I knew nothing about bourbon before I moved to Kentucky. Did you know that all bourbons are whiskeys, but not all whiskeys are bourbons?
Here are some quick facts about the smooth substance, from the folks a the Labrot and Graham Distillery, makers of Woodford Reserve, our house bourbon.:
No whiskey can call itself Bourbon unless it meets the following criteria:
Must be made in the United States
Distilled at less than 160 proof from fermented grain mash
The grain recipe must be at least 51% corn
The product must be stored in new, charred, white oak barrels at no more than 125 proof
Nothing can be added to the final product except pure water
I learned a lot about bourbon in my four years in Kentucky, like a bottle makes a great hostess or thank you gift; non-whiskey drinkers will sip on a glass of good bourbon; even dogs like bourbon (when it is occassionally spilled on the floor!); and don't call Jack Daniel's bourbon in front of a Kentuckian (or me now, for that matter!); mostly I learned about cooking with it. I have made everything from Bourbon Baked Beans to Bourbon Brown Sugar Sauce for ice cream, and probably my favorite...the Bourbon Ball. My husband and I were married at an historic log cabin church in Paris, Bourbon County (yep, our marriage certificate even says Bourbon County!), Kentucky. For the reception we featured Kentucky foods and drinks, like Flag Fork Farm Beer Cheese (YUM!), Kentucky Ale, and of course Bourbon Balls (made with Woodford Reserve)! We made over 300 of those little buggers, by hand, to give out to the family and friends in attendance. I haven't quite gotten over that experience, and have stuck to extremely small batches since then!
A few months ago I made some Bourbon Fudge Brownies from Cooking Light (March 2003) when we had a weekend guest. They were really good, especially when warmed and topped with Purity After Dinner Mint ice cream! This weekend, for our Easter party, I wanted to make them again. As I was preparing them, I realized I used the 2/3 cup instead of the 1/2 cup when measuring the flour, which made the batter more like a dough. To compensate, I added approx. 1/4 to 1/3 cup additional bourbon, extra cocoa powder, and 3/4 cup chocolate chips. The result -- HEAVENLY! Here is the modified recipe, with a modified title that more accurately reflects their bourbony-goodness!
Bourbon Truffle Brownies
1/2 cup bourbon
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips + 3/4 cup semisweet choc. chips
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350°.
Bring bourbon to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat. Add 1/4 cup chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add vanilla and eggs; beat well. Add flour mixture and bourbon mixture to sugar mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Add 3/ 4 cup chocolate chips.
Spread batter into a 9-inch square baking pan (I used my Emile Henry heart-shaped pan, which is the perfect size!) coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack.