Baking Blackbox – A Guinness Chocolate Cake

I did it! I survived! What did I do? What did I survive? Well today was my baking “blackbox” at school. Basically it was a final practical exam in which we drew countries out of a hat and had to make a dessert or bread inspired by that country. I got “lucky” and chose Ireland. Get it? “Luck of the Irish”. So I decided to be a drunkard and make Guinness Chocolate Cake with Guinness Brownie, Guinness Reduction and to top it all off, Bailey’s Whipped Cream. Such an alcoholic I am…
I know it sounds like the Guinness would be unpleasantly over-powering but strangely enough, it wasn’t. It reminded me of the taste when you add coffee or instant espresso powder to chocolate cake. You can’t really tell that it is there but it brings out different qualities in the chocolate. Then to cut the richness of it all I paired it with a tart lime curd. No, you’re right, limes aren’t naturally that green. I may or may not have gone a bit crazy with the food coloring. It is inspired by Ireland after all! Just under 4 hours later and voila! Baking blackbox finito!!!

Guinness chocolate cake

GUINNESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
from Nigella (which explains why everything is in weight, I apologize, I am unsure of the conversion to cups)

– 250ml Guinness
– 250g unsalted butter
– 75g cocoa
– 400g granulated sugar
– 142ml  sour cream
– 2 eggs
– 1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
– 275g all purpose flour
– 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a pan of your choice (an 8″ or 9″ springform, square cake pan, circular cake pan, whatever you have will work).
In a saucepan heat the Guinness and butter until the butter is fully melted. Whisk in the cocoa and sugar. I sifted the cocoa to ensure there was no lumpage and then whisked until the sugar was basically dissolved.
In a separate bowl whisk your sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Make sure that the Guinness/butter mixture isn’t so hot that it will scramble the eggs then pour it into the sour cream mixture in a thin stream whisking constantly.
Finally add your flour and baking soda. Pour into your prepared pan and bake at 350 F. You will know the cake is done when it passes these 3 tests:
1. The cake springs back when pressed lightly in the centre.
2. A toothpick or skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
3. As it is a high fat cake, the sides will begin to pull away from the pan.
Because I was baking using a professional convection oven this took between 30 to 40 minutes. But if you are using a standard home oven Nigella informs us that this could take between 45 minutes to 1 hour. Trust your instincts though. If it satisfies the 3 criteria mentioned above, take it out. If it doesn’t, leave it in. Please promise me one thing though. Don’t go opening and closing and opening and closing your oven to check on it. The light is there for a reason! Everytime you open the door you let the heat out. This is a pretty stable cake but the general rule of thumb is that you should wait until 75% of the estimated cook time has elapsed before opening the oven to check on it. This is especially crucial with finicky items like souffles, sponge cakes, meringues, etc.
Anyways once it is done, take it out and let it cool on a wire cake. Don’t try to remove it from the pan until it is at room temperature. Unless it is for some natural disaster themed party and you actually want it to look like an earthquake zone. Otherwise, please don’t.

GUINNESS BROWNIES
adapted from Godiva

– 4 large eggs
– 3/4 cup granulated sugar
– 1 tsp. lime zest
– 213 grams dark chocolate (I used 75% ) pistoles (or just chop up a bar)
– 128 grams white chocolate pistoles (if you notice on their site, Godiva refers to this as “ivory” chocolate…Ooooo how fancy….and so confusing!) plus about 1/2 cup extra chopped to about the size of chocolate chips – optional
– 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
– 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
– 3/4 cup cocoa powder
– 1 cup Guinness stout

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a tin, same gig size-wise as the cake. Melt the chocolate(s) and butter over a double boiler. Meanwhile whisk together the eggs, sugar and lime zest until smooth. Cool the chocolate mixture slightly and whisk it into the eggs. Sift in your flour and cocoa, pour in the stout, add the additional chopped white chocolate if you are using it and mix everything until just incorporated.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 350 F for about half an hour. This is how long it took using convection but the Godiva recipe also says 25 to 30 minutes, so just pay attention. Cool and THEN remove it from the pan.

