Chocolate Guinness Cake

A Chocolate Guinness Cake, with Bailey’s Swiss Buttercream Frosting, and a Jameson Ganache.

Happy birthday to my husband! I have been wanting to do this cake for some time now. A few months ago I asked him what he wanted for his birthday cake this year. He said car bomb cake, and immediately I knew my plan. I wanted to clean up the look and make it not only taste amazing but look amazing as well. Since it is just the two of us who get to consume this bad boy, I went with a very small 6″ cake in 3 layers.

I find it very helpful to weigh the cake mix in each pan to get uniform layers and baking time. Typically when making cake I would do 275g-300g in a 6″ round cake pan. Any more then 300g in a 6″ cake round and it will be too full and possibly spill over while baking. Once cool you always have the option to slice the cakes in half to make thinner layers. The extra batter of the Guinness Chocolate Cake went to make cupcakes. The recipe translates quite well from cupcake to cake. The amount of batter makes around 25-30 cupcakes, which roughly translates into three 9″ rounds.

The buttercream frosting is slightly different from the one with the cupcakes. Needed to have a firmer frosting to hold up the cake with out slipping or squishing out the sides. I went with a basic swiss meringue buttercream. Words cannot describe the wonderfulness that this frosting is. It’s light, fluffy, smooth, sweet, and just melts in your mouth. It is hands down the best frosting I have ever had. A reason it is such a huge hit is because it not only keeps well at room temperature but it has that richness of a buttercream with out tasting like you are just eating a stick of butter dipped in sugar. It does not have that almost chalk like texture that some buttercream frostings can have. It can be a bit frustrating if you have not made it before, as it does not seem like it is ever going to turn out right. You will just have to trust me, it will.

Having a friend who is quite particular about food temperatures and bacteria she was concerned about this buttercream recipe because of the raw egg whites. I spent some time doing some research and explaining to her that it was safe to eat by just following the recipe. Why? Granulated sugar melts at 186°F and in accordance to the USDA and FDA eggs should be cooked to minimum of 160°F to be safe. As the recipe calls for you to combine the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler and whisk until the sugar melts. The egg whites actually go 26°F over the minimum safe required temperature. Some cookbooks and websites will tell you a candy thermometer is required for this stage, but it is not. Due the melting point of granulated sugar your eggs are heated to the significant enough temperature to be safe. When checking the egg and sugar mixture for doneness it should feel smooth when you rub it between your fingers there should be no grittiness left at all from the sugar. If there is then keep whisking over the heat until the mixture is smooth. Ensuring the mixture is smooth will also help result in a flawlessly smooth frosting.

When frosting the cake to get a nice even frosting between layers, use a measuring cup. By using around 1/2 to 1 c per layer, this helps ensure evenness between the layers. I think a cake looks better if more frosting is between the layers then around the cake. While frosting in between the layers another thing to take note of, is that the frosting between layers should not reach the edge. It should be 1/4″ from the edge of the cake. The reason for this is because when you add the next layer of cake it will press it down slightly squishing it out and more so for each additional layer added. This will help avoid all of the frosting between the layers from coming out the edge and getting drastic differences in the look of each layer. Any gaps around the edge can then be filled while doing the crumb coating.

I also highly suggest doing what is called a crumb coating. Basically after you have created the layers of your cake you apply a very thin coating of frosting all around the cake to trap any loose crumbs prior to the final coat of frosting. Here is a great video on how to crumb coat a cake. After you have applied the crumb coat, refrigerate until firm, around 30 minutes to an hour. When it is firm apply the final coat of frosting. You will be surprised how much easier it is to apply the final frosting on a crumb coated cake, you will never frost a cake another way again.

The drizzle of chocolate ganache, is there anything more visually sinfully tempting? Ok, maybe Clive Owen, but we are talking about food here folks. The answer is probably not. The trick to getting that lovely drizzle that does not quite reach the bottom and look like it is just calling out to you, is cold cake. Ganache is used when it’s generally still pretty warm. When you refrigerate your frosted or unfrosted cake to ice box cold when you use the ganache it will start to set up becoming thick, and setting. Resulting in that lovely drizzling down the side look.

