For me, there’s not much better than a good cup of coffee. So when I was given a bottle of Firelit Coffee Liqueur recently, I was quick to open it and inhale its superior scent: sweet, strong and surely made with high-quality coffee and brandy. Produced and bottled at a revered local artisan distiller, the liqueur was undoubtedly delicious on its own. But it also allured me with its promise of warming up a new dessert creation. In a brown sugar batter with brewed coffee, almond flour and bits of fruit, Firelit proved to make a victorious cake.
Firelit Coffee Liqueur Cake (makes one 8″ round cake; serves 10)
- 1 ¼ cup coffee liqueur, divided
- 1 cup raisins
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup strong coffee, cooled
- 1 and 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup almond meal
- finely grated zest of one orange
In a small to medium saucepan, cover the raisins with ¾ cup of the liqueur. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; reduce heat to keep at a low simmer for 6-8 minutes, until most of the liqueur is reduced and soaked into the raisins. Turn off and let sit to cool down. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour cake pan.
Beat oil, eggs and sugar until smooth and a light caramel color. Add coffee and mix until even. Sift flour, baking soda, salt and almond meal* over the egg mixture. Mix until incorporated. Add remaining ½ cup liqueur, beating for 3-4 minutes on medium/high. Fold in the zest and raisins until just evenly distributed. Pour batter into prepared pan.
After 50-55 minutes, test by inserting a wooden skewer or toothpick into its cracks; there should be no wet batter when removed, only moist crumbs. Cake will be beautifully browned and domed with wavy crevices on its surface. Remove from oven and let sit in pan for at least an hour; once cool, store tightly covered at room temperature (do not refrigerate). If desired, dust with powdered sugar before serving.
- 1 cup very soft butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons coffee liqueur or more to taste
- dash of salt (if butter is unsalted)
Studded with spiked, plumped raisins, orange zest and flecks of almond, this dark and fragrant cake is full of boozey brown sugar and warm coffee flavor. Enjoyed by non-coffee drinkers and even the alcohol-averse, each bite is full of distinct yet delicate coffee liqueur flavor. Whether it wakes you up or calms you down, Firelit cake is sure to liven up your winter. Enjoy it with a cup of coffee or even a glass of its very own namesake.
Maybe next time… If you don’t like raisins, try replacing them with chopped dried pears or another neutral-flavored dried fruit. Chocolate chips (or cocoa nibs, as my friend Katy suggests in the comments below) would be a delicious addition alongside the drenched raisins, but if you replace the steeped fruit with them, you’ll lose the extra Firelit flavor. Instead of hard sauce, whipped cream would also make a great topping for this cake, which can also be made in a loaf pan and served sliced like a sweet bread if you so prefer.
*The purpose of sifting the almond meal is to remove any big lumps — not to omit all the bits of almond peel goodness. After sifting, if a good amount of loose almond meal is left behind, feel free to add it to the batter. Its texture and flavor are wondrous in this cake.