Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Horror, The Horror! Heart of Darkness Cake

You can tell I really like Halloween by the fact that I’m posting not one, but two blogs. To be completely honest, I’m not actually doing much else for Halloween this year, because it’s a Wednesday and I have a 9-5 job and a long commute. By the end of the day I look enough like a Zombie that no costume will be required. Baking is the least I could do.

Not everyone is going to be a fan of pumpkin or pumpkin beer or pumpkin flavored everything. Here’s an alternative – cake. It’s got beer in it and is covered in chocolate that also has beer in it. If your don’t like cake either, or chocolate, or beer…I’m sorry, there’s nothing for you here. (No seriously, how did you get here?)

This is one of those occasions that I have what I think is a great idea, but due to my own ineptitude and general apathy it doesn’t turn out to be amazeballs. It was okay, but needs some work. 

I decided to bake a red velvet cake using Murray’s Heart of Darkness Belgian Imperial Stout. I like baking with the higher alcohol, higher flavor type beers as they seem to have a bigger influence on the flavor of the end product. Obviously this cake had to be heart shaped. Usually red velvet cake is covered in delicious cream cheese icing, but this wouldn’t do. This heart needed to be dark, so I decided to find out if I could make a dark chocolate ganache with beer. Turns out you can.

My first hurdle was just finding the heart shaped cake tin, which I’m sure I had seen everywhere until I actually wanted one. I’m sure this wouldn’t be a problem if I was organized, but as usual left it until the day I wanted to bake. It’s okay – I did find one eventually. It was even on sale. Crisis averted with 40% off.

And this also...

1 ¼ cups self raising flour
¾ cup of caster sugar
90g unsalted butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 ½ tablespoons of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon red food colouring
½ cup beer
½  teaspoon white vinegar

100g dark chocolate (dark as possible - I used 85%)
½ cup of beer
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

...has been one of the dark places of the earth.

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Grease and flour your heart shaped pan (or one 22cm round pan).

In one bowl, sift together the flour, salt and cocoa powder.

In a seperate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. 

Add the food colouring to the beer. Now add the beer and flour in batches to the butter mixture and beat on low. So, add a little flour and mix, then add a little beer and mix, then flour, then beer...etc..until it is all combined.

Mix together the vinegar and baking soda, then fold the fizzing mixture through the rest of the batter.

Pour into your pan, and place in the oven for 30 mins, or until it passes the skewer test.

Cool on a rack before covering in ganache.


In a heat-proof bowl, break up your chocolate into small pieces.

Heat the beer in a small saucepan until it is simmering and allow to reduce slightly. Add the butter and stir until melted and combined. 

Pour hot beer/butter mixture over the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.

Place in the fridge for a while, until it thickens.

Pour over the cake and smooth. 

(Or just eat straight from the bowl.)

I made the cake to par with a Russian Imperial Stout, but it was a little too sweet. It was a bit dry as well. The ganache, however, is delicious. I want to put it on everything.

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