Monday, March 9, 2015

Guinness: It's What's for Dessert.

I have always made this joke that a thick, heavy beer like Guinness should be served along with a fork and a knife. As I was scouring the web for boozy Irish treats, I came across a recipe that would finally put my money where my terrible cheesy joke was: dark chocolate Guinness cake. But it didn't stop there. This dessert recipe became the most Irish thing to be created in America since Conan O'Brien with the addition of Baileys Irish Cream frosting atop its Guinness base. I'm clearly not one for drinking Guinness, but I could definitely agree with the merits of cooking with a beer that was so thick and rich. This is probably the best dark chocolate cake recipe I have ever had the pleasure of eating, and even if you're not into dark chocolate (we can't be friends anymore), the sweetness of the Baileys buttercream frosting perfectly balances with how decadent the cake is. Plus: booze! If you're not getting a buzz off of your Saint Patrick's Day desserts, you're doing it wrong.
I just want to eat the whole thing at once. Is that too much to ask?
Now, this cake recipe only makes one 8-inch round cake, but you could easily double both the cake and frosting recipes to create a 9x13 or two 8-rounds to be stacked on top of one another and decorated. Since I am also making green velvet cupcakes in a few days and it is just Derek and me, I didn't want to be caught in my own form of personal hell I call "too many desserts, not enough mouths" and have to throw things away...needless to say, this recipe is the perfect size for two people either watching their portions or trying to conquer and share fantastic dessert recipes with friends and family (Hi, that's me. You're welcome.).
Sharing is caring, after all. Tasty, delicious caring.
I'll get to the two-toned cream and yellow rose decorating technique in just a moment, but first, how to make the cake! I found this recipe and made a few adaptions to streamline the baking process.
I may or may not have eaten the remaining ounce of dark chocolate.
 Here's what you need:
  • 1 cup of flour (I used all purpose)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (adjust if at a higher elevation to about 1/2 a teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons of buttah (or butter for those of you without an accent)
  • 3 oz dark chocolate baking bar broken into small squares
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup Guinness (the smallest amount you can buy Guinness in is a six pack, so your husband will be happy to help with the leftover beer)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
I really need prettier mixing bowls if I'm gonna keep this up.
Start by preheating the oven to 350 and greasing your cake pan. Gently spoon the amount of flour needed into a measuring cup. Don't pack it in or you'll end up with too much flour, not enough liquid, and a sinkhole for a cake. I mean, I'd still eat it, but it won't be pretty. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a bowl, and set aside.
Anything with this much sugar will end up being delicious. True fact.
Now, since I am extremely lazy, I simply melted together my butter and chocolate squares in a small bowl in the microwave, following the melting instructions on the sleeve of chocolate. Just be careful not to nuke for too long, or you'll burn the chocolate and ruin Saint Patrick's Day. Let the butter/chocolate mix cool off for a minute or two before dumping into your mixing bowl, and then pour the nearly ridiculous amount of sugar in and mix for about 4 minutes, stopping halfway through to scrape your bowl.
It should look like a glorious bowl of Heaven at this point. Because it is.
You know what isn't easy? Measuring Guinness. The foam just never goes away. It's enough to drive you to drink out of your own measuring cup.
Once the sugar/chocolate/butter mix is perfectly combined, add in the egg, Guinness, and vanilla extract. After these items have been fully incorporated, add in the dry mix you set aside earlier and pour in half. Then mix, scrape the bowl, add in the rest, mix, scrape, and mix for a few moments more until you're left with this:
"Hmmmpppffffhh." -Noise you will make upon taste testing batter.
Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 25-30 minutes. I needed the full 30 before a toothpick came out of the cake clean. Rest your cake (still in the pan) for 10 minutes on a cooling rack. Then take a butter knife and free the edges of the cake from the pan before plopping (so technical) the cake out of the pan and onto a towel to cool on your cake rack. If you're trying to speed things up, or simply feel you might die if you don't get to eat this cake soon, place in the freezer for 15-30 minutes while you make the frosting.
I'm sure I could've found a smaller bottle of Baileys, but why?
The icing is comprised of three very simple ingredients: butter, Baileys, and powdered sugar. It really is that easy sometimes. To make, simply cream the butter in your mixer until fluffy (3 minutes or so), then add in 3 tablespoons of Baileys. Let this mix together a bit, and then add in 3 cups of powdered sugar. Do this one at a time, or you will have a powdered sugar/Baileys explosion situation on your hands. Invite me over, I'm sure I can find a way to help clean that mess up. Presto- you've got really boozy frosting. If you want more booze, add in a teaspoon or two until you get the taste you prefer. I didn't want to feel like I was taking a shot of straight Baileys while eating cake, so 3 tablespoons was the perfect amount. I'm told all things in moderation, and I suppose I sort of understand what that means now. Sort of being the operative words here. I guess I'll share my two-toned rose secrets with you before you start judging my inability to function like a proper adult. Now that's what I call a diversion!

Here's what you need to make this magic happen:
  • Piping bag fitted with 2D Wilton tip
  • Small paintbrush
  • Gel dye...must be gel. Regular dye would be too runny.
  • All that delicious Baileys buttercream frosting
Start by painting two stripes of dye on each side of the bag. I did this down the seam on each side of the bag. I painted a thick line on one side, and a thinner line on the other. I was trying a new strategy here, but if you're interested in COMPLETELY dying your roses with two colors of dye for a swirled look instead of just a pop of color, here's a tutorial on that. Once painted, put your piping bag into an empty glass and fold the excess siding over the lid of the cup. Plop a decent amount of frosting into the bag and twist shut. Twisting will not screw up how you've put the dye in the bag- I promise! Pipe out enough frosting until the dye starts coloring the edges of the frosting. Then start by piping a bit frosting to create a center and swirl around to form a circle; go around another time and complete your rose:
Like so! If you need a visual, this tutorial is awesome.
Like an actual basket of gorgeous, creamy-yellow roses.
I am really happy with the way these roses turned out- just a hint of color to really make them look natural. I did not frost the entire cake first, as I wasn't sure I had enough frosting and really wanted to try this technique out. This did mean I had some chocolate peeking through in places, so I simply piped little stars into any areas I think looked blank or needed a bit of coverage. And that's the best part about frosting 2D roses- the room for error is amazing. No matter what, you're piping gorgeous roses, and that's what people will see. It's almost so pretty you won't want to eat it. But when you catch a whiff of Baileys Irish Cream instead of actual florals, out come the forks!
Keep it classy, Guinness cake.
If you want a more Irish-themed cake, you could always dye the frosting totally green and just pipe stars with a large 1M or 2D tip and add some green sprinkles to the entire cake, as this will make enough frosting to cover the whole thing, but I went avant-garde on this confection. Also, considering the cake is made of several types of Irish booze, I figured that was good enough for us. Plus, it is finally not snowing (nor is it in the forecast), so I felt like a bright yellow twist was a perfect welcome for spring, which is definitely here because I am dying of allergies. Past, cold, snow-riddled me should've reminded future, sniffly, tissue-riddled me that freezing weather means not having to pump myself full of Benadryl and Allegra every 12 hours. I need to go fall into a Benadryl coma for the next 24-48 hours, so I'll be back with green velvet cupcakes in a couple days. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!

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