$10? For a piece of Cake? Well, maybe...

My friend Charles tells me this cake should be worth $10 per cupcake - I don't know how that translates to slices. Anyway, that's what he says, but I don't know. I do know, it's some unbelievably delicious cake. Last year for St. Patrick's Day, I made Smitten Kitchen's car bomb cupcakes. Though the cupcakes are based on a drink created in the US, there was a significant discussion in her comments regarding the name's cultural insensitivity. Deb changed the name to Chocolate whiskey & beer cupcakes, which I think was nice of her. I won't use the insensitive term, but find the rename to be a little uneventful. Since this version is adapted to make cake and uses a different ganache recipe, I'll call this Guinness, Jameson, & Bailey's Cake. To Ireland, and all the deliciousness produced there thus enabling this recipe to exist - I salute you. And this cake. I definitely salute this cake. Amazing. Happy belated St. Patrick's Day, the day for a cake like this.

Guinness, Jameson, & Bailey's Cake. Adapted from Deb at Smitten Kitchen

You should know, this cake is not for the faint of heart, either in taste, or in preparation. This cake is a two day ordeal to put together, or a long, long one day ordeal. It takes a lot of time, so be ready to spend some time in the kitchen. When I was finishing the cake on St. Patrick's Day after work, I was in a crabby mood, and I was having some challenges with flying bits of chocolate & sugar. I had to regroup and remember that you can only bake with love, or your baked goods will turn out terrible. So I took deep breaths, and baked with love, and it turned out awesome. Remember this, it really does matter.

I made this with two 8" rounds, and had enough for a baby cake too, so I'd say this recipe is perfect for two 9" rounds. Above, the fun of adapting.

Preheat that oven to 350 degrees. Pam or butter your 9" rounds, then lay a piece of parchment paper in the bottom. Why, you might ask? To prevent the cake from sticking for one, and to prevent it from burning or getting crispy on the bottom. I think parchment makes for beautiful cake bottoms myself. To make these, trace the bottom of the cake pan on the parchment, then cut out, and place in the bottom of the pan. Pam or butter the bottom & sides before you do this. I like Pam, it's quick and easy, and it works.

Next make your cake. Here's your recipe: 

1 and 1/3 cup Guinness. Allow the beer to defoam and fill to the top of the measuring cup. If you have a 12 oz bottle of Guinness, as I did, you end up with about 2 oz left in the bottle, maybe slightly less.

Hey, did you know that all cake ingredients should, as a rule, be at room temp? I suggest it for this cake too. To bring your very cold eggs down to room temp, run them under warm water for a bit. Works like a charm. Your sour cream can come out when you start combining ingredients to let it get a little warmer.

1 and 1/3 cup butter (for that third stick, that's 5 and 1/3 Tbsp, but 1/3 cup is listed on the wrapper)

1 cup cocoa. I use Hershey's. You use whatever you want, and if you want to, buy some Omanhene, which I truly believe is the best cocoa ever in the history of the world. No, really.

2 and 1/3 cups all purpose flour

2 and 1/3 cup sugar

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt 

3 large eggs (size matters people. large.)

1 scant cup sour cream. Just use the entire 8 oz sour cream you get at the store. I use Daisy. I'm sure you could use reduced fat, but I'd suggest you don't, as the cake will have more richness with the full fat sour cream.

Cake prep: In a small pot on the stove, add the butter and Guinness and bring it to a simmer. Add in the cocoa powder, whisk in, and let cool a bit. You should know that this mixture looks a little funky, even after completely mixed. Never fear, it will come completely together later when you combine everything.

While that's cooling, combine your dry ingredients and whisk together - flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar (sometimes a wet, in this case, a dry) in a small bowl. 

In a large bowl, use an electric beater to bring the sour cream and eggs together.

Then add the beer chocolate butter mixture to this. If you're impatient like me, you're going to want to temper this mixture a bit with the chocolate beer mixture before adding it all, to prevent cooking the eggs. So that means, add about a spoonful of the chocolate beer mixture to the bowl with the egg / sour cream mixture, mix, then do that again, then again, then again. What you're doing is slowly raising the temperature of the batter, so you don't cook the eggs. After doing that a few times, add in the rest of the mixture and combine.

Then add in your flour mixture, while mixing. Get a friend (or Alex) to help. Just get that mixture to completely combine, but don't get too crazy and over mix.

Pour into your cake pans, rap on the counter a few times to help air bubbles escape and encourage a denser cake (a win in this situation, though not all) and bake about 32 minutes. This was the perfect time for 8" rounds, so you might need a little more time for 9" rounds. 

 At 32 minutes, you should check your cakes with a cake tester, skewer, toothpick (I've used all of these), and if it comes out clean, they're done. I think that your nose tells you when cakes are done as well, but I think that may in part come with experience. Trust your tester over your nose, maybe. 

When your cakes come out, let them cool for ten minutes on a cooling rack, run a knife around the outside of the cake, flat side to the edge of the pan. Turn out with one hand on the top of the cake and the other hand with a pot holder holding the pan, which will be hot still. Peel off the parchment paper, turn right side up, and cool completely on the racks. After the cakes cool, if you're two daying it like I did, store them under a cake carrier separated by parchment paper. That's part one! And below, that's a piece from the baby cake I made. The cake makes an incredible chocolate cake in and of itself. So moist! It will probably be a new go to. I think it would make an extraordinary black forest cake, but that's another post...

Part two: We're making Jameson Whiskey Ganache!

I went with the Cake Bible ganache recipe for this, modified slightly to use Jameson. p 269 in my copy. Can I just say for two moments, the Cake Bible is awesome. Alex's mom gave it to me, and it is filled to the brim with awesome recipes and excellent explanations and techniques.  

