It's St Patrick's Day tomorrow and what better way to celebrate than with a pint of the black stuff? I won't be drinking my festive tipple from a glass though. I'd much rather sink mine into a steak pie or, even better still, a chocolate cake.
Chocolate and Guinness cake is deliciously black. I've made it with other stouts but none work quite as well. The taste of the Guinness, although not overt, adds an almost smoky, spicy depth to its flavour. This cake is packed with cocoa-rich chocolate. The iron-rich smoothness of the stout manages to make the chocolate taste even more chocolate-y, whilst adding a sumptuous, squidgy dampness to the texture - plonking this firmly in the cake-fork-required category. Although rich, it is in no way sickly. It is not a particularly sweet cake, which is why the vanilla mascarpone topping compliments its dark tanginess so perfectly, as well as helping it to more pleasingly resemble a pint of the black stuff. I often like to use individual, "half pint" cake rings which, although more faffy, are playful and fun. The recipe below will easily provide enough batter for 16 half pints. Slainté!
Chocolate and Guinness Cake
Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C Fan and grease and line a deep 9" round tin.
For the cake
8 oz/ 200 g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids +)
9 oz/225 g soft unsalted butter
14 oz/ 350 g dark muscovado sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
9 oz/ 225 g plain flour
1 level tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 x 440ml (15.5 fl. oz) can of Guinness
4 oz/ 100 g cocoa
A pinch of salt
For the topping
1.5 lbs/ 600 g full fat mascarpone
12 oz/ 300 g icing sugar
Vanilla extract to taste (about 1 tbsp)
For the cake
- Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a saucepan of barely simmering water and allow to cool slightly.
- Cream together the butter and sugar and then gradually add the beaten eggs.
- Whisk the Guinness into the melted chocolate (you might want to decant this into a large jug for ease later on).
- Sift together the dry ingredients and fold in about 1/3 to the creamed butter and sugar.
- Mix in about 1/3 of the chocolate Guinness and mix thoroughly.
- Alternate between adding the dry and then wet ingredients until everything is thoroughly combined.
- Spoon the cake batter into your prepared tin and bake for about an hour on the centre shelf or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. If the top of the cake is cooked before the middle, place a sheet of greaseproof, baking parchment or foil over the top for the remaining cooking time, to prevent the crust from burning.
- Leave the cake in its tin to cool on a wire rack.
For the topping
- Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl and add the mascarpone and vanilla extract.
- Mix together with a wooden spoon or fork until thoroughly combined, silky and billowy. Don't be tempted to speed up the process with an electric whisk as it's almost impossible not to overbeat it and you will be left with a runny goo that will drip down the sides of your cake.
- Turn your cold cake out of its tin on to a serving plate and spoon the topping on to resemble the head on a pint of Guinness.
- The cake will keep for up to a week in a tin.