Drink Your Cake

Given the choice, I almost always choose cake over beer. Cake comforts me in a way that beer just can’t compete with. It falls flat, if you will.

I stuck by this choice until Ireland sauntered into my life with a novel idea: beer in cake. Guinness, to be exact. I first heard about the cake last summer when I was cooking Ireland for my Global Table Adventure. My first thought? “I can’t believe it’s not St. Patrick’s Day!”

My next thought? Should Guinness Chocolate Cake prove to be as delicious as it sounds, I would no longer have to choose between the two. I could have my cake and drink it, too. I immediately got to work, sure that, if all of Ireland eats the cake, it had to be good. Really good. While the famous black-and-white drink is generally too bitter and thick for my tastes – you can practically cut it with a knife – Guinness turns out to be the perfect complement to dark chocolate. The bitter booze enhances the cake’s chocolaty flavor; similar to the way a tablespoon of good espresso gives chocolate cake a big boost of flavor.

As if adding beer to my cake wasn’t a big enough adventure, I went the full mile and made a fluffy Bailey’s buttercream frosting, imitating the pure white head that crowns the beer; the secret to the super-white buttercream is mixing it for five to 10 minutes. As the butter oxidizes, it changes from creamy yellow to snow white. The sweet frosting balances the deep chocolate flavor, and the combination makes this cake my husband’s number one birthday cake request.

Those concerned about giving alcohol to kids, take comfort; the alcohol cooks off. Even the Bailey’s in the frosting only amounts to the amount of alcohol you’d find in good vanilla extract.

Sasha Martin is cooking one meal for every country in the world. Her picky husband and baby girl are along for the ride. Join the adventure for recipes, reviews and more at www.globaltableadventure.com.

Guinness Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 sticks butter
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 c. Guinness Extra Stout
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs

For the buttercream:
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 c. powdered sugar, sifted
2-4 tbsp. Bailey’s, as needed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, melt butter and whisk together with Guinness, vanilla extract and cocoa. Remove from heat. While the Guinness mixture is cooling, grease and line two eight-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Next, whisk together the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, baking soda). Pour the Guinness mixture onto the dry ingredients, then whisk in the two eggs. When the batter is shiny and smooth, pour evenly into two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Once the cakes are done baking, cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the buttercream by whipping together the softened butter and sugar in a standing mixer, then adding in just enough Bailey’s to get it loose and fluffy. The key to white frosting is to whip it a long time – the longer you whip it, the whiter it will become. I whipped ours for 5-10 minutes. I only needed 3 tablespoons of Bailey’s – you know what to do with the extra.

To assemble the cake, level the layers with a serrated knife, if needed. Then, add the frosting for the middle layer and top with second layer. Wiggle the cakes around until they line up just right. Next, do a crumb coat. This is optional but highly recommended so you don’t get brown crumbs in your white frosting. To do so, coat top and sides with another 1/3 of the frosting mixture. Spread it all over, nice and thin. Refrigerate to set it. At this point, you can refrigerate the cake overnight.

Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, add the final 1/3 of the frosting to the cake – top first, then sides. Spread it around evenly. Slice and serve with an extra cold Guinness or a glass of milk.