Chocolate Guinness Layer Cake
Well this cake has just about all of my favorite things: chocolate, beer, and espresso – need I give you any more of an introduction than that? I thought not. (Recipe slightly adapted from Bon Appètit)
Chocolate Guinness Layer Cake
Makes 12 servings
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) salted butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cups plus 3 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs, separated
¾ cup Guinness, chocolate stout, regular stout, or porter
2/3 cup freshly brewed strong coffee (I stopped by Starbucks and bought a Grande French Roast, used a bit for the cake, then drank the rest. It’s called being resourceful, people!)
1 pound bittersweet chocolate (54% to 60% cacao), chopped
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 ½-inch-high sides. Line bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper round; butter and flour parchment and sides. Place chopped chocolate in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water and set aside. (This is not the time to lick your fingers, friends. It looks really melty and delicious, but remember it’s unsweetened, so it still tastes skunky at this point! Wait until the batter’s finished then lick the beaters clean.)
Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 1 ¼ cups sugar in large bowl until fluffy and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. (I can’t stress enough how important it is to properly cream the butter and sugar; this is what makes the cake light and fluffy instead of heavy in the middle. Cream it until you think you’re done, then go an extra minute. It should look like this…)
Add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Pour ¾ cup of Guinness into a measuring beaker, then drink the rest. In the same measuring beaker, pour 2/3 cup of freshly brewed coffee – if the coffee’s still warm the beer will help cool it down. Beat in lukewarm melted chocolate, then stout and coffee. At this point the batter will look a little strange, like it’s separating or curdling, but that’s normal. Beat flour mixture into chocolate mixture in 2 additions just until incorporated and batter is smooth. Oooh, now we’re getting somewhere!
Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar in another medium bowl until stiff but not dry. (They should form stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted from the bowl, like so…)
Fold ⅓ of egg whites into cake batter to lighten, then fold in remaining egg whites in 2 additions. Divide batter between prepared cake pans (about 3 cups for each); smooth tops. (Now you can lick your fingers!)
Bake cakes until tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Transfer cakes to racks and cool in pans 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks; remove parchment paper and cool completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.
Place chopped chocolate in medium heatproof bowl. Combine whipping cream and espresso powder in medium saucepan. Bring cream mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Pour cream mixture over chopped chocolate; let stand 1 minute, then whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Chill chocolate frosting until slightly thickened and spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours (or for quick chilling, place frosting in freezer until thickened and spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes).
Using serrated knife, trim rounded tops from both cake layers so that tops are flat.
You’ll end up with extra-thin slivers of cake. Don’t let these go to waste, they’re perfect for snacking on while you sweat over getting your frosting smooth and your cake looking beautiful.
Place 1 cake layer, trimmed side up, on a cake plate. Drop 1¼ cups frosting by large spoonfuls over top of cake layer; spread frosting evenly to edges with offset spatula or butter knife.
Top with second cake layer, trimmed side down so that the flat bottom side creates nice sharp edges – this makes it much easier to spread the frosting evenly without getting pesky crumbs in it. Spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake.
This recipe yields plenty of frosting, so don’t skimp, really lay it on thick! DO AHEAD: Can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let cake stand at room temperature at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours before serving.
Beautiful! Now slice it up…