Shane was away for most of the weekend which left me with lots of time on my hands to get in the kitchen and bake. As I sat poring over recipes, I realized St Patrick's Day was less than a week away and I hadn't made anything relevant to share with you, so I set out to remedy that situation. After a trip to the mall (note to self, a "quick" stop at Crate & Barrel to make a return will be anything but at 4 pm on a Saturday afternoon) I stopped at the liquor store (where, sadly, I was not carded) and grabbed some Guinness. Nothing screams St Patrick's Day to me like Guinness and there are a ton of recipes out there that call for stout. As an added bonus, Shane loves it so he can enjoy one on Thursday alongside the corned beef and cabbage I'm planning to make :)
I ended up deciding to first try this chocolate stout cake I'd seen over on Smitten Kitchen. The recipe just so happens to have come from a local-ish brewery which pretty much sealed the deal for me. It also didn't hurt that it's both easy and quick to whip up, important factors when you tend to start baking at 11 pm all too often. I halved the recipe that was on Deb's site to make a mini bundt (my adapted mini version of the recipe is below), but feel free to double it and bake in a standard 12-cup bundt if you prefer (you'll need to adjust the baking time accordingly). Hands down the best thing about this cake for me was the aroma - your entire house will smell like rich chocolate cake while the cake bakes and when it emerges from the oven. I wrapped the cake overnight and the next day when Shane got home, I topped it with ganache and cut a slice for us to share. It was moist, dense and really rich with great chocolate flavor, a definite hit for both of us. I wasn't as enamored with the ganache. It was tasty, but the texture was off for me - it was a bit too thick and I didn't love the way it looked on the cake. A minor complaint for sure, but honestly, I don't know that this cake needs a topping. It's good enough to stand on its own.
Chocolate Stout Cake
adapted from the Barrington Brewery in Great Barrington, MA via Bon Appetit (via Smitten Kitchen)
1/2 cup stout (I used Guinness)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup sour cream
3 ounces semisweet chocolate
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3/8 teaspoon instant coffee granules
To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 6-cup bundt pan well with cooking spray with flour.
In a large saucepan set over medium heat, combine the stout and the butter. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg and sour cream until well blended. Add the slightly cooled stout mixture to the bowl and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture all at once and beat briefly on low speed to begin to incorporate. Remove the mixer bowl and use a rubber spatula to fold the batter to finish incorporating the dry ingredients.
Transfer the batter to the prepared bundt pan. Bake for 30-32 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the bundt pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes then turn the cake out of the pan and set it on the wire rack to cool completely.
To make the ganache: Place the chocolate, heavy cream and instant coffee in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second bursts at 50% power, stirring in between, until completely melted and smooth. (You could also do this using a double boiler if you want.) Drizzle over the cooled cake.