Sweet And Crumby

Baking, a Love Story

The Sordid Tale of My Infamous Cointreau Cake


This totally drunk out of its mind Devil’s Food Cointreau cake has a bit of a sordid past I’m afraid. My parents, although very conservative, seemed to veer from the straight and narrow path in regards to child-rearing on one particular issue; anything done in the name of good food was not only acceptable but revered.

This Cointreau cake definitely was no exception. While other normal children were counting down the days to Christmas or Hanukkah with the hopes of tearing into presents, I (along with my dad) was counting down the days until Christmas Eve when my uncle’s girlfriend would bring her famous Cointreau spiked mini-cupcakes to my grandparents’  party.  I don’t believe it ever occurred to anyone that the kids shouldn’t dig into these delights whose aroma of orange liqueur could be smelled from several rooms over.

To my chagrin, when my uncle split up with his girlfriend several years later, my first thought was, “But who will bring the cupcakes to Christmas Eve?!” and then switched to, “We don’t even have the recipe!”  Believe it or not, I think she must have telepathically sensed my panic, and she actually mailed me the recipe, knowing that my dad and I were more than likely mourning the loss of her treasured Cointreau cupcakes.

The gauntlet had been handed down, and my mother and I were now the keepers of the magic cupcake recipe and would bring them to the party where everyone would snatch them up like gold treasure.  No, we did not add anything more than Cointreau if you are beginning to wonder just how magical these little goodies were.  Great food and good liqueur were just well appreciated over here (and still are I might add!).

Fast forward several years and picture me  being a seventeen-year-old Cointreau Cake expert. For a class party in Calculus, I thought it would be just a dandy idea to bring my devilishly drunken cupcakes.

As a parent, I can see how ridiculous it would be to send my kid to school with alcohol laced cupcakes, but luckily, my teacher seemed to appreciate their “gourmet-ness” and never mentioned the improper addition of alcohol.

Of course, I now question his fondness for them and wonder what my parents (and I) were thinking for letting me bring them to school, but all’s well that ends well I guess.  He even made a request for them at future class parties. Hmmmm?

Anyhow, just before I graduated from school, rather than getting sentimental about the leaving of one his more illustrious students (me incase you were wondering), I believe he was lamenting the loss of his cupcake dealer.  Before my final day, he politely asked for the recipe and, of course, I obliged.

So, now I am bestowing on you this infamous Cointreau Cake recipe, EXCEPT that my old recipe included the use of a box mix and as we all know, I am just not a box mix kind of girl these days.  So, I  revamped this recipe  and have decided that it is truly better than ever and still as drunk as it ever was so don’t get all sentimental on me.

It can be made into a layer cake, bundt cake or cupcakes so have at it and perhaps you will have a sordid tale to tell after you have shared them.

*So as not to seem like such a “made from scratch” snob, I have decided to also share the box mix version which honestly is amazing and very, very easy with a mix. Simply scroll to the bottom. Enjoy!

Cointreau Laced Devil’s Food Cake
Makes one bundt cake, one layer cake or about 24 cupcakes.
3/4 c.  vegetable oil
3/4 c. Cointreau or Grand Marnier
1 c. buttermilk
2 egg yolks
2 c. granulated sugar
2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 T. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. boiling water

For the Cointreau Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 c. (one stick) of just barely softened butter
4 0z of cream cheese (low-fat is fine)
2 T. Cointreau 0r Grand Marnier
2 c. powdered sugar (+ more if frosting needs thickening)

For the Cake: Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Spray your bundt pan with cooking spray or prepare your two round 9 or 8 inch baking pans by spreading a pat of butter all over the bottom and sides of each pan. For cupcakes, just line your muffin tin with liners. Then drop a tablespoon of flour in each pan and tap the flour all over the pan, sideways and upside down at the end (over the sink) to remove excess flour.  IMPORTANT: Make sure there are NO ungreased, unfloured spots on your pan.  If there are, add a little more butter and flour on those spots.  Heat your oven to 325 degrees.

In a  stand mixer or mixing bowl, combine oil, Cointreau, buttermilk, yolks, and vanilla.  Beat 2 minutes with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer at medium speed.  In another bowl, sift together (or use a wire whisk like I do to avoid sifting) sugar, flour cocoa, baking soda and salt.

With mixer on LOW speed, add one third of the sifted dry ingredients to oil mixture and beat until blended.  Then add one third of the hot water and slowly combine these (you don’t want the hot water to splatter on you…ouch!).  Continue this process, scraping down the bowl often until all ingredients have been add and mixed.

