That's the Spirit: Using Liquor in Sweets

Related To:
plum upside down cake

I'm a bourbon girl, straight up. Neat or on the rocks, it doesn't matter just as long as the vanilla, oak, caramel and spice notes work their magic. It's pure craftsmanship at its best and only gets better with age.

But I'm also a pastry chef and one who loves to have fun exploring new flavor combinations. To limit a fine spirit to the bar alone would be criminal; at least, that's what I think. Incorporating liquors into desserts reveals a whole new horizon of possibilities.

I love a good Manhattan. I also love the fact that bourbon works so well with chocolate, toasted nuts, peaches and even candied bacon. Two other spirits that round out my top three favorites when I bake are rum and Campari. Dark rum works well with tropical fruit and is a favorite of mine to use at our restaurant in Grand Cayman. Since there are so many great rums, taste a couple and use the one you like best. And Campari is a tad bitter, but it adds great balance to a dessert.

Baking with spirits can be a bit tricky since many recipes don't call for the alcohol to be burned off. But trust me on this one — when used correctly, it will be your best friend and definitely help you make new ones. Now that's the spirit!

— Cherries, apples, pears, peaches, pecans and peanuts work well with the maple-like characteristics of bourbon.

— Coconut, pineapple, banana, mango, mint, lychees, macadamia nuts and cashews are awesome with the brown sugar flavor of dark rum.

— Tangerines, grapefruit, Meyer lemon, peaches and nectarines add great balance to the flavor-forward bitterness of Campari.

Try one of Hedy's recipes:

Hedy Goldsmith, a 2012 James Beard Award finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef, is the executive pastry chef for the Genuine Hospitality Group of restaurants including Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami and Grand Cayman, and Harry’s Pizzeria in Miami. Now in her second season of Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets , Hedy has appeared on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate and lauded in The New York Times , People , Wine Spectator Bon Appétit , The Huffington Post and Food & Wine magazine. Hedy’s first cookbook,  Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors  (Clarkson Potter / Publishers), will be released October 2.

Next Up

Thickening Fruit Pies — Thanksgiving Tip of the Day

When thickening a fruit pie filling, there are several options to consider. Very often flour or cornstarch is used, but in certain instances tapioca, arrowroot and potato starch can also help achieve the desired consistency.

Dessert Without Chocolate? I Tried It, and You Should Too

Despite Melissa d'Arabian passion for chocolate desserts, she's out to celebrate the beauty of other sweet treats too.

Cotton Candy Is Really Having a Moment Right Now

No wonder this stuff was once called fairy floss — it’s magical!

5 Decadent Hand-Held Desserts for a Tailgate

The treats are perfect to bring to a tailgate in the stadium parking lot or serve at home while watching the game on television. They're easy to make, easy to eat and you won't have any plates to tidy up after.

Which is Healthier: Pumpkin or Pecan Pie?

These super popular Thanksgiving desserts are going head to head and the competition is fierce. Which gets your vote?

Delightfully Floral Treats for Mom That Beat Out the Bouquet

A bouquet of flowers will never go out of style, but these fresh, floral spins on Mom's favorite things will have her feeling all warm and fuzzy on her special day.

Budget-Friendly Cherry Jam Tart — Recipe of the Day

Melissa's take on the classic French cherry tart cuts down on time and the cost of pricey cherries by using good-quality cherry jam.

Hot Chocolate Pudding — Most Popular Pin of the Week

This rich, creamy pudding takes its flavor cues from the cozy drink you know and love with the help of hot chocolate mix.

Recipe Spotlight: Lightened-Up Banana Pudding

Banana pudding is a classic, creamy, indulgent dessert, but Food Network Kitchen's came up with an easy-to-make lighter version.

Best Valentine’s Day Treats for Two

Make a perfectly portioned dessert this Valentine's Day with Food Network's sweetest recipes for two.

On TV

Related Pages