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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.

Some cream cheeses seem now to be made softer-spreading, which can make a frosting less thick. If you wish to thicken yours, simply beat in 1 teaspoon of cornflour/cornstarch per 100g/4oz cream cheese.

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.

Some cream cheeses seem now to be made softer-spreading, which can make a frosting less thick. If you wish to thicken yours, simply beat in 1 teaspoon of cornflour/cornstarch per 100g/4oz cream cheese.

Chocolate Guinness Cake
Photo by James Merrell

Ingredients

Makes: about 12 slices

Metric Cups

For the Cake

  • 250 millilitres guinness
  • 250 grams unsalted butter
  • 75 grams cocoa powder
  • 400 grams caster sugar
  • 142 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
  • 125 millilitres double cream (or whipping cream)

For the Cake

  • 1 cup guinness
  • 17 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
  • ½ cup heavy cream (or whipping cream)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/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 then beat them both together. Or do this in a processor, putting the unsieved icing sugar in first and blitz to remove lumps before adding the cheese.
  5. Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. 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/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 then beat them both together. Or do this in a processor, putting the unsieved confectioners' sugar in first and blitz to remove lumps before adding the cheese.
  5. Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.

Tell us what you think

What 95 Others have said

  • My sister and I love this cake. It is scrumptious! We just used it as the inspiration for some St Patrick's Day Irish flag dessert cakes. This recipe is a definite keeper!

    Posted by kerryk on 17th March 2017
  • The only cake I ever make (and really the only cake I have ever successfully made). You can't taste the stout, it's just rich, chocolatey goodness. I recently converted the recipe into cupcakes and found that filling the liners to 3/4 makes the perfect size cupcake (no overspill) and requires about 18-20 min cooking time. The recipe above results in approximately 24 cupcakes (amazing). You may need to make a little more icing for cupcakes if you're generous (which I am). They were absolutely perfect. I always decorate with milk and white chocolate buttons, which add an extra bit of deliciousness to the cake.

    Posted by tgamnigella on 6th March 2017
  • This is just Devine!!! Highly recommend it, I didn't have a large" deep "enough tin, so divided to mixture between two sandwich cake tins & filled middle with chocolate icing to stick both cakes together & it was delicious! P.s I could happily eat the cream cheese frosting on its own it's heaven...no wonder I'm so fat!

    Posted by 15jess on 13th February 2017
  • WOW. I am a chocoholic but I have very high expectations for chocolate cakes - they have to be good and this one is one of the BEST I have ever had! I love the 'damp' texture and the guinness and cocoa is brilliant. Tweaked the recipe - used Greek yoghurt instead of sour cream and dusted the top with icing sugar instead of the cream topping, and it was marvellous. Thank you, Nigella, a recipe for keeping hold of definitely!

    Posted by 1zzyM on 5th February 2017
  • I have just made this wonderous cake in the form of 48 cupcakes and 3 normal 9 inch size for the brilliant bunch of workers at a DIY SOS big build in Blackpool. It went down a treat with everyone asking for more.

    Posted by jojomuffin on 5th July 2016
  • I am from Macedonia and usually prefer raw cakes but this is superb! It is the only baked cake that I make. I have substituted cocoa with carob and it is even better.

    Posted by kriszimb on 21st May 2016
  • The best chocolate cake I have ever had. My husband likes it as well as his grandmother's. That is saying something!!

    Posted by ladyfromstates on 12th May 2016
  • Thank you for this delicious recipe! I made this as my husband's birthday cake...perfect. It is rich and moist...not too sweet.

    Posted by KWbaker on 5th May 2016
  • I've made this recipe a number of times as cupcakes - I tend to add more flour - but can never remember how much. I guess it varies each time but the result is always fabulous. How to make friends and influence people (at work... in the pub... wherever!)

    Posted by BusyMiss on 16th March 2016
  • Made this cake for my husband's birthday, was a bit concerned about the bicarbonate of soda possibly tasting , however it was perfect. Had issues with the Cream Cheese Icing not getting thick enough consistency, so decided to firstly whip the cream and added some vanilla extract, then added the Cream Cheese and Icing Sugar, which I whipped separately, then gently folded both into each other, and it was then perfect.... Everyone went crazy for this cake, would definitely make again for a crowd...

    Posted by Lotiloo on 5th February 2016
  • I made a couple of these this weekend for my daughters 18th birthday party. I have made them for parties before & they go down well. I do, though, find the cream cheese topping can be a bit "claggy" for want of a better description! So, this time I made a creme au buerre meringue frosting which is lovely & light but very yummy. It is not the quickest frosting to make but definitely the yummiest. I did one chocolate frosting and then combined your cream cheese topping with creme au buerre meringue for the other cake. I used some of the sugar from your recipe with one egg white for the cooked meringue and then combined that with the beaten cream, cream cheese & the rest of the sugar. Oh wow! No cake left at the end of the night and I will definitely use this variation again.

    Posted by on 18th January 2016
  • Love this cake! Made it for my friends in Sweden and they love it to. I blend caster sugar with brown or muscovado sugar.

    Posted by Erodehed on 12th November 2015
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