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!


Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

ImageRed velvet! What?! I know, red velvet is a little past it’s heyday, but yesterday was February 25th, my grandpa’s birthday. And due to his unwavering devotion to red velvet cake, I can’t get through the last week of this month with out a – dare I say it – craving for red velvet.

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Admittedly, red velvet isn’t the greatest thing on the planet. It has a tiny bit of chocolate in it, which seems to be there just to taunt you into thinking your cake or cookies or what have you will be chocolatey. It always manages to lightly stain your teeth red until you can get your hands on a toothbrush. But still. It’s red velvet. It’s pretty darn good looking, doesn’t taste half bad, and if your grandpa likes it so much, it must be good.

ImageThese whoopie pies aren’t hard to make. You could even make the cookies one day and the frosting the next. They’re wonderfully soft, not too sweet, and the frosting is pretty great too.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

From Handle the Heat

Makes about 30 pies

Notes: I almost didn’t add the full ounce of food coloring, because that was the entire bottle and it almost felt too unnatural. But only half the bottle didn’t make the batter red, and it will get darker when it bakes. Also, an ounce is two tablespoons, which is kind of a lot of liquid to remove/alter. So I’d definitely recommend using the full ounce. Also the directions say to pipe the batter and frosting. If you don’t have pastry bags, don’t fear! I don’t either. When the batter is ready to bake, just spoon it into one of the bottom corners of a large ziploc bag, squish all the air out, seal it, and cut off the tip of the corner of the bag. Instant pastry bag! This batter is somewhere between a cookie dough and a cake batter, too runny to easily scoop with a spoon and not runny enough to pour, so piping not only makes the batter easier to handle, but makes the whole process go much faster and cleanup much easier.

For the cookies:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick, 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1 ounce red food coloring

For the frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Make the cookies:

Preheat oven to 375 F and place 2 oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar to the butter and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add in the egg. Beat until thoroughly combined. Add in the vanilla. Alternatively beat in the flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the buttermilk. Fold with a spatula a couple times to make sure the flour is incorporated. Mix in the food coloring.

Pipe tablespoonfuls of batter onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about an inch between each round.  Bake until tops are set, about 7-9 minutes. Keep a close eye on them, mine barely needed this much time. Cool completely on the cookie sheets.

Make the frosting:

In the bowl of a stand mixer or with electric beaters, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and vanilla, alternating between them. Beat until smooth.

Assemble the pies:

Pipe the frosting on the flat sides of half the cookies. Place the remaining cookies on top, flat sides down, so the round sides of both cookies will face out.

The whoopie pies can be refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container. Allow them to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.


Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies

ImageThe secret ingredient in these cookies really isn’t anything that will surprise anyone that much. It’s not the family secret you learn after you’re allowed at the grown-ups table, where the wine flows more freely than you ever imagined. It’s not the really strange show you like on Netflix, but is so embarrassing that you have to sign up for free trials with as many different email addresses as you can until you finally have to resign yourself to forking over 10 bucks a month. Just so your parents and little siblings won’t see how odd you really are. It’s not the shortcut you always take at work because your boss will totally never notice. It’s not the stash of chocolate kept on the top shelf of your closet so your roommates can’t find it.

Sure it’s a secret ingredient but it’s not something unusual. It’s in baked goods everywhere. You can make an entire cake with it. Or brownies. And it makes these cookies extra soft and tasty and chewy. What is it? Cream cheese!

Instead of shortening or butter or a butter/shortening combo, these cookies use butter/cream cheese combo that’s really great. If you don’t believe me, that’s what they put in cream cheese frosting, and we all know how delicious that is.

This is a pretty basic cookie dough, that I found on Just a Taste. It gets to rest in the fridge for a while – 2 hours at LEAST, but you can leave it there up to 3 days. The longer the better, because the ingredients will have more time to bind together. Think of how leftovers are (almost) always better than the food was on day 1. It also prevents the cookies from getting flat as they bake.

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Then we’ll roll the dough into balls. Standard cookie operating procedure. Make them bigger than you think you should. I highly recommend sprinkling some sea salt on top.

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Bake, and enjoy! For breakfast. I won’t tell.

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Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Just a Taste

Yields about 3 dozen

2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
1/4 c cream cheese, at room temp
1/2 c sugar
1 c packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attached, cream together the butter, cream cheese, sugars, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. You can totally do this old-school style with a wooden spoon too. Just make sure your butter and cream cheese are really soft. And then eat an extra cookie at the end, because you just got an arm workout. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 36 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

Drop 2- to 3-tablespoon balls of dough onto baking sheets, making sure they’re about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle sea salt on top if desired.

Bake 9-11 minutes, or until golden brown. (You might think they’re not done, but they are. That’s how they stay soft!) Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.