Chile-Chocolate Bourbon Cake {recipe} & ‘Tasting Colorado’ cookbook Giveaway!

Tasting Colorado cookbook |

A little known fact about Colorado is that it has become a hotbed of fantastic, inspired cuisine.  Farm-to-Table, chefs working with local winemakers, artisan food crafters partnering with restaurants to put out exciting, innovative food.  There is a newfound electricity in the dining scene; an abundance of interesting, quality ingredients and creative vision galore.  All this has provided perfect timing for the newly released Tasting Colorado cookbook; a mouth-watering collection of the best recipes from chefs, restaurants and notable inns from across the Centennial State.

This cookbook profiles the flavors of Colorado food.  A celebration of seasonal ingredients meshing into palate-pleasing, flavorful dishes that mean business.  Our regional food gets to the point and delivers on its promise.  We celebrate our seasons and our natural resources with our food.  Smoked Pheasant Soup, Roasted Colorado Peach-Pistachio Brioche Pudding with Ice Cream, William Bent’s Buffalo Tenderloin Filet Mignon. 

Grilled Palisade Peach, Serrano Ham, and Rocket Salad - Tasting Colorado (Farcountry Press)
Grilled Palisade Peach, Serrano Ham, and Rocket Salad – Tasting Colorado (Farcountry Press).  Photo credit:  Michele Morris

When I first began to read the cookbook considering what I might make, I was armed with a pack of Post-Its which were flying off the stack before I even exited the breakfast chapter.  Crème Brulee French Toast, Cowboy Corn Cakes, Amish Breakfast Casserole, Eggnog Muffins.  The large, glossy pages add to the allure, making it hard to ignore the photographs popping off every page.  Chile Crab Rolls with Charred Corn and Sriracha Mayo, Boiled Pancetta-Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Gorgonzola, Elk Chops with Blackberry Sauce and Garlic Mashers.  Did I mention the cookbook will make you very hungry?  The recipes are clearly and thoroughly written, with many notes on specialty ingredients or methods to ensure the success of the home cook.  A list of specialty resource websites is included in the back of the book as are the specifics and websites for all the recipe contributors.

Spghetti Squash Fritters from Tasting Colorado |

The story of the cookbook author is just as interesting as its contents with Michele Morris embodying a quintessential Colorado spirit.  A chef, sommelier, culinary teacher, culinary travel guide and devotee to the local food movement and garden-to-table dining, Michele embraced this project with gusto testing all recipes personally and taking every photograph in the cookbook herself.  She has curated and beautifully showcased a ‘best of’ collection with appeal to diners in any region, as well has done her home state proud.

The Fort's Chile-Chocolate Bourbon Cake - Tasting Colorado (Farcountry Press)
The Fort’s Chile-Chocolate Bourbon Cake – Tasting Colorado (Farcountry Press).  Photo credit: Michele Morris

My maiden voyage into cooking Tasting Colorado (selected after a tortured process of not knowing where to start with so many appealing options) had to be a recipe I turned back to over and over:  Chile-Chocolate Bourbon Cake.  Hailing from a treasure of a restaurant, The Fort (Morrison Colorado), it read to deliver the earthy, serious flavors I love about this area and a spicy-sweet combination I covet.

Chile-Chocolate Bourbon Cake

Yield: 16 servings

"The Fort (contributing restaurant) serves a complimentary slice of this fudgy cake to any diner marking a special occasion, with the staff in ceremonial headdress shouting the famous toast, 'Hip, hip, huzzah!'" -Tasting Colorado: Favorite Recipes from the Centennial State


    Ingredients for the Cake:
  • 1-2 tablespoons ground Red Chili Powder, mild or hot (to taste)
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Flour*
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Cake Flour (not self-rising)*
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • ½ cup Unsweetened Non-Alkalized Cocoa Powder+
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces and softened
  • ½ cup Buttermilk
  • 2 large Eggs, room temperature
  • Ingredients for the Frosting:
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • ¾ cup Unsweetened Non-Alkalized Cocoa Powder+
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons Buttermilk
  • 4-5 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons Bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 ½ cups Chopped Walnuts, lightly toasted (optional)