GUINNESS REDUCTION

– 2 x 330ml bottles Guinness
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 tbsp. honey

Reduce the Guinness until there is only about 1/2 cup of liquid remaining. Add the sugar and honey, continuing to cook until thick and syrupy. Don’t worry if you over-reduce it, just add some water to thin everything out. Also it is probably a good idea to leave it at room temperature until you need to use it. Otherwise it could harden up like a rock in the fridge.

BAILEY’S WHIPPED CREAM

– 2 cups whipping cream
– about 2 tbsp. Bailey’s Irish Cream (I eyeballed it – throw in as many splashes as tickles your fancy!)
– 1/4 cup icing sugar (again this isn’t an exact science, taste it as some people like it sweeter than others)

Now you could whip this by hand but then you are going to complain that you have carpal tunnel so ya, scratch that idea. Using a MIXER beat the whipping cream until it forms soft peaks. Add the Bailey’s and sugar and beat until stiff peaks. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

LIME CURD
from AllRecipes

– 2 eggs
– 1 cup sugar
– 3/4 cup lime juice
– zest from all those limes you used to get the 3/4 cup juice
– 1/4 cup butter

Whisk the eggs with half of the sugar until thick and smooth. Melt the butter with the lime juice, zest and remaining sugar. Pour into the eggs very slowly allowing them to temper (basically you don’t want lime scrambled eggs…not very appealing). Cook the mixture over a double boiler, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. It is done when it thickens and coats the back of the spoon (also referred to as nappe). Chill over an icebath, strain through a fine-mesh sieve and refrigerate until needed. As you will see in the picture, I also added some blue and yellow food coloring to dye this cream to go with the Irish theme.
WHITE CHOCOLATE CLOVERS
– 1 cup white chocolate
– a few drops each blue and yellow food coloring (or just use green if you have it, you lucky duck you!)
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Add the food coloring and mix until you reach the color you desire. Then make one of these little babies. I would try to explain it but I think you have already read enough in this post and are probably starting to go into information overload. Fill your parchment piping bag with the chocolate and create little 4 leaf clovers or whatever shape your heart desires. I now realize that I totally forgot what a 4 leaf clover should look like. Thanks Google Images, where were you when I was actually piping the things at 8 this morning? Pop em’ in the fridge until they are set and ready to use for garnish.
Careful with the food coloring. Not sure how I plan on getting this off…
Ok so did you manage to get through all of that? Now for the fun part, assembly! Using a ring mold (a circular cookie cutter basically) that is an appropriate size for one portion (I will leave that to your discretion to decide what an “appropriate portion” is). If it helps I double the cake recipe and was able to get 6 good ones out of each cake plus some crappy looking extras that were edible but substandard compared to their little friends. So you are trying to obtain at least 6. Then using a tiny ring mold, cut out a chunk of the bottom of each cake. Use the same tiny mold to cut a piece of brownie. See where we are going here? Now stuff the brownie inside the cake. Pretty ingenious stuff going on here.
As for the whipped cream, use a piping bag to make a nice little rosette on top of the cake. I think it would actually have looked better if I opted to use a plain tip instead of a star one. You could also spread the cream rustically across the top and create random little peaks. Then I placed the clover on top of the cream.
With the reduction I painted it across the plate and made little dots with the lime curd. I love to get creative when I am plating so feel free to do whatever looks good to you. Honestly I probably dirtied 4 or 5 plates just figuring out what I wanted to do.
Finally you can enjoy all of your hard work!
Guinness chocolate cake

3 thoughts on “Baking Blackbox – A Guinness Chocolate Cake

  • February 2, 2012 at 4:36 am
    Permalink

    oh. good. gracious. I can not even fathom creating this kind of masterpiece. The description is mouthwatering and yet, exhausting to even contemplate! You are already such a total pro. Way to go!

    P.S. I am SO tired of cupcakes too! I have a very sweet friend who is an absolute artist when it comes to cupcakes. I would eat hers any day of my life, but those are the ONLY exception to my anti-cupcake policy. They might sound amazing, but I can’t bring myself to make them.

    Reply
  • February 2, 2012 at 2:44 pm
    Permalink

    I am far from pro, but thank you. It was a bit of an experiment that ended up with a decent turnout (thankfully). And you definitely could just make bits and pieces of it, that’s why I kept all of the recipes separate. Both the cake and brownies are delicious by themselves. I won’t lie, I was eating the lime curd by the spoonful too.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *