It’s nearly St. Patrick’s Day and I’m just now sharing this recipe for Chocolate Stout Cake with Irish Cream Frosting! Hopefully, that will translate into a good thing for you all because I’ve been testing and retesting different recipes for the cake and the frosting, wanting to get it just right. Unbelievably, my pants still fit thanks to the fact that it was easy to find volunteers when it came to testing. Some Chocolate Stout Cake recipes called for way too much butter, and others just weren’t moist enough. This recipe from Nigella Lawson became the perfect one to pair with the creamy Irish Cream frosting. And, even if I’m almost too late for St. Patrick’s Day, I don’t care because I’ll be making Chocolate Stout Cake all year long. But I won’t leave out you friends who don’t go the route of adding alcohol to any recipe- For you all, the cake works fabulous with Coca-Cola in place of the stout, and you can use either Irish Cream coffee creamer in the frosting, or leave the flavoring out completely.
Chocolate stout cake is super moist and packed with rich, chocolate flavor. I think the beer enhances the chocolate the same way adding espresso or coffee does. And sour cream in the batter gives it a perfect tang that’s barely there but very nice, not to mention these two additions only increase the moist factor. Not too sweet, either. A couple of things that are important to note from my experimenting, a lot of experimenting- Due to the addition of beer and sour cream and since you melt the butter, sugar and cocoa together, this is a wet batter and if you live in an altitude above 3,500 feet, I recommend using my high-altitude changes that are in the notes of the recipe (I promise they are easy, little adjustments). This will prevent the cake, or cupcakes if that’s where you’re going, from having a little sink hole in the middle. If that doesn’t bother you, then just frost it extra thick in the center.
Irish cream liqueur is not for everyone, its a blend of cream and “mellow” spirits to resemble Irish whiskey. The flavor is pretty light in the frosting and becomes creamy and nutty overnight in the refrigerator. My family sampled frosting with and without the Irish cream and the liquored-up version won out. You can use regular heavy cream and a little vanilla, if you like. Also, in my recipe I whip the frosting for quite awhile to make it light and airy as you can see. If you want something more thick, just don’t whip it for as long or at as high a speed. Also, if you refrigerate the cake after frosting for at least 30 minutes, the frosting will not flow over the edge like it is here. If pristine looks matter to you.
Some of you are going to make a cake, some will make cupcakes, and some will make it into a bundt. All fabulous choices, but each one will give you a different experience. In my house, the cake baked in a springform pan was considered the most impressive and something to serve for guests because of the super moist, dense texture. It tasted “expensive” and the flavors seemed to be the most pronounced here. It was the easiest for me as far as prep and looked the nicest. Cupcakes have a lighter texture and no real crust to speak of and a bundt cake will have lots of crusty edging and is super easy to cut into equal pieces.
Piping the cupcakes with a large round piping tip gives the top of the cakes the look of a head of thick, foamy, stout beer and this recipe is a keeper for anytime of year. For all the flavor that comes out of each bite, it tastes like it was really tricky to get right. But the bonus here is, Chocolate Stout Cake is made in one large saucepan and then poured from the pan into the cake mold, and from there right into the oven. Easy, very little clean up. Pretty, and pretty good tasting, too.
Use any stout beer in the cake and Irish Cream in the frosting. Alternately, if you prefer a "virgin" cake, substitute Coca-Cola for the beer and use Irish Cream flavored coffee creamer in the frosting. This recipe works great for cupcakes as well as for the cake but the cake has a more dense, luxurious texture which might be preferable for serving company.
- 1 cup Stout beer, like Guinness or Murphy's
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons)
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 8 tablespoons salted butter (softened)
- 5 cups confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
- 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 5 tablespoons Irish Cream Liqueur
At least one hour before starting the frosting recipe, take out the stick of butter and the cream cheese to allow them plenty of time to soften to room temperature. This step is crucial to success of the frosting.
For the cake: Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a large saucepan, combine stout beer and butter. Place over medium heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add the 3/4 cup cocoa and 2 cups sugar, then whisk to blend.
In a small bowl, combine the 3/4 cup sour cream, 2 eggs, and 2 tablespoons vanilla; mix well. Add this to the beer/butter mixture. Add the 2 cups flour, the 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, then whisk again until smooth. Pour batter into the buttered pan, bake for 45 minutes to one hour, until risen and firm. Test with a tooth pick and if it comes out clean, it's ready. Place pan on a wire rack and cool completely in the pan.
For the frosting: In a stand mixer with flat paddle attachment, beat the 8 tablespoons of softened butter on medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low and add the 5 cups confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time. This mixture will remain powdery at this point. Now add the 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, one large scoop at a time (add in about 1/4 of the cream cheese at a time). The frosting will be creamy now. Still on low speed, add the Irish cream, one tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed to medium high and beat the frosting for about 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy and increased in size.
To frost the cake, you can use an off-set spatula to smooth over the top of the cake, leaving the sides bare or you can cover the entire cake. For a unique look, you can also place the frosting in a pastry bag with a large round tip (1cm) and starting in the center, spiral the frosting out to the edge of the cake.
Serve immediately or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to set the frosting before cutting. This will prevent the frosting from seeping over the edges as it is cut. This cake is even better the day after baking/frosting as the beer and Irish Cream mellow out just enough to really present a rich but smooth taste. Cover any leftover cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to a week.
If you'd like to serve this cake without using alcoholic ingredients, substitute the 1 cup of beer for 1 cup of Coca-Cola. Substitute the Irish Cream Liqueur for Irish Cream coffee creamer, or skip the flavoring altogether and add about 2 tablespoons heavy cream, more until desired consistency is reached. You can also use 1 teaspoon vanilla with the heavy cream addition.
This recipe works great for cupcakes, though the texture is a bit more airy simply from the nature of cooking in the cupcake/muffin tin. Line muffin tins with paper liners. I like to use aluminum foil liners because the butter and sour cream kind of seep through plain paper liners. Fill the liners about 2/3 full and bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out almost clean. Cool on a wire rack before frosting.
If you want your frosting to be a bit more creamy than airy, only beat the frosting until it is smooth on medium speed. This will produce a creamy, spreadable frosting that is just as tasty as the more airy method mentioned before.
Since this recipe has a lot of liquid in it, high altitude adjustments are highly recommended, usually for over 5,000 feet. However, I recommend the following changes for anything above 3,500 feet to prevent the cake from not rising completely in the center:
Increase the beer by 2 tablespoons
Decrease the sugar by 2 tablespoons
Increase the flour by 2 tablespoons
Decrease the baking soda by 1/2 teaspoon- So add 2 teaspoons rather than 2 1/2.
Increase oven temperature by 25F degrees. (Note, if your pan is a dark non-stick pan, it's already going to cook quickly so leave the oven temp to 350. If it's aluminum/silver, then increase the temp.)
Decrease baking time by 5 to 8 minutes.
For the reasons why you increase and decrease each of these ingredients, King Arthur Flour explains High Altitude Baking best.
Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe.