Applied Behavior Science for Health and Happiness
Recipe: Chocolate Stout Cake
Recipe: Chocolate Stout Cake

Recipe: Chocolate Stout Cake

Recipe- Chocolate Stout CakeIf you read the recipes I post, you’ve probably figured out I’m obsessed with Smitten Kitchen. I think she strikes a great balance between impressive and easy-to-execute, indulgent and healthy. Her chocolate stout cake recipe is one that I now make at least once a year.

Why? Well, it’s fudgy, moist, and delicious. It doesn’t require a lot of fuss with the decoration. It requires me to buy stout beer but use only enough so that I can have a small glass while I finish baking. And it’s easy, easy, easy to make.

Ingredients (Cake):

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ingredients (Ganache):

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules


Made as the recipe dictates, with a Bundt pan and coffee-based chocolate ganache.
Made as the recipe dictates, with a Bundt pan and coffee-based chocolate ganache.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter or spray a bundt pan well; make sure you get in all of the nooks and crannies. You can also use two regular round cake pans, dividing batter evenly between the two. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cake to rack; cool completely in the pan, then turn cake out onto rack for drizzling ganache.*

For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of cooled cake.

Amy’s Tips and Tricks:

  • I confess, I rarely make the ganache (even though this recipe is THE reason I own instant coffee). Instead, I usually make some kind of frosting or a plain chocolate ganache. A really awesome frosting option is the Bailey’s ganache from Smitten Kitchen’s chocolate whiskey cupcakes (the politically correct name for Irish car bomb cupcakes). Another delicious choice is Kahlua buttercream, made by drizzling Kahlua or Tia Maria into your regular buttercream recipe.
  • Chocolate stout cake in layers, with ganache between and on top. I also melted cinnamon chips for a top glaze.
    Chocolate stout cake in layers, with ganache between and on top. I also melted cinnamon chips for a top glaze.

    Previously I’d always made the cake in the bundt pan as recommended by Smitten Kitchen, but when I visited my brother and his family, they didn’t have one. So I used the regular cake pans and you know what? I was really happy with the result. The cake seemed fudgier this way, and it made me think you could make a really awesome cake with a fudge frosting between the layers.

  • While it wasn’t bad, I wouldn’t repeat my recent stunt of melting cinnamon chips and drizzling them over the be-ganache’ed cake. The cinnamon didn’t really stand out against the other flavors.
  • I feel like this is a cake that will have a homely presentation, and you must accept that. This is not elaborately frosted and decorated. It almost fools people into thinking it won’t be amazing, until it is. That said, you could make this pretty if you did the layers and opted for a thicker frosting that you could smooth and decorate.
  • The recipe originally called for Guinness, but any dark stout beer will do. I like to use this recipe as an excuse to try new stouts. The recipe uses less than a whole 12 ounce bottle, so even if you buy only one there’s enough left for a taste.
  • This is a tip that I have for all of my baked goods: If you’re not sure of baking time (for example, because you used two round pans instead of one bundt pan, or because you have a funky oven), a good time to check cake done-ness is when you can smell it. I find that when the cake starts smelling really good is right around when it starts being done.