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A party favorite: 'Booze Cakes'

Whether delicately flavored or thoroughly saturated, alcohol in cakes is yummy.

That's the short review for understanding the attraction of a new cookbook, "Booze Cakes: Confections Spiked with Spirits, Wine and Beer" by Krystina Castella and Terry Lee Stone.

Spicing cake with alcohol is an age-old tradition. Roman soldiers ate them. The English were known for their trifles — layers of whipped cream or custard, brandy (or other liquor) and cake — served at elegant parties. Rum cakes were popular on special occasions.

"Booze Cakes" is an attractive cookbook with full color pictures and simple instructions. An easy guide to the Basics is included in the front. Along the way, there are special warnings — such as how to safely flambe a cake (think baked Alaska.)

Most of the ingredients can be found at your local supermarket and liquor store. In my case, the latter read the recipe and then recommended the proper champagne and beers.

Many booze cakes are not as alcoholic as one might think. More often the addition of alcohol makes the cake richer and moist, rather than boozy. The authors warn that "it's possible that the amount of alcohol in these cakes could get someone drunk, but it most likely won't."

Additional chapters cover homemade mixers — think eggnog — and "toppings, frostings and fancy garnishes" such as cream puffs, and chocolate covered cherries, with or without booze. It also has a metric conversion table

Having tested three recipes — the Pink Champagne cake, the Honey Spice Beer Cake, and the Rum & Coke Whoopie Pies — my only caveat is that, in each case, the icings were watery. My consumers simply scooped up the too-liquid icing and poured it over the cake. Problem solved. In the case of the Rum & Coke, they were eaten open-faced so that a thicker dollop of icing smeared on top.

As "Booze Cakes" says, "The great thing about baking practice is that you get to eat your mistakes."

So true. There were no leftovers.___

"Booze Cakes: Confections Spiked With Spirits, Wine, and Beer" by Krystina Castella and Terry Lee Stone; Quirk Press, Philadelphia ($16.95)



Chocolate Soda Cakes:1/2 cup unsalted butter1 cup sugar2 eggs1 teaspoon vanilla extract1/2 cup buttermilk1/4 cup cola2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder1 teaspoon baking soda1 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon saltF

Fluffy Rum-spiked cream filling:1/2 cup unsalted butter1 cup marshmallow fluff3 or 4 tablespoons of rum2 cups confectioners' sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, combine buttermilk and cola. Add it to creamed butter and egg mixture. Beat in flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.3. Drop batter by the tablespoonful onto baking sheets, leaving plenty of room for the cakes to spread; bake 10 minutes. Let cool completely.FOR THE CREAM FILLING:4. In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and marshmallow fluff until light and creamy. Mix in rum. Slowly beat in confectioners' sugar, mixing until light and fluffy.5. Sandwich a generous amount of filling between cooled cakes.