Thursday, March 12, 2015

Guinness Stout Cake with Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting & Guinness Stout Ganache

IMG_5362On one hand I’m giving you this cake recipe really late (as in I made this cake in March of 2014), but on the other hand I’m giving it to you just in time for all your St. Patrick’s Day-Guinness beer fueled celebrations. Nathan turned 40 in March of 2014 and wanted an epic birthday. We did a fabulous fancy affair catered by Karl of Biscuit Love, with a whole hog, spicy greens, & roasted potatoes with Alabama white sauce. Of course an epic dessert is needed to top off that fantastic meal, and this cake was it. In case you don’t remember me mentioning it, Nathan is a “craft beer nerd”. Sometimes I feel like our lives revolve around beer. I refer to myself as a “craft beer widow”. His party was a huge, hours-long craft beer tasting party. So the cake needed to be beer themed. Using recipes from various sources I put together this cake and I must say I was quite proud of my newest cheesecake cake!


The cake itself was not too sweet, which served as a good counterpoint to the rich cheesecake, light & sweet frosting, and dark, rich ganache. The Guinness flavor is subtle, and is perfect for an adult palate. It was a certain hit at the party! If you’re unfamiliar with these cheesecake cakes, I’ve been doing them since 2010. I figured out that if you make the cheesecake ahead of time & freeze it, it’s easy to transfer & assemble between the cake layers. They aren’t necessarily difficult, but they are time consuming. I like to make the cheesecake the weekend before and freeze it. Friday night I make the cake. Then Saturday all I need to do is make the frosting and assemble. (That’s assuming you’re going to serve it on a Saturday.) Breaking up the components into different days makes it much less daunting. I love coming up with new combinations & variations. The possibilities are endless!

Here are a few of my past ones:
Lincoln’s Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cake
Oreo Cheesecake Cake

And, my friend Jen at Beantown Baker has done some awesome variations after trying mine. Here’s some of hers:
Neapolitan Cheesecake Cake
Carrot Cake Cheesecake Cake

Some tools I find helpful for making cheesecake cakes (and cakes in general):
Wilton Bake Even Strips
Nordic Ware Cheesecake Springform Pan
Wilton Angled Icing Spatula

(Click Read More for the recipe!)


Guinness Stout Cake with Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting & Guinness Stout Ganache

An epic cake for the beer lover in your life.


For Cheesecake:
1 1/4 pounds bar cream cheese (20 oz), room temperature
3/4 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream

For Cake:
1 1/2 cups (1 bottle) stout or dark beer
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup dark or dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature

For Frosting:
1 pound (454 grams/2 cups/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
3 3/4 cups sifted (600 grams/1 lb + 5 ounces) confectioners’ sugar (icing, powdered)
4 tablespoons (60 mL) milk
1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

For Ganache:
2 cups of dark chocolate chips
1/2 cups of stout beer
1/2 cup heavy cream


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Set a kettle of water to boil. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium until fluffy, scraping down side of bowl. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract and salt. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down side of bowl after each addition. Beat in sour cream.

Cut parchment paper in a circle and line the bottom of the cheesecake pan. Wrap bottom half of pan in foil. Pour in filling; place in a roasting pan. Pour in boiling water to come halfway up side of springform. Bake until just set in center, about 45 minutes. Remove pan from water; let cool 20 minutes. Run a paring knife around edge; let cool completely. Cover; chill overnight, then wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper circles, then butter parchment. Set aside.

Place the stout and butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the butter melts. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the sifted cocoa powder until smooth. Pour into a heatproof bowl and let cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour in the cooled cocoa mixture, and mix on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute.

Slowly add the dry ingredients, a little bit at a time, and mix on low speed until incorporated, scraping the sides and bottom of bowl to be sure that all the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Divide batter evenly among prepared pans, using a kitchen scale if possible to be sure the layers are even. Place cake pans on middle oven rack about 2" apart, and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. Run a small knife around the edges of each pan, then gently invert onto wire racks. Cakes should come out cleanly. Allow to cool completely. At this point, the cakes can be frozen until ready to use, up to 1 month. Simply wrap each layer individually in a double layer of plastic wrap and then store inside a large zip top bag.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed. Butter will become very pale & creamy.

Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy. Best used right away for ideal spreading consistency reasons.

Place chocolate chips in a heat safe bowl. In a pot on the stove, add the heavy cream and the beer and cook over medium heat until hot and bubbly, stirring frequently, about 5-8 minutes. Pour the cream/beer over the chocolate chips and stir until well combined. Place in the fridge and allow to cool until slightly below room temperature.

Place one layer of cake on cake stand. If desired, frost top with frosting.

Remove cheesecake from freezer, unwrap, and remove from metal bottom of the pan, then peel off parchment paper. Place cheesecake layer on top of the cake. If the cheesecake is wider than the cake, and it is necessary to to trim it, wait approximately 10 minutes for the cheesecake to soften, then trim it with a knife.

Spread layer of ganache on top of cheesecake. Be sure ganache has cooled so that it is just below room temperature. It should be warm enough to still move & spread easily, but not warm enough to melt the cheesecake.

Place top layer of cake on top of the cheesecake, and coat with a layer of the vanilla bean frosting to act as the crumb coat. Be careful not to get any crumbs in the bowl of frosting! Refrigerate approximately 30 minutes, then frost with as much of the remaining frosting as necessary.

If necessary, warm ganache gently over a pot of boiling water to make it spreadable again. Pour the warm ganache over the top and allow it to run down the sides. Spread with angled spatula or knife if necessary.

Cake: Love & Olive Oil
Cheesecake: ErinsFoodFiles
Frosting: Sweetapolita
Ganache: The Beeroness

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