I had a boyfriend in high school who loved beer. He was Irish - fair skin, freckles, the whole nine - and I remember walking into a "guys-only" poker night at his parents house to 5 skinny, American Eagle-wearing high school dudes smoking cigars and slurping down beers of all kinds. We dated through most of college (he went to the big 10 university and I went to the tiny liberal arts college) and I remember hearing tales of home-brewing beer during holiday breaks and visits home.
I never understood his fascination and chalked it up to ancestry, since the beer of choice at my college was Natural Light in cans (if we were lucky, Coors Light kegs) which was choked down in pints for one purpose and one purpose only (and it wasn't because we enjoyed the taste). Senior year we traded our Natty for something much more refined and sophisticated: Franzia. We'd take our boxed wine to frat parties and challenge the boys to "Franzia-stands" in place of keg stands. You know, 'cause we were classy like that.
So I never caught on to my boyfriend's love of Guinness. I had no place for the bittersweet stout that friends claimed was more "like a meal" than a beer. Ummm I wasn't hungry, I wanted a drink! But "it tastes like chocolate!" Ummm I didn't want dessert, pass me my vodka/cranberry! It wasn't until I was studying abroad in England where the "Irish car bomb" shots flowed freely among my American friends that I came to appreciate Guinness (but only when accompanied by Bailey's Irish Cream and Jameson Irish Whiskey). With that shot, it really did taste like smooth, creamy chocolate, and we slurped them up at the Waterfront in Norwich like the American's we were in a foreign country.
Aside from the filling shot (and I haven't had one in years), I couldn't come up with a good use for Guinness until I saw Deb post about a chocolate stout cake. It's been on my radar for months but it wasn't until my office decided to throw a Halloween bash this week that I came up with a reason to make it. So I went to the store tonight, bought a pint of Guinness in a can (why does it have that weird ball inside the can at the bottom?) and got to it.
This cake is super easy to make, and since Deb warned that it made a lot of batter, I scooped some into a cupcake pan so that I could give it a try before serving it at the party. All I can say are two things: 1. yum, it makes an excellent dinner, and 2. I can't wait to eat more tomorrow at the office.
I used Deb's halved recipe and it actually looked just like hers, though to stay in the Halloween spirit I tossed a couple candy corn on top for decoration. After this cake I might be sold on using unusual ingredients to create fabulous versions of usual recipes (i.e. Guinness in chocolate cake). What's the next challenge?
Here's hoping the co-workers enjoy! Happy Halloween!
Chocolate Stout Cake
1 cup stout (I used Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
6 tbsp. heavy cream
3/4 tsp. instant coffee granules
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter or spray a bundt pan well, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 34 minutes (it took me 45 minutes, so watch the cake). Transfer cake to rack; cool completely in the pan.
For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee granules in the top of a double broiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cooled cake.