Chocolate Guinness Cake

March 12, 2011

The sad news: I will miss St. Patty’s day this year. The awesome news: BECAUSE WE ARE GOING TO VEGAS! The sad news is not sad after all, now is it??

I am so excited. Will and I went to Vegas last year and had a blast, but this year will be even more fun because 8 of our good friends will be joining us! Sequined shirts have been purchased. Gold lame skirts have been purchased. Friends from near and far are coming. I have been practicing walking long distances in my high heels and I have stocked up on sunscreen. I am ready.

But the only thing I might have missed would have been baking a cake I have been dying to make for the last 6 months. Namely, Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Guinness Cake. Pretty cool idea, huh? Fortunately, my friend Bryce, who is a serious lover of beer, had a birthday on Friday. Chocolate Guinness Cake seemed a fitting tribute to a day in his honor.

It was delicious. The cake itself is just slightly sweet, and tangy and rich from the Guinness. I highly recommend accompanying a slice with a glass of stout. The two bring out each other’s flavors in ways I’ve only experienced in a carefully selected wine pairing.

In other news, Will and I went on our first hike since the fall. It was a cloudy day, and only about 40 degrees but it was still nice.

We’ll be going on them often now that it’s almost to be spring. But not for a little while. Because Vegas is on the horizon!

To read more about last year’s Vegas Vacation, click here for Part I and Part II.

CHOCOLATE GUINNESS CAKE (adapted only slightly from Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Guinness Cake)

Cake Ingredients

1 cup Guinness
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into slices (for easy melting)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

8 oz Philadelphia cream cheese
1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream


Preheat over to 350 F. Butter and line a 9 inch springform pan.

Heat a large and wide saucepan over medium low heat. Add the Guinness and and the butter to the pan. After the butter melts, add the cocoa and sugar and blend with a whisk. Whisk sour cream, eggs, and vanilla together, then add to the pan with the beer mixture. Whisk in the flour and baking soda and turn off the heat.

Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour (my cake took 47 minutes). Leave to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack (it is a wet cake, and will fall apart if removed from the pan when still hot).

After the cake cools, place onto a serving platter. Whip the cream cheese until just smooth and fluffy (about one minute). Sift confectioner’s sugar over the cream cheese, then beat them together. Add the cream and beat it again until you’ve achieved the desired consistency, (spreadable, but still can stand on its own).

Ice just the top of the cake so it will look like the froth on top of a nice pint of Guinness.


And then, there were these. I asked Will to pick a birthday cake of his choice. From the top on down: Brittle, then PB Frosting, then more brittle, then milk chocolate ganache, then chocolate cake. Did they take 5 HOURS to make? Yes. Did the cupcakes sink? Yes. Was the frosting a little too thin? Yes. Did anyone care? HELL NO. Because they are Chocolate Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting and Peanut Brittle. And they have rocked my world.

In the original recipe, the cake somehow fell apart completely on its own. So I decided to find a different chocolate cake recipe. During this search, I managed to find the BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE in the history of mankind. These cupcakes managed to sink (usually a problem that is the fault of either using too much leavening or baking at altitude). I attribute their sinking to the fact that while using eight 1/4 teaspoon measurements to attain 2 teaspoons baking soda, I stopped mid-count to belt along with the chorus of “Don’t Stop Believing” and then immediately lost count. I’m just being honest. It happens.

This actually turned out to be a very fortunate mistake. The cupcakes made little pools to collect milk chocolate ganache and brittle. Isn’t this the good part about cooking? Sometimes mistakes or lapses in foresight turn out more perfectly than what you’d hoped. The waffle cone, after all, was invented when a Coney Island Ice Cream Scooper ran out of bowls.

The last thing I will say about these cakes is that they were MESSY. I mean, seriously messy. So I would like to suggest that if you’d like to make these, they’d be best as a trifle. Instead of cupcakes, make 2 layer cakes and alternate the cake with the brittle, ganache, and frosting in a clear trifle bowl or glass bowl.

Summary: Make these if you really like cooking and don’t mind devoting a LOT of time to it. But they are ha-mazing.

Happy Birthday Will!

