Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
"Candy is dandy," poet Ogden Nash famously observed, "but liquor is quicker." But as Karen Connally sets up the Hillcrest Farmers Market table that will hold the baked goods bearing her grandmother Katie's name, it becomes clear that Katie Connally Confections has managed to find a way to combine sweets and alcohol into a plethora of moist, delicious cakes. The list of available goodies reads like Willy Wonka's liquor cabinet: Key Lime Rum Cake, Whiskey Chocolate Cake, Bourbon Brownies, and Peach Schnapps Pound cakes. She's got a Lemon Twist cake and a plate of brownies that leave out the hard stuff — but as a brownie catches my eye she assures me, "Get the one with the bourbon." I'm not one to argue.
The Connally family ask on their blog: "What makes our Whiskey Cakes so delicious? The chocolate or the whiskey?" Taking my first bite, I'm tempted to say the chocolate, rich with that dark, luscious flavor that good chocolate brings. The whiskey is there, and it isn't shy — but the magic of the alcohol is that is does not overwhelm the flavor of the cake, but rather enhances it. The caramel notes of the whiskey blend with the chocolate to create something different than either would be alone, something almost alchemical — a combination of cocoa with a different kind of sugar (alcohol) than one normally sees. The addition of alcohol to the cakes has the added bonus of making them incredibly moist, and Connally's baking skills are evident by the quality and texture of each cake's tender crumb.
If you're an early riser, catch up with Katie Connally Confections at the Hillcrest Farmers Market every Saturday morning starting at 7 a.m. This market is becoming well-known for having some of the best baked goods in town, and these infused delicacies are certainly up to the level of anything you'll find there. In addition to the Saturday market, the bakery has also been spotted at the Tuesday night Westover Hills Farmers Market, so if an early morning isn't your thing, take some time in the evening to sample some of this goodness. The bakery is also available for special orders by calling (501) 747-1073. Liquor-infused cakes aren't a new concept, but Karen Connally's quality goods are a unique addition to our local baked-goods market, and one that shouldn't be missed.