Monday, March 18, 2013

Guinness Chocolate Cake with Italian Meringue & Belgian Chocolate Ganache


For an aspiring food blogger, I am always behind the 8-Ball when it comes to posting recipes before each "National Fill-In-The-Blank Day" or holiday season.   Epic timely fail.  I think it's because I  become absorbed into  researching what I want to make for my own family. By the time I actually make the recipe, edit the photos and write the recipe post, the holiday is over.

With this cake, it doesn't matter that St. Paddy's day was yesterday. This cake is good any time of year, and the towering presentation, the contrasting billowy Italian meringue, with a coating of Belgian chocolate ganache truly makes a "Ta-Da" statement.

The preferred alcohol-based drink, with our meals, would be beer.  Most definitely.  My husband's beers of choice includes IPA's and Hefeweizen with his repertoire of hoppy beverages, while I tend to lean more toward Pilsners. 

Guinness beer is a bit too thick and dark for my own personal taste , as a beverage.  However, Guinness beer is delicious in savory recipes, like Glazed Pork Chops or Lamb Stew.   Guinness in desserts? I admit that I was highly skeptical.  This St. Paddy's Day, I decided I'd risk combining this Irish beer with Dutch chocolate-- Ireland, meet the Netherlands, if you will. (Italy and Belgium will join the cake party later on in the recipe.)



The cake batter was quite easy to make. As I poured the Guinness beer over four sticks of unsalted butter (yes, four sticks), I thought it seemed a bit weird.  Beer and butter? We'll see what happens... Once that was melted, Dutch cocoa was whisked in and then set aside to cool until just warm.

Next, four eggs are separated. The yolks will be for the cake batter and the egg whites will make the Italian meringue.  The yolks and 2 cups of sour cream is mixed together, then a dry mixture of flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Last, the Guinness butter mixture is blended.

This does make a lot of batter!   Instead of using two 9-inch cake pans, I used three of them.  For insurance, I used plenty of Baker's Joy non-stick spray and pre-cut cake pan sized parchment paper.

I need to buy another set of cake baking bands,(you can see them on the front pan). 

The suggested baking time for two 8-inch pans is 50 minutes. I checked the cakes at 30 minutes, since the batter was divided into three cake pans. Perfect!  Can you see the difference between the "banded" pan (front) versus the non-banded cake pan in the back? See that dome? I truly do believe that the cake bands make a more evenly baked cake. These need to cool for about ten minutes before removing them from the pans onto a cooling rack.  Let the cakes cool completely (or make them the day before).

Two of my favorite cake baking tools are a cake leveler and a giant spatula.  Because one layer had that dome, I needed to make it level. Sure, I could use a serrated knife, but this inexpensive tool  ensures that I don't create a cake layer that resembles the leaning tower of Pisa.  The giant spatula gives me a guarantee that I won't break a cake layer while transporting it to a cooling rack or cake stand.  Trust me, I've broken a few cakes, and I've had to use a lot of frosting to hide it!

Let's talk about the cake, since I had some cake scraps, I was able to taste the cake before frosting it.  Yum! You can choose to frost it with a simple buttercream, or make a fancier Swiss Buttercream.  I decided that I wanted to go with the Italian Meringue and chocolate ganache. So, I chopped up some quality 72% Belgian chocolate and got the mixer ready to whip up the egg whites.

CAKE TASTING NOTES: Moisture factor-- spot on! The cake has a very tender crumb.  Can I taste beer? Nope! Not one bit.  So, it's true that Guinness beer has some chocolatey notes to it.  My other theory is that the carbonation adds a little extra tenderness to the cake-- similar to the Perfect Pound Cake (that has 7-Up in it).  Who knew?

I've never made a Italian meringue, but I did finally conquer my fear of making marshmallows-- which is similar.  With an Italian meringue, you make a simple syrup that  is slowly poured into whipped egg whites. There's no gelatin nor corn syrup involved with this. You definitely need a dependable candy thermometer, because you don't want the simple syrup to boil beyond "softball" stage of 234-240F.

Owning a stand mixer makes this frosting very easy to make.  Once the egg whites become fluffy, you very slowly pour the hot simple syrup down the sides of the bowl...

...and let that motor and wire whisk work for several minutes--until you can feel the side of the bowl becomes nice and cool.  The frosting has the silky, yet sticky, texture of marshmallow creme.
WARNING: Be sure that you have your cake layers ready to be frosted.  This frosting sets up reasonably fast. 

I could eat this by the spoonfuls. 

The Italian meringue is fun to work with.  An off-set spatula just glides as I frosted all three layers. I had to step back and admire how tall this cake would be!  I am a self-confessed non-lover of dark chocolate. I know, I'm in the minority.  I much prefer milk chocolate. If this had been my own birthday cake, I would quit right here and call it a day. However, I was baking this cake to bring to a dinner party.  So, I decided to add a Belgian Dark Chocolate ganache, gambling that most people would love this.

