Guinness Chocolate Cake

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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.

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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.

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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

2 eggs

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!


Magic Custard Cake

ImageIf you’re anything like me, the name of this cake – magic custard cake – will bring out the skeptic in you. Can this cake really be magical? Like real-life, it-will-disappear-in-less-than-a-day magical? There’s nothing incredibly special about everyday non-cake custard. Can this cake really be that much better?

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And the answer is…yes. This cake is indeed magical. Somehow, the time in the oven makes a thin cakey layer on top while the bottom of the cake remains creamy and custardy and wonderful.

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This custard cake is all the magic you’ll need to make it through your Monday and the rest of the week. It doesn’t take too long to make and you can keep it all week, eat it for breakfast. Even at the risk that the cake is so good, your day might only go downhill from there.

Magic Custard Cake

From White on Rice Couple

1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 cups milk

4 eggs, separated

4 drops white vinegar

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon water

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

more powdered sugar for the top

Preheat oven to 325 F and lightly butter an 8×8-inch baking dish.

Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Heat the milk to lukewarm and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites and vinegar until stiff peaks form and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and falls in a ribbon from the beater. Add in the melted butter and water and beat until fully incorporated, about 2 minutes.

Mix the flour into the egg yolk mixture until fully incorporated. Slowly mix in the milk 1/2 cup at a time by had with a spatula. Mix in the vanilla.

Fold in 1/3 of the eggs whites until mostly incorporated, and repeat with the remaining 2/3, 1/3 at a time. Mix gently, without deflating the egg yolks, until fully incorporated and there are no more big lumps.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 45-60 minutes or until the top is golden. I took mine out at 45 minutes and I think it was a tiny bit overdone, but I’m pretty sure the heating mechanism in there is pretty much uncontrolled. Give the cake a gentle shake, it will still jiggle slightly when it’s done. Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting. You can put it in the fridge to expedite the cooling. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. The cake will last for a few days in the fridge, but let it come to room temperature before serving.


Pumpkin Coffee Cake

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I know, I know. Pumpkin is SO three weeks ago. It’s pretty much over for the year, until the pumpkin pies come out on Thanksgiving. I know I should be swimming in pomegranate seeds and cranberries, and I kind of already am. But I really can’t not share this coffee cake, which I found on Honestly Yum. Because even though you’re probably sick and tired of pumpkin lattes and pumpkin bread and pumpkin chocolate cookies and your jack-o-lanterns shriveled away 10 days ago…who can resist a coffee cake crumble topping?

If you’re looking for a Thanksgiving breakfast recipe, this is it. Don’t worry about having pumpkin pie later in the day, this cake isn’t that pumpkin-y. It’s just got a little hint of it, to remind you that yes, it’s still fall, and no, squash isn’t totally out of season. If you’re looking for a way to appease the anxiety (and jealousy) your coworkers feel because you’re taking the whole week of Thanksgiving off and honestly, there’s a good change things will completely unravel without you, THIS IS IT.

Seriously. The crumble topping…I can’t even…just make it. Your sick-of-pumpkin taste buds won’t even mind the pumpkin.

We start this one off by mixing our dry ingredients. That soda water and mustard in the background? Leftovers from a salami sandwich dinner.

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Cake batter and topping.

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Just look at that color. How can you resist?

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Voila!

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Pumpkin Coffee Cake

From Honestly Yum (though not in adorable miniature like theirs is)

Makes 1 9-inch cake

For the batter:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan.

In a medium bowl, sfit together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. In a large bowl or in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar until well combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add in the pumpkin and sour cream and mix until just combined. Add the flour mixture in thirds on low speed, mixing after each addition until just combined.

For the streusel:

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 pecans. toasted and chopped

Whisk the sugars, salt, and spices into the melted butter until smooth. Mix in the flour and pecans. The mixture will be solid; leave it packed in the bottom of the bowl.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Break the streusel into large chunks with your hand and top the cake with it evenly.

Bake for 50 minutes. Check the cake at about 25 minutes. If the streusel is already browned, cover the cake with foil for the remaining time so the streusel does not burn. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool 15 minutes before serving.


