I think the thing I like least about working in an office, or at least one of the things that is really hard to get used to after spending the entirety of my pre-office life in school, is: no breaks! I mean seriously…I honestly believe our productivity and morale would skyrocket if we had a company-wide 2-week winter break, week-long spring break just when it starts to get warm, and at least a 2-week summer break. I mean really, it’s in the company’s best interest.
But no. Instead, we have to work work work until we save up enough vacation days to take a 5-day weekend, calculate whether we’ll have enough vacation days left to go to our friend’s wedding over the summer….the struggle is neverending. Anyway, about a month ago I decided I was in need of a spring break. And today I got up at 2 in the morning to drive to the airport and by the time I normally would have arrived at work, I was already 1200 miles away from my little corner of the office and the few hundred emails that await me every morning.
Yesterday, because I knew I wanted to make something delicious to bring to work for St. Patrick’s Day but I wasn’t going to be back to work by then, I brought in this Guinness chocolate cake. I made this cake last year too so I already knew it was a total winner. And let me tell you, this cake is a dream. Perfect way to eat your Guinness and drink it too this weekend.
This Guinness chocolate cake is rich but not too sweet, super moist and chocolatey, and the Guinness adds just the right amount of a little savory, yeasty touch. The cream cheese frosting is the perfect complement, adding some sweetness without overpowering the magic of this cake.
I was planning on putting green sprinkles on top, but I forgot to buy them, of course. I do think it would be a great touch though.
Also…two cakes in a row. Oops 🙂
Guinness Chocolate Cake
From Feast by Nigella Lawson, via Shutterbean.com
Makes a single layer 9-inch cake
1 cup Guinness stout (this means you’ll have leftovers to drink while it bakes!)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups superfine sugar (I used granulated, it works just fine)
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment. I don’t have a springform pan and was also out of parchment, so I just used a normal 9-inch pan, buttered it very liberally, and the cake came out of the pan just fine.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the Guinness and butter until the butter is melted. Whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar and then remove from the heat. In a small bowl, beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla (you can do it with a whisk). Pour the Guinness mixture into a large bowl, and add in the sour cream mixture. Whisk together until combined. Add the flour and baking soda and whisk until completely combined. Scrape the bowl with a spatula to make sure you get all the flour.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes, until a toothpick stuck in the center of the cake comes out clean. Mine was actually done at about 41 minutes, so definitely keep an eye on it. Remove from oven and let cool. If you’re not using a springform pan, run a butter knife around the edge of the cake and turn it out onto a plate when the pan is cool enough to touch, Then invert again onto whatever you’re going to serve it from so it’s right-side up.
Cream Cheese Frosting
by Garrett McCord on Simply Recipes
I was afraid this was going to be too much frosting for a single-layer cake, but I think it was a perfect amount.
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
With electric beaters or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and beat for another 15 seconds or so. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Add the powdered sugar little by little, until the frosting reaches the desired sweetness and thickness.
Once the cake is cool, spread the frosting on top with a spatula, starting from the center and working outwards to make it look like a nice frothy pint of Guinness. Top with green sprinkles if you want to be even more festive. Or you could add green food coloring to the frosting!
Have a great weekend!
Usually, the word spritzer is enough to scare me away from a drink. It’s a word usually accompanied by some combination of the words white wine and cranberry/rasberry/strawberry and sometimes even vodka. All of which are things pretty low on my list of drinks of choice. I’ll drink a stout or a red ale over a merlot any day. And if it’s going to be a mixed drink, it’ll probably involve whiskey, won’t get any sweeter than ginger ale and definitely won’t be pink with an umbrella and a sugar-rimmed glass. My taste in drinks leans much more heavily towards the bitter and sometimes unusual. Basically, I’m a dude when it comes to drinks.
Although bright red, this drink is not fruity or sweet or one of those that makes you go, “Is there alcohol in that?”. It’s bitter and strong and complex and boozy. The IPA (my favorite of all) is of course bitter, but so is Campari, in a different way. Yes, we’re mixing bitter on bitter here, with nothing to balance it, but it works. It’s great. Trust me.
I got this recipe from The Kitchn, which calls it a summer cocktail. It was indeed refreshing on a 100-degree July day, but I think it’s a perfect winter cocktail too. This isn’t your goes-down-easy summer shandy. Not that it’s hard to get down (totally isn’t) but it does take a little getting used to and a bit more work to enjoy (don’t worry, it’s worth it), and would be a great way to kick-start your getting-out-of-your-comfort-zone New Year’s resolution before the clock strikes midnight.
Campari + IPA Spritzer
Recipe from The Kitchn
Makes 1 (Don’t be fooled by the pictures. I made this for myself a couple days after moving to a new town and since I had to use the whole bottle of beer I went ahead and doubled it…it was kind of a lot. The recipe is plenty for one.)
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) campari
1/2 bottle (6 ounces) IPA
lemon twist for garnish (optional)
Fill a glass with ice (I know your beer is cold, but you definitely want the ice) and add the campari. Slowly pour the beer over it. If using lemon, squeeze the peel over the drink to release its oils, and rub the peel around the rim of the glass. Leave the lemon peel in the glass and serve.