Monday, April 26, 2010

Imperial Stout Chocolate Cake

This is the best chocolate cake I've ever had.

My wife has been making the excellent Nigella Lawson Guinness Chocolate Cake for years now. It recently occurred to us that Nigella only uses Guinness because of its popularity, and maybe other stouts or porters would be even better. As usual, my wife is way ahead of me, and I came home the other day to find a bottle of Howe Sound Pothole Filler Imperial Stout in the fridge.
"Do NOT drink this one," she said, as I lifted the heavy, litre-bottle of tar out of the fridge to inspect it. "It's for a cake."

After three days of my ceaseless pestering, she finally baked it. I could have done it myself, but she's a cake-master, and I didn't want to risk ruining it. The recipe calls for a quarter of a litre of stout, which isn't a bad thing, as drinking a litre of imperial stout in one sitting can be a bit much (all Howe Sound beers come in litre bottles only.)

The Guinness version of the cake has a subtle bitterness that complements the sweet chocolate. The Pothole Filler model blows it out of the water. It certainly adds a heavily bitter twang, but also a complex sweetness. As you'd expect, it brings aniseed, coffee, and molasses to the party, which is perfect for this cake. But because it is an imperial stout, not all the alcohol is lost in the bake, and you still get a bit of heat and boozy-aromatics. As for texture, the cake is as thick and rich as you could ever want, which is typical for this recipe, and the imperial stout certainly doesn't dry it out any.

Of course, I got a chance to drink the stout too. It's a very accomplished RIS, and the texture is thick and hearty. The flavours can become a bit of a muddle, though. I already mentioned the aniseed, which works in the cake, but gets a bit much in the beer, jostling with vanilla, coffee and other warm flavours. I suppose I wish it had just one or two dominant flavours coming through the mix, but some people will enjoy disentangling the complex soup. Any BC stout lover should try it, but perhaps not by the 750ml glassful like I did. Too rich for a session for me,

I strongly recommend you bake the cake, though. I'm already thinking up other stouts that could work (I think barley wines could be good too). Maybe that Stone Smoked Porter would be good, or, if I could bear to sacrifice a bottle, the Peche Mortel from Brasserie Dieu du Ciel would probably be sumptuous, as would be pretty much anything on this page.


  1. Have your people get this recipe to my people asap.

    I just noticed they carry some Howe Sound products in my local beer haven. I will be sure to pick some up next time.

  2. Hey Bray.

    Just go to the link for the Nigella recipe in the blog entry, then substitute imperial stout for guinness. Be sure to make the cheese frosting, it is the ideal "head".

    Yeah I dig Howe Sound usually. The stout and the Bailout Bitter and the Devil's Elbow IPA are all very good. I'm less into the honey or the brown, and haven't tried the Three Beavers yet. But they generally do a good job.

  3. So you are looking to rid your girl of these unwanted stalkers when you are drawn
    to Willow Creek's Black Mirror Castle. Unfortunately for me as an addict, I need my crime fix. Every Halloween party that people remember later in the year by saying things like "Do you remember so-and-so's Halloween party last year.

    Feel free to surf to my homepage ... lyrica