Whiskey Peach Upside Down Cake

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And suddenly, it’s fall. It’s in the 40s at night and today was the first sunny day we’ve had since the rain came back with a vengeance over the last month after being left neglected in the back of the closet with our boots and scarves for the summer. For a few weeks, I completely ignored the signs – the foggy mornings, intermittent downpours, and abrupt appearance of pumpkin spice everything. Or rather, I didn’t ignore the signs. They were there as I stubbornly rode my bike to work without gloves. I just told myself it wasn’t fall quite yet – I could still ride through town without getting a single goosebump! Still summer, right?

Wrong. Fall is here. I can’t convince myself (or anyone else) otherwise anymore. Weekends have passed completely sunshine-less. I bought my ski pass. I drink more tea than water. Muddy boots clutter the doorway. The office football rivalry is in full swing.

And now I find myself feeling like I’ve cheated fall a little bit by ignoring its first few weeks. I defiantly turned a sunburned shoulder to it and ate my less-than-juicy, slightly out-of-season peach, when really, I should have put on my long sleeves and tossed an acorn squash in the oven. Oh well. Football season’s not even halfway over yet, the leaves still have a lot of color-changing to do, and the cast iron pot has been dusted off and commissioned for a stew. There’s plenty of fall left to enjoy.

This cake is my official farewell to the summer that left three weeks ago and my no-longer-hesitant to the fall that has been impatiently knocking on the door ever since. It’s a perfect cake for this in-between season we’re in. Light and sweet enough for summer, but complex and caramel-y enough for winter (thank you, whiskey). Just right for fall. And an excellent use for those mealy peaches that just aren’t as good as they were a month ago, no matter how much you wish they were.

First make a whiskey caramel sauce, pour it in the pan, and arrange some peach slices in it. (Put more in the middle than I did, they separated while it baked and left an awkward blank spot.)

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Then the cake batter will go in. It’s light, there’s whipped egg whites!

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A while in the oven, and your coping mechanism for transitioning to fall is here.

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Whiskey Peach Upside Down Cake

Very slightly adapted from the Baked: Elements cookbook

Yield: One 9-inch, single-layer cake

For the Whisky Cake Topping:

3 ounces (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons good-quality whiskey

1 lb fresh peaches, cut into 1/4- or 1/2-inch slices

For the Whiskey Cake

3/4 cup cake flour

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 ounces (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large egg yolks, plus 2 large egg whites, divided

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk

2 tablespoons good-quality whiskey

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Make the Whiskey Cake Topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position the rack in the center. Butter the bottom and side of a 9-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with parchment, and butter the parchment.

In a small saucepan over medium-low head, melt the butter. Whisk in the brown sugar and whiskey and cook until the sugar is melted and the mixture is foamy. Remove from heat, pour into the prepared pan, and swirl the mixture to coat the bottom of the pan.

Arrange the peach slices in a circle directly on top of the sugar mixture to cover the bottom of the pan. Do not try to overload the pan with peaches and don’t be concerned if you have some left over. Set the pan aside.

Make the Whiskey Cake

In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks, oil, and vanilla, and beat until just combined.

In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and the whiskey. Add the flour mixture to the mixer bowl in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.

In a medium bowl (or in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), whisk the egg whites vigorously for 1 minutes. Sprinkle the cream of tartar over the whites and continue beating until soft peaks form.

Gently fold one quarter of the egg white mixture into the cake batter until almost combined. The mixture will begin to lighten. Fold another quarter of the egg white mixture into the cake batter until nearly combined. Finally, add the remaining egg white mixture to the cake batter and fold in gently until completely combined.

Pour the batter over the peaches (since this is an upside down cake, the peaches will become the topping when you flip the cake over later). Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the cake is very brown (but not burnt) and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake (not all the way through to the sticky topping) comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes. Run a paring knife around the edge of the cake and carefully invert onto a serving platter. Let the cake cool to almost room temperature and serve with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired (you can add whiskey to the whipped cream, too!).

This cake is best the day it is made, but it can be stored in the refrigerator, covered with a cake dome or in a cake saver for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

*NOTES: If you don’t have a mixer, don’t fret! I did this all by hand (even the egg whites) and it turned out just fine. Also, the whiskey topping of mine boiled over a little while it was baking. Put some foil or a baking sheet on the rack under the cake to keep it from making a mess in your oven.