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?