Boozy Desserts Are Trending So I Jazzed Up My Sunshine Cake

Boozy Desserts Are Trending So I Jazzed Up My Sunshine Cake

I love to hear of new food and drink trends. One of my recent favorites is the concept of specialty cocktails that have exotic ingredients – like muddled basil, citrus infused simple syrup and hot chili garnishes. I especially like the fact that these cocktails decrease the amount of alcohol in each drink, enabling the party-goer to safely indulge. A win win!

And then comes along the new food trend of boozy cakes. Just when we limit the liquor in pre-dinner cocktails, we add liquor to desserts! That pendulum does swing back and forth!

Not to be left out, I decided to experiment with this trend at a recent dinner party. One of my most popular desserts from my book Sunday Best Dishes is my recipe for Sunshine Cake. It’s a lovely, fluffy cake made from a combination of almond flour and finely ground corn meal, flavored with lemon zest and fresh thyme. After the cake is baked, you poke holes in the top. Then you pour lemon infused simple syrup over the cake. The syrup seeps into the cake for a burst of sweetness.

For my boozy version of this cake, I decided to add the citrus flavor of triple sec to the mix. Triple sec is a colorless cordial made from the dried peels of both sweet and tart oranges. My Sunshine cake recipe tops the sweetened cake with a sugary glaze – as you can see in the photo above. I eliminated this, replacing it with berries that I macerated (soaked) in a bit of granulated sugar and a smidge of triple sec. I upped the booziness by adding triple sec to whipped cream and adding this to the dish. But the true boozy aspect of Sunshine cake comes with the triple sec I added to the simple syrup that infuses the baked cake.

The results? Well, the cake topped with berries and whipped cream had the feel of an after-dinner cordial, but I didn’t have to grab the car keys from my guests at the end of the evening!

Tweak My Sunshine Cake Recipe for Boozy Results…

My original recipe for sunshine cake is printed below. If you want to make a boozy version, eliminate the glaze. Add two table spoons of triple sec to the simple syrup after it is cooked and cooled. Whip up some whipped cream, adding 1 tablespoon of triple sec. And finally, soak berries in 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons triple sec.

There’s a bit of booze in every bite! Oh, and you can easily add booze to any cake or cornbread recipe that tastes outta this world. In a cornbread recipe that called for a cup of milk, I swapped ¼ amaretto and the rest orange juice. The result was an even tasting buttery, slightly spicy flavor that rocked my cup of coffee, when I cut myself a slice.

Feel free to share your creative culinary whims with me anytime. The only risk you run is me…actually making it!

Sunshine Cake



2 cups almond flour

½ cup yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoon baking powder

Zest of 1 medium lemon, about 2 teaspoons

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

½ teaspoon table salt

4 large eggs

½ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup Crème fraîche or sour cream

½ cup butter, melted, 1 stick

Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk together the flour, polenta, baking powder, lemon zest, thyme and salt in a small bowl. Use an electric mixer to combine the eggs and sugar. Stir in the Crème fraîche. Slowly add the butter. Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes.



½ cup granulated sugar

Juice of 1 medium lemon, about 2 tablespoons

Whisk the sugar, lemon juice and ½ cup water in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar dissolves, about 2 to 3 minutes. Cool slightly.

Remove the cake from the oven and transfer to a rack,  set over parchment paper. Use a toothpick to poke holes into the cake. Pour the syrup over top. Cool to room temperature. Remove the cake from the pan and transfer to a platter.



½ cup confectioner’s sugar

¼ cup Crème fraîche

Juice of ½ medium lemon, about 1 tablespoon

Whisk together the sugar, crème fraîche and lemon juice until smooth. Spread the glaze over the cake. Garnish with chopped fresh thyme or edible flowers!


Ladies and Gentleman, Step Right Up!

Ladies and Gentleman, Step Right Up!

