Monday, January 10, 2011


For Christmas dinner, I made dessert.  I was sort of given free-reign to make whatever I wanted, which is fun and can also be a little overwhelming.  There are just so many great desserts out there that are dying to be made.  But in the end, a simple classic won out. Well, simple and classic, kicked up a notch. 

The cake recipe I got from  Beantown  Baker's Irish Car Bomb cupcakes.  The cake itself is so rich and moist that it quickly became my go-to chocolate cake recipe.  The addition of beer (dark, stout beer) gives the cake a little bit of an interesting edge, and it doesn't really taste obviously of beer when it's all done. 

The frosting recipe is from America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.  I added a couple of teaspoons of instant espresso powder to the recipe, since I needed a frosting that could stand up, flavor-wise, to the rich cake.  I'm happy I did. 

I made both the cake and the frosting a day ahead, and assembled them just before eating.  I wrapped each cake layer in plastic and kept them on the counter overnight.  The frosting stayed in the fridge until a couple of hours before I put the dessert together.  I whipped it up with a hand mixer for a few minutes before I frosted the cake. 

Chocolate Stout Cake
makes two 9-inch rounds, or 24 cupcakes

1 cup dark beer (I used double chocolate stout, but Guinness also works)
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350.  If making a large cake, grease two cake pans and dust with cocoa powder, and then line the bottoms with parchment paper.  Bring 1 cup beer and 1 cup butter to a simmer in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat.  Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth.  Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl to blend.  Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed.  Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.  Divide batter evenly in cake pans.  Tap the filled pans lightly on the counter to remove any bubbles.  Bake until tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, rotating the pans once, about 20-25 minutes.  Cool cakes completely before frosting.

Chocolate Frosting
Makes about 4 cups, enough for a 2 layer cake

Note:  You can use bittersweet, semisweet, milk, or white chocolate in this recipe.  You can also use bittersweet, semisweet or milk chocolate chips here, but do not use white chocolate chips because they will not melt to a smooth consistency.

10 ounces chocolate, chopped fine
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (optional)

Place chocolate in a food processor.  Bring the cream, corn syrup, and salt to a boil in a liquid measuring cup in the microwave.  Stir the mixture to combine.

Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and process until the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.  If you are using espresso power, sprinkle it over the top of the hot cream before processing.

Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to process until combined, about 30 seconds.  With the machine running, add the softened butter, one piece at a time, through the feed tube.  Continue to process until the frosting is smooth and no butter chunks remain, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the frosting to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until thick and spreadable, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

To Make Ahead
The frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  Let the frosting stand at room temperature until softened, about 2 hours, then whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, 2 to 5 minutes.


  1. This sounds amazing! And as E said, with the beer, it's "my" (his) kind of cake. This one is a MUST try.

  2. um, i would like to put in a request for a repeat of this when i come down in mid march please.