With a cold cake. Slowly pour about 1/3 of the ganache right in the center of the top of the cake. Using a flat angled spatula very very gently and slowly nudge the ganache to just shy of the edge of the cake while turning on a cake table turner or stand. Add another 1/3 of the ganache in the center, always add to the center and work out to the edge. Slowly and gently just nudge the ganache towards the edge of the cake, do not force it over just give it a little nudge of encouragement. Let gravity do it’s job as it slowly drips down the side, just keep slowly turning and nudging. Add more ganache if desired, just remember to only add the ganache to the middle and work it slowly towards the edge as you are turning and nudging. It will take a bit of time, but the visual effect is completely worth the effort.

Basic Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Makes around 5 cups of frosting

  • 5 Egg Whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 c Granulated White Sugar (do not use bakers sugar aka casters sugar)
  • 2 c (4 sticks) Unsalted Butter, room temperature cut into 1 tbsp pieces
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract or Paste (optional if adding liquor)
  • For Liquors: 2-4 tbsp of liquors based on taste, start with 2 and add more as taste desires. Typically I use 4 tbsp bailey’s, 3 tbsp Kaluah, 2 tbsp Grand Marnier
  • For Chocolate: 1/3 c Chocolate, melted, cool room temperature before adding to frosting

In a heat proof bowl add the egg whites and a pinch of salt. Whisk vigorously until all the whites are broken up. Add in the sugar and place over a pot of simmering water. Whisk the mixture consistently while heating. The mixture will become thick and take on a creamy color. At this stage if it appears as the sugar has dissolved, touch the egg mixture and rub between your fingers. If it feels smooth it is done. If you feel even a slight gritty texture keep whisking and every 30 seconds feel and check the mixture until smooth when rubbed between your fingers.

Transfer the egg mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the egg mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 10 minutes.

Reduce to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time. Continue adding the butter once each addition has been incorporated. After the last piece of butter has been added around 30 seconds later the mixture will look separated or curdled. Continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth, it will come back together, promise. It takes around another 5 minutes for it to come back together. Add in the vanilla and mix just until incorporated. Taste, if needed sift in 1/4 c of powdered(frosting) sugar at a time to sweeten to desired taste.

Add in gel coloring if desired or 2 tbsp flavored liquor. The mixture may look split again upon adding the liquor. Just whisk until it comes back together. Taste add more of the flavoring or color until desired result is achieved.

Keep the frosting at room temperature until ready to use, or refrigerate in an air tight container for up to 3 days. The frosting maybe frozen for up to a month. When ready to use, bring to room temperature and whisk 3-5 minutes until smooth.

Adapted: Martha Stewart

Basic Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache

  • 4 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped (do not use chips for a ganache)
  • 4 oz Heavy Cream
  • 1 tbsp Unsalted butter
  • The following are entirely optional just use the above three if you want a basic traditional ganache.
  • For Liquors: 2 tbsp of liquor for every 4 oz of chocolate, adding more if needed until desired taste is achieved
  • For Extracts: 1 tsp of extract for every 4 oz of chocolate, adding more if needed until desired taste is achieved
  • For Espresso/Coffee: Recommend using powdered or instant espresso or coffee (like Starbucks Via). Start with 1 tbsp Instant Espresso Powder, or 1 packet of Starbucks Via for every 4 oz of chocolate, adding more if needed until desired taste is achieved.

In a bowl combine the chopped chocolate, butter, and flavoring if using.

Bring the cream up to a boil.

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let set for 2 minutes. Starting in the center of the bowl with a spoon or spatula slowly mix in small circles in the making sure to reach the bottom, once you see the mixture becoming thick and dark, fold and stir more vigorously. Once your mixture is smooth and glossy you can use immediately. Also you can refrigerate and stir every 10 minutes until desired thickness is achieved. You can also whip with a stand mixer to create a thick and amazing ganache frosting.

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