People, it’s time. The season of decadent foodstuffs has begun. Even though in the past few weeks I’ve tested new dessert recipes, whipped up a Thanksgiving pie, and attended a cookie party, I decided that a recent weeknight birthday celebration for five called for a three-layer chocolate stout cake. I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry, because I lightened things up with a whipped cream frosting. Instead of ganache. It’s called restraint.
But there’s another story to this cake. It’s a story with a lesson. And it involves pickles. I spent the morning making quick pickles for a different party, and I fell behind schedule, so the cake went in the oven much later than I’d hoped. So I did what any natural light-loving food blogger does; I stuck the layers in the freezer and hoped that they’d cool down in time for a photo.
They didn’t. The frosting melted, layers slid, and my daughters learned a smattering of colorful new vocabulary words. In the end, the cake was immortalized, however messily, and we could get on with the important part–eating it. And that’s good because a three layer chocolate stout cake with a barely sweet stout-infused whipped cream tastes really, really good.
A few notes on the recipe. As you may have guessed, the lesson from my story is: Make sure the layers are totally cool before frosting (I’d plan on at least two hours of cool time). And take note, this cake is gigantic. Way too much for five people to eat even in a few days. The whipped cream frosting doesn’t hold up beautifully after day one, so you may want to cut back on the recipe. Smitten Kitchen has a lovely bundt version of the cake here, or just halve the recipe and have a more modest two layer cake.
Chocolate Stout Cake (adapted from Bon Appétit via Epicurious)
makes three 8-inch layers
for the cake
2 cups good stout, such as Samuel Smith’s or Guinness
4 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/3 cups sour cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8-inch cake pans, line bottom with a parchment circle, and then butter that too.
In a heavy-bottomed medium-sized sauce pan, heat the butter and stout over medium-low heat. When the butter has melted, turn heat to low and whisk in the cocoa. Remove pan from heat, and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a medium-sized bowl.
Using a hand mixer, or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sour cream together on low speed. Slowly add the cocoa mixture, mixing just until combined. (Scrape down the sides as needed.) Gradually add the flour mixture, and beat just until it is well-incorporated. Turn off the mixer and use a spatula to scrape the sides and catch any stray flour.
Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans, and then slide into the oven. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached.
After 10 minutes, flip the cakes onto a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.
for the whipped cream stout frosting (adapted from Gourmet Live via Epicurious)
2 cups cold heavy cream
1/4 cup stout
3 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
Use a mixer or whisk to beat all of the ingredients to stiff (but still supple) peaks. Frost and assemble the cake.
Keep in the refrigerator until your are ready to serve for optimal looks.