Chocolate Guinness Cake with Irish Buttercream is a tasty treat featuring the best of Ireland. Make it for St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas or any time a chocolate lover in your life craves a rich, succulent cake with boozy frosting!
Do you feel that energy? Today is “Freaky Friday,” which is a day every once in a while when a bunch of bloggers get together and swap recipes. Just like the movie — sort of!
Today I’m making a recipe from Kathleen’s blog, The Fresh Cooky! Kathleen is an expert in simple home-cooked meals and fresh-baked goodies to share with friends and family, and you are going to love her and this recipe of hers.
Chocolate Guinness Cake recipe
Meet Kathleen’s recipe for Chocolate Guinness Cake with Irish Buttercream.
It’s a decadent, succulent chocolate cake made with the famous Irish stout beer and topped with a layer of boozy Baileys frosting.
It’s perfect for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day, but honestly, you could make it any time. Kathleen is funny! She made me giggle when she wrote, “…But really, do you need an excuse to make a dark, rich chocolate cake? Not in my house!” Same here, friend. Not in my house either.
Just as in my Guinness donuts recipe, the famously dark Guinness draught stout adds lots of complex, rich chocolate flavor to this cake. The alcohol mostly evaporates when baked, so the resulting flavor is intense! It also helps to make this a tender and moist chocolate cake.
This recipe is so easy to put together. If you are nervous about making cake from scratch, don’t be! This is a really good recipe to try because the steps aren’t complicated. And, you can enjoy a beer while you bake because you won’t use a full can (or bottle) of Guinness.
If you are nervous that you won’t like this recipe because you don’t like Guinness, I still encourage you to try this cake. If you like chocolate and coffee, I can assure you that you will!
I remember I didn’t like the famous Irish beer the first time I tried it on a trip to Ireland as a teenager (I was of age there!), but now I can appreciate the dark, rich flavor. It brings all of that and more to this cake, so if you LOVE chocolate, then I know you will love this cake recipe.
Irish cream Buttercream frosting recipe
Now let’s talk about that frosting! It’s an Irish buttercream, AKA Irish cream buttercream, which means it is made with boozy Baileys liqueur added into the mix.
According to My Baking Addiction, there are three types of buttercream. This recipe is an American buttercream frosting recipe, as opposed to a Swiss meringue or Italian buttercream. That means it is made with some sort of fat (butter, margarine or shortening), confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract whipped together.
For flavor, this recipe adds in Irish cream liqueur such as Baileys and a little bit of espresso flavor. You can use a brewed, strong coffee or espresso or you can go for instant espresso powder.
This recipe features some of the best of Irish. From the real Guinness stout beer in the cake batter to the real Baileys Irish cream in the frosting, plus some Irish butter (my favorite to bake with), I think eating it would make you quite lucky indeed!
Ingredients for Guinness Chocolate Cake
Here’s what you’ll need to pick up at the grocery store for this recipe:
- 1 cup Guinness or other dark beer, such as a stout or porter, room temperature
- 17 tablespoons butter, cut into slices (2 sticks, plus one tablespoon — Kathleen and I both recommend Kerrygold Irish butter — you’ll never bake with anything else again!)
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Kathleen recommends Dutch processed cocoa)
- 2 cups granulated sugar (I used all-natural cane sugar, but superfine or regular is okay too)
- ⅔ cup full-fat sour cream (the fat content is important — see section below on “Tips on Baking with Beer”)
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or try Kathleen’s bourbon vanilla extract)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
Ingredients for Irish Buttercream
This recipe makes enough frosting for the top of the cake, which Kathleen pointed out makes it look like the classic foamy head on top of a Guinness! If you’d like to ice the sides, you should double the recipe.
Here’s what you will need for the Irish cream buttercream:
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened (I used salted butter)
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
- a pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur such as Baileys, Carolans or Kerrygold
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder or 2 teaspoons strong coffee
Since the frosting contains 2 tablespoons of Irish cream liqueur, it will have a slightly boozy flavor. If you cut the cake into 8 slices, that’s ¼ tablespoon per slice, which definitely won’t get anyone tipsy!
However, if you’d like to make it non-alcoholic, you can use heavy cream, whole milk or half-and-half. Just make sure you add the coffee or espresso powder for some extra flavor!
How to make Chocolate Guinness Cake
Here’s what you’ll need to do to make this Chocolate Guinness Cake. I recommend measuring out all your ingredients first, that way everything is ready to go while you work. I promise this step is worth it!
First, make sure the can of beer is at room temperature. Pour it into a glass while you gather your ingredients. If you forget, it’s not a deal-breaker, but it helps to get some of the bubbles out and you might need to cook it on the stove a little longer.
Then go ahead and preheat the oven to 350°F. Then, butter a 10-inch springform baking pan. Use a little extra butter to rub all over the pan.
Then, dust it with some cocoa powder. (You can use flour instead, but keep in mind it may leave an ugly white residue on the baked cake. Cocoa powder will blend in.)
