Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day with Cake!

   A Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all. You don't have to be Irish to enjoy St. Patty's Day, as evident by the thousands cramming themselves into downtown Chicago in various states of green dress. I never saw the point in a drunken parade or green beer- really?! I love St. Patrick's Day because it means friends and family come together over some good food and a beer. 
    Even better is a meal finished by chocolate stout cake. Chocolate and dark beer is a match made in culinary heaven. Most versions of chocolate stout cake lean to heavily to the chocolate side or end up tasting like bitter beer. This year I found a recipe at that walks the line between the two and with the addition of currents you get a chocolate stout cake that has just the right level of sweetness.  Here is the recipe, complete with pictures. It takes a *lot* of time, so you may want to bake this the day before the big event. Put on some Pogues and get down to it. 

Guinness Stout Chocolate Layer Cake


Drizzling Syrup

1/3 cup    Guinness Stout Beer (measure without foam)
1/3 cup    Dark Brown Sugar
3 tblspn  Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 tspn     Vanilla Extract (Pure Vanilla, not imitation)


2/3 cup    Guinness Stout Beer (measure without foam)
2/3 cup    Currants (dried)
1/3 cup + 2 tblspn   Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 ounces  Semisweet Chocolate (cut into small pieces)
3/4 cup    Buttermilk
1 3/4 cup + 2 tblspn Sugar
2 cups + 2 tblpsn All Purpose Flour
Cooking Spray
2/3 cup Unsalted Butter (softened)
4 eggs
1 1/2 tspn Vanilla Extract (Pure Vanilla)
1 1/2 tspn baking Soda
1 1/2 tspn Baking Powder
1/4  tspn   Salt
1/2 cup   Currant jelly (warmed to room temperature)

Bittersweet Icing

1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
6 oz.  Bittersweet Chocolate (Finely Chopped)
4 1/2 tblspn Powdered Sugar
4 1/2 tblspn Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 tspn Vanilla Extract
1/8 tspn Salt
1 cup Chopped Walnuts


   To prepare drizzling syrup, combine all of the "Drizzling Syrup" ingredients in a small, heavy saucepan, whisking until smooth. Heat over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is smooth. Set aside.
Making the "syrup"

For the cake-pour stout over currants, cover and soak until plump. Drain the currants, reserving stout. Add the stout to a small saucepan. Whisk in 1/3 cup cocoa and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, add the semisweet chocolate, stirring until the chocolate melts. Cool slightly and then stir in the buttermilk.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Combine 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons flour. Coat two 8" round cake pans with cooking spray and dust with this mixture.
This prevents the cake from sticking.

Beat butter with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in 1 3/4 cup sugar until well blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. I recommend cracking them in a small bowl first to prevent egg shells! Beat in vanilla.

Combine 2 cups flour with baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with the chocolate-buttermilk mixture, stirring until blended. Stir in currants.
Don't worry if the batter looks slightly curdled.

Divide batter between the two pans (I used a scale to weigh my batter to equal proportions). Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooded pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes; then invert the cake onto the racks. This is easier if you have two small racks.

Poking holes for the liquid
Poke holes in the tops of the cakes with a skewer and spoon drizzling syrup over the tops. Leave on the racks until they are cool, about 30 minutes. Place one layer on a plate and spread the warm jam over it. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. 
The currant jam helps cut through all of the chocolate
While cake is chilling, make the icing. Bring cream to a boil. Place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl, pour the boiling cream over it and whisk until the chocolate melts and is thoroughly combines. Cover tightly and chill. Chill your beaters from your stand mixture at the same time too. Whip chocolate mixture in stand mixer. When soft peaks form, sift in confectioners sugar and cocoa. Add vanilla and salt. Continue whipping until combined.
The icing tastes like a really good pudding or mousse.

Spread about a quarter of the bittersweet icing over the layer with the jam on it.

Place the second layer of cake on top and ice the top and sides with remaining icing. Press nuts into the sides of the cake.

Place cake in the fridge so the icing can set. Enjoy with a glass of milk! 

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