This weekend, we celebrated my friend Ally’s 23rd birthday. A low-key party, we enjoyed dinner with friends, and then hit up some funky and fun Milwaukee bars. But a party is not complete without a cake! And we all know how I love to bake, so naturally I volunteered. Ally loves chocolate, and good beer, so I baked a cake with exactly that: dark chocolate, and imperial stout.
The combination is a classic one – we’ve been putting Guinness in our cakes for years. And I tend to bake often with alcohol: brandy in my peach crisp, and beer in my banana bread. But I wanted something that would really enhance the flavors of good dark chocolate. This Atwater Brewery VJ Black Imperial Stout was absolutely perfect. It’s “black as tar” and the chocolate flavor comes through perfectly. I only know this because I got to finish off the bottle once the cake was done 😀
This cake, and Ally’s birthday, also called for the best of the best dark chocolate. I popped into the Milwaukee Public Market, a fun place to explore and buy amazing ingredients, and lunch! Smack dab in the center of the market is Kehr’s Candies, a local candy company, and I knew they’d have what I needed. 3 minutes later, I walked away with just under 1/2 lb of aromatic, rich, beautiful dark chocolate. The restraint it took for me to not bite into it was incredible!
Now that you have life’s most important foods: beer and chocolate, it’s cake-baking time! Here’s the recipe. It’s adapted and inspired by a recipe I found on In Vegetables We Trust. If you require vegan cake, definitely check out the recipe there! If not, scroll down to see mine. Cheers to cake!
Double Chocolate Stout Cake with Chocolate Stout Ganache
For the cake:
- 1/3 C (100g if you’re weighing it) good dark chocolate (not unsweetened, not semi-sweet, but DARK chocolate)
- 1 stick butter, softened (I took out the butter in the morning, set it on the counter, and it was soft by the time I got home from work)
- 1/3 C granulated sugar
- 1/3 C packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 C chocolate-y stout of your choice
- 1 1/3 C all-purpose flour
- 1/4 C cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the ganache:
- 1/3 C (100g if you’re weighing it) good dark chocolate – use the same kind as above
- 1/4 chocolate-y stout
- 1 tbsp butter, softened
- 1 tbsp skim milk
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour an 8″ round cake pan, or use a spray that has flour in it, which is my preference.
Using a double broiler method, melt the chocolate. To do this, fill a small saucepan, or the bottom part of a double broiler set, with water and bring to a gentle simmer on the stove. Place chocolate in a glass bowl, or the top part of the set, and place that over the water-filled pot. Be sure that the chocolate bowl does not touch the simmering water, and it is very important no water touch the chocolate. That’ll ruin it! Stir occasionally until it is completely melted. Once it is all melted, remove from the water and stove, and allow to cool.
In the meantime, combine the softened butter and the sugars in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed with a hand or stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat to incorporate. Slowly pour in beer – make sure you’ve poured it so that there’s not much of a head, as that would skew the measurements. Use a wire whisk to mix the beer into the batter. Now add the melted and cooled chocolate. Again, whisk to incorporate – do NOT beat with the mixer!
In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Add to the wet mixture, and whisk until just combined. Over-mixing will start to activate the gluten in the flour, which will in turn make the cake too dense.
With a spatula, pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Smooth the top so it’s flat. Bake on the top or middle rack of your oven for 35 minutes.
Remove and allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Gently loosen sides of the cake from the tin with a butter knife, and let cool completely on a cooling rack. This is a good time to fold the laundry or hop in the shower.
In a small saucepan on medium-low heat, combine chocolate, beer, butter and milk to melt together. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon, until all is melted and combined.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
Move cake from the cooling rack to a dish or pan, so as no to make a huge mess. With the wooden spoon, slowly spread ganache onto the cake. Start from the center, and keep adding more, gradually spreading out to the edges.
In my opinion, a cake does not count as a birthday cake unless it either says the recipient’s name, or is covered in sprinkles. I went with the sprinkles 🙂 A splash of colorful jimmies on this dark chocolate cake makes for the perfect visual experience.
If you are using a topping, such as sprinkles, toasted nuts, or anything else, add to the cake now, so the ganache can set everything in place.
Cover and store in the fridge, allowing the ganache to set, until ready to eat. I made this the night before the party, so I let it sit out at room temperature for an hour or two before we sliced into it.
Sing happy birthday and eat up!
What’s your favorite cake to bake for a friend’s birthday?