I’ve been working on this recipe for a few weeks now since first making a stout cupcake recipe. While the cupcake recipe was overall good, the sweetness of the frosting was overwhelming and the cupcakes needed more flavor. I baked this cake last night with the intentions of entering it in Bonn Lair’s St. Patrick’s Day Guinness cook off, but their competition was cancelled (due to lack of submissions)!

This cake has refined warmth and silkiness. While it does have several components, the process goes quickly enough and is worth the effort.  As the competition was cancelled and there was no way it was going to sit around my place,  I took it to a St. Patrick’s party. I’m not a fan of sweets or chocolate in general (just a baker of them), but I had a few bites and even I liked it. There were only a few pieces left at the end of the night. Success.

As I created this recipe, I ask that you link back to this blog if you re-blog or repost the recipe. Comments and suggestions are most welcome!  With that, here’s the recipe.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 20-25 minutes (rotating cakes halfway through) or until the centers come out clean when pricked with a knife. Prepare two 8″ or 9″ cake pans by buttering and flouring the sides and placing parchment paper in the pan bottoms.


1c. stout (Guinness or a lovely chocolate stout homebrew would do nicely)
1 c. butter
3/4 c. dutch processed cocoa

2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. chili powder
3/4 tsp. salt

2 large eggs
2/3 c. plain yogurt
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Simmer stout and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, adding in the cocoa once the butter is melted and well incorporated with the stout. Whisk until smooth, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, chili powder, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.

3. Using a mixer, beat eggs, yogurt, and extracts together until smooth.  Fold in the stout/butter/cocoa mixture.With mixer on low, add dry ingredients until completely combined.

4. Divide batter into two 8″ or 9″ pans (with parchment rounds on the bottom). Once done (pulled away from sides of pans and clean when pricked), allow to cool in pans for 5 minutes before removing from pans and allowing to cool completely (parchment paper down) on wire racks. While the cakes are cooling, you can make the rest of the cake’s syrup, ganache, and whipped cream.

Syrup (brushed on between layers and ontop):
In a small saucepan simmer heat 1/2 c. stout, 1/2 c. sugar, and 1 tsp.  instant espresso powder for at least 20 minutes, stirring frequently. You’re making a simple syrup and medium-low, even heat is best. The mixture will thicken a bit but will not coat/cling to the spoon. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Espresso Irish Whiskey Ganache (between layers and encasing cake):

12 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I use Ghirardelli 60%)
2 TBP. light corn syrup
1 TBP. instant espresso powder
2 1/2 tsp.  Irish whiskey (I’m partial to Bushmills)
1 1/4 c. whipping cream
3/4 tsp. chili powder
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the corn syrup, chili powder, and cinnamon on top the chopped chocolate.

In a small sauce pan, heat the cream and espresso powder until it just begins to boil. Do not allow a rolling boil to occur. Remove from heat and immediately pour over the chopped chocolate in the bowl. Now, be patient and allow the mixture to sit for at least 3 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Add in the whiskey. Whisk.  Allow the mixture to come to room temperature. It will thicken up as it does. If you don’t allow it to reach room temperature, it will be runny. This is fine when you want to drizzle ganache over a dessert, but in this case, you want it spreadable to assemble the cake).

By chance the chocolate is not completely melted, place the heat proof bowl over simmering water (poor man’s double boiler) and while whisking, allow the rest of the chocolate to melt.

Chocolate Whipped Cream (between layers and final decoration):

1 c. heavy whipping cream
2 TBSP ganache (made earlier—it does not need to be firm when add to the whipped cream but it does need to be cool)
2 tsp. espresso powder
2  tsp. cornstarch
2 TBSP. powdered sugar

Using a mixer beat 1 c. of heavy whipping cream on high for at least 2 minutes. Using a spoon with the mixer running on high, drop in the ganache and espresso powder into the mixture. Scrap down sides. Return to high speed and add in the cornstarch (one tsp at a time) and the powdered sugar.  Continue whipping for several minutes until still peaks form. Place in fridge until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Cake Assembly:

Remove the parchment paper from the cake bottoms. Take a bread knife and bisect each cake, cutting from the edge and turning the cake. Once you’ve cut around the edge all the way around, gently run the knife through the center to completely bisect the cake.

Place a TBP. of ganache onto a cake plate, place first layer of cake down. Using a clean, kitchen designated paint brush, brush the syrup onto the layer. Using a warmed knife, place approximately 1/8 c. ganache onto the layer—make sure you go all the way to the edges of the cake.  Spread a generous amount of whipped cream, in the same manner, onto the layer. Repeat this process until all layers are in place. On top the cake, brush on  syrup.

In thin layers, cover the cake with chocolate ganache. Using thin layers, you can cover a cake without tearing the cake as you fill in the gaps and cover the imperfections (on sides in particular). On the final application, i use a wide serrated knife to place the horizontal ridges into the ganache for decoration.  Set the cake in the fridge for 10-20 minutes to give the ganache a chance to set up and harden.

Using a pastry bag with a wide tip, squeeze the remaining whipped cream around the base and on top the cake. I took a knife and smoothed out the top (leaving the piped roping on the edges) and using a micro-grater, I grated chocolate (from another bar I had on hand) for final decoration.

Recipe and photos are copywrite 2010.

2011 notes: I’ve been making this recipe for a year now and it always gets rave reviews. Two notes— I keep dried chipotle and New Mexico chiles on hand and use a combination of them for this recipe. I like the subtle smoke flavor of the combined chiles. Also, I’ve played with using different stouts— from freinds’ homebrews to local micros. All good and each lending a slightly different taste.

Also, a fellow blogger,Nanci, recently tried this recipe to make cupcakes and blogged about it. The commentary is delightful and she caught an omission in the directions (now corrected). Thank you!