Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wedding Cake Project: Chocolate Guinness Cake

My friend's camera phone takes surprisingly good photos.

I first made this cake last year for an office birthday. Like most office birthdays, we gathered in the conference room, made chit-chat about how old the person was and what she was going to do for her birthday. Then I told everyone there was a secret ingredient in the cake and passed out slips of paper for everyone to guess. The guesses were funny (someone actually guessed "pot") but no one could guess it was Guinness. It's one of those things that you don't actually taste until someone tells you it's there.

My co-worker Anne loved the cake and asked me every time there was a birthday whether I was making it. So for her birthday, of course, I had to make it.

If you click the link to the NYT recipe, you'll note it has some strange measurements (3/8 cup). I tweaked them a little so they work better with American measuring cups. I recommend trying to find European style cocoa, like Droste (King Arthur sells it also). Sometimes you can find Hershey's European Style Cocoa, but some stores don't carry it.

When you make this recipe, you heat the Guinness up in a saucepan to burn a little of the alcohol off, then mix in the chocolate. As it cooks, the Guinness mellows and ends up adding a nice complexity to the chocolate flavor.

The cake itself is very rich and a little fudge-y in the middle. Don't overcook it or it will come out dry. The recipe makes a little too much batter for a regular 9 inch round. You can either make a 9-inch round and then a smaller cake on the side, use a springform pan (since it has taller sides) or use a 10-inch round. The one pictured is a 10-inch round -- what will be the middle layer of the wedding cake.

The recipe also calls for a cream cheese frosting. You're supposed to swirl it on top to make it look like the head of a pint of Guinness. I'm not very good at swirling, though. If you want the cream cheese frosting, don't try to substitute something else for the cream. That gives you frosting that's way too thin. According to Gourmet and the guys at The Bitten Word, it's also lovely with a peanut butter frosting.

The last piece.

Adapted from Nigella Lawson

1 cup Guinness Stout (LN: use the can! it's so much better than the bottle.)
10 tbsp. butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour your cake pan (see above for info on what cake pan to use).

In a small saucepan, heat the Guinness and butter until the butter is melted. Remove from heat and add in the cocao and sugar, whisking until well combined. Set aside.

In the bowl of a Kitchenaid (or in a medium-sized bowl, using hand mixer), combine the sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Mix for 2 minutes or until well combined. Add in the Guinness mixture (if using your Kitchenaid, put on the splash guard so it doesn't get everywhere when you turn on the beaters). Gradually add the flour and baking soda, mixing between each addition until fully incorporated and you have a nice medium-thickness cake batter.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. I recommend baking 45 minutes, then checking every five minutes until a toothpick tester comes out clean. You don't want to overbake or the cake will be dry. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack in the pan.

Once the cake is cool, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a bowl and beat until well combined. Gradually add in the cream, beating until desired consistency.

Remove cake from pan and frost, swirling the frosting on top so it looks like the head on a pint of Guinness. Serve with a tall glass of milk or refrigerate until needed, then remove about 30 minutes before serving.


  1. I had this at the wedding and could not believe how WONDERFUL it was (both the wedding and the cake!). For a 2 layer cake do you split the batter or double the recipe?

  2. To make the 2-layer cake, just double the recipe. Make sure to double (or triple!) the frosting so you get that delicious cream cheese tang with the cake.