Chocolate Stout Cake
Chocolate Stout Cake

Chocolate Stout Cake

Recipe by Susan Reid

Stout and other dark beers are often described as having chocolatey overtones, so this combination might not be as far-fetched as one might initially think. The presence of the stout gives the cake a complex finish and the slightly bitter hops from the beer act as a counterpoint to the sugar in the cake. It's an incredibly moist cake, too, and its rich, dark color comes mostly from the beer. Thanks to Barrington Brewery & Restaurant in Great Barrington, MA for the inspiration for this recipe.

25 mins
40 mins to 1 hr
3 hrs 30 mins
one 8" or 9" three-layer cake
Chocolate Stout Cake - select to zoom
Chocolate Stout Cake - select to zoom
Chocolate Stout Cake - select to zoom
Chocolate Stout Cake - select to zoom


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  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8" or two 9" cake pans, and line them with parchment paper circles or reusable pan liners. Be sure your 9" pans are at least 2" deep.

  2. To make the chocolate stout cake: Place the stout and butter in a large, heavy saucepan, and heat until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the cocoa powder.

  3. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

  4. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.

  5. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sour cream.

  6. Add the stout-cocoa mixture, mixing to combine.

  7. Add the flour mixture and mix together at slow speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and mix again for 1 minute.

  8. Divide the batter equally among the prepared pans. (The recipe yields about 10 cups or 2625g of batter. If you're making a double-layer cake, each pan should have about 5 cups or roughly 1312g. If you're making a triple-layer cake, each pan should have about 3 1/3 cups of batter or 875g). 

  9. Bake the layers for 40 to 45 minutes for 8" pans, or 55 to 60 minutes for 9" pans, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning the cakes out of their pans and returning to the rack to finish cooling completely before frosting.

  10. To make the frosting: Place the chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan.

  11. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the mixture is completely smooth.

  12. Stir in the vanilla. Refrigerate until the icing is spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours.

  13. To assemble: Trim the top of the cake layers to be level, if necessary (otherwise the layers will crack when they are stacked).

  14. Line the edges of a serving plate with parchment or waxed paper to keep it clean, and then place the layer upside down on top. Spread 2/3 cup of the icing over just the top of the layer.

  15. Top with another cake layer, top side down, and repeat the process. If you baked three layers, add that one also.

  16. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. Remove the parchment or waxed paper. Sprinkle with shamrock sugar decorations, if you have them.

Tips from our Bakers

  • For easiest melting, use chocolate wafers or disks. Chocolate chips can also work in a pinch, but be sure to melt them slowly and carefully to prevent burning or seizing. See our blog post, The best way to melt chocolate, for details. 

  • If you're buying Guinness in cans (they list 14.9 ounces on the label), use 1 can and make up the difference in volume with water.
  • For a smaller cake, make a half batch of cake batter and frosting in half; use half the quantity of ingredients specified. Bake the batter in a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan for 30 to 35 minutes. Frost the cake in the pan once cool.