Monday, February 27, 2012

Guinness Chocolate Layer Cake

Two weeks ago was Ryan's birthday and making a special birthday dessert for the birthday boy was a must. The real question was what type of dessert should I make for my #1 pilot? Everything always sounds so good and it's so hard to narrow it down (I have a HUGE list of things I want to try!). That and I am slightly indecisive. Just ask Ryan. Last year I made a tiramisu cheesecake. How did it taste? We will never know. I wasn't feeling good after dinner and left the cheesecake out to take chill off and then went to lay down. I figured Ryan would have seen it, but nope. The whole thing sat out on the counter all night and went to waste. Sad, but true. Needless to say, this year I would not be making a cheesecake for fear that I would leave it out again and all my hard would would go down the drain. I have now learned to leave the cheesecake making to Ryan. Note to all readers - my man makes the best cheesecake you've ever put into your mouth. And no, I am not joking.

Okay, back to this year. So, Ryan loves chocolate as much as I do, but I wanted to step it up a notch. Cupcakes? No. I make those a lot and he might expect those. Pie? Well, as much as a lemon meringue pie sounded fabulous, I knew the boy deserved a big chocolate dessert. Everyone deserves a chocolate coma on their birthday! Now, I've made my go-to double layer chocolate cake for Ryan before, but it was hard to come up with a twist he wouldn't expect. I was looking through my notes and scribbles of all the recipes I want to try (I keep this around when I watch cooking programs!) and then, it came to me.

Guinness + chocolate = <3

How did I not see this sooner? Ryan loves chocolate and loves Guinness. Match made in heaven? I think so! This cake does take some time to make and put together, but the outcome is so worth it. You can even do the whole thing a day ahead (that's what I did) and then all the flavors have time to blend together. Of course you can do it all in one day, but I had plenty of other cooking for his birthday dinner to get started, so I wanted to get the cake done and looking pretty. This cake is three layers of rich, super dense cake with a chocolate truffle-like filling and frosting. If you didn't know any better, you'd probably never detect the Guinness, but I think it enhances the chocolate flavor and brings the cake to a whole new level. I love the way that coffee enhances the chocolate flavor in recipes, and Guinness adds a similar twist, but with a slight barley kick.

My words of advice for this one - get in your kitchen and make it! But, when you do, make sure you have a BIG bowl or mixer to hold all of the ingredients for the batter. I have a large kitchen aid stand mixer (the one with the hand crank to lift the bowl) and the thing was filled to the brim and flowing with chocolate. I am just going to admit this now - I totally took a spoon to that stuff and took a good lick. It was totally worth it. Ryan would be proud.

ingredients - there is a lot of butter and sugar in this cake, but don't let that scare you. It's chocolate cake and worth every calorie!

my tip for you - make the frosting before the cake so it has time to cool and firm up. Bring the cream to a simmer then pour over chopped chocolate. Let sit for a couple of minutes, then whisk until smooth.
cream over chocolate
mmmm, smooth.

bringing the Guinness and butter to a boil

from left to right- dry, wet and cocoa powder

when the Guinness and butter are done boiling, add in the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.

here is how I line my cake plate. this makes for easy clean up and so you don't get frosting all over. if you don't have parchment paper in your kitchen - go get it!

look at those layers!

finished cake! what better to go with beer than pretzels? plus, I know the birthday boy loves yogurt pretzels.

Guinness Chocolate Layer Cake (slightly adapted from

2 cups stout (I used Guinness extra stout, but you can use whatever stout you like)
2 cups unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups all purpose flour
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sour cream


2 cups whipping cream
1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used a half a pound of bittersweet and half a pound of semisweet)

For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter or spray with non-stick spray,  three 8-inch round cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Line with parchment paper and spray again with non-stick spray or butter.

 Bring 2 cups stout and 2 cups butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly. 

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in large bowl (the biggest bowl you have!) 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 equally among prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30-34 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack and cool 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack and cool completely. 

For icing:
Bring cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chopped chocolate to a separate bowl and pour over the cream. Let sit for 2-3 minutes and then whisk until smooth and melted.  Refrigerate until icing is spreadable, stirring frequently, about 2 hours. If the icing gets too firm, place in microwave to get it to the consistency you like. Just be careful to not melt it again (I almost did this).

To put together the cake, place 1 cake layer on plate. Spread 2/3 cup icing over. Top with second cake layer. Spread 2/3 cup icing over. Top with third cake layer. Spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake and decorate as desired.

When this cake is finished, let me just warn you - it is huge and feeds a crowd! If you are just making this for a few people, make sure to slice up the leftovers, wrap it up with some plastic wrap and freeze for later.  This frozen cake will be a great dessert for those nights when you want something sweet but don't want to make anything. Maybe that and enjoy it with a Guinness float? Now that would be the ultimate chocolate indulgence!

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I know this is an old post, but I just wanted to tack a "thanks" onto it. I made this cake per your directions yesterday for my husband's birthday, and we still can't believe how great it is. A towering work of chocolate genius, a wealth, a richness, an overwhelming luxury. WHOA.

    First time trying to make the Guinness-butter-cocoa mixture, I think I accidentally boiled it, or possibly used a too-low-quality butter, and the cocoa sort of held together in a pond-scum consistency, and wouldn't mix into the butter. I wasn't watching it very closely, so I think I did let it boil. The next time I tried, though, it came out perfect. And I have to say --- this icing is an epiphany!

    So, thanks!