4 ounces Ghirardelli unsweetened chocolate, chopped**
2 1/4 cups organic all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) butter (bring it to room temperature ahead of time)
1 1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs, separated
12-oz. bottle Odell Brewing Company’s “ Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout” (plus one extra bottle)
2/3 cup freshly brewed strong coffee
PREHEAT OVEN to 350F and adjust racks so there’s room directly in the middle rack for 2 cake pans.
PREPARE two 9” cake pans by coating bottom and sides with melted butter (or spray oil if you prefer), then coating bottom and side with flour. Cut an 8.5” round of parchment paper and place in the bottom. If it won’t stay flat, spray the bottom of the pan again before putting the parchment in to help hold it flat.
MELT 3 oz. of unsweetened chocolate, either over a double boiler or very carefully in a microwave. I do it in the microwave at 10-15 second intervals, stirring in between each nuking. Don’t microwave it until it’s completely smooth, you’ll want a few chunks left that will melt with some stirring.
WHISK together in a small bowl 2 ¼ C flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Set aside.
CREAM 14 tablespoons of butter and 1 ¼ C of sugar. While the butter and sugar are creaming, separate 3 large eggs (or 4 small eggs) setting the egg whites off to the side for now. Cream the butter and sugar until it is very light in color. Scrape bowl often during mixing (after you’ve turned the mixer off, of course).
OPEN both bottles of Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout. Pour one into a pint glass and enjoy for yourself. Set the other bottle aside.
BREW a small cup of really strong coffee. I used the left over coffee from the morning and boiled it down to about a cup. Don’t use left over coffee from three days ago. That’s just disgusting. If you prefer, make espresso and water it down a touch. Make a little bit extra if you really like coffee. It’ll come in handy later when putting the cakes together.
ADD egg yolks, one at a time, to well-creamed butter & sugar. Mix until well combined, scraping once or twice during addition to make sure it all mixes well.
POUR in 1 12-oz. bottle of Lugene VERY SLOWLY while mixer is going on low-speed. If you pour it in too fast, the egg/butter/sugar mixture will start to separate. Not to mention it’ll splash Lugene all over the place. Which is bad. SCRAPE sides of mixing bowl down. VERY SLOWLY pour in ⅔ C of coffee, scraping bowl. See note about pouring in the Lugene.
ADD dry ingredients in 3 batches to butter/sugar/beer/coffee/goodness mixture, scraping bowl as needed.
CLEAN out the mixing bowl by transferring the butter/sugar/beer/coffee/goodness mixture to another bowl (or if you’re using a hand mixer, just clean the mixer and move on to a different mixing bowl). Using the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs whites until white (about 1 minute or so, depending on how fast you’re mixing) and slowly sprinkle in the remaining 3 TBS. of sugar. Continue whisking until the egg whites are stiff. They should hold peaks.
FOLD in ⅓ of egg whites into butter/sugar/beer/coffee/goodness mixture gently folding from the bottom and scraping sides of bowl. Be gentle, as the egg whites are what give the cake it’s light and airy nature. Add remaining ⅔ egg whites in two batches, gently folding until combined.
POUR batter into the two prepared cake pans, place in oven and check after 25-30 minutes. To check if they’re done, the tops should be firm (no jiggling when you open the oven door) and a toothpick/small knife/chainsaw should come out clean after inserted in the middle.
COOL the cakes – in the pans – on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes. Separate the cakes from the sides of the pans with a butter knife and then invert onto a plate, re-inverting back onto the wire rack to cool for another 1.5 hours. After cooled, either wrap with plastic wrap and store at room temp and keep for up to 1 day. Or prepare (see below).
1 pound Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate (minimum 60% cacao), chips or chopped**
2 cups organic heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2-3 tablespoons of sugar (optional)
NOTE: Don’t start to prepare the frosting until you are ready to prepare the cakes. The frosting will harden if left sitting for too long (like an hour or two) but can be reheated to melt it back down.
CHOP chocolate and place in large mixing bowl. Set aside.
POUR 2 C whipping cream into pot and mix in 1 tsp (or more, to your liking) espresso powder and place over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. DO NOT let the cream boil. You just want to get it simmering because once it boils, it will boil over and make a really big mess. Then you have to start over with a new pint of cream. Which isn’t cheap.
POUR simmered cream mixture over chocolate and let it sit for a minute or two.
STIR the chocolate mixture until smooth.
ADD the sugar if you care to. The frosting is pretty chocolate-y. If you want to sweeten the bitter chocolate taste a bit, sprinkle the sugar in while mixing, making sure it all dissolves completely.
PLACE the frosting in the refrigerator for 1.5 – 2 hours, stirring often (every 15 minutes or so). Or, to speed things up, throw it in the freezer for about 35 minutes, stirring every 8-10 minutes.
**If you can get really good chocolate, do it. It will only make things better, but if not, Ghirardelli is readily available and actually a pretty decent cooking/baking chocolate.
PREPARING THE CAKES FOR EATING
Once the frosting is ready and the cakes are cooled, trim the cakes (if necessary) to make the tops flat.
PLACE one cake layer on a cake dish or cardboard round (Wholefoods will sell you a cake round and cake box for $2.00, other bakeries might do the same).
***OPTIONAL: Drizzle some of the remaining coffee from above on each of the cake rounds. This helps keep them moist and also adds more coffee flavor. If you’re really crazy, drizzle 4-6 oz. of Lugene over each cake round.
SPREAD enough frosting to coat the top of this layer, spreading with an off-set spatula (8” or comparable) to smooth.
PLACE second cake round on top of first layer. Pour enough frosting to just barely coat the top and sides, spreading thin to just barely coat it. This is called the “crumb coat”. Throw the cake (on the cardboard stand) into the freezer for 5-10 minutes.
PULL cake from freezer and finish frosting the cake. The reason for doing the crumb coat is so that when you frost the outside, the crumb is kind of frozen in the “crumb coat” and doesn’t mess up the final frosting, so you get a nice, clean, smooth frosting.
I find holding the cake in one hand (I’m right-handed, so I hold it in my left) and frost while gently rotating to the cake is the easiest way. If you have a rotating cake stand, then that is way cooler than holding it.
Let the cake sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving. When cutting, use a hot knife and clean the blade in between each slice to make sure each slice is clean looking. You just spent probably 3-4 hours (and $30+) on this cake. Make that thing look like the gem that it is.
If you want to go all out, make up some raspberry coulis and drizzle that on the plate before serving. People love that kind of thing. Well, I do, anyway.
Obviously, open those other two Lugene Chocolate Milk Stouts you have in the fridge. Or a nice Bordeaux. Or Chateauneuf de Pâpe. Or coffee. Raspberries go really well with this, too. As would a Frambozen or similar.
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