Pour equal amounts of batter into the prepared cake pan(s) Bake at 325 for 45-50 minutes for the bundt cake or 35 minutes for the layer cakes (or 20-25 minutes for Cupcakes), testing the cake for doneness (clean toothpick and cake should be springy when you lightly touch it).  Cool in pans on racks 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack, remove cakes and cool completely.

For the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Add the Cointreau and sifted powdered sugar and beat to oblivion until you have a nice smooth frosting.  If it is too runny, add powdered sugar 1/4 c. at a time until the thickness you need for frosting.  For the bundt cake, I put the frosting into a ziploc bag fitted with a large piping tip and piped the big swoops of frosting in a zigzag motion.  Don’t let your frosting sit out and get soft.  It’s much better to work with it when it’s cold and a little bit thick/firm.

Refrigerate your cake until 1/2 hour before serving it and then let sit out at room temperature for just 3o minutes or so.  The cream cheese frosting can get runny when too warm as you can tell from my photos which were taken in the warm California sun (yes, I do know how lucky I am and will never, ever be anything but a California girl).

Box Mix Cointreau Cake from the Recipe Files of Shirley
1 pkg. chocolate fudge or Devil’s Food Cake mix
1 c. sour cream
4 eggs (four, it is not a type-o)
1/2 c. vegetable oil (or Canola)
3/4 c. Cointreau
1/8 c. water
1 T. cocoa powder

Follow mixing and baking ingredients according to the package directions.  Use my frosting recipe above and enjoy!  You will NOT be disappointed.

Alternative Icing: Chocolate Ganache Laced with Grand Marnier*
8 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup whipping cream or half and half
1-2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1 teaspoon orange liquor
1/8 teaspoon salt

*This icing/glaze can be thick or thin depending on if you want icing or frosting. Just add less cream if you want frosting and you can add powdered sugar or cocoa powder if you need to thicken it a bit.

Instructions: Heat chocolate chips in a micorwave save bowl for 1 minute. Heat cream separately for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until very hot/boiling. Pour cream over chocolate chips and wait for 1 minute. Beat with wire whisk until smooth. Stir in Grand Marnier, extract and salt. Add more cream if needed to thin out. Drizzle glaze over cake and let set before serving. You can refrigerate if you need the glaze to set up faster. Enjoy!

48 thoughts on “The Sordid Tale of My Infamous Cointreau Cake

  1. I’m a big fan of cointreau, usually use them quite a lot in desserts, aroma of orange with liqueur is scintillating! so ur cake is sure to made, looks gorgeous!

  2. LOL! I love a story that involves bringing alcohol laced desserts to school! As a teacher, I know there are days when I could use a Cointreau laced cupcake!

    Seriously, the cake looks so tasty. I’m adding this, along with about 50 other things off your blog, to my wish list of baking.

  3. Happy Mother’s Day, Geni!! I love a recipe with a history…and this one is grand! Thank you for adapting this sans- mix and sharing with us. Cointreau is never lacking in our house…so this will definitely be made!

  4. It is funny how differently we can see things in hindsight 🙂 that cake looks great. Thanks goodness she share the recipe!

  5. Hee hee! I think I’ll bring these to work and see how they go over…. I suspect they’ll be a hit there! Love your story, and a recipe with a history such as that has got to be good. Happy Mother’s Day!

  6. Skip a post on drunken cake, I think not! Great story and awesome recipe.

  7. hahaha I love your parents for letting you bring those to school. It probably made you the teachers all time favorite student. 🙂

  8. Haha what a funny story…that cake must be good! And your cake looks so lovely! 🙂

  9. oh wow! i am drooling over here!

  10. LOL, great post, loved the story! And the cointreau cake looks awesome.

  11. A fun story and a delicious cointreau cake!

  12. This looks amazing, and what a fun story! I love when food is so tightly woven into great memories.

  13. Geni, I cannot wait to try this drunken cake! I love baking and cooking with liquors and this I believe will be a big hit for Memorial Day! So glad you received the recipe! p.s. thanks for listing me on your blogroll, it really means alot to me. I’m trying to figure out how to do that on my site, I seem to be having a glitch with it, but you’re definitely my favorite to add!

  14. OMG Geni that bundt cake is beautiful! I have never had Cointreau anything. Can you get a relatively small bottle? Although, the way it sounds, I may be making this more than once….thank you for sharing! These handed down, family tradition, recipes are the best one!

  15. Me oh my, I would do bad things for a single slice of this cake! It looks absolutely heavenly and totally sinful all at once… Mmmm!