12 oz  bittersweet chocolate. I use 3 of the 4 oz bars from Ghiradelli's at the grocery store. You could get fancier, if you want. 

1 and 2/3 cup heavy cream. Everyone I know and read is very anti ultra-pasteurized, so if you can find some that isn't, use that. Here in Portland, you can find it at New Seasons. 

1/4 c unsalted butter

Jameson, lots. I started with two Tbsp, but that wasn't nearly enough. So I added in another two, and then a little more. The next day, when I was getting ready to fill the cake, I added a little more. I wanted to taste the whiskey, which is difficult over the chocolate. I think a heavy hand in this case is good. I'd say I probably used a 1/3 cup total, just to give you a figure. Buy a small bottle instead of the baby bottles.

Pulverize the chocolate, after breaking it into pieces, in your food processor (you can chop by hand if you don't have a food processor, but it's very tedious). 


Heat the cream to the boiling point on the stove, about a 6 on electric stove. 

With the motor running on the food processor, add the cream in a stream to the chocolate. This will whip out of the top of the processor a bit, so prepare yourself. Keep processing a few seconds until smooth. Again, you could do all this over the stove, then use a whisk to combine, but it's going to take more time. 

Pour ganache into a bowl, let cool a bit, then whisk in the butter (room temp butter will make this much easier) and 4 Tbsp whiskey. Let cool completely. At this point for me it was late, so I let it cool enough that it wasn't sweating, then covered it and put in the fridge overnight. Then, I slept.

The next day, when I got home from work, I promptly took the ganache out of the fridge, as it was hard as could be. It also had a couple bits of water damage on top from condensation, so I scooped that out with a spoon. I microwaved it a bit (20 seconds, at most) to make it more pliable, then whipped the ganache with an electric mixer, briefly, which lightened up the color quite a bit. 

Oh yes, I also added more Jameson's at this point, about 3 Tbsp more, beating it in with the mixer. You don't want to whip this too long, because you risk making the ganache get chunky in a bad way - separated because of the cream that's in there - think about what you get when you overwhip cream. Not pretty. So just enough to aerate it. It's not going to be very soft, and it's probably going to go many places in your kitchen. Pro-tip, choose a tall sided bowl. Set this aside for part three!

Bailey's Irish Cream Buttercream

Yum. If you don't have one, as I don't, borrow a Kitchenaid from a friend, or Alex. Makes making buttercream 100 times easier. 

You need: 
two sticks of unsalted butter
about 7 cups powdered sugar
two baby bottles (2oz each) Bailey's - no substitutes! If you do, you'll be sorry.
a little heavy cream to get the icing to your preferred consistency. 

So you definitely cannot do this by hand, but if you don't have a Kitchenaid, you could use an electric mixer, which is how I usually make icing. Cream the butter, then add in the powdered sugar slowly, start with about 4 cups, then add in one of the bottles of Bailey's. Let it keep coming together, turning off the machine and using a spatula to push down the sides if you need to. Add more powdered sugar, then the other Bailey's, then a little cream until you get the consistency you want. I wanted light and fluffy and easy to spread. If you're planning to pipe it, you might want it a bit stiffer. If you want to pipe some and spread it too, remove some of the stiffer icing, then add a little cream to whip the rest into a spreadable consistency. If you add too much cream, never fear, a little more powdered sugar will fix everything. This section is a little under-photoed, no? It's just that combing butter and powdered sugar and Bailey's is not very exciting. However, if you could taste it, that would be an entirely different story...

Okay, so everything is prepped! Time to assemble the cake. Take out those two cake layers, and if you're brave like me, take a bread knife, and cut through the center of each layer, to make 4 total layers. I find that if you turn the cake as you cut through, you can easily keep it level. Remove the cut layers to additional parchment paper. Put the first layer on the cake platter, or whatever you're putting the cake on.

Spoon the ganache into a cake decorating bag, with only the inside attachment fit in the bag to stabilize the tip. You're not using an actual tip, you just want to have something to control the amount of ganache you put on the cake, and it doesn't hurt for it to be in the bag for a bit to help soften it with the heat of your hands. Pipe some onto a layer, then use a spatula to smooth out, making sure you don't go all the way to the edge, or you'll have a disaster when you ice the cake later. So stop the ganache about an 1/2" before the outside edge, although in this photo it's kind of too close to the edge in places. I fixed that. You could avoid piping the ganache, and just spread it right on, but it's not super soft, and you risk ruining your layers. That's why I pipe it on, and use the spatula to push down and spread slightly.

Place another layer on the cake, and repeat, two more times, then top the cake with the last layer, trying to keep everything as even as possible.

Grab your frosting, and pile a giant pile on top of the cake, and start spreading it out to the edge of the top. Add more on top and spread it so it starts falling over the sides of the cake... you're basically pushing it down the sides of the cake. Do this while turning and spreading until the cake is covered, taking care not to get too many crumbs into the icing. This is something that takes practice, so if you're new to this, don't fret if it's a mess. You'll get better at it.

So, once you've iced it, you're done! Unless you want to get fancier, and top it with something. I had leftover icing and ganache, so I quickly combined them in the Kitchenaid, the piped shamrocks on top. 

I wish I had had time to get sugar shamrocks from the Decorette Shop, but alas. At any rate, the cake was a hit. I hope you love the cake too, complex though it is. Let me know if you think it's worth ten bucks a slice. I'd probably need to work on making the look of it a little (or a lot) less rustic. But if you find Charlie's price is right, I'm definitely in the wrong business.

It's worth all the work! Make it for a crowd, a small slice goes a long way. Enjoy! -T