In dreaming up desserts for my recent St. Patty’s Day KMOV TV appearance, I devised this to-die-for Guinness stout-laced cake. Though beer in a cake may sound more than a little odd at first take, mull over malted milk balls for a bit…now wouldn’t you agree that chocolate and malt make a logical combination? I love this cake with the two accompanying sauces, but it’s certainly rich enough (like fudge, in fact) to enjoy without either.

Yield: 1 (9-inch) cake or 6 (4-inch) cake-lets

Prep Talk: Be sure to make the cake at least one day ahead so it can firm up overnight in the fridge. Likewise, if you plan to use the sauces, make them the day before, as they too will thicken and become more velvety if completely chilled.

Baked Beer? In a Word - Yes!
Baked Beer? In a Word – Yes! Photo by Julia M. Usher

Ingredients:

Flourless Chocolate Cake:

  • 5 1/2 ounces premium semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 5 ounces premium bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup stout beer (I use Guinness Stout or Schlafly’s Coffee Stout)
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons (27 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coffee extract (optional)
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

Bailey’s Irish Cream Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) whole milk
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream, divided
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Irish Stout Syrup:

  • 1 cup stout beer (for this sauce, I prefer Schlafly’s Coffee Stout)
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

Method:

1 | Mix the flourless chocolate cake. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 2-inch springform pan with butter and then line the bottoms and sides completely with parchment paper. (Alternatively, prep six 4-inch diameter springform pans.) For easiest cake removal, use a double layer of paper to line the bottom. Lightly grease the paper and tightly wrap the outside of the pan with foil. Set the pan aside.

Place the semisweet and bittersweet chocolate in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process the chocolate to a fine meal. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and beer. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour the hot syrup into a liquid measuring cup or other container with a pouring spout. With the food processor running, gradually add the syrup to the chocolate. Continue to process until the chocolate is entirely melted. Scrape down the bowl.

While the chocolate mixture is still warm, add the softened butter, one tablespoon at a time, processing until the butter is completely incorporated. With the machine still running, gradually add the lightly beaten eggs and process until smooth. Add the vanilla and coffee extract, as desired, and pulse the processor just to combine. (Avoid over-processing, as it can introduce excess air bubbles.)

Turn the mixture into the prepared pan. Tap the pan to release any air bubbles on the surface.

2| Bake the cake. Make a bain marie, or hot water bath, by nesting the springform pan in a larger cake pan or baking dish. (Note: The springform pan should not touch the sides of the other pan.) Place the nested pans in the oven and immediately add boiling water to the outer pan or baking dish, filling until the water comes at least halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake about 55 minutes or until the cake is firm and dry to the touch. The cake will puff slightly, especially around the edges. (For smaller 4-inch diameter cakes, bake closer to 35 minutes.)

3| Remove the springform pan from the bain marie, take off the foil, and transfer to a cooling rack. Let the cake cool completely in the pan, about 3 hours. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill overnight to allow the cake to completely set up – and to make for easier pan removal and cutting later. (Note: The cake will settle back to its initial height as it cools.)

4| Make the Irish cream sauce. Combine the heavy cream, milk, sugar, and 2 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream in a stainless steel or non-reactive saucepan. Gently whisk the yolks in a small bowl to break them up; then add to the cream mixture, whisking until thoroughly combined.

Place the pan over medium heat. Cook the mixture, stirring regularly with a metal spoon, until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of the spoon. Do not boil or the mixture will break. Using a fine mesh sieve, immediately strain the custard into a chilled bowl to stop the cooking process. Stir in the vanilla extract and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons Irish Cream.

Cover the custard surface flush with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Seal tightly and chill for several hours before serving.

5| Prep the Irish stout syrup. Combine the beer and brown sugar in a stainless steel or non-reactive saucepan. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, watching carefully to make sure the mixture does not boil over. (Reduce the heat if necessary.) Continue to boil gently until the syrup has reduced to about 1/2 cup. Cool to room temperature; then cover and chill several hours to thicken.

6| Plate the cake. Release the sides of the pan when ready to serve, and invert the cake onto a serving plate. Remove any parchment paper clinging to the cake; then dust the top with powdered sugar, as desired. Slice and serve on a pool of Bailey’s Irish Cream Sauce with a drizzle of Irish Stout Syrup.