Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake

For our Super Bowl dessert, we made Chocolate Stout Layer Cake With Chocolate Icing. This is a recipe I've been wanting to try for a while. It's from the October 2009 issue of Bon Appetit. Chocolate, stout, and coffee flavors - -SP was immediately excited by this suggestion. While I greased and floured the round cake pans, he brewed the strong coffee, got the butter out to soften, and happily grabbed a bottle of beer.Specifically, Terrapin Moo-Hoo Chocolate Stout. He said it's very tasty.I didn't take any photos during the 'making the cake batter' part of this culinary undertaking. It was Saturday evening and I think I was busy putting our purchases away, gathering receipts to see how much we spent, and just generally not paying attention to SP and the mixer. Both layers were finished baking around 11~11:30 pm.Why so late? Aside from us not starting to bake until we got home from shopping & errands & dinner around 9 pm, our temperamental oven gave us a wee scare. SP was timing the brewing of his loose leaf tea on Timer 2. When Timer 2 dinged done, he hit Cancel, not realizing that would cancel not just the Timer 2 dinging but also the oven temperature. When Timer 1 dinged done for the cake, he went to the oven and was spending an awful lot of time fussing around the oven so I asked what was wrong. He said the oven wasn't hot.

Yikes! Panic! I had flashbacks to Thanksgiving Day in Las Vegas when the oven wouldn't heat. It was 11 pm! On a Saturday! The day before the Super Bowl! Was the oven dead? Nooooo! I just bought a dishwasher! I can't get another appliance right now!Fortunately, he figured out what he had done, re-pre-heated the oven, and kept an eye on the cakes until they were done. Whew. Panic attack averted.

We cooled the layers until around 1 am and then placed them in the cake carrier for safe-keeping. Sunday morning we made the icing, which is really a ganache. A very rich and very tasty chocolate-coffee-heavy cream ganache.Ooohhh I had fun slathering this ganache on. And tasting the bits of ganache that got on my hands or on the table. And then licking the bowl.OK, so my cake plate isn't clean. The Food Network chefs would not be impressed with my messy plate presentation.But that's OK, because this layer cake looks waaaaay better than the last layer cake I made - the one for SP's birthday a year ago, the one that slid apart. Let's briefly re-visit that beautiful sight:The Cake That Made Me Cry. Also known as Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd Filling (that oozed out from between the uneven layers) and Lemon Icing (that mixed with the curd and pooled around the bottom of the cake). I certainly learned my lesson last year. Before smearing on the ganache, SP & I carefully studied the 2 chocolate stout layers and determined that the tops were level enough. We did not need to trim off a hump to flatten a top.

Back to the better looking cake. Mmmmm look at that gorgeous ganache:This cake was very tasty. The layers look a bit dry or not so chocolaty -- but they are moist and flavorful. You can taste the stout. It's not overwhelming, but you also aren't wondering where the heck the beer taste is. And it tastes chocolaty. SP has already asked when we're going to make this again. I guess that means it's a keeper!

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients

Cake

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup chocolate stout, regular stout, or porter
2/3 cup freshly brewed strong coffee

Frosting
1 pound bittersweet chocolate (54% to 60% cacao), chopped
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

INGREDIENT TIP: If you can find it, use a chocolate stout (Brooklyn Brewery and Oregon's Rogue Brewery make it) in the cake batter. The chocolaty flavors in the beer come from dark-roasting the malts. Some brewers even add a little chocolate to the beer as well. If you can't find chocolate stout, use another stout, such as Guinness. Sierra Nevada Porter and Samuel Adams Honey Porter would also work well in this recipe.

Preparation

CAKE
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper round; butter and flour parchment. Place chopped chocolate in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water and set aside.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar in large bowl until fluffy and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in lukewarm melted chocolate, then stout and coffee. Beat flour mixture into chocolate mixture in 2 additions just until incorporated.

Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar in another medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/3 of egg whites into cake batter to lighten, then fold in remaining egg whites in 2 additions. Divide batter between prepared cake pans (about 3 cups for each); smooth tops.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer cakes to racks and cool in pans 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks; remove parchment paper and cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.

FROSTING
Place chopped chocolate in medium heatproof bowl. Combine whipping cream and espresso powder in medium saucepan. Bring cream mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Pour cream mixture over chopped chocolate; let stand 1 minute, then whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Chill chocolate frosting until slightly thickened and spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours (or for quick chilling, place frosting in freezer until thickened and spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes).

Using serrated knife, trim rounded tops from both cake layers so that tops are flat. Place 1 cake layer, trimmed side up, on 9-inch-diameter tart pan bottom or cardboard round, then place on rack set over baking sheet. Drop 1 1/4 cups frosting by large spoonfuls over top of cake layer; spread frosting evenly to edges with offset spatula or butter knife. Top with second cake layer, trimmed side down. Spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake.

DO AHEAD Can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let cake stand at room temperature at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours before serving.

From Bon Appetit October 2009

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