Whiskey Date and Buttermilk Cake with Salted Pear Caramel Buttercream by Eva Kosmas Flores

It’s been a bit of a crazy time here, along with this tasty buttermilk cake, I’ve been swept up with extra holiday articles to write and recipes to develop, in addition to working on the cookbook and the general hullabaloo of the season. I’m really excited, though, because every year my friends and I have a Christmas party when we’re all back home from the places we moved off to, and this year because I am finally settled back home in Oregon for good, we’re having it at my house. Jeremy is hard at work building a dining table for us to use at the party (fingers crossed it will be done in time!) and I’ve been trying to finish up the last bits of the kitchen. A hanging fern there, costco-sized bags of sugar being tucked away there, little mug hooks being screwed into the cabinets, it’s nearly come together.

Being permanently back home with my family and friends for the first time in nine years, I have much to celebrate, so I wanted to make a cake that was very much part of the holiday season of joy, booze, and excess. So, I decided to combine one of my favorite sweet flavors, dates, with one of the most flavorful alcohols around, whiskey, and do so in the form of a buttermilk cake. I simmered the dates in a bit of whiskey, covered, until the dates soaked up the liquid in the pot. Since dates are dried, they will absorb any hot liquid you trap them with, almost like a whiskey steam bath (the best steam bath of all).

Whiskey Date and Buttermilk Cake with Salted Pear Caramel Buttercream by Eva Kosmas Flores

But back to the cake! I took the whiskey dates and pureed them with buttermilk, and lots of it. I was almost suspicious of the amount of buttermilk this cake took, half expecting a hot pan of thick buttermilk to come out of the oven instead of a cake. But the buttermilk, dates, and whiskey, along with hefty doses of McCormick Roasted Saigon Cinnamon and McCormick Jamaican Allspice, made this hands-down my favorite cake ever. Like, in the history of cakes I’ve ever made and/or ingested. I’m not ashamed to admit that I always eat a decent amount of the batter when I’m baking, and this batter was stupid good.

Then comes the frosting, I made my standard salted caramel recipe but with a little twist, I minced up a pear and tossed it into the mixture. The pear nearly disintegrates in the hot sugar water, with the sugars and juices of the pear seeping into everything else. I used a generous amount of the salted caramel in the buttercream, and then poured an even more generous amount of it over the top of the iced cake. The rosemary bush in my garden is in bloom right now oddly enough, so I was able to snip off a few of its beautiful blue blossoms to use as a garnish, as well as some pears and tomatillos I had laying around and a leaf from the Japanese maple on my driveway.

I ended up with a cake that was even tastier than it looked, which is certainly saying something. And while there’s definitely a good amount of steps to making this cake, the holidays are the time to go that extra mile with food. To make that insanely tasty, flavor-layered thing that takes half the afternoon. So make all your friends and family extra happy at the end of 2014, and whip up a batch of this rich, moist, buttery, and deeply fulfilling cake. They, along with your extremely satisfied stomach, will thank you for it.

And I also have some fun articles up around the web right now, too. You can take a peek at this ridiculously tasty and festive greek yogurt panna cotta with pomegranate syrup up on One Kings Lane, and I also have a winter squash recipe series up on Food 52’s Halfway to Dinner column right now that’s full of a delicious assortment of squash dishes. Also! There is this wonderfully minty chocolate peppermint cake I have up over on Design Love Fest that I *highly* recommend you take a look at. They will all make your days both merry and bright πŸ™‚

Whiskey Date and Buttermilk Cake with Salted Pear Caramel Buttercream by Eva Kosmas Flores


Whiskey Date & Buttermilk Cake with Salted Pear Caramel Buttercream

The buttermilk brings a richness and moistness to this cake that's absolutely unreal. When paired with a salted caramel buttercream and a salted caramel drizzle, you've got some real magic on your hands!

