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Now that Knox Whiskey Works is up and distilling right in the heart of cool-weather party season, who could resist grabbing a bottle of KWW coffee liqueur and pouring it in everything?

Setting aside for a moment all of the simpler, entirely tempting ways you might start drizzling this into your merry-making pie-hole, first we bake. (In a moment, we drink.)

Meet the new fruit cake. Prunes, a little brandy, and a good dose of apricot preserves up top contrast a pleasantly bitter chocolate cake. The coffee liqueur is loaded in in the cake and makes the powdered cocoa taste deep and rich without the hassle of melting chocolate bars. Talk about dreamy.

Coffee Liqueur Chocolate Cake with Brandied Prune-Apricot Glaze

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serves 8-10, adapted from Bakecetera

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (measure by spooning in and leveling off, not scooping)

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup natural cane sugar (evaporated cane juice)

3/4 cup coffee liqueur

1/2 cup apple sauce

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 TBSP apple cider vinegar

For the Brandied Prune-Apricot Glaze:

1/2 cup prunes, quartered

1/4 cup water

2 TBSP brandy

1/2 cup apricot preserves (reduced-sugar, if available)

Heat oven to 350.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. Separately, whisk together sugar, liqueur, apple sauce, oil, and vinegar. Add wet ingredients to dry. Whisk until just combined, then give another half-dozen stirs with the whisk to smooth it out a bit.

Spread batter into a 9-inch nonstick springform pan (or a greased and cocoa-dusted cake pan). Bake 30-32 minutes, until a tester placed into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool 15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Remove the pan's sides and run a thin spatula between the bottom of the cake and the bottom piece of the pan. Remove cake and let cool completely on a wire rack.

When the cake is cool, prepare the glaze. Combine prunes, water, and brandy in a small pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the prunes are very soft and most of the liquid has cooked off, leaving behind a thin syrup. Remove from heat and stir in apricot preserves. Continue to stir for a minute to let the heat loosen the preserves. Spread glaze over cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Next, a stab at vegan nog, made by someone totally ignorant about traditional 'nog (i.e. this lady). But parties call, and when some pals invited us over for a 'nog-themed gathering—and what with this new bottle of coffee liqueur still lounging alluringly on the kitchen counter—it felt sad to show up empty-handed. This concoction is thick, fluffy, boozy, nutty, and entirely inauthentic. Plus, totally tasty.

Coffee-Coconut Nog

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yields about a quart

generous 6 oz silken tofu (half an aseptic pack)

1/4 cup natural cane sugar (evaporated cane juice)

12 oz full-fat canned coconut milk

4 oz unsweetened soy milk

4 oz brandy

3 oz coffee liqueur

3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

In a large pitcher, blend all ingredients with an immersion blender until smooth. Chill at least eight hours before serving (preferably 12-24), sprinkled with additional freshly grated nutmeg.


Merry Happy to anyone celebrating this week. Just one last recipe to go for 2015.