  16. Just the fact that this cake has cocoa in it makes me excited Geni lol. You know I love my chocolate. Love this recipe.. a must try for me 🙂

  17. What a great story! I was laughing silently the whole way through and my mom kept shooting me weird looks haha
    I’m definitely going to have to try out this recipe, I’m sure my college friends won’t mind the extra booze 😉

  18. You cracked me up at the point when the *breakup* suddenly endangered your supply of cupcakes!! A very well put story.Love this cake, dark and decadent!
    P.S.- I m still smiling!

  19. Cupcake dealer? LOL. What a fun story–and wonderful cake too.

  20. Oh my heavens. I love orange and chocolate together, and this seems like the perfectly sinful cake. I wish you could pop on by with a slice for me to eat while I have my feet up! 🙂

  21. I love how your uncle’s girlfriend mailed you the recipe…and then how your calc teacher asked for it, lol! A sordid tale indeed, but it does look like a pretty fabulous cake! 🙂

  22. Looks amazing! Will be tested soon, for sure! 😀

  23. I just found your blog through Foodpress, and all I can say is that I think I want to be you when I grow up!! I just started baking (for the first time ever) and I hope to someday make baked-goods as amazing as yours. Baby-steps, though. And I love the stories/narratives with your recipes. Looking forward to reading more. 🙂

  24. What a lovely thought; to have an old and longtime recipe to be passed down and shared 🙂 It looked amazing and lots of hard work, I am sure 😉

  25. My kids are totally going to be eating alcohol-infused baked goods. There’s no two ways about it.

    This cake looks and sounds AMAZING. I am SO glad you shared the recipe with us!

  26. Oh wow… these sound soo rich and delicious! I am glad your uncle’s gf sent you the recipe so that you could share with all of us!!

  27. Geni Happy Belated Mother’s Day 🙂 The cake looks delicious, and I love the idea of Cointreau in chocolate cake. The cake looks absolutely gorgeous…too bad I cannot taste it…moreover, like that we can use a box cake ;-)!
    Oh! Almost forgot…to flip the frittata, I place the plate on the fry pan (be careful since it is very hot) and with one motion turn the frittata on the plate by flipping both together. There! And you have the whole frittata on the plate.
    Anyway, hope you are enjoying your week dear!

  28. the mini cupcakes are the best. the more cointreau per bite the better

  29. Really Geni, what was I thinking? You know what generation I came from! Lacing with Couintreau wasn’t as bad as the brownies that some people were making. I was thinking of taking this recipe up a notch. Pour some of the Couintreau directly over the hot cake. MMm. Or I could just grab a glass and take it straight.

  30. You are sharing the secret recipe? You are my hero!

  31. Planning to make this for my birthday this week–but with a whipped cream frosting. I love Cointreau. I used to live in Angers, France where it was made.

  32. Pingback: A Day Late And a Dollar Short Drunken Cointreau Cupcakes « Sweet And Crumby

  33. WOW! I made this cake yesterday for a Christmas dinner at friends, today. It was outstanding; moist, chocolately, and dense and light at the same time. I used Grand Marnier for the cake and the frosting and the essence of the liquor really came through. The only change I made was to add orange zest to the frosting. At first I was concerned that the batter was to runny, but I stayed true to the recipe and it was perfect! I could not have been more pleased to share this gem with friends. I used a star-shaped cake pan and piped the frosting across the cake to accentuate the star. I finished with orange zest and shaved chocolate. It was truly lovely…if I do say so myself. This cake is a real winner. Thanks for sharing a great recipe.

  34. Can you please post how long to cook cupcakes? Thanks

  35. Is there a way to make this with substitutions for the dairy. It looks delicious and as a person who is completely lactose intolerant now, I cannot eat it, as is.

  36. this reminds me of when my husband was in the intensive care unit and as a way to stop worrying I started to bake for the nurses and doctors.. Eight weeks later my husband was finally more ‘with it’ and when he saw the doctor approaching he started to unbutton his top….the doctor stopped him and said he hadn’t come to examine him …he only wanted to give my husband his cake order for next day! The doctor thought my husband was still ‘confused’ because he didn’t know what he was taking about….he ordered another scan before i arrived to tell him that the reason for the confusion was that I had never ever baked a cake during our 25 years of marriage and he couldn’t work out why the doctor wanted me to bake him a cake! Ps why 4 eggs in pre mix and not in proper recipe? Just going to try recipe now and will report back… thanks again ann

  37. I realize this is a five-year-old post, but I just found it today and holy mackerel, does this look good! I’m bookmarking it.

  38. Hi This recipe looks lovely. I going to try this but was wondering what “C” stands for. Thank you

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