John Franke Makes Whiskey Cakes

Chef John Franke's Whiskey Cake

Chef John Franke, Executive Chef of Frontburner Restaurants will be on hand doing a food demonstration at the North Texas Irish Festival.


The 30th Annual North Texas Irish Festival takes place Friday, March 2, through Sunday, March 4, at Fair Park in Dallas.

New this year, several top chefs will provide culinary presentations of modernized Irish classics with new flavor twists. They will also cook with traditional Irish ingredients.

Chef John Franke, Executive Chef of Frontburner Restaurants, which include Whiskey Cake Kitchen and Bar along with The Ranch at Las Colinas, will also be at the festival.

Chef Franke will be doing a cooking demonstration but we’ve got one of his recipes here for you to try, the namesake dish from Whiskey Cake Kitchen.

Whiskey Cake:

2 cups   Dates, pitted, chopped ½” pieces
1 tsp.   Baking Soda
2 cups   Boiling Hot Water
1 cup   Unsalted Butter, softened
1 cup    Granulated Sugar
2 each   Jumbo Eggs
1 ¾ cup   Self Rising Flour

As Needed:  Pan Spray
2 TBSP   Sugar in the Raw


1) Place the dates, baking soda, and boiling water in a bowl.
2) Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes to soften the dates.
3) Run the food processor for 2 minutes to make a paste.
4) In a KitchenAid mixer with the paddle attachment, place butter and sugar on a medium speed and mix until smooth.  Use a rubber spatula to clean sides.
5) Add the date paste and fold in with a rubber spatula.
6) Spray an 8”x14” cake pan with non stick spray and sprinkle 2 TBSP of sugar in the raw into the pan.  Shake the pan to spread out the sugar on bottom and all sides.
7) Pour the batter into pan.
8) Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until firm all the way through.
9) When finished, allow to cool at room temperature for 20 minutes.
10) Flip out onto a paper lined tray.
11) Leave at room temperature to cool completely.  Once cool, wrap in plastic wrap and keep stored at room temperature or enjoy right away.

To serve, cut cake in 9 pieces.  Poke several holes in each piece, top with 2 oz. of warm toffee sauce.  Place in a 500 degree oven on a pan for 4-5 minutes until toffee is bubbling and cake is warmed throughout.  Pour 2 oz. of bourbon sauce on the plate, top with warmed cake slice, top that with chopped spiced pecans and finish off with a large dollop of whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Whiskey Sauce:

1 cup  Heavy Cream
2 TBSP Sugar, granulated
½ each  Vanilla Bean, split
2 TBSP Sugar, granulated
2 ½ each Egg Yolks
½ tsp  Vanilla Extract
1 tsp  Irish Whiskey


12) Bring heavy cream, 2 TBSP of sugar and vanilla bean to a simmer in a sauce pot.
13) In a mixing bowl, whisk the other 2 TBSP of sugar and eggs until foamy.
14) Temper ½ of the heavy cream into the mixing bowl, mix, and return mixture to pot of cream.
15) Add vanilla bean.
16) Continue to cook over medium heat until thick.
17) Add whiskey and vanilla extract.
18) Remove from heat and strain through a chinois into a container and place in an ice bath to cool.
19) Once cold, cover and place in the refrigerator until needed.

Toffee Sauce:

¼ lb.  Unsalted Butter
1 lb.  Brown Sugar
2 cups  Heavy Cream
2 TBSP Whiskey
1 TBSP Vanilla Extract


1) Place butter in a heavy bottom sauce pot and melt over a medium flame.
2) Add brown sugar cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes.
3) Stir occasionally with a rubber spatula to ensure cooking evenly.
4) Add heavy cream and allow to cook for an additional 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5) Remove from the heat, add bourbon and vanilla and stir.
6) Transfer to a container and place on ice to cool or use immediately.
7) Once cold, place in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
8) Reheat before using.

Spiced Pecans:

1  pound   Pecan Halves
2 tsp   Water
¾ cup   Maple Syrup
½ tsp   Kosher Salt
½ tsp   Black Pepper
½ tsp   Cayenne Pepper


1) Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
2) Place pecan mixture on a cookie sheet and toast at 350 degrees. For about 10-12 minutes.
3) As soon as they are removed from the oven, scrap the pecans off the pan to avoid sticking once cooled.
4) Let cool completely.
5) Store in an airtight plastic container at room temperature.

Whipped Cream:

½ quart  Heavy Cream
½ cup   Sugar, granulated
1 tsp.   Vanilla Extract


1) Whip in kitchen aide all ingredients until forms stiff peaks.
2) Transfer to a container and refrigerate or use immediately

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