17 March 2011

Double Take: St. Patrick's Day

Dig in! You'll be pleased you did! 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!

I think I’m the only person in my office wearing green today. St. Patty’s Day is just not a big deal here. And that leads me to one of the things I like most about the US: we have everything. The people in the US are so culturally diverse that we take a little bit of this and a little bit of that and turn it into a magical mix of everything. I’ve heard some people say recently that the US is turning into a stew pot more than a melting pot, meaning that we’ve been stewing so long that everything in the pot tastes exactly the same. I beg to differ. Granted, we’ve put our own twist on most things, but I’m cool with that. Some days I can be a bit of a staunch purist, but when I step back from my high horse, I’m generally greeted by something so much better than the original. Like beer. But that’s a whole other post entirely. Expect that one when Bender starts brewing again. 

Yep, this is the extent of my desire to make fancy stuff with icing. 

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day tonight, I’ll be featuring Guinness in every part of our meal. We’re having Beef and Guinness Stew with beer bread (made with Guinness), followed by a delicious Chocolate Guinness Cake. Tonight we are also saying goodbye to our friends California Girl and Scuba Guy. They are heading back to San Diego at the end of the month. I will see them again before they leave, but Bender will not. And this cake will be the perfect sendoff. The cake itself is dark, but deceptively airy and moist. It’s not very sweet, but that is remedied with a delightful, frothy cream cheese icing, “lightened” with heavy cream. The original recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s Feast, and it has been reprinted in both the New York Times and NPR. Here you will find the method and measurements I use most often.

The entirety of my dirty dishes. You can see that I take advantage of having two sets of measuring cups. Otherwise, there would be even fewer dirty dishes.

Chocolate Guinness Cake
lightly adapted from Feast by Nigella Lawson
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

For the cake:
Butter and cocoa or parchment paper for pan
1 cup Guinness stout
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/8 cup unsweetened cocoa (I've had good results with natural and Dutch process)
2 cups superfine sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda

For the icing:
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. For the cake: heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper. (If you are out of parchment paper, use cocoa to “flour” the pan.) In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and superfine sugar, and whisk to blend.

2. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add to Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into buttered pan, and bake until risen and firm, 45 minutes to one hour. Place pan on a wire rack and cool completely in pan.

3. For the icing: Using a food processor or by hand (I’ve never used a food processor for this), mix confectioners' sugar to break up lumps. Add cream cheese and vanilla extract, and blend until smooth. Add heavy cream, and mix until smooth and spreadable.

4. Remove cake from pan and place on a platter or cake stand. Ice top of cake only, so that it resembles a frothy pint of Guinness.

Yield: One 9-inch cake (12 servings). Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

This is what happens when you forget to use parchment paper or cocoa.

This cake is ridiculously easy to make. And the results are stunning. Particularly since I'm lazy about cakes. I making dislike layer cakes. I dislike making fancy things out of icing (Can you believe I'm the daughter of a professional cake maker? Neither can I.) I value simplicity in a cake, and this cake fits the bill perfectly. Plus it's delicious. The only person I know who doesn't like it is Tabitha. How's that for funny?

Nigella Lawson will tell you that you can replace the icing with a dusting of powdered sugar. I disagree entirely. The icing really makes this cake sing. However, if you must eat it plain, chill it first. 

Nicely, it's fixable(ish).

Please-this-cake-again-and-again-as-often-as-possible: 4 votes! 

Since you know Tabitha did not make Chocolate Guinness Cake for St. Patrick's Day, head on over to Double the Garlic to find out what she did make

See? You can't tell I destroyed it earlier! 

1 comment:

  1. Your cake looks absolutely divine!


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