You heard me… Beer Week. And I’m not a beer drinker. There, I said it. It feels good to put it out there from the very beginning. My name is NanaBread and I am not a beer drinker. I never really have been, except for this one time in Fayetteville, Arkansas in the very early 80′s when I drank half-frozen slushy beer loaded with green olives. And it was delicious. If you’re not a drinker, stay with me. There’s a cake later in this post. I promise.
When Beer Week was proposed by my blogging friends and I was intimidated. But then I made beer bread and saw a few chocolate stout cakes on Pinterest, so after some research I embraced our Beer Week with open arms. In fact, I embraced it so well I ordered and drank two beer samplers on vacation in Vancouver. Here’s what I tried (for the team, of course):
Yeah. Doesn’t look like something a non-beer drinker would order, does it? For this one, The Complete Package helped out. It was a good plan – he enjoyed the boring flavors (pale ale, lager) and I enjoyed sampling the more exotic flavors (raspberry, honey, maple cream). Check this out:
What I liked best about this Granville Island Brewing sampler was that their flavored beers were gently flavored. Raspberry beer can be obnoxious, but this one was gently kissed with raspberry flavor. And it was lovely. My favorite was the maple cream ale. Second favorite was the one placed in the “Limited Release” section of the tasting mat – Ginger. Mmmm… ginger. And third place goes to the honey lager. Hard to describe, but so very easy to drink.
Next up (and several days later, I promise) was the Irish sampler from Mahony & Sons at Canada Place in Vancouver. The Complete Package abandoned me and ordered his own beer, so I was on my own for this sampler. I did what any team player would do – I cracked my knuckles and rolled my head to loosen up my shoulders and dug in. “We can do this!” It’s our family motto. TCP’s beer:
Compared to his, mine looks like a Party on a Plank. This one included four Irish classics – 6 ounces each of Smithwick’s, Harp, Kilkenny and Guinness.
I started with the pale lager and worked my way up to the Guinness.
Then the Kilkenny Irish Red Cream Ale.
Third – the Smithwick’s.
And lastly, the Guinness. It’s so dark it looks like iced coffee.
And that leads us to Beer Week. I chose the Guinness and I paired it with dark chocolate, then smothered it in a Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream. Sounds pretty good, don’t you think? Want a sneak peek? Here ya’ go.
Here’s how I made the dark chocolate stout cake:
(adapted from The Realistic Nutritionist‘s bundt cake)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
4 ounces applesauce
2 whole eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup Guinness stout
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a jellyroll pan with parchment or a silpat mat, then spray with Pam for Baking or grease & flour liberally; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; whisk to combine. Add the softened butter, applesauce, eggs, vanilla extract and Guinness and beat with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined. Stop the mixer and fold in the chocolate chips. Pour into the jellyroll pan and spread evenly to all edges and corners. Tap gently on the counter, then pop it into the oven. Bake approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick just comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool completely.
For the Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 cup thick dulce de leche caramel
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon Kahlua (or espresso, cooled)
In a saucepan, combine the whipping cream, espresso powder and caramel; arm over low heat, whisking until the caramel is melted and thoroughly combined. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool; refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I put mine in my KitchenAid mixer bowl and placed the whole thing in the fridge so the bowl & cream were both cold). Once properly chilled, place the bowl onto the mixer and whip until soft peaks start to form. Add the sugar and Kahlua and continue to beat until it begins to thicken. In my case, stiff peaks did not form and that’s okay. It’s all going to be layered with cake in a minute.
1. Start with the cake (this is where parchment/silpat mats come in handy).
2. Use a round metal biscuit cutter to cut the cake into circles. How big should your circles be? That depends on what you’re building your layers in. Measure your jar or glass to determine which size cutter or can to use, then cut the cake into circles. One jellyroll pan yielded 30 cake circles for me.
3. To pipe the whipped cream, I like to spoon mine into a ziploc-style plastic bag. It helps to put that bag into a glass and fold the top edge of the bag over the glass. Once the bag is full, pull it out of the glass, press out the excess air and zip it shut.
4. Using a pair of scissors, snip the corner off the bag just before you start piping whipped cream. I like to keep a small but deep mixing bowl nearby so I can set the bag down without it falling over and spilling out.
5. Start by placing a cake round in the bottom of your jar or glass; top with a 1/2″ layer of whipped cream, then continue to rotate cake and cream layers.
6. Finish with a nice swirl of the whipped cream.
6. If you’re using serving glasses, cover them with plastic wrap and keep them refrigerated until just before serving. If you’re using canning jars, place a lid and ring on the top and tighten gently. Then feel free to decorate any way you see fit. I went with burlap and ribbon, and I was happy with the way they turned out.
And that is my version of Dark Chocolate Stout Cake with Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream. My favorite thing about this dessert is… everything. I love how they look layered in jars. I love that the jars make them portable. I love that these were even better the next day, which means you can make them in advance and have more free time to entertain. It also means the leftovers (if any) will keep getting better and better until they’re gone.Trust me, these go fast and they go down smooth – even if you’re not a beer drinker. If you are, then these are just the thing, lassie. Cures what ales ya’.
Now who’s ready for another round?
Visit these Beer Week bloggers throughout the week to see what they’re up to:
Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic – introduces us to a local Michigan home brewer turning passion into a business in her “Welcome to Beer Week” intro
Madeline at Munching in the Mitten – shares her thoughts on Beer Week as well as a recipe for Pumpkin Beer Bread – just in time for fall
Kat at Tenaciously Yours – shares an overview of Gasthof’s Oktoberfest where young & old come together to celebrate what else but BEER!
Anne at From My Sweet Heart – turns beer into Pumpkin Ale Pretzel Caramels; what sweet magic is this?
Lauren at Climbing Grier Mountain – tries to steal The Complete Package from me with her Pale Ale Shrimp Po’Boy; it’s one of his all-time favorites
Megan at Country Cleaver – celebrates her heritage and Octoberfest in style with one of my favorites – Schnitzel & Dumplings
Beka at Kvetchin’ Kitchen – joins in the fun with her review of the Outlander Brewery.
Mads at La Petite Pancake – creates a fiesta for your mouth with her luscious Beer Battered Shrimp Tacos
Allison at Decadent Philistines – takes Four Peaks Brewery Kilt Lifter Scottish Ale to new levels with a spicy German mustard, ale-soaked sweet potato oven fries and Maple-Ale Ice Cream; some people are just overachievers.
Katie The Hill Country Cook – visits the Double Horn Brewery outside Marble Falls, Texas to take in $2 pints & Happy Hour Apps
Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic – is back with Black & Tan Brownies
Carrie at Bakeaholic Mama – thinks outside the box with hard cider and a fabulous Woodchuck Sweet Potato Bisque; this is why I love fall.
I’ll be your mouth is watering now, isn’t it? I’ll be updating the links above throughout the week, so stay tuned. Beer Week may just prove to be our greatest endeavor to date. Cheers!