Course Dessert
Keyword buttermilk cake
Servings 16 people
Calories 793 kcal


Whiskey Date & Buttermilk Cake

  • 6 ounces dates cut in half with pits removed
  • 1/4 cup good whiskey
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoonΒ  allspice
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Salted Pear Caramel

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 small ripe pear (about 4 ounces) peeled cored and minced
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Salted Pear Caramel Buttercream

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup caramel
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon whiskey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Whiskey Date & Buttermilk Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Simmer the dates and whiskey in a small saucepan, covered, over low heat, until the dates absorb the whiskey and are soft when poked, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool, then puree with the buttermilk until smooth. Set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and allspice until incorporated. Set aside.

  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and honey until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Alternate between adding the buttermilk mixture and flour mixture to the cake batter until everything is incorporated and the batter just becomes smooth, wiping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula halfway through mixing.
  5. Evenly distribute the batter between 3 (8-inch) well-greased cake pans whose bottoms are lined with an 8-inch circle of parchment paper. Place the pans in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing the cakes from the pans and allowing them to cool completely on a wire rack.

Salted Pear Caramel

  1. While the cake is baking and cooling, you can prepare the caramel. Bring the granulated sugar, water, and minced pear to a boil over medium high heat and continue boiling until the mixture turns a light caramel color and smells pleasantly toasty, only stirring once every four minutes. This could take anywhere between 8 to 16 minutes, the speed will depend upon the heat intensity of your stovetop.

  2. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the heavy cream, brown sugar, and butter until incorporated. Be careful as the mixture will spit and hiss a bit. If the sugar begins to clump up when you're stirring do not fret, just stir as best as you can for about 30 seconds and then put the pot back on the heat and bring it back to a boil again over medium-low heat.

  3. Once it is boiling again, stir until the sugar chunk dissolves and the mixture is smooth. Once it smoothes out, stir it every minutes or so and allow the mixture to continue simmering and thickening. When the caramel holds its shape (rather than immediately disintegrating) when you put a drop of it in a cold glass of water, it's thickened enough. Remove from the pot from the heat, stir in the salt, and set aside to cool completely.

Salted Pear Caramel Buttercream

  1. Once the caramel has cooled, you can prepare the buttercream. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, powdered sugar, and caramel together at medium-low speed until relatively smooth. Add the whipping cream, whiskey, vanilla, and salt and increase the speed to medium, beating until the buttercream is light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

  2. Layer and ice the cake with the buttercream. Place the iced cake over a square of paper towels and pour 1/2 cup of the salted pear caramel sauce over the cake, allowing the excess to drop onto the towels. Garnish with fresh fruits and herbs and serve immediately.
Nutrition Facts
Whiskey Date & Buttermilk Cake with Salted Pear Caramel Buttercream
Amount Per Serving
Calories 793 Calories from Fat 288
% Daily Value*
Fat 32g49%
Saturated Fat 19g119%
Cholesterol 120mg40%
Sodium 689mg30%
Potassium 250mg7%
Carbohydrates 120g40%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 93g103%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 1090IU22%
Vitamin C 0.6mg1%
Calcium 113mg11%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Whiskey Date and Buttermilk Cake with Salted Pear Caramel Buttercream by Eva Kosmas Flores Whiskey Date and Buttermilk Cake with Salted Pear Caramel Buttercream by Eva Kosmas FloresWhiskey Date and Buttermilk Cake with Salted Pear Caramel Buttercream by Eva Kosmas Flores Whiskey Date and Buttermilk Cake with Salted Pear Caramel Buttercream by Eva Kosmas Flores Whiskey Date and Buttermilk Cake with Salted Pear Caramel Buttercream by Eva Kosmas Flores Whiskey Date and Buttermilk Cake with Salted Pear Caramel Buttercream by Eva Kosmas Flores Whiskey Date and Buttermilk Cake with Salted Pear Caramel Buttercream by Eva Kosmas Flores

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