January is a busy birthday month in my family. As the story goes, my mom insisted her children would be born no closer than three years apart; my dad insisted we be no further apart than three years. My brother Paul and I are separated by two years, 356 days. Talk about precision pregnancy.

That makes for three Capricorns in the Clary family—my dad’s birthday before Christmas, my brother’s last week, and mine this week. Even if you don’t you put much stock in astrology, which often describes Capricorns as a bunch of obstinate goats, stubbornness is an unmistakable family characteristic among us. That, and unruly eyebrows.

Paul and I are dissimilar siblings. My hair is blonde, his dark brown. I chose journalism, he chose construction management. Me the 800-meter dash and he the discus. My “little” brother outweighs me by a solid 90 pounds and towers nearly a foot above me.

But if you look closely at our foreheads, the untamable Clary unibrow tells all.

I suspect we have gestures and mannerisms so common to the family that they’re invisible to us. Intonations of voice and indignations of conscience so deeply imprinted in our genes and upbringing that we don’t see our ideosyncrasies until someone captures them on film.

Paul has looked older than his years since high school. But in recent months, now that we’re both California residents and hang out more than once every two years, I see a patience, wisdom, and generosity beyond his years too.

For his birthday, I wanted to give my brother a shout-out in this blog, albeit now belated. The question is, what to cook in his honor?

I zeroed in on recipes featuring my brother’s drink of choice: Maker’s Mark. My favorite bourbon-spiked dessert is this liquored-up bread pudding recipe, but unfortunately it would be a sticky disaster to FedEx. I’m hoping this bourbon chocolate Bundt cake will tolerate shipping to southern California better.

Happy belated birthday, Paul! Keep an eye on the post.

Maker’s Mark Bourbon Soaked Dark Chocolate Cake

Recipe from We Heart Food

I have a 3-cup-capacity Bundt pan, so I cut the recipe in half and put the leftover batter in a small loaf pan. Don’t try that. The recipe divides in half poorly (e.g., half of three eggs?) so unless you too are attempting to mail the Bundt cake, I’d vote for baking the big cake and inviting friends over for a slice and a tumbler.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, more for greasing pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting pan
5 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
1/4 cup instant espresso
2 tbsp unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1 cup Maker’s Mark bourbon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
powdered sugar

Grease and flour a 10-cup-capacity Bundt pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In microwave oven, melt chocolate, and let cool.

Put espresso and cocoa powder in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Add enough boiling water to come up to the 1 cup measuring line. Mix until powders dissolve. Add whiskey and salt; let cool.

Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter until fluffy. Add sugar and beat until well combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract, baking soda and melted chocolate, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.

On low speed, beat in a third of the whiskey mixture. When liquid is absorbed, beat in 1 cup flour. Repeat additions, ending with whiskey mixture. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pour yourself a Maker’s Mark on the rocks and enjoy.

Transfer cake to a rack. Unmold after 15 minutes and sprinkle warm cake with more whiskey. Let cool before serving, garnished with powdered sugar.

10-12 servings