Epic Chocolate Stout Cake with Chocolate Bourbon Sour Cream Frosting

Yes, you read all of that right.

Chocolate Stout. Cake. Chocolate. Bourbon. Frosting.

Last weekend some of my dear friends gathered for a delightful dinner party where we had a divine lemon, onion, and chili powder chicken breast, fall root vegetables and tubers, tasty green beans, delicious bread, a fabulous salad and started the whole thing off with appletinis and brie with a spicy fruit jelly… My mouth is watering thinking about it.

I volunteered to bring dessert and in homage to the fall season I tried to pick a dessert that had a bit more substance. This meant chocolate. Add bourbon and chocolate stout and I was sold – but this cake had to pass Shane’s 1:1 elimination test of the rest of the delicious chocolatey desserts I had picked as options. I would propose 2 options and he would pick option 1 or 2, whichever advanced would be up against the next option. It was like a Big 10 Dessert Bracket.

When we settled on this one it was because of the bourbon and chocolate stout that really seemed to fit the ambiance of changing leaves, cool, breezy weather, and crisp air.

Fair warning, this cake is a little labor intensive so if you like to bake and are willing or in the mood to spend a few hours in the kitchen, proceed! If you need a quick dessert, this is not it – but boy is it tasty and you should definitely attempt it some time.

Courtesy of The Beeroness: Epic Chocolate Stout Cake with Chocolate Bourbon Sour Cream Frosting

Ingredients

For the Frosting:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 cup dark chocolate chips, melted & slightly cooled
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
For the Cake:
  • 7 oz at least 72% dark chocolate, chopped (about 1 ½ cups) (I used two bars of Lindt 80% dark chocolate)
  • 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 12 oz Chocolate Stout
  • 3 and 1/4 C granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs + 2 yolks
  • 1/4 C canola oil
  • 2/3 C sour cream
  • 3 C flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 T espresso powder
  • ¾ C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 t kosher salt

Directions

*Just a quick note – as I went through this recipe I repeatedly wished that I had let my butter sit out at room temperature for a few hours to soften. If I can give you any one piece of advice it would be to let your butter get soft in advance of starting this cake. In the frosting-making process, my butter was so cold that it took quite a while for the chocolate and butter to melt together. In the cake-making process softer butter would have whipped better, faster. While I could have used a microwave, someone recently shared some information with me that has led me to believe (right, wrong, or indifferent) that microwaves don’t do our food a whole lot of nutritional good, so I’ve been on a bit of a microwave-aversion-bender. I’ll get off my soap box if you promise me you’ll let your butter sit out for a while before you start making this cake.
For the frosting:
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the softened butter on high until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sour cream, beat until light and fluffy.

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  • Slowly pour the melted chocolate into the mixer, beating until well combined with the butter mixture.

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  • Add the powdered sugar and slowly building up speed, beat on high until well combined.
  • A few tablespoons at a time add the bourbon and the cream, allowing to fully incorporate before adding more. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  • At this point in time my frosting was actually quite thick and though I followed the next step I wasn’t very happy with the results, probably user error, but if your frosting already seems thick I would not do the following – cover bowl and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. *Remember – do this ONLY if your frosting seems like it isn’t thick enough to spread on a cooled cake.
For the cake:
  • Pre-heat oven to 350.

In the top of a double boiler (or a bowl set over gently simmering water), add the dark chocolate, and butter, stirring frequently until just melted. Stir in the chocolate stout.DSC_0633

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the sugar, eggs and yolks until well combined, light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

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  • Add the oil and sour cream, beat until well combined.
  • Slowly add the chocolate, beating until all ingredients are well incorporated, scraping the bottom to make sure all us well combined.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, espresso powder, cocoa powder, and kosher salt.

…any time I use a Nestle product (cocoa powder in this particular instance) I can’t help but think about the episode of Friends where Monica is desperately trying to figure out Phoebe’s Grandma’s famous chocolate chip cookie recipe. She makes some ridiculous number of batches and at the last try when it’s not quite right, Phoebe says some of her Grandma’s relatives in France might have a copy of the recipe; ‘My Grandmother got the recipe from her Grandmother, Nesele Tolouse. Monica asks, ‘What was her name?’ ‘Nesele Tolouse.’ ‘NESTLE TOLLHOUSE!?!?!’ Monica stomps to the cabinet and whips out a bag of Nestle chocolate chips, turns the bag over to the cookie recipe on the back and says ‘Phoebe, is this the recipe?’ Phoebe: ‘Yes!’ … ‘Ohhh.’

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  • Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients, stir until just combined.

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  • Grease (*really, really well) and flour 3, 9 in. cake pans (or 2 cake pans, and 12 cupcake tins, or 2 cake pans and 1 of any other cake pan you have that will hold a standard single size cake. I used 2, 9 in. cake pans and 1, 8 in. cake pan that had higher walls than my 9 in. cake pans).
  • Pour the batter evenly between the pans.

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  • Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched, (15-17 minutes for cupcakes).
  • Allow to cool, remove from pans (it’s easiest to transfer to a plate lined with parchment paper.)
  • To assemble a tall cake it’s easiest if all ingredients are cold, warm cake and frosting tend to slide. For best results chill the cake layers for 1 hour prior to assembling.
  • Chill assembled cake until ready to serve. I placed mine in the fridge because I was short on time and because that’s what the directions say, but if you have some more time, I would recommend just letting them cool on a cooling rack or out on a cool surface for a while. I think this helps the cake release more easily from the pans.

*I’m not kidding here. I thought I did a really good job of greasing and flouring my cake pans. Perhaps I was just eager to assemble my cakes, but they did not come easily out of the pans. So if you spray Pam, spray a lot of Pam and do a very thorough job of coating in flour. Maybe even try greasing with margarine or Crisco before you flour. But do not cut corners on this step or you will end up with chunks of a cake instead of a whole, lovely, spongy, dreamy cake.

When frosting a cake I like to turn my cakes upside down, it means the flat top will be on the top!

Layer 1: Frost the top of the bottom layer of the cake by lifting a large scoop onto the center of the cake. A frosting spreader is ideal for this job, but a spatula (rubber scraper) would be a fine substitute. Work your way from the middle out in smooth, back and forth motions to cover the center but don’t worry about making it look perfect, you’re putting the next layer on top! There is plenty of frosting to go ’round with this recipe so don’t feel like you need to skimp if you like frosting.

Layers 2 (and 3): Place the second cake on top and repeat the process with the top of the cake (and again if you are doing 3 layers.) When frosting the side of a cake the principle is the same, but you don’t want to throw your dollop of frosting at the cake. Instead, scrape the frosting off onto the side using the ‘edge’ of the cake, work in the same back and forth swiping motions, but in one direction around the cake. I usually use my left hand to turn the plate clockwise while I am frosting counter-clockwise around the edge of the cake. You will need more frosting for this than you think, so just keep applying.

Once you have frosted the sides and are satisfied with how they look, add a little more frosting to the top and smooth out the edges so that any frosting that has come up from the sides doesn’t look like it’s going rogue.

I took a little more cocoa powder and dusted it around the edges of the cake because I thought it would look pretty. This would also be nice with a pink-colored sugar or sugar in the raw around the edges.

Voila! …now eat it, really. Because this cake is a treat, and if you made it through this recipe post, you deserve it!

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Until our next culinary adventure…

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