From the Kitchen – Celebrating with a Classic

by Joan Saunders | photos by Amanda Cribdon Photography – 

Those who know me, know that if I had to choose between chocolate and lemon, I would always choose lemon. I would even choose caramel over chocolate. Blasphemy, say many. However, having a lovely chocolate cake for a special treat is something that most people really appreciate and I’m more than happy to indulge. And for those who love chocolate, this fabulous recipe is not only easy, but also impressive, moist and sure to satisfy the most discerning chocolate cake connoisseur.

So, as it’s Father’s Day this month, I know that there are many in my circle who will be very happy indeed with this cake. There are also a number of birthdays that we celebrate in June, so this dessert will probably make more than one appearance.

First up is the choice of stout. While you only need one cup, here you have free reign. Explore local breweries and see what taste combinations they have created. Cherry? Orange? Chocolate? There are stouts that are brewed with notes of coconut or vanilla. Others are imbued with coffee or peanuts. You could go with a classic, but let yourself play around a bit. This will add even more layers of flavour.

One excellent possibility is to use a raspberry stout and then top the cake with raspberries. Not only does it look amazing with the contrasting colours of the dark cake, frothy top and rich ruby red of the berries, the fruit adds a lighter component to the dense chocolate cake. You could also try a cherry stout, then add chopped cherries to the batter. Yum. Making a cherry sauce so people can spoon it over the cake when it’s served also creates a winning combination. What I like to do at this time of year is decorate with strawberries on top, as the seasonal freshness of the berries complements the richness of the cake and icing.

Whatever flavours you choose, you can’t go wrong with a fabulous, easy to make, moist chocolate cake. And, while I hope people will invite me in even if I don’t bring dessert, I know my welcome is assured when I show up with this classic celebratory cake.

Chocolate Stout Cake

For the Cake
Butter for pans
1 cup stout (flavour of your choice)
½ cup plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter
¾ cup cocoa
2 cups berry/superfine sugar
¾ cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
6 oz (¾ cup) cream cheese, softened
3¾ to 4 cups icing sugar
1½ to 2 tbsp milk (or Baileys!)
1½ tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

Heat oven to 350°. Butter two 8-inch springform pans (or use regular cake pans); line with parchment paper. Put stout and butter in large saucepan. Heat over medium-low until butter melts; remove from heat. Now add in the cocoa and superfine sugar; whisk to blend well.

In small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla; mix together well. Add this to stout/butter mix; whisk. Then add flour, salt, baking soda and whisk again until smooth. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans, bake until risen and firm, 33-35 minutes, or until tester inserted in cake comes out clean. Place pans on wire rack; cool completely in pans.

Icing: in the bowl of a stand mixer, using paddle attachment (or mixing bowl with hand mixer) beat butter and cream cheese together for about one minute, or until smooth. Add in 3¾ cups of icing sugar, 1½ tbsp milk and vanilla. Mix until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. If needed, add a bit more icing sugar or milk to get icing to the right consistency. The icing should be thin enough to spread easily, but not too thin, so it doesn’t slide off the top of the cake.

Remove cake from pans. Place one cake on platter or cake stand. Take just under half of the icing and spread on bottom layer. Add the top layer. Ice top of cake only, not the sides.

Can add Baileys instead of milk to icing to give more flavour.

If making cupcakes, bake about 25 minutes. Or this makes a great one-pan cake: use a 9-inch springform pan; bake for 45-60 minutes; until tester inserted in cake comes out clean. Ice top of cake only. This cake tastes even better on day two, so you can definitely make it a day ahead.

Recipe adapted from:

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