Booze-infused Crazy Cake You’ll Want to Recreate
When was the last time you substituted booze for liquid (like water or coffee) in a recipe? If it’s been a while, here’s your chance. Baking cake or cupcakes with liqueur is a good place to start. Also known as wacky (or whacky) cake or depression cake, you may already be familiar with crazy cake. If not, in my original crazy cake blog post I wrote about why this chocolate cake recipe doesn’t contain eggs…
Dessert was a luxury. It was the 1940s, wartime for the United States and many other countries, and baking ingredients like butter, eggs, milk and cream were not readily available and were too costly for American families to purchase. It was during this crestfallen time someone developed a delectable chocolate cake that does not use eggs, butter or dairy and it became known as crazy cake, wacky cake, depression cake, and war cake. Eggs, butter and dairy products aren’t exactly cheap right now either.
I was thinking the other day, “I bet I could bake that cake with liqueur in place of the water.” We happened to be holding a meeting that week with my master taste tester board of directors (also known as supper with my sisters and their families) so it was the perfect time to give it a try. Originally, I only used 1 cup of liqueur but we all agreed it could use a little more flavor from the booze so I wrote the recipe with 1½ cups of liqueur. For this cake, you can use whatever liqueur you think would go well with chocolate.
Let’s Talk About Cake with Liqueur
I buy more booze for baking than I do for cocktail-making. My 16-year-old self would not be proud of that. Like for the butterscotch Kringle Cream cookies I created after sampling Kringle Cream while standing in a long line at the liquor store. (Kringle Cream is a buttery, nutty sweet rum-based liqueur made by woman-owned Nordic Distillers in Wisconsin. Next time I make crazy cake, I’ll try it with Kringle Cream.) And because of my recipe for amaretto pistachio cake good enough for church, I go through what could be an embarrassing amount of Disaranno.
For this crazy cake, I added North Forest Maple Bourbon Pecan Kreme. Jason and I picked up a bottle after tasting it at 2022 Hockey Day Minnesota. Chankaska Creek Ranch, Winery and Distillery in Kasota, Minnesota makes six flavors of North Forest Kreme (all of which would be excellent in this cake):
- Maple Bourbon Pecan
- Walnut Liqueur
- Espresso Liqueur
- Huckleberry Vanilla
- Pumpkin Liqueur
- Peppermint Liqueur
Take a look at the company’s product locator to find North Forest Kreme near you.
Ingredients You’ll Need
One Pan, Just a Few Steps
While a basic cake doesn’t require a crazy amount of dirty dishes, this recipe takes the cake for simplicity because it only requires a 9×13 pan, measuring instruments and a fork.
Heat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Grab a 9×13 pan. Do not grease.
Put the flour, baking soda, salt, unsweetened cocoa and sugar in the pan and whisk around with a fork to combine. With your fingers, make three separate wells in the dry ingredients—a large one and two small ones.
In the large well, pour the vegetable oil.
In the second well, pour in vinegar.
In the last well, pour in vanilla.
Pour the cold water and liqueur over all of it and mix with a fork.
Bake 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Serve with berries if desired. Store in airtight container.
I’ve been eating crazy cake since I was a little kid. But adding creme liqueur to the batter makes it extra-special. A strawberry Irish cream or mint chocolate would also pair nicely in crazy cake. And think about sweet recipes you have that use water as an ingredient—you could likely substitute liqueur in those too. Even for box cake mixes…use liqueur instead of water.
Special note: to my nephew and VP of taste testing Garritt, thank you for being my cake and booze bottle model.
Crazy Cake with Liqueur
- 9×13 pan
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa
- 2 cups sugar
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup cold water
- 1½ cups cold crème liqueur such as North Forest Maple Bourbon Pecan Kreme or Kringle Cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar for sprinkling on top, optional
- fresh berries for serving , optional
- Heat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Grab a 9×13-inch pan. Do NOT grease.
- Put the flour, baking soda, salt, unsweetened cocoa and sugar in the pan and whisk them around with a fork to combine. Make three separate wells in the dry ingredients – a large one and two small ones.
- In the large well, pour vegetable oil. In the second well, pour in vinegar. In the last well, pour in vanilla.
- Pour the cold water and liqueur over all of it and mix with a fork.
- Bake 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Serve with berries if desired. Store in airtight container.
All text and images © Staci Mergenthal • Random Sweets