It’s Beer Week! Wait… what?!?

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):

The Sampler at Granville Island Brewing Co., Vancouver

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:

The laminated Tasting Map was the best coaster ever & so informative!

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:

He wanted something light to go with salmon. Tsk.

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.

Slainte! (SLAHN-chə) – that’s Old Irish for ‘good health’ or something like that

I started with the pale lager and worked my way up to the Guinness.

Light & refreshing, but still a lager. Meh.

Then the Kilkenny Irish Red Cream Ale.

Oooo… I liked this one a lot; so I set it aside so I could savor it later.

Third – the Smithwick’s.

Smithwick’s Irish Ale – it was just okay; sorry, Smithwick.

And lastly, the Guinness. It’s so dark it looks like iced coffee.

Gorgeous, if a beer can be called that; who can resist that foam?

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.

Dark Chocolate Stout Cake with Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream

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.

To assemble:

1. Start with the cake (this is where parchment/silpat mats come in handy).

Baking it in a jelly roll pan makes the cake layers about 1/2″ thick.

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.

A metal biscuit cutter makes quick work of cutting the layers.

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.

My favorite piping tool – a plastic bag; makes for easy clean up, too.

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.

Snip the corner and start piping; when you’re done, throw it away.

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.

Start with cake & work your way up to within 3/4″ of the top.

6. Finish with a nice swirl of the whipped cream.

A layer of the whipped cream goes on top.

Then a nice spoonful of caramel goes on top of the cream.

Then sprinkle with cake crumbs. Nothing goes to waste.

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.

That’s burlap held with a rubber band; rustic yet decorative.

Finish with a pretty brown satin ribbon & suddenly it’s fancy.

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.

Oh, yeah…there’s the money shot. Someone pass me a spoon.

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:

Monday:
Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic – introduces us to a local Michigan home brewer turning passion into a business in her “Welcome to Beer Week” intro

Tuesday:
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
and
Kat at Tenaciously Yours – shares an overview of Gasthof’s Oktoberfest where young & old come together to celebrate what else but BEER!

Wednesday:
Anne at From My Sweet Heart – turns beer into Pumpkin Ale Pretzel Caramels; what sweet magic is this?
and
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

Thursday:
Megan at Country Cleaver – celebrates her heritage and Octoberfest in style with one of my favorites – Schnitzel & Dumplings
and
Beka at Kvetchin’ Kitchen – joins in the fun with her review of the Outlander Brewery.

Friday:
Mads at La Petite Pancake – creates a fiesta for your mouth with her luscious Beer Battered Shrimp Tacos
and
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.

Saturday:
Katie The Hill Country Cook – visits the Double Horn Brewery outside Marble Falls, Texas to take in $2 pints & Happy Hour Apps
and
Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic – is back with Black & Tan Brownies
and
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!

20 Comments

Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes, Travel Tales

20 responses to “It’s Beer Week! Wait… what?!?

  1. Pingback: Beer Week: 5 Minutes with a Home Brewer « Comfortably Domestic

  2. The Baby

    I don’t often drink beer but when I do, I choose Guinness. It’s gotta be dark and rich for my taste buds. This cake looks awesome!

  3. Hmmm…I never thought I’d say this, and I certainly don’t mean to offend, but I think I’d rather drink beer with TCP. ;) The pale ale genre is about all I can handle as far as beer goes. The darker it gets, the more afraid I am. I only drink beer in certain moods, but when I do, I like to be able to see the sun shine through the glass.

    • Maybe it’s because you’re not a coffee drinker, Kirsten. I love my morning coffee, so the dark rich coffee flavor of the Guinness really speaks to me on a deep level. You might like the Kilkenny Irish Red. It looked like a great sun tea with a little foam on top. It was lovely and not too dark. I think the only way we’ll know for sure is if we all gather together on a big porch and have a tasting party…until the wee hours of the morning. And then we’ll make waffles!

      PS – Just curious… which does The Bacon Slayer prefer – dark or light?

      • You’re probably right–it’s the bitter in the coffee that gets me, too. I do like an occasional red or cream ale, as long as they’re not too hippy or bitter. Although, if it is traditionally served with some sort of fruit floating in it, I’ll probably like it. Now the Bacon Slayer calls my choices “watery” or “sweet beers” and he is not a fan. He likes beer “with flavor,” so rich, dark, and/or hoppy are his preference. I call them “thicker beers.” We’re a good balance. :)

      • OK–I totally meant “hoppy” not “hippy. I guess Mr. Autocorrect Creator was a child of the ’60’s.

      • I’m am not a beer person. But yet here I am in Beer week! I cook with it often but as for drinking you are lucky if you catch me with something as girly as a corona… LIGHT. Yes light! I did some beer brownies with Guinness last month and love love loved them. Chocolate and Guinness just work. Your jars are just too cute for words. Love everything about this recipe!

      • I thought the same thing when Beer Week was proposed. Not a beer drinker; no working knowledge of it. Thank goodness for Pinterest. Those chocolate stout cakes changed my mind about baking with beer. Also good – beer bread made with a vanilla porter and a little brown sugar. Very tasty. You’re right, though – Guinness and chocolate were made for each other.

  4. 1. I was hooked at Ginger. . .no. . .at Maple Cream Ale.
    2. Your cake-in-jars sound amazing, and such a cute package!

    • Thanks, Madeline! That Maple Cream Ale was spectacular, but the ginger was right up there. I’m looking forward to your Pumpkin Beer Bread. BIG pumpkin lovers in our family.

  5. Kat

    Jeanne, I still can’t get over this. Cannot get over it at all. I think what makes it so marvelous is the fact that the whipped cream to cake ratio is so equal – there’s nothing that gets me quite like cakes that are under-frosted. That lovely little dollop of caramel on top is a wonderful touch.

    Also, the step-by-step makes the end result look FAR less terrifying to amass. I think I could handle this.

    • The cake to cream ratio is crucial, don’t you think? And I’m partial to whipped cream over a traditional buttercream, so this one is right up my alley. The best part is that it’s a breeze to pull together. Shhh…don’t tell anyone, but it only LOOKS fancy. It’s actually super simple. Bonus!

  6. Jeanne! Wow! I’m not a beer drinker either, but your ‘sampler’ is making me rethink my boring martinis! And your stout cakes are just beautiful! I bet that stout really enhanced that chocolate. So many layers of scrumptiousness and your food styling and photography are just amazing! Great job! Hiccup! : )

    • Thanks, Anne. I like to think my photography is improving as time goes by, but I still have a long way to go. At least I’m making forward progress. The stout really brings depth to the chocolate in this cake. It’s an amazing combination. I’m glad I tried it. Looking forward to your caramels this Wednesday!

  7. Pingback: Pumpkin Ale & Pretzel Caramels

  8. kimberxinspace7

    Well I’m glad you found a few tasty ones, though I’m surprised you didn’t enjoy Smithwick’s! It’s one of my faves. Thank you for the recipe; I can think of a few people who would enjoy that Chocolate Stout cake ha ha ;)

  9. Pingback: I don’t know what to call this post. | Inside NanaBread's Head

  10. Pingback: Black & Tan Brownies a.k.a. Beerownies « Comfortably Domestic

  11. Pingback: The Hill Country Cook » Who’s ready for BEEEEEEER WEEEEEEK?

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