This decadent chocolate Guinness cake slathered with a speckled, deeply nutty brown butter Swiss buttercream and doused in a whiskey caramel sauce is truly a celebration cake that is sure to make you feel happy!
30 is not the birthday that launches you harshly into your middle age. 30 is the birthday where you celebrate the end of an era – the 20s – where mistakes were made (lots of ugly ones), lessons were learnt (mostly in a bad way), discovering who you are felt impossible and highs of first real job, first serious relationship, first real apartment, first independent foreign travel were only dimmed by the lows of those ‘firsts’ not living upto their expectations. But there is a delicious excitement in goofing up and blaming it on lack of experience and naiveté. There is mystery and intrigue and desperation in finding out how your life will turn out when you are a grown up.
When I turned 30, I told everyone that next year I will celebrate 29 and subsequently keep moving the clock backwards. Well, I didn’t do that. Forgot to buy 2 and 9 numbered candles. So here I am 31! Anyhow, who wants to repeat the absurdities of the 20s. Sure it was fun and exciting times. 20s or any fun time is just that only because there is a limited period to it. Just as clearance sales are exciting because, they are on for only a week! So, I celebrated my 31st birthday, trying not to fight it too much, with a grown-up chocolate cake with brown butter frosting – a bit more elegant than chocolate on chocolate (which by the way is always my first choice of cake)
If it is my birthday celebration cake, there had to be booze in it. So instead of making my most favorite chocolate cake, I went with a Stout Cake adapted from Epicurious only in the method. I used Nigella’s slightly easier method of adding everything into the same pan. The can of Guinness had been sitting in my pantry forever and I wouldn’t let Steve drink it because I was storing it for ‘baking purposes’. My cake tops cracked, I think because I baked it in 5inch pans and poured a lot of batter into them. So 6 inch would do the trick. Anyway, I simply chopped off the cracked tops, it did not affect the taste. These cakes are lip-smacking delicious. Earthy and intense and a dark chocolate lovers dream.
A brown butter buttercream only seemed appropriate because it is my new love and I like to make beurre noisette just for the nutty fragrance it makes in my kitchen. There seems to be Whiskey caramel sitting in a jar in my refrigerator at all times so I was more than happy to add an additional boozy element to this cake. Finally the pile of crushed chocolate cookies on top because as a baking blogger there is always some cookies or cake leftovers in the fridge which you can throw on top of a cake for extra goodness and no one can stop me from eating pure indulgence in this form on my 31st birthday!
Chocolate Stout Cake w Brown Butter Frosting
Ingredients – Makes one 6 inch 4 layered cake
For the Cake
1 cup stout
1 cup, 2 sticks unsalted butter – cut into pieces
¾ cup Dutch cocoa powder
2 cups flour
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
½ tbsp. baking soda
¾ tsp salt
2 large eggs
½ + 2tbsp sour cream
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and line two 6” round pans with parchment paper. Make sure the parchment paper sticks out to form higher walls.
Pour the stout into a large saucepan and place on medium heat. Add butter pieces and heat till melted.
As soon as all the butter has melted, add in the sugar and cocoa powder and whisk till fully incorporated and smooth.
In a measuring jug or small bowl, beat the eggs and sour cream thoroughly and add to the stout mixture. Mix well.
Finally add the flour and baking soda and whisk till completely mixed.
Pour into prepared pans. These cakes rise quite a bit, so fill upto 3/4 way. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 35 – 40 minutes or till a skewer toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven. Let cool till safe to handle. Turn cakes onto a wire-rack and let cool completely. Stick in the freezer for atleast one hour before frosting.
For the Brown Butter Swiss Buttercream
1 ½ cup butter
1 ½ cup fine granulated sugar
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
Heat butter in a small saucepan on high heat. Once it starts to bubble, stir intermittently with a rubber spatula and keep a eye. Once you see specks of dark brown and smell deliciousness in the air take it off the heat. As it cools, stir it once in a while so that it solidifies evenly or all the good brown bits will settle at the bottom. It should be completely cooled (slightly chilled) and solidified but still a little soft.
Whisk sugar and egg whites together and set it on a double boiler over simmering water. Using a candy thermometer is recommended for accuracy. Whisk occasionally and heat the mixture to 140 – 160F. Test the mixture between your thumb and index finger to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture feels silky smooth between your fingers.
As soon as it reaches this temperature, take it off the heat, transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk on medium-high for a good 7 -8 minutes till peaks form and the mixture is cooled.
Once this meringue mix is completely cool, replace the whisk attachment with the paddle attachment and run on medium high. Start adding the butter in pieces. Keep whisking till fully incorporated and the buttercream is smooth, glossy and stiff.
Whiskey Caramel Sauce – ½ cup
When the cakes are completely cooled, cut of the tops evenly with a serrated knife. Then cut both cakes into halves to make 4 pieces. Here is a great video showing how to cut a cake in layers.
Place one layer on a cake stand. Spoon butter cream into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle and pipe a border on the cake layer. Spoon some Whiskey Caramel onto the cake within the piped barrier. With a offset spatula, spread some buttercream on top of the caramel and smooth it. Repeat two more times. Place the topmost layer of the cake. Spread some buttercream on the top and sides with the spatula to frost lightly. Spoon some caramel sauce on top and along the edges. IF you have some leftover chocolate cake or cookies, crush and pile on top for extra indulgence.
Best enjoyed at room temperature in shockingly large pieces.