Monday, March 15, 2010

Just in Time for St. Patty's Day

A few months ago I was flipping through my copy of Feast by Nigella Lawson. I came across many recipes I wanted to try, but was especially intrigued by her Chocolate Guinness much so that I added "MAKE NIGELLA'S GUINNESS CAKE" in my calendar on my iPhone.

Since St. Patrick's Day is just a few days from now, I decided to make this black beauty over the weekend. I served it to my family and received rave reviews. My dad even said it was the best chocolate cake he'd ever had. Not bad. The Guinness adds a depth of flavor to the cake that's subtle but delicious. You won't bite into this and say "wow--this takes like beer", but there is a malty, nutty, deep flavor that's very good.

This is one of the easiest cakes I've ever had the pleasure to make. The ingredients are few and simple, and I really think it makes a difference to use the best ingredients possible. Make sure you use full-fat sour cream (I used my mom's favorite brand, Daisy)--cakes are never the time to skimp on flavor just to save a few calories.

Before you get cooking, take time to read over the recipe. I prepped myself before turning on my oven or stove. I had everything ready and waiting for me so I could work fast. The cake batter comes together extremely fast, so being set up ahead of time really helped.

Here's the recipe. This is a new family favorite and I imagine I'll be making this many, many times.

Makes 1 9" cake (about 12 slices)

Cake Ingredients
1 cup Guinness
1 stick plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Getting ready
  • Preheat oven to 350. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9" springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
  • Measure out cocoa and sugar--stir together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. Set aside.
  • In a third bowl, mix the flour and baking soda together. Set aside.
Making the cake
  • Pour the Guinness into a large, wide saucepan. Add the butter and cook over medium-low heat, letting the butter melt. Whisk from time to time.
  • When the butter is melted, add the cocoa and sugar to the pan. Whisk well. Pull the saucepan off heat.
  • Add the sour cream/eggs/vanilla mixture to the Guinness and cocoa powder mixture in the saucepan; whisk well.
  • Add the flour/baking soda to the saucepan and whisk together quickly.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and bake 45 minutes to an hour. The cake will pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted to the center should come out with a few crumbs on it.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for several hours. Remove the sides of the pan, flip the cake over, and remove the bottom of the springform pan. Peel off the parchment paper.
  • When the cake is completely cooled, set it on a cake plate or serving plate to ice.
For the Topping
Note: You don't have to add the icing, but it's really, really good. Plus the lovely white layer of icing on top of the black cake sort of looks like a pint of Guinness.

8 ounces Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Place the cream cheese in the bowl of your mixer and beat for a few minutes.
  • Add the confectioners' sugar and whip well.
  • Pour in the heavy cream and continue to mix until the icing is smooth and spreadable.
  • Ice just the top of the cake as you like.
  • Devour!

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