I’ve got a crystal ball ya’ll. I saw these food trends coming from a mile away. Heck, I saw them coming from an organically run farm acre away. It seems that 2017 is all about getting back to the basics, and chefs trying a whole lot harder to please us. They are not only altering their menus, but altering the whole look and feel of the dining experience. Food trucks aren’t the rage they used to be, but simmered down into chef driven casual concepts that steered millions toward street fair foods. If we can enjoy it all in a hot bowl, on a kebab, or at a communal table under a string of patio lights, we love it. As many as 2.5 billion people a day grab dinner on the go, and have developed a taste for dinners like poke bowls and Pho soups. More on that in a minute.

I think I just heard the dinner bell ring.

Food halls are a big part of the 2017 menu — where specialty food purveyors convene in an open air market to offer high-end menu items in a casual atmosphere; think the Morgan Street Food Hall & Market (no family relation, unfortunately) in downtown Raleigh. I summer in North Carolina every year, and I’m so busy in my own neck of the woods (up in the Blue Ridge Mountains), I haven’t tried this out yet. The fairs and festivals in Watauga County define the seasons for me, and show up on my plate in more colors and flavors than I can keep up with. A beautiful example is the autumn festival, Valley Crusis — which takes place in the mountian town of the same name. I blogged about the apple butter at that fair until it resulted in a great big cake!

Lots of coastal cities have places just like this one in Wilmington, NC, lined up and down with delicious restaurants and food shops. Go on a quest to see them all! Lots of coastal cities have places just like this one in Wilmington, NC, lined up and down with delicious restaurants and food shops. Go on a quest to see them all!

In the USA, we can get inspired just about any time of year. The fairs and festivals scheduled for 2017, all over the nation, help a foodie capitalize on the hottest culinary trends of the day: donuts with crazy yummy fillings, house made artisan ice cream, ancient grains with names like “forbidden rice”, sea food loaded bone broths, the Vietnamese know just how to tinker with, so you feel deeply satisfied. There are more African and Meditarranean flavors than ever before in our food. We’re curing our meats with ethnic spices, and that restaurant in the art district has a waiting list because of the housemade sausage. Heirloom vegetables and hyper local ingredients are taking over our plates — it used to be a big deal for a chef to use Produce he grew himself. Now this concept is simply par for the course.

The news is great for the younger, less discerning palates too.

More and more restaurants are appealing to children, making sure their sandwiches are on whole wheat, unrefined bread. Your favorite venue, I feel safe in assuming, is getting ready to ditch the name brand condiments on the table in flavor of (sorry, Freudian slip), homemeade ketchups, sauces and salsas. 2017 will bring us new cuts of meat, using heritage breeds meats. I thought, being a Floridian where some of our food trends are slow to materiliaze let alone catch up, that there wouldn’t be such a thing. I was wrong. A quick check revealed heritage meat farms in Tampa and South Florida, where pigs and chickens live off the land, rather than a bag of feed.

Before I PHO-get to mention it…

Aren Aren’t these Poke Bowls GORGEOUS?

Before I go, I want to leave you with Pho and Poke bowl recipes and ideas. Pho is a delcious bone broth soup that has pretty much sustained the entire continent of Asia since the dawn of man. It got hot in America all of a sudden. You can watch a video of an award winning chef making it right here on All Recipes.

Just be sure to gather ingredients, like beef bones, sirloin, star anise, fresh ginger, cilantro, rice noodles, bean spouts and ever loving handfuls of cancer fighting onions. Just be sure to gather ingredients, like beef bones, sirloin, star anise, fresh ginger, cilantro, rice noodles, bean spouts and ever loving handfuls of cancer fighting onions.

For the Hawaiian poke bowls…these usually feature fresh cuts of ahi (raw tuna), mixed with sesame seeds, shallots and other savory items. I found this awesome vegetarian version.

It’s all a lot to digest, I know — I’ll be washing it down with a tall glass of gourmet lemonade, which has changed a lot since the first World’s Fair when people started buying it on the regular. We’re all about filtered lemonades now, with only the purest ingredients — and a refreshing take that folks are willing to pony up just as much for, as a peek at the bearded lady. Welcome 2017. I’ll take seconds!