I really don’t know how to describe this cake to you other than to say that this is the best tasting cake I’ve ever eaten! How’s that for a recommendation? To help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day you can use that good Irish Guinness beer to plain ol’ drink, make into some Guinness braised short ribs or for the best use you will make this Guinness cake. Did I mention it’s Guinness CHOCOLATE cake? And just to give it a little more Irish joie di vivre there’s some Irish whiskey in there too. Erin go braugh!
If you gave up chocolate or booze for Lent, you are seriously shit outta luck on this one. Although, isn’t there some kind of exception rule in the Catholic church if St. Patrick’s day happens during Lent? Forgive me for being stupid on this, but it’s been a long time since I donned my old Catholic school girl uniform. I think it was Halloween 1992 when I last wore it. It’s now packed away somewhere at my parents house.
You’re also pretty screwed if you’re doing some kind of sea kelp cleanse, the maple syrup and cayenne pepper detox and/or eschewing all white foods (for whatever reason…be it sane or insane). But if you’re on the see food diet…you’re all good. This Guinness cake is ENORMOUS! Trust me when I say these pictures don’t do it justice. It’s full of butter, flour, sugar, Guinness beer and a touch of Irish whiskey (just to stay in the theme of the day).
I realize that this is not my normal type of posting, but I was informed that I would lose my food blogger status if I didn’t post a St Patricks Day recipe. And, to be fair…I thought I needed to post up a Guinness recipe this time because last year I posted a mint chocolate brownies recipe that didn’t use Guinness, and used a (GASP) boxed brownie mix (pure blasphemy…I know – whatever). They’re really good…so if you haven’t made them, you’re really missing out. But don’t make those before you make this Guinness chocolate cake.
I make no claims that any part of this recipe is mine. The Guinness cake recipe comes from an old issue of Bon Appetit. The frosting, which is Italian meringue (and my new favorite recipe) is a Julia Childs recipe. I did
bastardize modify it a touch by replacing some of the water with whiskey (I think Julia would be proud). And the chocolate ganache recipe is one that I’ve used in numerous recipes here on the site. I will claim, however, that the original recipe called for the cake to be coated in just chocolate ganache. I wanted to introduce a bit more Irish in it with the addition of whiskey (why just make a plain Guinness cake when you can make a Whiskey Guinness cake?) and thought the Italian meringue would be a tasty delivery vehicle for said booze. Plus it adds a nice touch of contrast, don’t you think?
So get baking and don’t skimp on the quality of your ingredients. The better the chocolate and butter, the richer the flavor. The actual whiskey you use is up to you. I used Bushmill’s whiskey because firstly, it’s Irish and secondly, I had it on hand.
What is your favorite St Patricks Day recipe? And yes, you can say making reservations or hitting your favorite Irish pub on the 17th. Those both count in my book.
YES – I SEE HOW LONG THE INSTRUCTIONS LOOK ON THIS RECIPE – DO.NOT.FREAK.OUT. The reason they seem so long is because there are actually 3 recipes that make up this cake. Also, I gave some really basic instructions on how to frost the cake. I understand that most people know how to frost a cake, but some don’t. To save those people lots of frustration (and having to make 2 batches of Italian meringue to frost their cake) I opted to give some helpful instruction. Most of you can skip the “How to Frost the Cake” set of instructions.
- For the Cake
- 2 Cups Guinness Stout
- 4 Sticks Unsalted Butter (2 cups)
- 1½ Cups Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (best if you use Dutch Process)
- 4 Cups Flour
- 4 Cups Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
- 1½ Teaspoons Salt
- 4 Large Eggs
- 1⅓ Cups Sour Cream
- For the Italian Meringue
- ⅔ Cup Egg Whites (4 to 5 whites)
- Pinch of Salt
- ¼ Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
- 1⅓ Cups Sugar
- ¼ Cup + 1 Tablespoon Water
- 3 Tablespoons Irish Whiskey
- For Chocolate Ganache
- 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1½ Cups Dark Chocolate (not to exceed 72% cocoa)
- For the Cake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
- Butter 2 9 inch round cake pans (or original recipe calls for three 8-inch round cake pans) with 2 inch high sides.
- Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment paper as well. (Make sure that the part where the sides meet the bottom are well buttered so that the cake doesn’t stick there.)
- Add 2 cups of Guinness, and the butter to a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Once simmering, gradually whisk in the cocoa powder (add the cocoa in thirds to help keep it from clumping up.
- Remove from heat and let cool a bit.
- In a large bowl whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 1½ teaspoons salt to make sure everything is blended well.
- In the mixer, beat eggs and sour cream until they just come together.
- Add the warm stout mixture to the egg mixture and beat until just combined.
- Add flour mixture (in fourths) and beat briefly on slow speed until just barely combined. (This makes A LOT of batter.)
- Use a spatula and fold the batter until everything is completely combined.
- Divide batter equally among prepared pans.
- Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 35 minutes (mine, in the 9 inch pans took almost 50 minutes).
- Let cakes cool for 10 minutes, while resting on top of cake racks, then turn the cakes out onto the racks and let cool completely. (I let mine rest overnight.)
- For the Italian Meringue
- Beat the egg whites at slow speed until they foam throughout the bowl.
- Add the salt and cream of tartar.
- Gradually increase the mixer speed and beat until soft peaks form.
- Turn the mixer speed down to ‘slow’ as you make the sugar syrup.
- Bring the sugar, water and whiskey to a simmer in a heavy saucepan.
- Swirl the pan to dissolve the sugar completely.
- Using a candy thermometer, bring the temperature to 234 – 240 degrees Farenheit (soft ball stage). Do not stir the mixture.
- While the mixer is still on slow, slowly (and carefully) pour the boiling syrup down the side of the mixing bowl (be careful not to pour it on the whisk).
- Increase the mixer speed to moderately fast and beat until cool and the egg whites form stiff, shiny peaks.
- You are now ready to frost the cake.
- For Chocolate Ganache
- Finely chop the chocolate and dump into a large, heat resistant bowl.
- Heat the cream, in small heavy saucepan, over medium heat until bubbles begin to form around the edges.
- Pour half of the cream over the chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds.
- Whisk the chocolate and cream mixture until you see that the chocolate is being mixed with the cream.
- Pour in the rest of the warm cream.
- Continue whisking until all of the chocolate has melted.
- Set chocolate ganache aside.
- Frosting the Cake
- Determine how many layers you want your cake to be.
- Cut your cakes into the number of layers you would like.
- Make sure that your cake layers are even. If not, cut them with a serrated knife to make them even.
- Set the first layer of cake onto your cake plate.
- To make the cake plate clean, cut 4 strips of parchment paper and arrange part of them under the cake and rest on the cake plate. When you’re done icing the cake, you just carefully pull them away and your cake plate is nice and clean.
- Spoon about ¾ cup of the meringue onto the first layer (this is what I used for 4 layers on a 9 inch cake).
- Smooth meringue into an even layer and leave about ½ inch all around that layer without meringue (when you add the next layer, the meringue will work its way out to the edge).
- Continue doing this on the rest of the layers.
- Once you get to the top layer, you can use more of the meringue.
- I smoothed the top layer of meringue to give a better surface for the ganache.
- As you work down the sides of the cake, with the meringue, you can make a smooth or rough finish. (I went with rough on my cake.)
- Check the temperature of your ganache. You don’t want it too hot or too cold.
- Re-whisk the ganache and pour it into a pitcher or measuring cup with a spout (makes pouring easier).
- Carefully pour the ganache in a circle on the top layer of the cake. Start in the center of the cake and work your way to the edge. (Don’t use all of the ganache.)
- Now smooth the ganache with an offset spatula. Again, start in the center and work your way out.
- As you get closer to the edge, you’ll push the excess over the sides and form the drips.
- Use the leftover gananche to pour more on top and gently push the excess over the edge to form more drips.
- Let stand for a couple of hours so that the ganache has time to set up.
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