While a quinoa casserole can certainly lift one out of the winter blahs, we all know what really does the trick: chocolate and booze. While that could be red wine birthday cake (or red wine brownies), it also could be this chocolate stout cake with bourbon frosting. I’m sorry, I meant this epic chocolate stout cake with bourbon frosting, as The Beeroness aptly describes.
Epic is right. There’s beer in the cake batter and bourbon in the frosting, and the alcohol adds flavors that are complex, rich, heavenly … sorry, got a bit lost in my thoughts. I’ve talked about baking with stout beers before, and while they’re good in this Irish porter cake, their deeply toasted malty notes really shine when paired with chocolate. For this cake, I used Allagash Black, a Belgian-style stout with chocolate, coffee and caramel flavors. It adds a subtle bitterness to the cake, one that plays nicely with the espresso powder and super dark chocolate in the batter.
And let’s talk about that chocolate. There’s a lot here–over a pound–and all of it is dark. I used 72% dark chocolate for the cake, and 63% for the frosting, which keeps the cake from become cloyingly sweet. The bourbon and sour cream keep the chocolate buttercream frosting interesting, and I won’t admit how much of it we ate directly from the bowl with a spoon.
I made this chocolate stout cake for my sister’s 25th birthday (apparently, 25th birthdays are a boozy affair) and it’s a great celebration cake. I mean, chocolate, beer, bourbon — how could it not be?
(Her birthday was also a great excuse for me to host my first brunch, which really kicked my cooking apathy out the door. I can’t wait to share those recipes with you!)
Dark Chocolate Stout Cake with Bourbon Frosting
Recipe from The Beeroness
Makes a 9-inch two-layer cake
As with all layer cakes, I highly recommend baking the cakes a few days in advance and then freezing them. It’ll make the process a bit more manageable, and cakes are much easier to frost if they’re frozen. You can also make the frosting 1 or 2 days in advance and refrigerate in an airtight container.
For the cake:
– 3-1/2 ounces dark chocolate (72% cocoa solids or darker), chopped into small chunks
– 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, chopped
– 6 ounces chocolate stout
– 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
– 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
– 2 tablespoons canola oil (though I used olive and it was fine)
– 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
– 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
– 1/2 tablespoon espresso powder
– 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the frosting:
– 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
– 1/2 cup sour cream
– 2 cups dark chocolate chips (I used 63%), melted and slightly cooled + additional for decorating
– 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
– 2 tablespoons bourbon
– 1/4 cup heavy cream
1) Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and set aside.
2) In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the dark chocolate and butter together on very low heat, stirring frequently. Once the butter and chocolate have melted completely, stir in the stout. Heat for 2-3 minutes, then turn off the flame and set aside.
3) In a large bowl, beat the sugar, eggs and egg yolk together with an electric beater until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add the oil and yogurt and beat until just combined. Then slowly pour in the cooled chocolate mixture and beat until well combined, scraping down the sides as necessary.
4) In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, espresso powder, cocoa powder and salt. Using a fine sieve, sift the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients, then beat on low speed until just combined. Divide the batter between the two cake pans.
5) Bake the cake layers for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans to release the cakes. Carefully flip the cakes onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Then refrigerate for at least an hour before frosting.
(If making the cakes a few days in advance [which I highly recommend]: once the cakes are completely cooled, double-wrap each in plastic wrap. Then wrap them tightly in tin foil and freeze. You can frost the cake layers straight from the freezer — in fact, this makes them way easier to frost!)
Make the frosting:
6) In a large bowl, beat the softened butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the sour cream and beat until light and fluffy. Slowly pour in the melted chocolate, beating until the mixture is well combined.
7) Add the powdered sugar and, slowly increasing the speed of the beaters, beat on high until well combined. Gradually add the bourbon and cream, one tablespoon at a time, allowing the liquid to fully incorporate each time before adding more. Scrape the bottom of the bowl well to make sure all of the ingredients are mixed. Cover and refrigerate the frosting for at least 30 minutes before using.
Assemble the cake:
8) Place one of the cake layers on a cake plate. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, spread a 1/2-inch-thick layer of frosting on top of the cake layer. Then carefully place the second layer on top, adjusting the cake so that the layers line up exactly.
9) Spread a thin layer of frosting all around the tops and sides of the cake, creating a “crumb coat” to catch any loose crumbs. (There are fewer crumbs if your cake layers are frozen.) Then, spread the remaining frosting in a thick layer on the tops and sides of the cake. Decorate as desired. (I was running mad late, so I didn’t decorate at all.)