    Instructions for the Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with rack in the center of the oven. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, lightly dust the sides of the pans with flour, tap out excess, and line the bottom with circles of parchment paper
  2. Cook the chili powder in 1 cup of the water in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla and set aside.
  3. Using an electric stand mixer with a wire whip attachment for the best results, combine the flour, cake flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa and beat on low speed until well mixed. Add the softened butter to the dry mixture and beat thoroughly on medium-low speed. The mixture should have a uniform grainy texture.
  4. Increase the speed to medium and gradually add the remaining 1 cup of water and the buttermilk. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly add the hot water-chili mixture to the batter and continue to beat just until well combined, be sure not to over-beat. Pour the mixture equally into the pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of each layer comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes.
  5. To cool, set the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out onto the rack. Remove the parchment paper and immediately invert the cakes so that the risen tops don’t flatten. Let the layers cool completely before frosting.
  6. Instructions for the Frosting:
  7. Combine the butter and cocoa in a large saucepan and melt over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the buttermilk. Add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, stirring with a wire whisk between additions. Stir in the bourbon and vanilla and continue to whisk until the frosting is smooth and glossy. The frosting will stiffen as it cools, but in warm weather you may need to refrigerate it. Cool to a spreadable consistency.
  8. Instructions for Assembly:
  9. If necessary, trim the tops of the cakes so that they are level. Place one of the cake layers on a 9-inch round cardboard cake circle. Spread 1 cup of the frosting over the layer. Sprinkle 1 cup of the chopped walnuts evenly over the frosting. Place the second layer of the cake on the frosted base. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. Press the remaining walnuts into the frosting covering the sides and top of the cake.


*To make cake gluten-free, substitute your favorite gluten-free flour blend.

+Note from Tasting Colorado: Cocoa powders like Hershey’s, Nestle or Ghirardelli are non-alkalized. Do not use Dutch process cocoa in this recipe. This cake is best when made 1 to 2 days before serving, as it gives the flavors time to blend.

Recipe xcerpted with permission from Tasting Colorado cookbook. Recipe credit: The Fort, Morrison CO (Holly and Arnold Kinney) and Michele Morris.

 with Prosciutto Chips from Tasting Colorado (Farcountry Press)
Lentil Soup with Prosciutto Chips from Tasting Colorado (Farcountry Press).  Photo credit: Michele Morris

This cookbook exceeded my expectations.  From the variety and abundance of recipes, to the quality of them; there was not a ‘ho hum’ selection in the bunch.  Every contribution packs a punch.  These are recipes for real people who love good food.

Farcountry Press has generously offered a copy of Tasting Colorado ($30 value) for a lucky reader which Michele Morris will personally dedicate to the winner!

To enter the Giveaway (open to U.S. residents/U.S. shipping addresses only): {CLOSED}

  1. Leave a comment saying ‘I want that cookbook!’

For Additional entries (please leave a separate comment below for each entry verifying what you have done; if you are already doing any of these, leave a separate comment for each one stating that):

  1. Follow BoulderLocavore on Pinterest.
  2. Follow Boulder Locavore on Facebook.
  3. Tweet about the Giveaway including a link to this post, ‘Tasting Colorado’ and @BoulderLocavore using the Shareholic button below.
  4. Post on Facebook about this Giveaway including a link to this post, ‘Tasting Colorado’ and @BoulderLocavore using the Shareholic button below.

Total of 5 possible entries!!!

No purchase required. Void where prohibited by law. Must be 18 or older to enter.

Giveaway will run through midnight (Mountain Standard Time) Wednesday, February 20, 2013. At that time a winner will be selected via and will be posted here Thursday, February 21, 2013.

The Winner is:  Gina!  Congrats!

Disclosure: I was provided a review copy of Tasting Colorado cookbook. Commentary represents my personal opinions.



  1. says

    Oh my gosh, so many things looks delicious! I would love to win that cookbook! I’d make the Crème Brulee French Toast for breakfast, the Lentil Soup with Prosciutto Chips for lunch, and William Bent’s Buffalo Tenderloin Filet Mignon for dinner. To finish it all off, The Fort’s Chile-Chocolate Bourbon Cake for dessert. Then, I’d most probably been in a culinary coma….. And have to run 5 miles every day for the rest of the week, but, I’d be a happy camper!! I would love to win this book!!!!! 🙂

  2. says

    I want that cookbook! Especially because I spent a great deal of time in Colorado as a kid, then college. Would love to read about CO chefs and what they’re doing.

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