Friday, March 23, 2012

Guinness Chocolate Cake

I'm not going to lie. This is one recipe I don't really mess with all that much. And that's saying something. Some people may quibble about directly reprinting a recipe without permission and whether that makes you a real baker or real cook or real anything in the kitchen (it's a hotly contested issue in the blogosphere, FYI), but I ALWAYS give attribution. Because as any toddler will tell you, sharing is caring.

Preschool language aside, this cake rocks. Let's elevate the conversation a bit and make it a bit more adult. It's dark. It's damp. It's delicious. You might even say it's sexy. You might; I don't know. That's up to you decide if you want to give such attributes to a cake. (Certain people have called my Aga dual-fuel both sexy and bad ass.) Seriously. It's your call. I wouldn't know of such a thing. (Yeah, I don't think this blog is PG-13, all of a sudden. What's going on here with the potty mouth? And the excessive parenthesis?) 

Okay, let's get back to the cake. This beauty comes from the domestic goddess herself, Nigella Lawson. A self-taught cook and baker with a journalistic pedigree who is unapologetic about her appetite seems like a natural inspiration for me. It's fairly simple, especially if activity requiring slicing cakes evenly into layers and frosting with a palette knife sends you heading toward the Bundt pan. If you know me or have been following along, you may have figured out that I tend to gravitate toward things that are imaginative, unorthodox, deconstructed, or otherwise riff on something. You will never, EVER, find a recipe here that includes a boxed cake mix. One, 'cause that ain't a recipe. Two, 'cause it ain't a real cake. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

You may be worried about the alcohol. Don't. You can't taste it really; the combination of the beer and the sour cream give the cake a tangy bite, which serves as a necessary balance to the chocolate. And the sour cream works wonders for the texture. I've fed this cake to countless children and they all Love. It. To. Pieces. Adults, too. When I made this a few weeks ago for a crowd, it did not last more than five hours. People kept eating it, long after they had any real business doing so. There were no leftovers.

I wasn't going to post this recipe because it's not even close to being something I've adapted, but a former student, Daniela, asked for it. Here you go, Dani. Enjoy the fine food and pastries in Paris, my dear. If you make this cake, please tell me in the comments field.

Cake Ingredients
1 cup of Guinness or other dark stout with a decent head, poured and settled
12 Tbsp. butter, cut into little pats
2 cups superfine sugar (if you don't have this, whiz the same amount of regular sugar in the food processor for a few seconds. That should help.)
3/4 cup cocoa powder (I typically use as dark as possible; you might even consider black cocoa powder)
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream (Please do not use light or fat free. Your cake will suffer. Your waistline won't. But who cares? We don't eat cake to worry about such things.)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. coffee extract
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line and grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan. 
  2. Pour the Guinness into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and let it melt. 
  3. Whisk in the sugar and cocoa powder until it's combined. Turn the heat off. 
  4. Whisk together the flour and baking soda in a small bowl. 
  5. Beat the eggs, sour cream, and extracts together in the bowl of a mixer until combined. 
  6. Add the eggy cream mixture to the saucepan and stir to combine.
  7. Add the flour in bits at a time and stir only until there are no more visible streaks.
  8. Pour it all into the prepared pan and whack the side of the pan with a knife a few times to release the air bubbles.
  9. Bake for about 45-50 minutes. Your cake may crack. Don't worry about it. Take it out, put it on a rack to cool almost completely in the pan. Release it from the pan. 
  10. Wait until it's totally cool before you ice it, using the following.....

Frosting Ingredients
1 8 ounce package of cream cheese,  room temperature
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3 Tbsp. heavy cream

  1. Beat the cream cheese on medium speed for 30 seconds-1 minute or so just to loose it up and add some air to it.
  2. Slowly add the confectioner's sugar. Slowly turn the mixer back on to combine.
  3. Add vanilla extract; add heavy cream one tablespoon at a time. Add more sugar. 
  4. This frosting isn't stiff; it needs to have some play it in so that you can manipulate it to resemble the frothy head of a Guinness. 
  5. Frost to your heart's content. You don't need to worry about the sides of it. You also can skip the frosting altogether if you want, but then it wouldn't be a complete riff on a pint of Guinness, now would it? 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

It's that time of year. St. Patrick's Day is tomorrow. For some, this is like a national holiday, worthy of skipping work and the like. In this house, March Madness means birthdays and St. Patrick's Day and not college basketball; it means we've already polished off an entire chocolate Guinness cake and nearly a loaf of soda bread. So, cupcakes are the next logical move, right?