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Next, beat the sour cream, eggs and vanilla in a small bowl until creamy and smooth. Set aside.
Place a large saucepan over low heat. Pour in the Guinness (or any other dark beer) and the sliced butter. Heat until butter is melted.
Then, gently whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar until incorporated and thoroughly dissolved. (Use a rubber spatula to check.) Remove from heat.
Pour the sour cream mixture into the Guinness mixture and whisk until smooth.
Finally, whisk in the rest of the dry ingredients, the flour and baking soda. Mix until just combined, but do not overmix! A few lumps are okay.
Pour batter into the prepared springform cake pan. If the pan is really full, place on a half sheet pan to protect the oven from spillage).
Bake on the center rack in middle of oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check for doneness with a toothpick or cake tester. If it comes out without crumbs, you can remove it.
Allow it to cool completely in the springform pan on a wire rack. Once it has fully cooled, it is ready to frost! (You can also wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze for later if you like!)
How to make Irish Cream Buttercream
Next, let’s make the Irish cream frosting! (We could also call it Baileys buttercream!)
Remember, if you’d like to ice the sides of the cake, you will want to double the recipe.
Get out your stand mixer fitted with the paddle or whisk attachment. You may also use a large mixing bowl and a hand electric mixer.
Add softened butter to the large bowl and beat on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
With the mixer on low, slowly add powdered sugar. Beat on low speed until incorporated into the butter, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed.
Next, add in the sea salt, vanilla extract and Irish cream liqueur (for alternatives, see “Variations and Substitutions” below), beating on low speed until combined. Then increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Make sure you scrape down the sides a few times.
Then, frost your cooled cake! I recommend using an offset spatula. If you like, top it with sprinkles or chocolate chips.
If you’re not planning to eat it right away, store it in the fridge until ready to eat and bring to room temperature before serving. I use one of these plastic cake servers if I want to travel with the cake, or a cake stand if I’m serving it at home.
Baking with beer
Beer adds tons of flavor, but it also brings in lots of science! Kathleen has some really incredible tips for baking with beer, and recommends checking out this article from King Arthur Flour on baking with beer.
Because of the carbonation of beer, it assists with leavening baked goods in the same way baking soda or baking powder do.
When used as the liquid in a recipe, she says, it gives extra lift and tender texture to breads and cakes.
For this recipe, you’ll want to use a stout or a porter. Because these beers are brewed with dark roasted malt, they will offer the rich notes of cocoa and coffee, making them ideal for chocolate desserts like this cake!
Stouts offer a more intense bitter coffee flavor and are often higher in alcohol, says Kathleen. Guinness is just a famous brand of stout beer, but you can use any brand of milk stout or any stout beer that sounds good to you.
On the flip side, porters have more chocolate and malted flavors, less bitterness and less alcohol, which can give the cake a fluffy texture. A vanilla porter would also be a good choice, she says!
If you don’t have either, you could a brown ale or a barrel-aged beer would also work and still bring lots of flavor to this cake. I always love supporting my local breweries when I can, so I say you should have some fun choosing a beer!
Tips for baking with beer
Here are Kathleen’s and my tips on making the most of this cake made with beer:
- For best results, use a freshly opened, room-temperature beer. Pour it into a glass and let it sit for 5 minutes before adding to the recipe to allow the foam to dissipate and release some carbonation.
- When you’re adding dairy to a recipe with beer, make sure to use full-fat dairy. Since beer is acidic, it can curdle lower-fat dairy ingredients. For this recipe, make sure your sour cream isn’t “light” or “low fat.”
- Beer desserts taste best when fresh. Beer can alter the flavors of baked goods over time so, if you can, bake and serve your cake on the same day. However, this cake is quite moist and rich, so it will still taste perfectly fine the next day. (I know because we didn’t finish it all the first day!)
- You can also keep unfrosted baked goods in airtight container for 5 days. If frosted, refrigerate and bring to room temperature if frosted.
Variations and substitutions
Don’t have Irish cream? No worries! You can use a number of things instead. Irish whiskey would be delicious, as would coffee liqueur. Bourbon cream, Amarula or even my homemade Cape Velvet Cream would be delicious.
Don’t have Guinness? If you still want to use a beer, you can use any porter or stout. A vanilla porter or milk stout are Kathleen’s recommendations.
Don’t want to use beer? Totally get it. This is what Kathleen recommends:
“If you are looking to replace beer with a non-alcoholic liquid, these are my suggestions based on some research, though I have never tried them.
There are some sites that suggest substituting with cola or Dr. Pepper style of soda, but soda has sooo much more sugar than Guinness does, so please do not substitute with a full sugar soda.
Instead, if you must, use a sugar-free darker soda, my suggestion would be a natural soda that is sugar free, such as Zevia or Blue Sky. You may also use seltzer water or soda water.”
