flavors. (Here’s a list of the most valuable liquor brands in the world.)
To assemble a list of desserts spiked with alcohol, 24/7 Tempo reviewed numerous culinary websites, including Delish, Eat This Not That, Taste of Home, and Food & Wine. Like all recipes, those for desserts vary widely, and not all will include exactly the same (abbreviated) list of ingredients we offer.
Baba au rhum
> Main ingredients: Yeast cake, rum syrup, pastry cream
> Main ingredients: Savoiardi cookies (ladyfingers), eggs, mascarpone, cocoa, coffee, Marsala wine or coffee liqueur
> Main ingredients: Sponge cake, sherry, custard, fruit jelly, fruit, whipped cream
Grand Marnier soufflé
> Main ingredients: Egg yolks, egg whites, Grand Marnier
Chocolate rum balls
> Main ingredients: Cookie crumbs, butter, chocolate, condensed milk, rum, cocoa
Chocolate Guinness cake
> Main ingredients: Flour, butter, sugar, sour cream, eggs, cocoa, Guinness stout
Bread pudding with hard sauce
> Main ingredients: Stale bread, milk, eggs, sugar, dried fruit, spices, butter beaten with rum or brandy (hard sauce)
Rum raisin ice cream
> Main ingredients: Egg yolks, milk, heavy cream, rum-soaked raisins
> Main ingredients: Breadcrumbs, eggs, sugar, butter, dried fruit, spices, brandy and/or stout
Red wine granita
> Main ingredients: Frozen mixed berries, sugar, red wine
Frozen Irish coffee
> Main ingredients: Vanilla ice cream, cream, coffee, Irish whiskey
> Main ingredients: Flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, rum or brandy
Prosecco ice pops
> Main ingredients: Fresh or frozen strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, prosecco
> Main ingredients: Bosc pears, red wine, orange zest, sugar
> Main ingredients: Vanilla ice cream, espresso, Kahlúa
> Main ingredients: Oranges, strawberries, peaches, sugar, red wine
> Main ingredients: Crêpes, butter, sugar, orange juice, orange zest, Grand Marnier or triple sec
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