Chocolate Stout Layer Cake

Black Chocolate Stout + Chocolate Layer Cake = DELICIOUS

I did it! I mixed my baking with a brew and it actually tastes good!


Sorry once again – I didn’t follow a recipe very well. For the frosting specifically.


Chocolate lovers – READ ON!


I want to tell you a story about my first adventure in cooking with alcohol. Specifically tequila…

I don’t know why I thought I should cook with my leftover pork and tequila. [First problem: Who has leftover tequila?! Just kidding. I did. Drink responsibly] I found a recipe for tequila lime pork over rice and I thought it would be an excellent recipe to try. I cooked my pork, but for some reason I forgot to add the tequila until the very end. So I poured ½ c of tequila in my pan, but I was afraid of my pork overcooking so after letting it simmer for 2 minutes I removed it from the heat and went to go sit down and enjoy my meal.


Bad idea. NONE of the alcohol had any time to cook out and I quickly found myself eating STRAIGHT TEQUILA SOUP with a little pork. The liquids didn’t even have time to reduce either and were quite runny. I quickly spit this out and returned my liquids back to the saucepan for reduction and a little cornstarch by the end because I wanted it thicker.


Another adventure when I cooked my first cake alone. Specifically chocolate…


Mom was gone. I wanted cake. I cooked it in a pie dish. Spilled all over the oven. I didn’t let it cool enough before removing what was left in the tin because I wanted cake. The warm body of the cake caved in the center. Then I figured if I could remove it, it was okay to frost.

Frosted between the cakes and on the top layer. The entire thing basically caved in with the frosting becoming the molten lava.


This was the BEST cake ever. You couldn’t cut it with a knife. Instead you picked at it with a fork. Imagine the best parts of a cake. Moist. Good frosting. CHOCOLATE. My father and I dubbed it the “Ugly Step-Child” cake.


This adventure was more successful than both of those. Thankfully.


This week, Eleanor and I put together some chocolate stout layer cakes with the recipe from my favorite cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen. For Christmas last year I received their The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook. It is awesome because it gives you recipes in sizes that won’t leave you with months of leftovers. In the book, they tell you how to best store leftover foods, what kind of equipment is best to buy, and give you recipes for what to do with leftover foods (ie. Too many tomatoes? Make this quick sauce). Another perk of cooking with ATK is that they tell you WHY they do certain steps in the recipe. For example, this recipe calls for you to line the pan with parchment paper. They say they do this because it “prevents the formation of a tough outer crust and helps hold the cake together.” My favorite use for my cookbook is for DESSERTS. It is so easy to find a chocolate chip cookie recipe online, but all of the recipes are for 2 dozen cookies or more. ATK gives you a great recipe for 12 cookies. Perfect size. Easy to follow.



I suggested baking with one of my good friends, but I ended up baking my cake at home and met up with him later. To do what you may ask? You didn’t? Oh. I will tell you anyway.


I FINISHED WESTWORLD AND MY MIND IS BLOWWWWNN and I ate a lot of popcorn and chips.

Phew. Woah. I dunno. Can season 2 come quicker? It was way too good and I have a lot of questions to ask. Bernard. You trip me up every time.


The only liquid in the recipe was boiling water. I substituted the beer here instead. I researched a little online and websites recommended that if you are going to substitute beer for a liquid, make sure you provide everything that you are taking away. So if you are replacing milk with beer, you need to add a fat in. The recipe called for you to melt the chocolate by using the boiling water, so I just boiled the beer, not long enough for the alcohol to fully cook out, and melted the chocolate! Very simple.



I used Dubious by North Peak Brewing Company from Traverse City, MI. Another stout – this time in black chocolate. ABV 5.3 and IBU of 30. First, this beer comes in a different shaped bottle. Short and… dare I say… stout. The bottle cap can be replaced on the can very easily and create a seal once again, which was nice because I did not finish my cake all in one sitting. At room temperature, the taste was very smooth from beginning to after-taste with the delicate taste of chocolately goodness. I used the head in the baking process but did not count it in my measurements.


As I started to mix the ingredients, it turns out that Eleanor’s large bowl is made for “normal” sized adventures because mixing the ingredients in such a small amount seemed inefficient.

