Holiday Desserts: Chocolate Stout Cake

Chocolate Stout Cake

You might be surprised to learn that the winter wonderland that adorns this Chocolate Stout Cake is not fussy or difficult to achieve. There are no food dyes or pastry bags involved. In fact the mound of cream cheese frosting is simply plopped on top with a big spoon and spread about until it resembles snow drifts on an alpine peak. The little pine trees are plastic and are standard in most cake decorating shops. I got mine on Etsy. Meaning the decorations on this cake are so unfussy that I didn’t even have to leave the house.

The only hard part was deciding what kind of cake I wanted to make into a snow-covered pine forest. I’d seen a photo on the internet by Agnieszka Wormus that inspired the look I was going for. I also knew I wanted a dark base to form the mountain beneath my snowy peak. However, a standard chocolate cake just didn’t feel festive enough to me. Besides, I planned to take this cake to a holiday party and I knew there would already be plenty of chocolate choices on the dessert table.

Stout Cake

So I turned to the internet and came across a deep dark Chocolate Guinness Cake from Nigella Lawson. The photo convinced me that she and I were on the same page when it came to billowing piles of cream cheese frosting. Still, I needed to cross reference the recipe to be assured that the stout cake would be all that I hoped it would be. More clicking led me to Smitten Kitchen. She has a stout cake with the same ingredients and proportions as Nigella’s, so I was beginning to feel confident about the cake. Smitten Kitchen indicates that her recipe source is a  3 layer stout cake from Epicurious. Naturally I clicked over to Epicurious where I found out that their recipe was adapted via Bon Appétit from the Barrington Brewery. I’m sure you can guess where I went next. Once there I discovered that their Stout Cake was exactly the same as Nigella’s and Smitten Kitchen’s and Epicurious’.

Hence my stout cake is exactly the same as Nigella’s and Smitten Kitchen’s and Epicurious’ stout cake. Except of course mine has a very unfussy, alpine studded snow bank sitting proudly on top. GREG

Chocolate Stout Cake

Chocolate Stout Cake 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 12–15Source adapted from Nigella LawsonPublished
Chocolate Stout Cake


  • 1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperture)
  • 2/3 cup sour cream (at room temperture)
  • 12 ounce cream cheese (at room temperture)
  • 3 cup confectioners’ sugar (plus more for dusting
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream


Set the oven rack to the center position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter the sides and bottom of a 9‑inch spring form pan. Line with a parchment round; butter parchment. 

In heavy large saucepan set over medium heat bring stout and butter to simmer. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl whisk flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to blend.; set aside.

In a separate large bowl use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat eggs and sour cream. Add the cooled stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and continue to beat until just combined. Lower the speed on the mixer and add flour mixture in three additions beating briefly between each addition. Do not overmix, use a rubber spatula towards the end to fold batter until completely combined. 

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the heated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a tester inserted into center comes out clean. Let the cake completely cool on a rack, about 1 hour. 

Meanwhile make the frosting. 

Using a clean bowl and clean beaters on the hand mixer slightly whip the cream cheese until smooth. Sift in the confectioners’ sugar and continue to beat until well incorporated and very smooth. With the mixer still running, drizzle in the cream until it makes a spreadable consistency, you might not use all the cream.

Remove the cake from the pan and set it, domed side up, on a cake platter. Use a large spoon to thickly dollop the frosting on top in an attractive manner. Be very generous with the frosting, but don’t feel you have to use it all.

Dust the cake with more confectioners’ sugar just before serving.