Beer + Chocolate = Cake?

Hello again! It’s been almost a year since my last post, but don’t worry, I ain’t dead yet. On the contrary, I’ve never felt more alive! I’m proud to announce I have graduated from Carleton (at long last) with a Bachelor of Journalism, highest honours, a shiny diploma, an even shinier medal and the enormous pride of a job well done. You may now join me in a fist pump of victory.

So how shall I celebrate the end to this chapter of my life? The same way I always do: with some good foodie adventures.

It just so happens that Fathers Day is tomorrow, and being the excellent daughter I am, I decided to bake up a new concoction for my dear old papa (that’s pronounced pa-PA, Downtown Abbey style).

My dad and I don’t have too much in common except for our stubbornness. Actually, that lovely shared trait means we often butt heads. But there’s always one thing we love unconditionally – BEER.

To me, nothing puts a cherry on top of a hot summer day like cracking open a cold bottle of beer. But Fathers Day is also meant to be a celebration, and I love me a celebration. It’s a good excuse to have something festive (a.k.a. chocolatey goodness). You can tell where this is going.

Beer? Good!
Chocolate? Good!
Put the two together, and BAM!

Chocolate Stout Cake

Though I’ve eaten many a slice of chocolate cake in my days, I’ve never made one that didn’t come from a mix. I figured, how hard could it be?

I decided to make frosting first so it would have time to cool.

Chocolate Frosting

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1. Chop up about a pound of chocolate. Maybe taste test a piece or five, just to be sure it’s not poisonous or anything.
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2. Simmer some whipping cream in a saucepan and stir in the chocolate. Give it a good stir until it’s all melty and smooth.

Mine turned out a little lumpy (I think it’s from letting the cream get too hot), but it still tastes like chocolatey goodness! Stick it in the fridge to cool and give a stir every once in a while until it looks spreadable.

Chocolate Cake

Now the real fun begins!

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1. Get some good strong beer. I imagine chocolate stout would be perfect for this cake, but alas the LCBO near my house wasn’t packing any. I opted for Cobblestone Stout. The guy at the LCBO promised it would be just as good as Guinness. And of course, it wouldn’t be a good dessert without a handy dandy block o’ butter.

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2. Simmer the beer and butter until all the butter melts. It helps to cut up the butter into chunks so you’re not prodding the giant block around for ages.

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3. Once it’s all melted, it should look something like this. It gives new meaning to Harry Potter’s butter beer. I bravely gave it a taste. It was, in fact, nasty.

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4. Sift some cocoa powder into a bowl. To prevent clumping, I poured a bit of the beer and butter mixture into the cocoa powder first to form a very attractive paste. It looks like dirt, but it’s definitely starting to smell like cake. Then I stirred the paste into the rest of the beer mixture.

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5. Whisk it until it’s smooth and creamy. Like a good chef, I wondered, “How does it taste now?” If you guessed it would still taste nasty. You’d be correct. Do not taste it at this point.

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6. Set aside that chocolate mixture. It’s time to put the rest of the batter together. I combined four eggs with sour cream just until they’re mixed. Then (and I forgot to take a picture of this, but it’s pretty much just a big bowl of white powder) mix together flour, sugar, and baking soda. There was supposed to be salt, but I used salted butter instead of unsalted so I figured that would balance it out. We’ll see.

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7. Pour that chocolate mixture into your egg mixture. It’s kind of got a yin-yang look going on.
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8. Pour the chocolatey mixture into the flour and fold it all together. This is important! Don’t overmix it. (But also try not to leave any floury clumps in there like I discovered later.)

DSC_01699. Cake batter is complete! I poured mine into a 9-inch pan. I only filled it about half-way but it rose to the very top after a turn in the oven. I’d recommend pouring less batter into the pan next time.

Getting creative

As it turns out, my baking adventure started to take a bit of a downturn after I popped this baby in the oven. First off, my oven is a little wonky, so the temperature wasn’t quite as high as I’d like it. After several checks, the edges looked really good but the middle just wasn’t cooking. Perhaps I just made the cake too thick.

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I ended up surrendering and pulling it out. After it cooled, the middle sunk in. Not very festive at all, but fear not! I have more tricks up my sleeve. If my cake refuses to hold up, then fine! I shall make …

Chocolate Stout Cake Trifle

You know what’s great about trifles? The cake part doesn’t have to be pretty. You can cut the cake into chunks to fill the bowl, layer it with some whipped cream and fruit, and voilà! Day saved. Problem solved.

Since it was ruined anyway, I decided to turn the sunken middle of my cake into a taste test opportunity.

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Verdict: This is everything I’ve ever wanted in a chocolate cake! It’s incredibly moist and chocolatey (which surprised me since there’s no actual chocolate in the cake batter, just cocoa powder). I used the Dutch-processed cocoa. It’s supposed to make a difference. I haven’t tried this recipe with regular Fry’s cocoa powder, but I’m pretty happy with this result.

If you’re a fan of light, fluffy cakes, this is not the cake for you. I like a cake you can sink your teeth into. The kind that holds up under a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. This is definitely my kind of cake.

Another surprise for me: The cake (at least the cooked part) doesn’t actually taste like beer. That’s not really a letdown for me if it still holds up as a good chocolate cake, but those of you who are looking for a beer flavoured cake may be disappointed. This may be a good cake to go with a mug of Guinness though.

The beer flavour really comes out in the batter though. (I got a taste of that in the runnier centre.) Lovers of beer-flavoured cake, perhaps I can direct you towards the bowls and spoons for some batter licking instead.

Tips

As I type away, it’s been about four hours since I started this endeavour. There’s definitely an easier way to do this, but alas, first attempts are rarely efficient. After making one nine-inch cake, I decided to turn the rest of the batter into cupcakes (all the better to hack into cake chunks for my trifle, m’dears). There was enough for 22 of them.

In conclusion:

1. Use a BIG bowl to mix that batter. Bigger than you think you’ll need. There’s nothing worse than slopping the batter everywhere (then you’d have to lick that batter off the counter, and that’s just a strain on the neck).

2. This is a dense cake. It takes longer to bake than a fluffy frou-frou cake. I’m baking my cupcakes at 325 F for about 30 minutes and they’re still coming out really moist in the centre.

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To be on the safe side, keep poking at them at regular intervals until your poking utensil comes out more or less clean.

It’s getting late so I’ll have to turn this cake into a trifle tomorrow. (I know I’m cutting it real close to Fathers Day dinner, but don’t worry, no one will be the wiser – especially Dad.) So until then, if you want to try out this chocolate stout cake for yourself (who knows, maybe you’ll have better luck than me!), here’s the recipe I’m using.

Happy eating, fellow foodies!

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2 thoughts on “Beer + Chocolate = Cake?

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