I realize the name of these cupcakes may be offensive to some people. I also know that it's kind of a mouthful to call them Chocolate Guinness cupcakes with Baileys-Jameson-cream-cheese frosting.

This recipe is a loose adaptation of Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Guinness Cake.

1 cup of Guinness, poured and settled
12 Tbsp. butter
3/4 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. coffee extract
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease or line two muffin pans with liners. This recipe will yield 24 cupcakes.
  1. Bring together the beer and the butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir together until the butter has completely melted into the beer.
  2. Add the chocolate and stir together until it's melted. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the two eggs, the extracts and the sour cream.
  4. Add the sugar to the chocolate-beer-butter mixture and whisk to combine.
  5. Turn your mixer on and slowly pour in the beer butter mix into the bowl with the sour cream and eggs. 
  6. In a separate bowl, sift together the cocoa, salt, baking soda and flour. Add it slowly to the batter.
  7. Scoop out the batter into the tins and fill them about 2/3 of the way full.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out with no wet crumbs and the sides of the cupcakes pull away from the pan.
  9. Cool in the pan for ten minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Wash your mixing bowl; you'll need it for the frosting.
8 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
2-3 Tbsp. (or more) of Bailey's Irish Cream
2-3 Tbsp. (or more) of Jameson Irish Whiskey
2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted

  1. Put the cream cheese in the bowl of your now-clean mixing bowl and cream it until it becomes smooth and a bit fluffy.
  2. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and combine.
  3. Add the Irish cream and whiskey and combine.
  4. Slowly add the confectioner's sugar and whip it up until it's good and aerated--don't be afraid to let it go for a couple of minutes. You want the frosting to have enough structure. If you sense that it's too wet from the liquid you've added just simply adjust by adding more sifted confectioner's sugar. 
  5. Frost each cupcake! Voila!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Vegan Jelly Doughnut Cupcakes: Doughcakes?

Part of me just wants to write the word donut. It always makes me think of Homer Simpson, writing it that way.

Ok. Just had to get that random thought out of the way.

It's Wednesday, and the sun is shining here. Is the sun shining where you are? Maybe it's nighttime. Anyway, these doughcakes (as I'm calling the doughnut-cupcake hybrid) are good any time of night. I've seen lots of people eat them for breakfast, but don't let those constraints stop you. They also happen to be vegan, because that happens to be a delicious way to prepare them.

Vegan. Jelly. Doughnut. Cupcakes. Adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

Here's what you'll need. Chances you, you already have it lingering in the pantry and fridge.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup soy milk
1 tsp. apple vider vinegar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
Strawberry, blueberry, grape or other jam of your choice (Note: You want to make sure you use something with sugar, otherwise this whole plan just isn't going to come together as you like. The fruit needs to congeal, people.)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Whisk together the cider vinegar and cornstarch into a measuring cup that you've filled with the soy milk. Set aside.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Add the canola oil, sugar, and vanilla extract to the soy milk mixture and whisk to combine. 
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. You can dump them in. Vegan baking is more forgiving than conventional baking. Just fold it together carefully, and use a small whisk to make sure any lumps are gone. 
  6. Scoop by 1/4 cups to lined or greased muffin tins. Fill 3/4 of the way up. 
  7. Add 1-2 Tbsp. of the jam of your choice to the center of each cupcake. 
  8. Bake in the oven for about 20-22 minutes until the sides start to pull away from the pan, the jelly looks a bit set, and the tops are lightly browned. 
  9. Remove from the oven to cool in the pan for about ten minutes on a wire rack. Then remove each cupcake from the pan to cool completely.
  10. Shower them with love in the form of confectioner's sugar. They can take it. Repeat as necessary; that stuff gets absorbed quickly.
  11. These will keep for 2-3 days, tightly covered, in a container.