Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Stout Cake with Irish Cream Frosting tastes impressive and rich, yet fresh and irresistible. One bowl recipe, I’ve included instructions for cupcakes and high altitude adjustments, as well as non alcoholic instruction.
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 adapted 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’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.
Beer in baking recipes-
Baking with beer starts with flavor and moves into science, according to King Arthur Baking. Because of its carbonation, it assists with leavening baked goods. When used as the liquid in a recipe, it gives extra lift and tender texture to breads and cakes. In this case, for a nice addition to chocolate cake, stout beer (or even porter), because they’re brewed with roasted malt, lend flavor notes of cocoa and coffee. Porters lean more toward chocolate and malted flavors with less bitterness. Stouts offer a more intense bitter coffee flavor and are often higher in alcohol. In this particular recipe, you may use either, depending on your preference or whichever is on hand.
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. 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. 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, it’s 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 some vanilla extract, instead, 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, 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 then right into the oven. Easy, very little clean up. Pretty, and pretty good tasting, too.
Chocolate Stout Cake with Irish Cream Frosting
For the Chocolate Stout Cake:
- About an hour before starting recipe for the frosting, take out the stick of butter and the cream cheese to allow them plenty of time to soften to room temperature.
Make the Chocolate Stout Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350F°. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- In a large saucepan, combine 1 cup stout beer and 10 Tablespoons butter. Place over medium heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add ¾ cup cocoa and 2 cups sugar, then whisk to blend.
- In a small bowl, combine ¾ cup sour cream, 2 eggs, 1 Tablespoon vanilla, and 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar; mix well. Add this to the beer/butter mixture. Add 2 cups flour, 2 ½ teaspoons baking soda, and ¼ teaspoon salt, then whisk again until the mixture is pretty smooth, about 1 minute. Pour batter into the buttered pan, bake for 40 minutes to one hour, until a tooth pick and if it comes out mostly clean (start testing it at 35 minutes, depending on your oven). Place pan on a wire rack and cool completely in the pan.
Make the Irish Cream 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 8 ounces softened cream cheese, one large scoop at a time (add in about ¼ 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.
- You may serve immediately or refrigerate for 30 minutes or more to set the frosting before cutting. Refrigerating will prevent the frosting from seeping over the edges as it's cut. This cake is even better the day after baking/frosting as the beer and Irish Cream mellow out and really present a rich but smooth taste. Cover any leftover cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to a week.
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.