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Chocolate Guinness Cake

by . Featured in FEAST
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Introduction

This cake is magnificent in its damp blackness. I can't say that you can absolutely taste the stout in it, but there is certainly a resonant, ferrous tang which I happen to love. The best way of describing it is to say that it's like gingerbread without the spices.

There is enough sugar — a certain understatement here — to counter any potential bitterness of the Guinness, and although I've eaten versions of this made up like a chocolate sandwich cake, stuffed and slathered in a rich chocolate icing, I think that can take away from its dark majesty. Besides, I wanted to make a cream cheese frosting to echo the pale head that sits on top of a glass of stout. It's unconventional to add cream but it makes it frothier and lighter which I regard as aesthetically and gastronomically desirable. But it is perfectly acceptable to leave the cake un-iced: in fact, it tastes gorgeous plain.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

This cake is magnificent in its damp blackness. I can't say that you can absolutely taste the stout in it, but there is certainly a resonant, ferrous tang which I happen to love. The best way of describing it is to say that it's like gingerbread without the spices.

There is enough sugar — a certain understatement here — to counter any potential bitterness of the Guinness, and although I've eaten versions of this made up like a chocolate sandwich cake, stuffed and slathered in a rich chocolate icing, I think that can take away from its dark majesty. Besides, I wanted to make a cream cheese frosting to echo the pale head that sits on top of a glass of stout. It's unconventional to add cream but it makes it frothier and lighter which I regard as aesthetically and gastronomically desirable. But it is perfectly acceptable to leave the cake un-iced: in fact, it tastes gorgeous plain.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Chocolate Guinness Cake
Photo by James Merrell

Ingredients

Yields: about 12 slices

Metric Cups

For the Cake

  • 250 millilitres Guinness
  • 250 grams unsalted butter
  • 75 grams cocoa powder
  • 400 grams caster sugar
  • 150 millilitres sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 275 grams plain flour
  • 2½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

For the Topping

  • 300 grams cream cheese
  • 150 grams icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 125 millilitres double cream (or whipping cream)

For the Cake

  • 1 cup Guinness
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups superfine sugar
  • ⅔ cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2½ teaspoons baking soda

For the Topping

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1¼ cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ½ cup heavy cream (or whipping cream)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/160°C Fan/350ºF, and butter and line a 23cm / 9 inch springform tin.
  2. Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter — in spoons or slices — and heat until the butter's melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and bicarb.
  3. Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.
  4. When the cake's cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the icing. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar and cornflour and then beat to combine.
  5. If using double cream, add it and beat until you have a spreadable consistency. If using whipping cream, whisk first to soft peaks, add a couple of spoonfuls into the cream cheese mixture and once this is combined, fold in the rest.
  6. Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.
  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/160°C Fan/350ºF, and butter and line a 23cm / 9 inch springform tin.
  2. Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter — in spoons or slices — and heat until the butter's melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and bicarb.
  3. Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.
  4. When the cake's cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the icing. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch and then beat to combine.
  5. If using heavy cream, add it and beat until you have a spreadable consistency. If using whipping cream, whisk first to soft peaks, add a couple of spoonfuls into the cream cheese mixture and once this is combined, fold in the rest.
  6. Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD / STORE:
The cake can be stored, without icing, in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 5 days. Store the iced cake in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days. The un-iced cake can be frozen, wrapped in a double layer of food wrap and a layer of foil, for up to 3 months. Unwrap and thaw at room temperature for about 4 hours.

MAKE AHEAD / STORE:
The cake can be stored, without icing, in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 5 days. Store the iced cake in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days. The un-iced cake can be frozen, wrapped in a double layer of food wrap and a layer of foil, for up to 3 months. Unwrap and thaw at room temperature for about 4 hours.

Tell us what you think

What 154 Others have said

  • An easy-to-make yet utterly delicious, rich and dense cake that everyone loves. Sometimes cracks or sinks in the middle but I just flip it over to so I have a nice flat surface on top, then cover with frosting. No one would ever know! Makes a very loose batter too that can leak through loose bottom tins so use ones without a loose bottom or mould a little foil around the bottom to prevent a messy oven and bake fail!

    Posted by DaisyPoppins on 22nd May 2024
  • It’s the best cake on earth - hands down , make it often, I use 3/4 of ingredients for topping , just right for me for 8 inch cake. Cake itself always dips at the middle just a little, have no fear, topping solves this. Perfect cake.

    Posted by jannne13 on 3rd May 2024
  • I made this cake for the first time this week and gave it to my colleagues on labour ward and it was an immediate success!!! Magnificent and incredible were the comments I received. Everyone was raving about it. Thank you Nigella for the best ever recipe x

    Posted by tidgeypud on 13th April 2024
  • Just made this for work's 'Bake Off' competition for Red Nose Day. Made 2 so that I could judge it before the day tomorrow. I'm a winner, it's so lush! Rich deep chocolately taste. Very indulgent!

    Posted by SandiD1959 on 14th March 2024
  • omg this is the best cake ever! It tastes like betty crocker but 1000 times better. So moist and incredible. I seperated the batter into two and put the icing in the middle. Never using another choclate cake recipie ever again!

    Posted by myrtle123 on 14th December 2023
  • Just made this, it's incredibly tasty! Simple, dense, chocolatey with rich flavour. The only thing I changed was the icing: I swapped out the sugar and added a bit of honey since the cream I used was already sweetened :)

    Posted by Annnnnna on 5th November 2023
  • Used this recipe so many times. Love it and so do friends and colleagues. Make it every St Pats day even though I am not Irish but have an Irish surname. Highly recommend this recipe

    Posted by Guinss on 25th May 2023
  • This recipe is delicious will definitely make it again! My only critique is I wish it had a bit more of the Guinness flavour, but otherwise a beautiful moist, rich and indulgent cake!

    Posted by danielledaisy on 24th March 2023
  • I'm not a big baker but I've made this over and over. It's easy and it's really good. I made some for my colleagues, for birthdays and I've taken one to the pub before to have with a pint of Guinness. Everyone loves it!

    Posted by Reviloton on 24th January 2023
  • Fabulous dark moist malty tasting cake a joy in each slice! I've made this cake several times now for many different occasions, easy delicious scrumptious cake it's wonderful!

    Posted by Odelle on 4th November 2022
  • Made this cake and had to use non alcoholic Guinness due to medical reasons and it was amazing without alcohol. A great recipe and would make again and again. Very light and not too sweet. The base is so moist. Thanks Nigella x

    Posted by Heathercowl on 19th September 2022
  • I asked my nephew and niece what they would like for their birthday. Nephew said The Chocolate Guinness Cake and my niece said the chocolate raspberry pavlova! These two are supberb and everybody loves them!

    Posted by Boodie on 8th July 2022
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