I recently had my own day with celebratory meals and my usual half-spa day doing girly things. However this year, because of my latest round of sinus treatments, my meals have been restricted to alcohol-free, mostly-vegan sustenance for the past two months. Even though I usually don’t eat a lot of meat, these limitations hit me harder than I suspected. How else would I, a happy carnivore and occasional imbiber celebrate my day? Tofu and lentils, although good, just weren't going to do it for me.
I was (mostly) good while supping with friends and my Darling Dearest at vegetarian-friendly restaurants, but what I really wanted this year was comfort food—not necessarily the curries my Mum makes, but simple and hearty fare. I would have been quite content with the deep and rich flavours of a good steak and mushroom pie with chunky chips and a pint of Guinness, with (of course) something chocolaty for dessert.
Luckily, I found Nigella Lawson’s version of the chocolate Guinness cake in “Feast.”
The cake has a pleasingly tangy hint of stout. I frosted it as she suggests, with a light, frothy head of cream cheese icing: If I couldn’t have a real pint of Guinness, I could happily delude myself into thinking I was making and partaking in the world’s largest chocolaty pint.
It’s a lovely, dense, damp cake and perfect for feeding a large group—I made it for the office and easily fed 20 people (Nigella claims 12, but I fear it would be *too* heavy after a good meal). To make life easier, I used one (240g) package of cream cheese and decreased the icing sugar to 120g and the whipping cream to 110mL. If you are neurotic about frosting you can easily serve it un-iced (if you’re celebrating, then celebrate and disregard the trivialities of calories and carbs).
Chocolate Guinness Cake
From “Feast” by Nigella Lawson, published by Alfred A. Knopf Canada
For the cake
250g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
75g cocoa (+ more for dusting)
400g caster sugar
142mL sour cream
1T vanilla extract
275g ap flour
2 ½ t bicarbonate of soda
For the topping
300g cream cheese
150g icing sugar
125mL double or whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F); prepare a 23cm (9”), deep springform tin by buttering and dusting with cocoa.
Pour the Guinness into a large, wide saucepan and add the butter; heat until the butter’s melted, then whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with eggs and vanilla and then pour in the pan of brown, buttery, beer and finally whisk in the four and bicarb.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Set the tin on a rack until completely cooled, as it’s quite a damp cake.
To make the icing,. lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar and then beat them both together. Add the cream and beat again until spreadable.
And do as she says: Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.