Chocolate ganache is very easy to make.  It's hot heavy cream, poured over chocolate.  Once you allow it to sit, for about 30 seconds...



...give it a good whisk and you have a beautiful melted chocolate that you can pour over the cake. Using an off-set spatula I began to spread the ganache and then let it ooze over the cake. 
My only regret is that I had less heavy cream, on hand, than I thought. So, the ganache was a tad thicker than I would have liked. Oh well...


The cake was chilled for a couple of hours, which allowed the ganache to set.

TASTING NOTES:  I would, definitely, make this cake again.  It's incredibly moist with a rich notes of chocolate.  There is no trace of molasses or hops or any kind of beer after taste.  I absolutely loved the Italian meringue, because it's not super sweet, as most buttercream frostings are.  I picked off the ganache, when it came time to eat dessert with our friends.  Later, I noticed the chocolate ganache pieces had disappeared from my dessert plate. My husband had a guilty smile on his face, but I was pleased he liked it.
IMPORTANT:  I strongly suggest that any leftover cake is refrigerated, and the frosting does not keep well after a day.  In fact, the meringue begins to deflate and will reabsorb itself into the cake. Not a bad thing, but just fair warning.

Overall, this cake really wasn't too fussy to make.  The batter comes together quickly.  You just have to wait for the cakes to cool, completely (at least an hour, or more).  It's a beautiful cake, and I thank the blog "My Man's Belly" for sharing her recipe so that I could make it and share it with all of you.

I always post a printable recipe card at the end of each recipe post. If you cannot view it, you might be using an older version of InternetExplorer. You should be able to view my recipe cards with Safari, Mozilla, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.  If you still can't view the recipe card, all of my recipes are stored on Key Ingredient, by clicking here.  If you still can't figure out how to view the printable recipe card, please email me at foodiewife@gmail.com and I am happy to help.
 


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20 comments:

bellini said...

I am really intrigued by the Italian meringue Debby. In my experience with Guinness no one one know it is an ingredient in this stunning cake.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Congrats to Adri for winning the basket and to you for making this ultra decadent cake. You have me wanting to rush out for some Guinness now.

Kate said...

Oh goodness...I would love a lumberjack slice, please!!!

Thibeault's Table said...

You did St. Patrick's Day proud. Beautiful cake.

Sireesha Puppala said...

Looks very moist and dense need a slice

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a fabulous cake. I've been dreaming of it since I saw it on Facebook. I'm in love with your chocolate ganache.
Sam

Lisa Ghenne said...

Oh Lordy this looks wonderful! My birthday is Thursday, you still have time to FedEx it to me! LOL!!

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

You are a wicked, wicked woman, Debby. I'm trying to cut back a little bit before my trip and you are really tempting me with this luscious cake. The ganache dripping down over your Italian meringue is over the top. I have to make this...I just have to.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I'm sure everyone really enjoyed your lovely cake. Your tasting notes are very helpful.

Joanne said...

Okay this is just so so so gorgeous! ANd you're right...it shouldn't be restricted to St. Patrick's day!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I think I nearly died adn went to heaven when I saw that photo of the ganache being poured over the top.

I am not a beer drinker, but I can see how Guiness would work in desserts. It has a richness and body to it that would really round out and support the strong flavor of chocolate.

Don't worry about being in the wrong time. I am making lamb stew tonight. :-)

Karen said...

I'm sure I could only make this cake if I was going to take it somewhere else to be eaten... sounds delicious!

Kim said...

I am rarely ever organized enough to share holiday recipes, etc. However, I'd say you really pulled it off this time around. This cake is absolutely stunning. Drooling at the ganache that is cascading down the side of that cake!

Chelsea Marrs said...

Such a cute blog!! This is so perfect for St. Pattys day hahah

Follow back if you can :)

http://chowdownbythebay.blogspot.com/

AdriBarr said...

Well this is just to cool for words. This recipe and macarons. Thank you. I never thought I would win! I look forwrad to the macarons. What a treat they will be.

And this cake looks FAB. I am with you about Guinness. It's too much for me to drink, but it does make the most wonderful stews. I have never tried it in sweet things,however, so this one will be fun. Again, thank you so much for the contest win. And my compliments to you on this glorious creation!

Barbara Bakes said...

Love the contrasting black and white colors - gorgeous!

undressing the salad said...

This cake looks amazing! Really fabulous recipe.

Pauline Jenning said...

ohhhh la la! My mouth is salivating looking to that mouth watering choco cake.gosh. I can't help it. I wish I can have that recipe of yours. :)



Tony said...

This is cool!

Patricia said...

I can never find a link to the recipe. I am about to give up on this blog. I can't find a recipe that lists all the ingredients. I have gone to the bottome of the article but never find it. Just the comments. I just want a list of the ingredients and the instructions.
I had foot surgery in Feb and I still can't walk across the parking lot without hurting so I know how you feel. I hope you get feeling better soon.