It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, you know what that means for me – chocolate paired with Guinness and frosting paired with Baileys Irish Cream! Before last year I was every kind of skeptical about throwing beer into my chocolate baked goods, and this is coming from someone who will choose a beer over a mixed drink any day of the week. My skepticism was squashed after making the utterly amazing Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes, then I took it a notch further with Guinness-Milk Chocolate Ice Cream. Both blew my socks off, so when I saw a chocolate stout cake on King Arthur Flour, I wasted absolutely no time in getting to the kitchen. Luckily, I had some bottles of Guinness leftover from my Gingerbread Cake, so I didn’t even have to hit the liquor store before starting. Bonus! While the original recipe called for a chocolate frosting, I thought it would be way more festive to get Baileys into the mix, and settled on a Baileys cream cheese frosting.
This cake? Top 3, all-time. No question.
My mom has belonged to the same card club for about 25 years now – the group got together when I was in elementary school and they were all stay-at-home moms who volunteered at the school. They began having monthly Friday night “card clubs” where they would get together, play cards, eat, and gossip. No husbands or kids allowed. Twenty-five years later, they still get together once a month and have started taking a yearly vacation together. They take turns hosting the monthly get-togethers; a few weeks ago, it was my mom’s turn and she asked if I would mind making her a dessert. I said I’d love to and, with this cake jumping to mind immediately, asked if the ladies would mind a spiked dessert. She assured me they would love it, so with the green light, I was off.
The cake came together really easily and while it was cooling, I got started on the frosting. I was in a baking zone and hadn’t really looked outside over the previous few hours. As a result, I didn’t notice that it was becoming eerily similar to the scene from The Wizard of Oz right before Dorothy’s house gets picked up and spun around by a tornado. Oblivious to the situation outside, I started in on my boozy frosting. I put the cream cheese, butter, and Baileys into the mixing bowl and mixed in approximately two spoonfuls of powdered sugar when, poof! Mixer stopped. Radio stopped. Lights went out. I waited a few minutes to see if the power was going to come back, but no such luck. As it turned out, the wind knocked a tree down over power lines down the street. I pulled the mixing bowl off the mixer, grabbed a wooden spoon, and went to town.
This frosting experience made me appreciate all of the things that our grandmothers made years before stand mixers graced most kitchen counters. It also made me appreciate my KitchenAid mixer more than ever before. I wanted to kiss it when the power came back! While I’m unsure if it was the recipe itself or the fact that it was mixed with a wooden spoon, the frosting was just a bit on the soft side. Still, it was stiff enough to frost the cake and do some piping. Plus, it was to-die-for delicious. I will make it a thousand times over.
The verdict from the card club ladies? My mom said they went absolutely crazy over it and couldn’t stop raving. Since they only polished off half of the cake, I got to dig into the leftovers. I have to say this is by far one of the two best chocolate cakes I have ever made. The chocolate flavor is deep and rich, the cake is moist, and the frosting is a perfect complement. I ate it for days, and I am already looking forward to making it again. And again. And again.
For the Cake:
1½ cups stout or dark beer, such as Guinness
1½ cups unsalted butter
1 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
2¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sour cream
For the Frosting:
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup butter, at room temperature
7 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream
6 cups powdered sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans, and line them with parchment paper circles.
2. Place the stout and butter in a large, heavy saucepan, and heat until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the cocoa powder. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sour cream. Add the stout-cocoa mixture, mixing to combine. Add the flour mixture and mix together at slow speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and mix again for 1 minute.
5. Divide the batter equally among the prepared pans. Bake the layers for 35 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning the cakes out of their pans and returning to the rack to finish cooling completely before frosting.
6. Make the Frosting: In a mixing bowl, blend together the cream cheese, butter, and Baileys Irish Cream on medium speed until completely smooth and combined. Gradually add the powdered sugar on medium-low speed until it has all been added. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is smooth and thoroughly mixed. Use immediately. You can refrigerate the frosting, but it will need to be brought to room temperature before using. This yields enough frosting to fill the cake and frost the outside, and do some basic decorations.
*Note: If the finished frosting is a little soft for your liking, you can add more powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.