Want non-alcoholic frosting? Instead of using Irish cream, you can substitute with heavy cream, milk or half-and-half and add a teaspoon of espresso powder or very strong coffee.
Prefer dairy-free frosting? Use this recipe for chocolate dairy-free frosting or this recipe for frosting without butter. If you still want Irish Cream flavor, you can use the vegan Baileys Almande, which is made with almond milk instead of cream.
So what is Freaky Friday? It’s a day every once in a while when fellow bloggers get together and swap recipes on our blogs. Michaela from An Affair from the Heart hosts the event, and she secretly assigns the participating bloggers to another blog to remake a recipe of their choice.
We try, photograph and write about the recipe as if it were our own, then we share them all on the same Friday at the same time and link to one another. It’s a great way to meet other food bloggers and try new recipes!
Take a look at all of our 2022 Freaky Friday Winter Edition Recipes:
- An Affair from the Heart – Homemade German Chocolate Cake
- Aunt Bee’s Recipes – Cafe Rio Sweet Pork
- Devour Dinner – Sweetie Pie’s Mac and Cheese
- Family Around the Table – Easy Garlic Knots
- Feast + West – Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Buttercream
- Fresh April Flours – Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits
- The Fresh Cooky – Easy Mini King Cake Recipe with Crescent Rolls
- Hostess at Heart – Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies
- House of Nash Eats – Pizza Casserole
- Kathryn’s Kitchen Blog – Cheesy Garlic Bread
- Lemoine Family Kitchen – Breakfast Chorizo Enchilada Bake
- Life, Love & Good Food – Cheddar Cheese Popcorn
- The Speckled Palate – Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip
- Sue Bee Homemaker – Cornbread Tamale Pie
- Take Two Tapas – Whipped Feta Dip
- The Wimpy Vegetarian – Spinach Madeline
Boozy dessert recipes
And while you’re here, I hope you’ll visit Kathleen’s site and try her recipes. She has tons of easy dinners and entertaining foods to try, but I was most captivated by her collection of boozy dessert recipes.
After you make Kathleen’s Chocolate Guinness Cake with Irish Buttercream, check out these alcoholic treats:
These Milk Stout Fudge Brownies are another dessert made with stout beer — yes, please!
And then these Espresso Brownie Bites with Kahlua Buttercream feature so much coffee goodness as they bring in coffee liqueur.
And then there’s these Champagne Truffles — chocolates decked out with gold foil and made with real champagne? Sign me up.
Kathleen has so many adventurous recipes that are still nutritious and wholesome, and I’m so glad this collaboration introduced me to her blog so I can make some more of her delicious recipes.
St. Patrick’s Day Recipes
Baby Guinness Jello Shots taste like mini Irish coffees but look like miniature pints of Guinness. You can also make Baby Guinness shots with coffee liqueur and Irish cream liqueur for a non-jello option!
An Irish mule cocktail is also a favorite around here, with Irish whiskey as the star.
Chocolate stout cupcakes are another showstopping recipe you can try if you’d prefer a single-serving dessert over a cake for a party.
Let me know what you think of this recipe! Leave a star-rating or review in the comments below. I’d love to hear how it goes for you.
And don’t forget to go say hey to Kathleen over at The Fresh Cooky!
Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Buttercream
For the cake
- 1 cup Guinness beer room temperature (see note)
- 17 tablespoons butter sliced
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup sour cream full-fat
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
Irish Cream Buttercream
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar sifted if lumpy
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur (see note)
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder or strong brewed coffee
For the cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch springform baking pan and dust with cocoa powder. Pour beer into a glass or cup and let rest for 5 minutes while you prepare ingredients.
- Pour the Guinness into a large saucepan, adding the butter cut into slices. Heat until butter is melted. Once melted, whisk in cocoa powder and sugar, whisking gently until incorporated and dissolved.
- Beat the sour cream, eggs and vanilla in a small bowl until creamy and smooth. Pour into the buttery beer batter, whisking until smooth. Finally, whisk in flour and baking soda. DO NOT OVERMIX. Mix until combined. (A few lumps are okay.)
- Pour batter into greased and lined springform pan. (If pan is really full, place on half sheet pan to protect the oven from spillage). Bake on center rack in middle of oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove once a toothpick inserted comes out without crumbs.
- Allow to cool completely in the springform pan on a cooling rack. Once cooled, cake may be frosted or may be wrapped and frozen until ready to frost.
For the Irish buttercream
- Add softened butter to bowl of a stand mixer (or hand mixer) fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. With mixer on low or stir, slowly add powdered sugar. Beat on low speed until mixed into butter, then increase speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Add in sea salt, vanilla and Irish cream liqueur (substitute with heavy cream, milk or half-and-half and add a teaspoon of espresso powder), beating on low speed until combined. Increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Stop and scrape down sides once or twice.
- Frost cooled cake. If not eating right away, store covered in the fridge until ready to eat and bring to room temperature before serving.
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