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH MILK CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING AND PEANUT BRITTLE (Cake from Double Chocolate Layer Cake by Deb at smittenkitchen, Frosting and Brittle (and idea) from Chocolate Cake with Milk Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting and Peanut Brittle at thebittenword)



* Vegetable oil
* 1 cup sugar
* 1/2 cup light corn syrup
* 1/4 cup water
* 1 cup chopped lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts
* 1 teaspoon creamy (smooth) natural peanut butter (made with only peanuts and salt)*
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


* 3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
* 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
* 3 cups sugar
* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
* 3 large eggs
* 3/4 cup vegetable oil
* 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
* 3/4 teaspoon vanilla


* 4 oz imported milk chocolate, chopped
* 5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
* 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
* 1 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
* 3/4 cup creamy (smooth) natural peanut butter (made with only peanuts and salt)*
* 3/4 cup chilled mascarpone cheese**



Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil; brush with oil. Bring sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water to boil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, swirling pan occasionally, about 10 minutes. Immediately stir in peanuts and all remaining ingredients. Scrape out mixture onto prepared sheet; spread out to about 13×9-inch rectangle. Cool completely. Coarsely chop enough brittle to measure 1 cup and finely chop enough to measure 1/2 cup. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Store in separate airtight containers at room temperature.


Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease cupcake pans. Line with cupcake tins

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.

Divide batter, filling each tin 1/2-3/4 full, and bake until a tester inserted comes out clean (13-18 minutes).

Cool cupcakes on racks. Cupcakes may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.


Place chocolate in medium bowl. Bring 5 tablespoons cream just to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Pour cream over chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth. Let stand until thick enough to spread, whisking occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Beat powdered sugar, 1 1/2 cups chilled cream, and peanut butter in large bowl just until blended. Add mascarpone; beat frosting just until thickened (do not overbeat).

Set out cupcakes. Divide milk chocolate filling evenly between them; sprinkle each cupcake with finely chopped peanut brittle. Spread with frosting. Chill 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before continuing.

Place coarsely chopped brittle over top of cupcakes and serve.


For this recipe, thebittenword used creamy (smooth) all-natural peanut butter. To make sure you’re buying the right stuff, check the label. There should be only two ingredients: peanuts and salt. This style of peanut butter may have a layer of oil (from the peanuts) on top. If it does, chill the jar for a few hours, then slowly mix until smooth. Don’t use freshly ground peanut butter: It can have inconsistent flavor and texture.

Lemon Cake

March 4, 2010

A few days ago, my friend Jenny generously offered up her old TV to Will and me. Before this generous gift, Will and I were the owners of a 14 inch tv with a pink tint over the screen. And built in VCR! When I drove my car around to her truck to make the pickup after work one morning, my mouth about hit the ground when I saw a BIG MOTHER OF A TV. It is awesome, and also hilarious because it makes everything else in our apartment look tiny. My aunt said we might need to move to a new apartment, “you know, for the three of you.”

In thanks for the TV, I asked Jenny what the components of her ideal dessert would be, and what she described sounded a lot like an Ina Garten recipe for lemon cake that I’d been wanting to try for a while. I knew when I tasted the batter it was going to be really spectacular. 

And it was. And yes I did use 7 LEMONS to make this cake. I actually had to take breaks from zesting. To be honest, this recipe was kind of a pain to make. But it was well worth it. Completely worth it. Unbelieveably worth it, actually. The cake kind of tastes like a lemon bar, but is more lemony and less sweet. It’s nice and chewy on the outside and very moist in the inside, I think from the lemon syrup shower it gets after baking. I usually shy away from glazes because I think they make baked goods too sweet, but this one was perfect. I only modified the recipe slightly: I increased the lemon juice in the glaze by just a bit, to make it tarter. And instead of making two loaves, I made one loaf for Jenny, and cupcakes for Will and my friends. My cupcakes looked a little awkward  (I accidentally underfilled the cups), but they tasted excellent. Anyway, this was a roaring success. If you like lemons, just do it. But be prepared to zest your heart out.

One funny thing about this recipe is that it managed to draw attention to every item I feel my kitchen is truly lacking in at the moment: a strainer, a sifter, a whisk, a juicer, and a standing mixer. I don’t really need or have room for a standing mixer, actually, but 5 minutes with the handheld electric mixer is about 4 minutes too long for my biceps. I guess a better solution would be to do more pushups. Or not.

LEMON CAKE (adapted from Ina Garten’s Lemon Cake)


For the cake and lemon syrup

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature)

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

4 extra large eggs (room temperature)

1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6-8 lemons)

3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup buttermilk (room temperature)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze

2 cups confectioners sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 (8.5in x 4.25in x 2.5in) loaf pans or line cupcake tins with 20-24 muffin cups. Cream butter and 2 cups of the granulated sugar until light and fluffy with an electric mixer (about 5 minutes).

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In a different bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. If using loaf pans, divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick or fork comes out clean*. If using cupcake tins, divide batter evenly among 20-24 cupcake tins, and bake for 15-25 minutes, until a toothpick or fork comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, sift confectioner’s sugar. Then combine the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

*If you live at high altitude, bake for 30 minutes at 350, then bump the oven temperature up to 375 for the remainder of the cooking time.