So my Saint Patrick’s Day/wedding anniversary celebration is off to a great start! My husband and I loved the Irish Chicken I just posted. In fact, he raved about it. It’s going to be made again, for sure. But after such a delicious meal, dessert is a must. This is a celebration, after all! And no mere store-bought, prepackaged dessert will do. No, this is a special occasion that calls for something spectacular. This Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Buttercream caught my eye, and it sounds all kinds of perfect for the occasion. Time to dust off my cake pans and plug in my hand mixer. It’s baking time!
Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Buttercream features an easy, fudgy, and moist cocoa cake with Guinness beer and thick creamy and sweet Irish cream buttercream. The perfect St. Patrick’s Day cake!
As you can see, there are a lot of ingredients in this recipe. The buttercream takes an entire pound of butter! I had a few on hand, but I had to top up a few basics to make sure I didn’t run out. Overall, though, no unusual or difficult to find ingredients, but you might need to stop at a liquor store for the Irish cream.
One nice discovery I made was being able to buy the Guinness individually. If you’re not a stout drinker, this is the way to go. My local Whole Foods sells them for $1.79, and 1 bottle is all you need (there will be a couple of sips leftover).
Remember those red wine poached pears I posted last week? I made this cake the day after I made that recipe, and I used the same chocolate. It was a good deal, but I’ve finally learned my lesson. I’ll use better chocolate next time–it wasn’t worth the savings in this recipe. You’ll find out why in the next section.
I went into this Guinness chocolate cake recipe knowing it would take a while, so I was mentally prepared for the work ahead. I’m not the best baker, so I expected it to take longer than the time listed.
This recipe took me 1 hour 43 minutes, which was, not surprisingly, a little longer than the 1 hour 25 minutes listed. Here’s how my time was spent:
- 1 hour 17 minutes to make the cakes and buttercream
- 26 minutes to make the chocolate drip, assemble, and frost
- 1 hour 43 minutes total
That doesn’t include 1 hour for the cakes to cool, and I don’t think the author included that time in what was listed on the recipe, either.
Most everything went according to the instructions, but I did have some difficulties. One was my fault and one I have no explanation for. Let me explain.
The Cake and Buttercream
I started with the cakes and had no trouble mixing them up. I put the pans into the oven and moved onto the buttercream. As I was mixing the buttercream I started to smell something burning. I was worried I was burning out my hand mixer, but it wasn’t that (thank goodness!). It was the cake batter that had overflowed and was burning on the bottom of my oven.
I used the correct size of cake pans, so I have no idea why this happened. All I can do is recommend you put a sheet pan on the rack below the cake pans in case this happens to you. It will save you from the smoke, smell, and cleaning your oven the next day.
The cakes also had a depression in the middle, which the author warns can happen in the accompanying post. After cooling, I followed her advice and leveled them with a long serrated bread knife.
Back to that buttercream. It mixed up without a hitch, but this recipe made way more than I needed to frost the cake (and I was generous with it). No to worry—buttercream freezes well, and I think I will use the rest on cupcakes. BTW, I’m not counting this as a problem with the recipe; it’s more like a windfall if you ask me.
The Chocolate Drip
Once the cakes were cooled, I started on the chocolate drip (AKA ganache). Making it wasn’t a problem, but I used cheap chocolate that didn’t give me the beautiful results I wanted. I knew the chocolate would be grainy from my experience with it from the Red Wine Poached Pears with Chocolate & Cardamom I posted last week.
Straining the chocolate sauce took care of that problem, and I thought it would work for this recipe too. It did help, but the cheap chocolate was also very oily. It didn’t drip, it separated and plopped onto the cake stand.
I scraped most of it off the sides, tried to cover it with more buttercream, and tried again. Letting the ganache cool more helped, and I eventually got a few nice looking drips. Lesson learned (finally): no more cheap chocolate!