I've never been a beer drinker. I just don't like the taste, not even of those hard ciders, which are supposed to appeal to people like me. My dislike for lagers has had its pluses and minuses over the years. Friends loved being able to count on me as the designated driver in college, and I avoided consuming numerous empty calories and the dreaded beer gut. On the downside, try going up to a bartender at McFlannigan's Irish Pub and asking what kinds of chardonnays they serve. Did I mention that I am usually the designated driver?
Well, after years and years of just saying "no" to a cold one, I have finally found a beer that is right up my alley, Guinness Stout. Oh, one thing you should probably know: The Guinness Stout that I am referring to is an ingredient in a spiced chocolate cake that is covered in a rich layer of luscious chocolate buttercream. Yes, there's finally a beer that both my husband and I can enjoy together!
The Guinness works wonders for this cake. The carbonation is essential for the rising process, but the dark stout adds a depth and richness to chocolate flavor. It also makes the cake turn out to be very moist, with almost a brownie-like texture. No, the amount of stout in this cake will not give you a hangover, but you may go into sugar shock as a result of eating more than a small slice. This would be great to make over the weekend and serve for St. Patty's Day! Here are my tips for this sinful stout cake:
- The cake layers can be prepared one day in advance and then tightly wrapped at room temperature. The flavor actually intensifies the next day.
- Don't be alarmed if the cake layers fall a bit during the baking process. This is normal, and you will be flipping the layers over so that the flat sides face up anyhow.
- If the buttercream isn't thick enough to frost the cake, then refrigerate it for 10 minutes or until it reaches your desired level of thickness. The recipe makes quite a bit of buttercream, and any leftover amount can be refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to one week. Bring to room temperature prior to using.
- Instead of adding Grand Marnier to the buttercream recipe, try adding another liqueur, such as Chambord, Kahlua, Godiva Chocolate, or Frangelico.
- This cake is rich enough to stand on its own, without buttercream. You can also pour the batter into a Bundt or springform pan, making cupcakes with any leftover batter. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top for decoration.
Spiced Chocolate Stout Cake
1 1/2 cups Irish stout (such as Guinness)
3/4 pound (3 sticks) butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
Rich Chocolate Frosting
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup water
3 sticks (3/4 pound) unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Butter the paper.
Bring the stout and the butter to a simmer in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt in a large bowl to blend.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sour cream until light and fluffy. Add the stout mixture and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture and beat on slow speed until combined. Divide the batters equally among the prepared pans. Bake the cakes until a tester inserted into the center emerges clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer the cakes to a rack to cool for 10 minutes and then invert onto the rack to cool completely.
Prepare the chocolate frosting: Melt the bittersweet chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat. Set aside to cool slightly. Mix the cocoa powder and water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until smooth and thick, but still pourable.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar to blend. Add the melted chocolate, vanilla, and salt and beat until smooth. Beat in the cocoa mixture and then gradually add the remaining 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar and beat until the frosting is very smooth. Mix in the liqueur.
Frost the cake: Place one cake layer on a platter or cake round, flat-side up. Spread about 1/3 cup of the frosting evenly over the surface. Top with a second cake layer and spread 1/3 cup frosting evenly over the surface. Top with the final layer, flat-side up, and spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate 10 minutes to set. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. swirling decoratively.