In Guinness and chocolate cakes, I like just a hint of the Guinness flavour to come through. Sometimes, though, the Guinness is far too pronounced for my palate, but this version is not at all in your face: the Guinness here adds very subtle undertones which works well with the chocolate, and is more of a gentle spice here.
For this cake, made for the St Patrick’s Day-themed meeting of the Clandestine Cake Club, I decided to go for a quick ombré effect using different shades (and flavours!) of chocolate icing.
I also made a batch of soured cream chocolate and Guinness truffles to decorate the cake (a variation on a basic ganache): again, the Guinness is very subtle in the truffles.
Recipe: Guinness & chocolate ombré cake
- 375g unsalted butter, very soft
- 220g soft light brown sugar
- 80g muscovado sugar
- 150g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids here), melted
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
- 320ml Guinness
- 50g cocoa powder, sifted
- 410g self-raising flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- 100ml Guinness
- 3 tablespoons caster sugar
- 300g full-fat cream cheese
- 150g icing sugar
- 1½ teaspoons best quality vanilla extract
- 150ml pot soured cream
- 220g white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
- 4 teaspoons of Guinness syrup, above, if going for the ombré effect
- 100ml soured cream
- 250g dark chocolate
- 5 teaspoons Guinness syrup, above
- a little white chocolate, melted
For the cake:
(1) Grease and base-line two 8″ cake tins and preheat the oven to 160C(fan).
(2) Whisk the butter and sugars for several minutes until paler and very light in texture: you should feel very few grains of sugar. Whisk in the chocolate, followed by the eggs – a little at a time.
(3) Very gradually add the Guinness, whisking all the time to prevent curdling. Add the the cocoa powder and continue to whisk.
(4) Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder together and whisk in just a few tablespoons to the mixture. Fold in the rest of the flour mixture until well incorporated.
(5) Spoon into the tins and bake for 30-40 minutes until well risen and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.
For the Guinness syrup:
(6) Make the Guinness syrup: put the Guinness and sugar in small pan and bring to the boil. Simmer until reduced and syrupy. Leave to cool.
For the icing:
(7) Mix all of the ingredients together, apart from the Guinness syrup, until well incorporated and very smooth. Chill until needed.
For the truffles:
(8) Heat the soured cream until hot but not boiling. Add 150g of the chocolate and the 5 teaspoons Guinness syrup. Stir until combined and smooth. Cover with clingfilm and chill until set to a firm ganache.
(9) Melt the remaining 100g dark chocolate. Take about a teaspoon of the ganache and roll quickly into balls. Dip into the chocolate and place onto bakong parchment until set. Drizzle over the white chocolate. Refrigerate until needed.
Decorating the cake
– For the simplest decoration:
Sandwich the two cakes together with some of the icing, and top with the icing, leaving the sides “exposed”. I think the bright white icing contrasting with the dark cake is lovely: simple but striking! Refrigerate until ready to serve.
– For the ombré cake:
Sandwich the cakes together with some of the icing and top with the icing. Place on a turntable and apply a very thin layer of the icing around the cake as a crumb-coat.
Reserve some of the white icing (for the lightest shade) and add a few teaspoons of the Guinness syrup to the the rest of the icing. Split the rest of the icing into 3-4 portions, depending on how many shades you want: you only need a few tablespoons for each shade.
Add varying amounts of melted dark chocolate to each, mixing well: the more chocolate added, the darker the shade. You should have varying degrees of chocolate-coloured icing, including the portion that has been left white.
Using a palette knife or a round-bladed knife, apply a little of the darker coloured icing to the base of the cake, going all the way round and gently flattening the icing against the cake with the knife as you go. Then repeat just above this layer with the next shade. Repeat, ending with the white icing at the top. It will look somewhat messy at this stage.
Using the clean palette knife, keeping it flat against the cake and starting from the bottom, run it around the circumference, rotaing the turntable as you go, gradually moving upwards after each rotaion until you get to the top. You don’t want perfectly parallel bands of the different colours: they should to blend naturally into each other.