Coffee and spirits: The Firelit cake

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The Firelit cake. All photos: Moriah Van Vleet

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 top-notch brandy and local coffee. Produced and bottled at a revered artisan distiller nearby, 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, the potion proved to make a victorious cake.

Firelit coffee liqueur cake (makes an 8″ round; serves 10-12)firelit-cake-6

– 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 plumped raisins until just evenly distributed.

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Pour batter into prepared pan and place pan in oven on center rack. After 40-45 minutes, test by inserting a wooden skewer or toothpick into its cracks; bake until there’s no wet batter when skewer is removed, only moist crumbs. Cake will be beautifully browned and domed with wavy crevices on its surface. Take out of oven and let sit for at least 45 minutes before removing from pan. Before serving, I recommend dusting the cake with sifted powdered sugar and serving each slice with a dollop of hard sauce, which can be whipped up simply by beating together:


– 1 cup very soft butter
– 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
– 2-3 tablespoons coffee liqueur or more to taste
– dash of salt (if butter is unsalted)

If you have leftover cake, tightly cover it and keep it at room temperature (do not refrigerate).

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Studded with spiked, plumped raisins, citrus zest and flecks of almond, this dark and fragrant cake is full of boozey brown sugar and warm coffee essence. Enjoyed by non-coffee drinkers and even the alcohol-averse, each bite offers distinct yet delicate layers of flavor with a moist crumb. Whether eaten for breakfast, dessert or a snack, the Firelit cake is sure to liven up your day. Savor a slice with a cup of coffee — or perhaps even a glass of its own namesake.

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Moriah VanVleet is the voice behind butter, sugar, flowers where this post first appeared.

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