I've been hearing and reading about Guinness chocolate cake for years. Beer and chocolate may strike you as an odd combination, but this isn't just any beer, it's Guinness stout, a thick beverage made from roasted barley that adds a smoky note that just happens to complement chocolate perfectly. There are lots of very similar recipes for this deservedly popular cake. I adapted one published by King Arthur Flour, but substituted Nigella Lawson's cream cheese icing, which I got from her Web site.
1 cup Guinness (or other stout)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder*
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (make sure it's less than 6 months old for maximum leavening power)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, place a round of parchment paper on the bottom and butter it, then flour the pan.
Place the stout and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk in cocoa powder until mixture is smooth.
Thoroughly combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in large bowl. In another bowl, beat together the eggs and sour cream until well-blended. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed.
Finish mixing by folding batter with a spatula until completely combined. Pour batter in the springform pan and bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Place cake on a rack and cool for 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan and cool completely.
Beat together the cream cheese and sugar. Add cream and vanilla and mix. Spread icing on top of cake to echo the appearance of a glass of Guinness and its head of foam.
*Dutch-process cocoa is acid neutral. If you use something like Hershey's cocoa (which is acid) the cake may not rise properly.