A messy kitchen is a happy kitchen. 

What I found was that through the baking, I could not distinctly taste the beer. There was a small increase in pleasant bitterness (I feel as though bitter is always used negatively). If someone was not told there was beer in there, I wonder if they would even notice.


When I made the frosting, I didn’t follow a recipe. I used a basic recipe I had in my head and made the mixture more on the liquid-side. I added powder sugar in until my desired consistency was reached. I left this then went to go watch Westworld. When I returned I wanted my frosting to taste more like beer so I added about ¼ c more of beer. It worked a little. If I wanted it to taste more like beer I think I would have had to use less chocolate or a different style of beer – one that did not blend in so well with my ingredients.


Let’s also be honest. I don’t always care about perfect cakes. The sides were a tad crumbly so I decided to go with a waterfall method and gently push the frosting over the sides of the cake to frost the sides.

The cake crumbled a little when cutting into it. However, with the first bite, there was no lack of moist-qualities. You cannot taste the beer specifically, but you can tell there is a small amount of fermented-something, giving it a subtle tangy taste. It’s quite delicious. I am also eating this for breakfast – it is the next day.


Overall, I think this creation is a fun one. Cannot taste the beer much, but it is fun to say you made the cake with beer! I don’t think I’d recommend it to individuals under the drinking age just in case. With my choose-6 beer purchase I did last time, I picked up a blonde ale. Maybe look for vanilla ale cupcakes in the near future?!


Below is the recipe! Sorry for not giving specific measurements for the frosting. It takes the experimentation and fun out of baking! I didn’t really measure anything.

Make sure to read directions! You will need three bowls!




1/4 c dark chocolate chips *

3 T unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 t instant coffee or espresso powder

1/2 c boiling stout beer**

1/4 c sour cream, room temp

1/4 t pure vanilla extract

1/2 c all-purpose flour

1/2 t baking SODA

1/8 t baking POWDER

1/4 t salt

4 T unsalted butter, softened — I used salted and did 1/8 t salt—

1/2 c packed light brown sugar

1 large egg, room temp


  1. You will need two, 6in cake pans. Grease, line with parchment paper, grease the parchment, then flour the pans. Oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 350 F!
  2. Put chocolate, cocoa, and instant powder in a small bowl. Pour boiling beer over mixture and let sit until chocolate is melted. Whisk until smooth. After mixture has cooled to room temp, whisk in sour cream and vanilla.
  3. In a different small bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a medium sized bowl, and using a hand mixer (OR YOUR STAND MIXER BECAUSE YOU WANT TO), mix butter and sugar on low until moist. Proceed to mix on medium-high until light and fluffy, around 3 minutes. Scrape sides of bowl as needed. Add eggs and beat until combined.
  5. In a low speed, alternate the addition of the flour mixture and the chocolate mixture. 2 additions of each. Give final stir by hand.
  6. Divide batter evenly among two pans. Tap to remove air bubbles. Place in middle of oven. Bake until toothpick is removed with a few crumbs attached. 20-25 minutes total. Rotate halfway through.
  7. Let cool on wire rack, still in the pan. Run a knife along edge then overturn to rack and remove parchment. Let cool fully. Frost like your life depended on it.


*I used 1/4 c dark chocolate (62% cacao). The original recipe called for 1 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate. Use what you want??

** Preferably a stout, porter, or brown. Any dark ale may work! I measured the beer before boiling, not including the head in the measurement. I actually ended up adding 1/8 c after boiling because why not.



4 T softened butter

More than 1 c powdered sugar

some vanilla

dash of salt

1/4 c melted chocolate

Some beer. A lot of beer. Whatever. (I think I used 1/2 c to melt the chocolate)


I mixed the butter and powdered sugar. Simmered the beer and added the chocolate to melt. Added this to the butter/sugar. Mix mix mix. Added some vanilla and salt. Mixed. Added more beer. More beer. More beer. P Sugar. Beer. beer. P Sugar. Mixed until it was how I wanted it. My tip for you? If it is too liquid-y, add P Sugar. Too stiff? Add beer. Keep it thick or make it whipped. You do you. Enjoy the process.





ps. I think I may like stouts now!






3 thoughts on “Chocolate Stout Layer Cake

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