This cake needs no long-winded introduction. I love stout. I love chocolate. I love cakes that aren’t overly sweet, and are overly chocolatey (if such a thing is possible). Chocolate and (pepper)mint is probably my favorite sweet flavor combination. Put it all together, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a cake.
What I love about this cake is that it comes together fairly quickly: no need to wait for butter to get to room temperature, no need to clean forty pots and pans and utensils, and, if you’re like me, no need to go out and get a bunch of specialty ingredients (if you, like me, have stout or porter on hand. This is Asheville, after all.) The dark beer deepens the chocolate flavor without making it boozy, as it is baked into the cake, and you can go cheap or fancy with the beer (I usually go mid-range, and with something I like to drink). The instant coffee powder brings out the chocolate flavor even further. It’s my go-to cake, besides pound cake, when I need an “emergency” potluck dessert item.
The cake is also pretty versatile when it comes to flavoring and topping. Don’t like peppermint? Omit the extract or schnapps, and use vanilla instead. Or, flavor it with another liqueur or extract, like amaretto or Frangelico, for a nutty take on chocolate cake. You can glaze it with a simple powdered sugar glaze, or go fancy with ganache (my favorite), or even go super simple with a dusting of powdered sugar. The choice is yours. For this particular cake (the one pictured), I went with a lightly-flavored peppermint chocolate ganache and crushed candy canes, and it was amazeballs.
Anyway, I’ve somehow made the introduction long-winded, and I said I didn’t need to do that. Before I give you the recipe for chocolate peppermint fabulousness, I will note that the Christmas holidays are coming (as I’m sure you’ve noticed), and I will be traveling, so I will be back in two weeks. Until then, bake away, and enjoy your holiday in whatever way you celebrate it! Now, cake:
Chocolate Peppermint Stout Cake
You will need:
- 1/2 c (1 stick) salted butter
- 1/2 c cocoa powder (Dutch process for a milder flavor, non-alkalized for deeper flavor), plus more for dusting the pan
- 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 c stout or porter of choice
- 1 c white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp instant coffee or espresso powder (not coffee grounds. Don’t do it.)
- 1 tbsp peppermint schnapps, or up to 1 tsp peppermint extract
- 1/2 c sour cream or plain yogurt
- 1 c chopped bittersweet chocolate (do not use chocolate chips, as they will sink to the bottom of the pan and cause the cake to stick)
- Peppermint Ganache Topping or Simple White Glaze (optional – recipes follow)
- 2 candy canes, crushed into small pieces (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease a 3-quart tube pan (like a Bundt pan), and dust with cocoa or flour. (If you dust with flour, you will have a white coating on the outside of your cake. If this bothers you, use cocoa.)
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan or double boiler, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in stout (it will bubble up a bit – that’s okay) until blended, and remove pan from heat. Add sugar and cocoa powder, and whisk until well blended. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, instant coffee, and peppermint schnapps. Fold in the sour cream. Add the melted butter mixture to the egg mixture, stirring to combine. Fold in the flour mixture, then fold in the chopped chocolate.
- Pour batter into prepared tube pan, and bake at 350 degrees F until a wooden skewer or butter knife inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Allow cake to cool in the pan on a cooling rack completely, about 1 hour.
- Remove cake from pan. Bundt cakes can sometimes be kind of scary to remove from the pan, as they can be prone to sticking, which is why it is important to liberally grease every nook and cranny of the pan. You can ease the removal by running a small spatula or butter knife (I prefer the spatula, as it doesn’t scratch up my pan) around the edge of the cake to gently loosen it from the pan’s grip, then inverting the cake and gently tapping or shaking the pan until it comes loose. (Straight up – if your pan wants to hold on to a chunk of cake or two in this process, don’t fear: carefully loosen the missing chunk with a spatula, and press it into the space on the cake. You can even use some of the ganache topping to “glue” it into place. I won’t tell anyone.)
- Place cake on desired plate or in desired container, top with ganache, icing, or powdered sugar, and crushed candy canes, and cover with a cake cover or lid. The cake will keep at room temperature for up to a week, a day or so less with ganache topping.
Peppermint Ganache Topping
You will need:
- 1 c heavy cream
- 1 c semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (chocolate chips here can work, but it will make for a possibly grainier ganache, as the cocoa butter content is often lower in chips)
- 1 tsp peppermint schnapps, or 1/4 tsp peppermint extract (optional, if you want plain ganache)
- Place chocolate in a medium glass bowl, and set aside.
- Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until just steaming, but not boiling hot. Immediately pour hot cream over the chocolate, and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.
- Whisk cream and chocolate together until smooth. Add schnapps, if using. Drizzle immediately over the cake – the ganache will set at room temperature.
Simple White Glaze
You will need:
- 1 c powdered sugar
- 2-3 tbsp milk or water
- 1/2-1 tsp peppermint schnapps or extract (optional)
- Sift powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk in schnapps (if using), then milk or water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until your glaze is pourable. Drizzle onto cake.