Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chocolate Stout Cake-The Perfect Cake for Your Special Valentine

I made this cake for a Burns' supper I helped cater. I used Guinness which is not Scotch but Irish, but the point was to make a rich, buttery, stout cake any Scot would appreciate. I am proposing it here since it would be the perfect cake for a Valentine's celebration. Even better, make it on a sheet pan (the full recipe fills a half sheet pan perfectly), cut it with a heart shaped cutter, and cover it with a rich decadent glaze and you will for sure knock somebody's socks off (if that is what you want to do....).

I had meant to make a stout cake for a long time but never managed and since I was preparing the menu for a friend I was happy to finally try one. Sadly I couldn't find the recipe I wanted to try so I set on this one from Bon Appetit, which apparently 95% of the people who tried it, and took the time to review it, would make again. The cake is super simple, it comes together in minutes, and the result won't disappoint. The cake is even better the next day, and it lasts several days.

The butterscotch recipe comes from Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater, a funny and talented pastry chef now living in New York and working at 10 Downing.

My notes:

* The recipe below makes a three tier huge cake. By halving the recipe you can get a single 8", 3" high cake that you can still cut in half and frost, or make two 8" smaller cakes to use as layers. In retrospect that is what I should have done because this cake took for ever to cook due to the wetness of the batter.
*For the party I baked the cake in a half sheet pan, and it fit perfectly, and I cut it in squares, not too big, all you need of this rich cake.
* I decreased the amount of sugar from 4 cups to 3 1/2 cups and that worked, I like everything less sweet.
* Since I wanted to serve the cake with a butterscotch sauce I didn't glaze it. The cake is so rich and chocolaty that it doesn't need much else, but if you want an extra decadent cake, go ahead and glaze it using Bon Appetit's glaze recipe.

Chocolate Stout Cake
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 cups stout (such as Guinness)
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)

4 cups all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Line with parchment paper. Butter paper. Bring 2 cups stout and 2 cups 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 1 1/2 teaspoons 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. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack; cool 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack and cool completely.

by Shuna Fish Lydon
via Simply Recipes


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of tightly packed dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


Butterscotch takes about a half an hour to make, from start to finish.

1 First, before you begin, make sure you have everything ready to go - the cream and the brown sugar next to the pan, measured and waiting. Making butterscotch is a fast process that cannot wait for hunting around for ingredients.

2 In a heavy bottomed stainless steel 2 quart saucepan, melt butter over low to medium heat. Just before butter is melted, add all dark brown sugar at once and stir with wooden spoon until sugar is uniformly wet.

butterscotch-1.jpg butterscotch-2.jpg

3 Stir infrequently until mixture goes from looking grainy to molten lava. Make sure to get into the corners of your pot, and watch closely to notice how the mixture changes. It will take about 3 to 5 minutes.

butterscotch-3.jpg butterscotch-4.jpg

4 Right before you add the cream, the caramelizing brown sugar will begin to look and feel more like liquid and less like thick wet sand.

5 At this point add all the cream at once and replace your spoon with a whisk. Lower heat a little and whisk cream into mixture. When liquid is uniform, turn heat back to medium and whisk every few minutes for a total of 10 minutes.

butterscotch-5.jpg butterscotch-6.jpg

6 After liquid has been boiling on the stove for its 10 minutes, turn heat off and let rest for a minute or two before transferring into a heatproof storage vessel. (I prefer a stainless steel or glass bowl.) Cool to room temperature.

butterscotch-7.jpg butterscotch-8.jpg

7 When butterscotch liquid is room temperature, take a small taste. It's important to know what cooked brown sugar and butter tastes like, and what happens when transforming that flat sweetness into real butterscotch flavor. Whisk in half the salt and vanilla extract. Taste again. Add more salt and vanilla extract until the marvelous taste of real butterscotch is achieved.

butterscotch-9.jpg butterscotch-10.jpg

Butterscotch makes a fantastic topping for ice cream.

Chill butterscotch sauce in a non-reactive container with a tightly fitting lid only after sauce has chilled completely. It will keep for one month refrigerated, that is if you can keep from eating it all the moment it has cooled down and been seasoned to your liking.

Photos and recipe courtesy of Shuna, found at Simply Recipes.


vickys said...

I think this cake will satisfy both men and women- stout and chocolate. There you have it! Perfect valentines! :) Thanks for sharing.

Beth said...

looks totally delish!

enza said...

latorta e la salsa durerebbero un nanosecondo in casa mia ma vuoi mettere la soddisfazione?

Laura said...

Vickys, yes the cake would work for everybody. And I have to say that you wouldn't be able to tell it has stout as it only add a little bitterness and richness, not a beer flavor.

Beth, thanks for your visit.

Enza, hai ragione, la salsa e' irresistibile. Devo tenermi per non mangiarla a cucchiaiate.

Lien said...

o wow that sauce is just fantastic! Love that dark cake, looks so moist and delicious

Laura said...

Hi Lien! Yes, the cake is really moist and has a very interesting consistency.

natural selection said...

More like "Stud Cake" studettes also..
gonna try this really nice work!
Thank you

natalia said...

Laura mi sembra una ricetta meravigliosa !! Quando cominci il nuovo lavoro ?

Laura said...

Natalia, comincero' ad essere pagata il 22 Marzo, ma il ristorante aprira' in Aprile. Non vedo l'ora, per ora sto facendo esercizio per perdere un po' di peso e per mettermi in forma per il lavoro fisico che mi aspetta.

Laura said...

Natural selection, I guess you can say this is a more "virile" cake, and I have to say that a lot of men at the party loved it, but it is good for every one, don't let the stout discourage you from serving to women.

Jill @ Jillicious Discoveries said...

I love the step-by-step photos of the butterscotch process--wow that looks so yummy!! Also, that restaurant will be very lucky to have you--I can't wait till you start! :)

bake in paris said...

This is truly a sinful treat for Valentine :-) But due to its richness and tempting appeal, I would say it fits every occasion throughout the year! Thanks for sharing!

Sawadee from Bangkok,

Food and Fate said...

perfect combination! brava!

Laura said...

Jill, don't you love those pictures? I copied them from the website, I hope it is okay with them.

Kris, I am honored to have you stop by here, thanks for the visit.

Maria, we have the Italian connection going. I will check your blog out now.

The Gourmet On A Diet said...

Yummmm, that looks diVINE!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I tasted that recipe once and it was to die for! A fabulous Valentine's Day treat!



s said...

looks so yummmmyyyyy!


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